Basil Thai Restaurant

We all have a go-to takeout Thai spot that we swear is better than any other.  My personal favorite is Thai Restaurant located on Augusta Road.  Some nights, there’s nothing better than a massive portion of spicy, heartwarming Pad Thai straight from a Styrofoam box.  When Basil opened its doors in downtown Greenville, I was skeptical if it could maintain the same consistency that I get from takeout Thai, but here’s the thing…It’s not trying to be takeout Thai.

Owners Henry and Chai Eang, who also happen to be brothers, immigrated from Cambodia in the 1970s with a vision to bring authentic Thai cuisine to the southeast United States.  Their first location opened in Charleston, SC and after years of progression and rave reviews, several other locations popped up.  Luckily, Henry and Chai decided upon Greenville to be their next venture.

Basil’s expansive menu offers a variety of authentic Thai dishes from appetizers, soups and salads to specialties and entrees.  It’s quite a challenge to choose just one dish to order, so I highly suggest going with a group of friends and ordering a few to share.  I dined at Basil with another foodie, and we shared the Fresh Basil Rolls, Green Curry with Chicken, Shrimp Fried Rice, and two desserts.  At the end of our meal, we realized that none of the dishes were too spicy, but you could add heat as needed with their signature sauces on the table.

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The Basil Rolls are such a simple, fresh dish to start your meal.  They are stuffed with shrimp, rice noodles, lettuce, bean sprouts and basil then wrapped in rice paper.  Just the roll alone is wonderful, with the subtle flavors of fresh basil and shrimp, but don’t forget about Chef Suntorn’s sweet and spicy house sauce served alongside.

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I absolutely adore curry dishes.  Nothing is as comforting and delicious as slightly creamy, flavorful curry spooned atop sticky white rice.  Basil’s curry ups the ante by somehow incorporating a burst of freshness I’ve never noticed in a curry dish before.  Their green curry sauce has a subtle heat, a balanced flavor of kaffir lime and comes mixed with bell peppers, bamboo shoots, eggplants, green peas and basil.  We asked for our curry with chicken, but honestly I wouldn’t have missed the protein one bit.  I could’ve eaten the curry with a spoon.

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Shrimp Fried Rice…doesn’t sound too exciting right?  Well, Basil’s fried rice is in a whole other category.  The savory, flavorful rice is delicious as is, but comes incorporated with onions, scallions, carrots, green peas, egg and shrimp.  This dish was the ideal canvas for tasting all of the house sauces.  That little added heat was just what this understated, yet oh so tasty dish needed.  An added bonus: Fried Rice makes for some pretty amazing leftovers.

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After eating a large quantity of Thai food, dessert should be something refreshing, cool and not overly sweet.  We decided upon the Mango Sticky Rice.  About halfway through this initial dessert, Chai insisted we try the Trio of Creme Brulee.  The Mango Sticky Rice comes with beautiful slices of fresh mango, as well as a bed of sticky rice covered with a decadent coconut based sauce.  The slightly tart flavor of the mango was the perfect counterpart to the creamy, sweet rice.  The Trio of Crème Brulee was truly something special.  Three little ramekins come to the table full of three different flavors of crème brulee: Chocolate, Coconut and Green Tea.  Each flavor had that torched crust just waiting to be broken into with creamy filling hidden underneath, but the flavor that stole my heart was the coconut.  I urge you to try all three and decided for yourself.

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I am anxiously awaiting my next visit to Basil Thai Restaurant in the hopes of trying many more of their authentic Thai dishes including Basil Duck, Larb, Pad Woon Sen and other names I can’t quite pronounce.  Part of the fun of going out to eat is trying new dishes and experiencing other cultures.  With a contemporary, hip atmosphere like Basil, and owners like Chai and Henry who are committed to perfection, it’s the perfect place for just that.

Basil is located at 9 N. Laurens Street in One City Plaza.  They are open for dinner Monday – Thursday from 5pm – 10pm, Friday & Saturday from 5pm – 11pm and Sunday from 5pm – 10pm.  Stay tuned for their lunch hours!

Rick Erwin’s West End Grille: New Chef

One of the original, upscale steakhouses to open its doors in Greenville, Rick Erwin’s West End Grille continues to offer customers top-quality cuts of beef, flawless service and consistency that can’t be beat. You know exactly what to expect when dining at any of Rick’s restaurants, and that’s reassuring. But, a new chef is shaking things up in the kitchen at Rick’s West End Grille, and I for one couldn’t be more excited.

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Chef Wilberto Sauceda came all the way from Miami ready to showcase his talent in the newly food-driven city of Greenville. You can find him loading up his cart full of local produce the downtown market on Saturdays, or exercising his creativity in the kitchen at Rick’s West End Grille. I was lucky enough to attend a 9-course tasting menu courtesy of Chef Wilberto himself and can attest to his talent and creativity.

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Course 1: Gazpacho/Vichyssoise

This chilled, refreshing soup was an idyllic way to begin our meal. The creaminess of this soup was accompanied by the crunchy, salty bits of Marcona almonds and sweet, white grapes. I all but licked the bowl clean.

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Course 2: Focaccia Bites

Whoa. Get ready for this flavor explosion. The soft Focaccia bread is made in house and topped with flakes of sea salt. I would have been content with the bread alone, but no, Wilberto topped the Focaccia with a creamy mix of blue cheese and goat cheese, as well as a caramelized onion, finished with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. It was delectable enough to serve as a dessert.

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Course 3: Corn Cake topped with Foie Gras

Southern meets French cuisine in this little bite. The corn cake served underneath had a flavor-profile similar to that of French toast, but with a lighter texture. The Foie Gras was prepared seared to precision and fork-tender. I made sure to scrape up the beet puree served underneath with each bite.

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Course 4: Prosciutto Croquettes

Don’t know what a croquette is? Think “fancy hush puppy” with a whole lot more flavor. Each crispy on the outside, velvety on the inside croquette sat atop a different sauce: orange and tomato marmalade, goat cheese crema, or butternut squash puree. With each bite you got a little sweet, a little tangy and a little savory.

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Course 5: Greek Heirloom Tomato Salad

We were all longing for something on the lighter side at this time, and Chef Wilberto made our wishes come true with this lovely, refined salad. Served with juicy heirloom tomatoes, a hunk of feta cheese, crunchy bell peppers, olives, cucumber, and a housemade dressing, this salad was far from your typical Greek salad.

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Course 6: Japanese Kobe Ribeye Tartare

Swoon. That’s precisely what I did after taking my first bite of this flawless dish. If you’re unfamiliar with Japanese Kobe Beef, it’s basically the crème de la crème of meats. Wilberto served the beef raw and diced, mixed with rosemary, garlic, shallots, green onions, sea salt and lightly dressed. He then took things a step further and added thin, fried onions on top.

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Course 7: Seafood

For the seafood dish, Chef Wilberto served us a U5 prawn from South Africa atop Carolina Gold Rice from Anson Mills mixed with peppers, onions and a smear of creamy red pepper puree. Accompanying the prawn was Loup de Mer (Mediterranean Seabass) seared and topped with a beurre blanc sauce. The prawn was tender, with a slightly buttery flavor and you simply can’t go wrong with Anson Mills rice.

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Course 8: Meat

Naturally when dining at Rick Erwin’s, you are obliged to have a signature steak. Chef Wilberto created a playful tasting of two cuts of beef, one served with an Argentina style Chimichurri and the other with a parsnip puree. The meat was cooked to perfection and melted in your mouth. Served on the side was an imaginative take on butternut squash soup topped with melted fontina cheese.

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Course 9: Dessert

Why only have one dessert when you can have three?! Chef Wilberto spoiled us with a tasting of decadent chocolate cake topped with velvety chocolate mousse, a carrot cake cookie, as well as a rich, creamy crème brulee. The Crème Brulee stole my heart and was truly the “cherry on top” of an ideal evening.

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Locals and travelers alike, prepare yourselves for what Chef Wilberto has planned for Rick Erwin’s West End Grille. Rumor has it in roughly two weeks time, he will begin to incorporate some of the above dishes to their menu. If you’re looking for dishes that are innovative, bold, locally sourced and simply delicious, look no further than Rick Erwin’s West End Grille and the creative genius that is Chef Wilberto Sauceda.

Green Lettuce

Pssst…Green Lettuce has a new, simplified menu featuring healthy, Persian dishes for lunch or dinner. Having already established themselves in the downtown area as an ideal spot for fresh, nourishing meals, Green Lettuce owners figured out what their customers kept coming back for, and focused on perfecting those best-selling dishes.

I appreciate Mediterranean cuisine because of the simplicity of flavors, generous amount of fresh, grilled vegetables and protein, as well as a brightness that encompasses each and every dish. Don’t let the name “Green Lettuce” steer you away. Their menu offers a whole lot more than just salads, such as their creative appetizers, kebabs served hot off the grill, vegetarian plates, and desserts.

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Green Lettuce has your traditional Mediterranean snacks like Hummus & Dolma served with warm pita bread, as well as some original dishes like their Sautéed Eggplant served with crispy onion, mint and garlic (which I will most definitely try next time!). This evening, I tried the Hummus & Dolma and the Avocado Mix. Their hummus is as authentic as you can get; made in-house, it is creamy with a hint of lemon and topped with feta cheese. Paired with their hummus are comforting Dolma consisting of grape leaves stuffed with tender rice, lots of herbs, olive oil and lemon juice. If you’ve never been to a Persian restaurant before, this would be a great dish to start with.

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Their Avocado Mix is an unassuming combination of fresh avocado, sliced strawberries, grapes, cilantro and a special lemon dressing. I adore every component of this delightfully refreshing dish. In every bite you get creamy avocado, a slight crunch and sweetness from the grapes, tartness from the strawberries and the brightness of lemon. No way would I have thought up this salad on my own, so I’m glad to have discovered it!

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Cooked over an open fire, their grilled kebabs come with basmati rice pilaf and grilled tomatoes, as well as a hunk of lime for squeezing over the top. I tried the Boneless Chicken Kebab and the Shish (beef) Kebab. The chicken is fork tender with a nice char from the grill and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. The beef served with the Shish Kebab offered a meatier texture with equal amount of flavor and heartiness. Hint: The spicy green sauce served with the kebabs is delicious! Take a big forkful of the meat, rice and tomatoes, drizzle a little of that sauce over the top, and thank me later.

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I was almost too full for dessert, but after reading the description of the Persian Coffee Cake, I just had to have it. This coffee cake incorporates flavors and textures similar to a tiramisu, but with more spice. Let me break this down for you: Moist, spiced cake gets layered with a generous amount of light, vanilla frosting and is topped with chocolate shavings. With the overall texture of this dessert being light and not too sweet, it was a challenge to stop eating it.

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Green Lettuce has been open since November 2012, and I’m always surprised how many people haven’t dined there. It’s healthy, convenient and simple; all great characteristics of a restaurant if you ask me! Whether you want a quiet dinner out, or a nourishing meal to take home, Green Lettuce will take care of you. They are located at 19 Augusta Street and are open Monday – Saturday for lunch from 11am – 3pm and for dinner from 5pm – close.

The Common Cure

Common doesn’t have to mean boring.  It can also mean approachable, familiar, or simple; which are not too bad of characteristics when describing the food and atmosphere of a restaurant.  The Common Cure is a spot-on example.  Having opened its doors a little over 2 months ago, The Common Cure draws in customers who are looking for an easy, relaxed meal with that eliminates all the hustle and bustle some other restaurants entail.

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Calling themselves “a friendly neighborhood joint”, The Common Cure has already become quite the hit for families living in and around the Augusta Road area.  What used to be Local Taco is now renovated into a low-key restaurant serving “over the counter remedies” consisting of appetizers, wraps, burgers, sammies, and salads.  The outdoor patio area would be my go-to spot to enjoy one of their craft beers on draft and a no-fuss meal.

When you see three varieties of wings on a menu, you know the chef must be a wing connoisseur.  I was most intrigued by the Hog Wings, which are smoked pork shanks tossed in their house made Dragon Sauce.  These wings are BIG…and messy!  The smoky flavor comes out beneath the sweet, sticky, and slightly spicy Dragon Sauce.  Not feeling adventurous enough for a Hog Wing?  Try the Hot Wings or Smoked Wings both served with blue cheese or ranch dressing.

HOG WINGS, HOT WINGS AND SMOKED WINGS

The story alone sold me on The DCD Burger.  Standing for “dark corner dads”, The DCD Burger was created by a group of dads who live right around the corner and decided to check out The Common Cure on opening day.  Basically, they dreamt up their ideal burger and Common Cure owners put it on the menu the next day.  The DCD Burger starts with a brioche bun and a grilled patty, and then gets topped with a fried egg, jalapenos, cheese and that special Dragon Sauce also served on The Hog Wings.  If you like spice, with a little bit of creamy and savory components, this is the burger for you.  Another favorite is The Pharmacy Burger, which is an old-school smashed double-patty, with American cheese and pickles.  Doesn’t get simpler than that.

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And now, onto my favorite bite of the evening, the Chili Cheese Dog.  I find hot dogs to be pretty fantastic.  You can find a good burger lots of places, but there just aren’t that many restaurants putting time and effort into a good ol’ dog.  The Common Cure is an exception.  Their classic chili dog is straightforward: An all beef dog topped with house made chili and melted shredded cheese served on a New England bun.  Already having eaten plenty of food, I still could have devoured this entire hot dog no problem.  It’s just that good.

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The Common Cure was smart in their decision to add some healthy components to their menu consisting of a wide variety of salads.  We tried the sweet and savory Kale Salad, as well as The Grilled Romaine Salad.  The Kale salad was a winner and comes topped with dried cranberries, raisins, quinoa, shaved parmesan, and slivered almonds.  The addition of quinoa and slivered almonds creates a hearty, fulfilling meal.

The more I talk to people about what they are looking for when choosing a restaurant, the more I hear these words: location, consistency, and variety.  Basically, people want to eat somewhere easy to access and where you can please even the pickiest of eaters’ needs.  I can’t speak to the consistency of The Common Cure, having only dined there once, but I can attest to the prime location on the ever-growing Augusta Road and the variety of dishes found on their well thought out menu.

The Common Cure is located at 15 Conestee Avenue.  They are open Tuesday – Thursday from 11am until 10pm, Friday and Saturday from 11am until 11pm, and Sundays from 11am to 8pm.

Oakblue Kitchen

Oakblue Kitchen takes barbecue to a whole other level.  I don’t just mean they have some killer barbecue, which they do, but they serve up dishes you won’t find anywhere else in Greenville.  Southern BBQ meets Korean BBQ in the casual, funky setting that is Oakblue Kitchen.

Inspired by a heritage of Korean cooking, while also taking notes from Southern classics, Oakblue’s menu delivers a diverse mix of smoked meats, southern sides, and surprising flavors.  For example, their Ssam Plate is truly one of a kind.  Consisting of lettuce wraps filled with either pulled pork topped with chow chow, smoked brisket topped with pickled onions or Korean style short rib topped with kimchi, this is how you get to try a little bit of everything.  Drizzle their savory, spicy Ssam sauce on top, and you’ve got one flavor-packed bite.

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Another intermingling of Korean flavors and barbecue staples are present in their K.F.C. wings.  Standing for Korean Fried Chicken, these crispy wings are tossed in Ssamjang sauce and come to the table piping hot.  Don’t be weary of the Ssamjang sauce.  While it does pack some heat, it can easily be muted by the creamy blue cheese dressing that comes alongside.

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Now for a crowd-pleaser: The Fried Chicken Sandwich.  What’s not irresistible about a fried chicken sandwich?  Well…if the chicken isn’t crispy, bun isn’t toasted, and there isn’t a scrumptious sauce to drizzle on top, it’s a let down.  Oakblue Kitchen’s chicken sandwich meets all my specifications with a crispy, moist piece of chicken drizzled with hot sauce, topped with house pickles and served on a toasted bun.

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This next dish may get overlooked, but it is a contender for my favorite bite of the evening.  The Korean Philly takes the ingredients of your typical Philly cheesesteak (steak, grilled onion, peppers, and melted cheese between a sub roll) and turns the volume wayyyyy up.  To be perfectly honest, we were too full at this point to even eat the bread, but didn’t miss a beat as we dove right in with bites full of tender, marinated flank steak, sweet grilled onions and poblano peppers, and topped with melted queso cheese.

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Korean BBQ or Southern BBQ?  That’s the predicament at Oakblue Kitchen. We tried both plates that evening, so let me help you make the choice a little easier.  The Korean BBQ plate still comprises all the components you desire from a barbecue restaurant: tender meat, crunchy slaw, savory side, and a flavor-packed sauce.  At Oakblue, they just switch it up a bit with Galbi style short rib, Napa kimchi, roasted brussel sprouts, and a spicy Chogo sauce.  On the other hand, there’s your Smoked Brisket Plate that comes with pickled onion, BBQ sauce, and your choice of two sides.  We went with the oh-so-creamy macaroni and cheese and the crisp, fried okra.  In my opinion, both dishes were pretty impressive, but if you find yourself at a place specializing in Korean BBQ, go with that.

I should mention that Oakblue Kitchen offers a wide-variety of craft beers, as well as unique cocktails.  Don’t miss their Happy Hour with $1.75 domestics, $2 house liquors, $3 house wines, and get this…all starters 50% off!  Oakblue Kitchen is located at 109 N. Main Street next to Mast General Store.  They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 11:00am – 10:00pm and on Sunday from 10:00am – 4:00pm.

Two Chefs Cafe & Market

Two Chefs Cafe & Market has made a name for itself in the Upstate as a go-to spot for deli sandwiches, salads, soups and more.  With a new location downtown that includes a grab and go market offering local in-season produce, cheeses, milk, snacks and more, Two Chefs continues to expand and grow to meet Greenville’s ever-changing wants and needs.

Many of us are familiar with the deliciousness and ease that is Two Chef’s lunch.  Whether you want a salad sampler consisting of three heaping scoops of their salad selections (my personal favorite: Pesto Chicken Salad, Red Skin Potato Salad and Wild Rice Salad) atop a bed of greens, or something to dig your teeth into like The Grinder with layers of salami, turkey, ham veggies and provolone on sourdough, Two Chefs has your lunch requests covered.  What I’m here to showcase today, is their not so buzzed about dinner specials.

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If you’re looking for a casual, inexpensive dinner, that doesn’t skimp on the quality of ingredients, Two Chefs is sure to impress.  Their dinner specials change on a daily basis, so you won’t find yourself in a dinner rut here.  Another bonus: You are in and out fast!  At Two Chefs, you simply walk up to the counter, order your meal, have a seat, enjoy your beverage of choice and your food is out in no time.

The night I dined at Two Chefs, the dinner specials consisted of two soups, a salad and an entree.  After much back and forth, we decided on the salad and entree special, along with the recommended Grilled Chicken Quesadilla.  The mixed greens salad was topped with grilled chicken, fresh strawberries, candied pecans, Clemson blue cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette.  If you’re familiar with my blog, then you know I’m a sucker for a good salad.  This one met my expectations without a doubt.  I’m usually not an avid blue cheese fan, but the creamy, subtleness went so well with the sweet, crunchy pecans and tangy dressing that I couldn’t get enough.

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The entree special of the evening was unquestionably the star of the show: Think grandma’s cooking meets chef-driven talent.  This boneless smoked pork loin comes smothered in Hampton Farms BBQ sauce, topped with pineapple salsa and served atop a bed of roasted, mashed sweet potatoes and fresh green beans.  Nothing too fancy about this dish, besides the flawless presentation, but the ingredients and flavors spoke volumes.  Every element of this dish tasted delicious all together in one forkful.

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Don’t worry, you can most certainly order off Two Chef’s regular menu during dinner hours.  That’s exactly where I found the flavor-packed Grilled Chicken Quesadilla stuffed with tender white meat chicken, roasted red peppers, corn, black bean spread, and that oozing cheddar cheese.  I know what you’re thinking…what’s so special about a quesadilla?  Well, when the tortilla is crisped to perfection, the fillings are piping hot, and a heaping portion of guacamole is served on the side, it simply can’t be beat.

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Sometimes the simplest of dishes can be the ones you crave the most.  I must say, I find myself yearning for homemade, comforting meals like this one time and time again.  Be sure to follow Two Chefs Cafe & Market on Facebook and Instagram to see their daily dinner specials…or don’t, and go with the good ol’ fashioned menu we all know and love.  Either way, you’re sure to leave satisfied.

Grill Marks

My brother always makes fun of me because he says I say EVERY burger is a great burger. But, can you blame me? As long as the meat isn’t overdone, the bun is soft and the toppings are fresh, I’m happy. At Grill Marks, you can count on just that. Having opened in September of 2012, Grill Marks paved the way for other burger establishments in the Upstate.

What sets Grill Marks apart from the rest? Their “go big or go home” menu offering gourmet, over the top burgers, enormous FreakShakes (explained in detail later), as well as all the fried accompaniments you can imagine. Start with the Three Way, which gives you the option to choose three of their fries and sides and try them all. The choice will not be easy. My starting lineup: Fried Pickles, Onion Rings, and Fried Green Tomatoes…all served with a creamy dipping sauce for your dunking pleasure.

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Another delicious appetizer, if you’re not feeling the fried stuff, is The Portobello Napoleon. Layers of meaty, grilled Portobello mushrooms are topped with tomatoes, grilled onion, pesto and a copious amount of ooey-gooey Brie cheese. One little bite is packed with flavor, and did I mention all the melted Brie?

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Time for the stars of the show…the burgers. The amount of care and respect that goes into making each and every one of these burgers is impressive in and of itself, regardless of the fact that they are pretty darn tasty. Their beef is a custom blend made daily and cooked to order. Those soft, grilled buns are baked daily and individually by hand. Lastly, Grill Marks strives to source the best quality toppings around. Those three components make for one impressive burger.

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Essentially, any flavor of burger you’re craving, Grill Marks can make you. Want something with a sweet and spicy kick? Go for the Hawaiian Punch (my personal favorite pictured above) topped with applewood smoked bacon, pepper-jack cheese, grilled pineapple, jalapeno pesto, lettuce and tomato. If a classic burger is more you’re style then the BCB is the burger for you. Simple, clean and topped with all the burger classics…the meat speaks for itself.

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The Hot Mess deserves a paragraph all its own. The most expensive, and most gigantic, burger on Grill Marks’ menu is truly a showstopper. Get this…the Hot Mess= A grilled cheese sandwich between two beef patties, grilled hot dog, chili, cheddar, Swiss, AND American cheese, applewood smoked bacon, onion straws, fried pickles, lettuce and tomato. Part of me gets full just reading that, and the other part secretly wants to eat it all. I admire anyone who could tackle this burger in one sitting.

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Grill Marks’ famous milkshakes are what truly made them an institution in Greenville. Their Madagascar vanilla ice cream is house-made and “spun with love” making their shakes extra creamy and rich. Just their classic shakes are decadent enough, such as the Caramel Espresso or Banana Puddin’ shake, but when foodies get together, we search for the best of the best.

The FreakShakes are quite possibly the most outrageous (in a good way) dessert I’ve ever seen. Take the Salted Caramel & Heath Bar Crunch shake, for example. Not only do you get a huge glass full of their salted caramel milkshake, but then they take it a step further and top the shake with one of the best, gooey brownies you’ll find, a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, crunchy bits of heath bar, and caramel sauce. My advice to you: share this with a friend, or 10.

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Grill Marks is truly a “treat yourself” kind of place. With a killer bar serving craft beer, scratch-made cocktails, and award winning wines, you’ve got everything you need to sit back, relax, and get your grub on.  Grill Marks is located at 209 S. Main Street.  They are open Monday – Thursday from 11am – 10pm, Friday & Saturday from 11am – 11pm and Sunday from 11am – 9pm.

The 05

The 05 is a neighborhood gathering spot serving craft beer, house-made cocktails, wine and snacks in an informal, family-friendly setting. Located in the buzzed about ’05 area of Greenville, it’s already become a regular spot for a weekday happy hour or quick bite to eat. Owners Heather Frechette and Elizabeth Hunt capitalized on the opportunity to open The 05 and envisioned a restaurant where patrons of all ages could sit back, unwind and simply enjoy themselves.

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Not only is The 05 equipped to meet any of you libation needs, but they also have chefs Sam and Mike in the kitchen whipping up snacks, small plates and flatbreads that incorporate local ingredients. Their philosophy is simple: No freezer. All fresh. Good quality.

It’s seldom that you stumble upon a spot as unassuming as The 05 that serves a beautiful charcuterie plate and tapas. While sipping on Westbrook White Thai, a friend and I sampled an assortment of their best snacks. Pictured below is a sampling of their cheese and meat offerings, along with their creamy spinach artichoke dip and roasted red pepper hummus. When ordering their charcuterie, you can select what sounds best to you, or go with the Chef’s Selection and let them do the work for you. My favorite bite was the creamy, understated Kentucky Blue Cheese served with fig preserves. Save that bite for last and you have a perfect little dessert.

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Before visiting The 05, I heard rave reviews about their creative play on flatbreads. Being the pizza fanatic that I am, I eagerly anticipated trying one for myself. You won’t find your average cheese and pepperoni flatbread here, but I promise you won’t miss it either. Another selling point: The 05 makes the dough for their flatbreads from scratch, creating a perfectly chewy consistency.

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After reading over all the tempting varieties such as the Apple, Fig & Country Ham topped with honey goat cheese and drizzled with a Fig Balsamic reduction, we settled on the Southern Caviar and Tomato Pie flatbreads. Nothing says southern with a touch of class like a flatbread topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, fresh jalapenos, pimiento, and a drizzle of smoked tomato aioli. A southern favorite, Tomato Pie, is recreated in the form of a flatbread topped with herbed Boursin Cheese, cherry tomatoes, caramelized onion, bacon jam and scallions. Yes, I said BACON JAM!

SOUTHERN CAVIAR AND TOMATO PIE FLATBREADS

So, what are you waiting for? Next time you find yourself in the ’05 area of Greenville, treat yourself to an ice-cold beer and a seriously good bite to eat. The 05 has happy hour specials of $2 off specialty drinks and $1 off all other drinks Monday – Friday from 4:05pm – 7:05pm. They are located at 3016 Augusta Street and are open Monday thru Saturday at 4:00pm.

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The Southern Growl

60 beers on tap…sounds pretty appealing right? The Southern Growl’s expansive selection of craft brews and casual, funky ambiance are only amplified by their addition of an ever-changing menu offering creative, flavor-forward grub for all.

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I must admit, the quality of food at The Southern Growl blew my expectations out of the water. Not only is the food delicious, but pairs perfectly with a cold beer. The menu is clearly designed to go hand in hand with their simple philosophy of good food, good beer, and good company. Since their menu changes every 6 weeks, you can’t expect to go back and order the same thing time and time again, but you can count on a menu consisting of big bites, wings, snacks and sides.

After ordering a crisp Westbrook Gose, we ordered just about one of everything off their relatively small, but well thought-out, menu. Our tasting began with the refreshing Shrimp Ceviche Tostada and Seared Tuna Poke. Now I don’t know about you, but raw fish was the last thing I expected to find at a craft beer joint, but the quality of both these dishes were impressive. The Tuna Poke was my personal favorite, tossed in ponzu sauce and served alongside radish, cucumber, micro basil with a drizzle of aioli and a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top, this poke was a crispy tortilla chip’s match made in heaven.

Now for some more traditional bites: fried snacks. The Southern Growl uses fresh Rhode Island calamari for their fried calamari and serves it with a side of house made San Marzano marinara, which is also served for your dunking pleasure with their Grits Frites that are simply crispy fried smoked cheddar and pecorino cheese grits. Fried food pairs well with beer. Period. Lucky for us, The Southern Growl elevates the typical greasy, fried snacks into something a little more refined.

Another bar food staple, we ordered the tacos served in 2 warm corn tortillas, stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, spicy chorizo and topped with romesco sauce, roasted garlic, cilantro and lime. I admired the creativity of this dish and didn’t miss the typical taco toppings one bit.

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Their soup of the week sounded way too tasty not to try, and I’m sure glad we didn’t overlook it. Perfect for this time of year, their curried sweet potato soup was creamy, flavorful and had a nice bite from the crunchy peanuts served on top. Honestly I think this may have been the sole dish that was all but licked clean.

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The Southern Growl will always offer a variation of mild, medium and hot wings. They may even have an “insane” level of heat for all you crazy spice lovers out there. I’ve had their wings more than once, and they are always packed with flavor and finger lickin’ good. Tonight, their Spooky Korean wings tossed in spicy ghost chili Korean barbeque sauce were calling my name, but if you’re not a spicy fan, the Canadian Breakfast wings tossed in brown sugar, mustard, maple syrup and bacon fat are pretty appealing alternative.

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So go ahead, raise those expectations, because The Southern Growl is up for the challenge. It’s one of those places I recommend to others and come back to time and time again because you may be surprised by their menu items, but you can rely on 3 things: delicious food, great service, and at least 60 beers on tap…what more could you ask for?

Jianna

There are numerous reasons why you will inevitably fall in love with Table 301’s newest restaurant, Jianna. From the wrap around patio, to the fresh oysters being shucked behind the bar, it’s an appealing vibe to say the least. Table 301 and Chef Michael Kramer’s collaboration has ultimately created a dining destination unlike any other in Greenville. Why have I already fallen in love with Jianna? I have five main reasons, and they come straight from Jianna’s charmingly designed menu.

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  1. Chilled Market Oysters: I’ve never been an oyster fanatic. Now I know, it’s simply due to the fact that I’ve never tasted oysters prepared delicately and with as much care as these. Served with Jianna’s house cocktail and hot sauces, these perfectly chilled oysters were easily slurped down one after another.

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  1. Ricotta Crostini: Quite possibly my favorite dish of the tasting, this Ricotta Crostini defines simplistic perfection. Soft, grilled ciabtta bread is served with a generous side of ricotta cheese drizzled with truffle honey and a dash of sea salt. I must have overheard at least three people claim that they could have eaten the ricotta with a spoon. In one bite, you taste the richness of truffle, sweetness of honey, and char from the crostini. It is truly a bite to remember.

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  1. Polpette: Who doesn’t love meatballs? They are so simple, yet so crave-worthy. Jianna’s meatballs consist of veal and pork and are served in a tomato sugo with breadcrumbs and Parmesan dusted on top. The combination of veal and pork creates a tender, more flavorful meatball than the average sausage/beef variation. Pair this dish with a glass of Italian red wine, sit back, and relax…

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  1. Radiatori: All of the pasta served at Jianna is made in house on a daily basis and consists of the simplest ingredients possible. I appreciate the understated quality of this specific dish, tossed lightly in tomato, fresh basil and grated Grana Padano cheese. No need to add any other components to this already remarkable pasta.

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  1. Umbrian Citrus Olive Oil Cake: A close 2nd to the Ricotta Crostini, this will be one of those desserts I find myself yearning for. The cake itself is slightly crisp on top, and moist in the middle due to the addition of olive oil. Topped with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and served with a side of blackberry compote, this dessert is not too sweet, but with the indulgence-factor we all crave.

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I’m sure the anticipation to dine at Jianna is unbearable right about now, but the wait is almost over as they are aiming to open early next week! Be sure to follow Table 301 and Jianna on social media to keep up with details regarding their opening day and hours. If it’s anything like what I experienced, it’s bound to be nothing short of amazing.