Myrtle Beach · Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach Hits and Misses

The Gay Dolphin Gift Shop.  Lots of stuff.  I mean, a lot.

Myrtle Beach Skywheel.  Tip: buy those tickets online.

Pirate’s Voyage.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  Dinner with a show!

 

Captain Juel’s Hurricane Restaurant.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  Sushi and Seafood with a view!

You’re here!
Full view of restaurant
Gorgeous Oaks near restaurant
Hushpuppies
Oysters on the half shell
Crab Dip
Spring Rolls…eh
Spider Roll
Sushi

 

Side Salad (look at that crouton!)
Gumbo
Crab Legs

Croissants.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  Best food in Myrtle.

Croissants
Acai Bowl
Strawberry and Nutella Crepe
Eggs Benedict, Potato Casserole and Ambrosia
Fish tacos
Chai Latte
Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffin
Chicken Salad Croissant, Broccoli Cheddar Soup & Ambrosia Salad

Hamburger Joe’s.  See my review on Yelp!

Cheeseburger

MISSES 😦

Baron’s Steaks and Spirits.  Here’s my review on Yelp.

Filet Mignon with potato casserole
Chocolate Cake
Creme Brulee with Caramel Sauce

Margaritaville.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  It’s not horrible, but once was enough.

Margarita Hurricane
Watermelon Margarita
Crab Dip

Lava Lava Shrimp & Calamari
Taco Salad

 

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Davidson · Restaurants

Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse in Davidson, NC

Flatiron is a steak place in Davidson, NC that we decided to try over the summer.  Such high hopes, because I love the town of Davidson.  Ultimately, this place just didn’t deliver.  While there were some high points to our meal, mostly our experience ranged from not great to not really memorable.

Flatiron calamari

We tried the Calamari Fries for an appetizer.  Ours came with a side dish of marinara sauce.  The calamari was tender, but the large mouthful of tender, almost flabby planks of squid actually put me off.  I prefer the rings, fried a little crispier.  I would definitely not get these again.

flatiron wedge

One of the better dishes was the Wedge Salad.  Hard to mess those up, but this one was exceptional with bacon, diced tomatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, red onion and topped with a yummy Buttermilk Ranch dressing.  Also, they served it a bit chopped and not in the traditional wedge shape, so it was much easier to cut.  Loved it!

flatiron goat cheese dip

Another pretty awesome dish is the Goat Cheese Bake.  They plop some goat cheese in a dish of marinara, bake it and serve with toast.  Simple and utterly delicious.

flat iron chicken fettucine

The Chicken Fettuccine Pasta dish was very good.  The chicken was tender, the sauce was flavorful.  The grilled bread atop was a nice touch.

flatiron filet mignon

The Filet Mignon was also a good dish.  It was cooked well, but the sauce was a little tangy.  I loved the brussels sprouts with the charred edges and the potato puree was creamy and seasoned well.

flatiron scallops with sweet potato risotto

The Seared Scallops were just fine.  They did have a nice sear, but were not seasoned as well as we’d like.  The sweet potato risotto that they were atop was delicious.  The grilled asparagus were nicely cooked.  The dish was fine, but not particularly memorable.

flatiron creme brule flatiron hot now donuts flatiron raspberry cheesecake

For dessert, they had quite a few offerings.  The Raspberry Cheesecake was probably the best thing our table sampled.  It was just sweet enough and very creamy.  The Creme Brulee is always a winner, and rarely have I had a bad one, this one was no disappointment.  The one dessert we sampled that was just inedible were the Hot Now Donuts.  They were like sugar coated bricks.  They are served in a paper bag, which is the best thing about them.  Maybe they were off that night, but I found them heavy and tough.  Never again.

The restaurant isn’t horrible.  There are simply better choices around.  A quick look around the menu shows me that they are trying to make some changes, so if I give it another try I will be sure and report my findings 🙂

Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse on Urbanspoon

Charleston SC · Restaurants

Oak Steakhouse in Charleston, SC

We had the pleasure of visiting Charleston sans kids last week.  A business conference brought us there, so we didn’t have a lot of time to explore during the day, but we did get to eat dinner out most every night, and that was a treat in itself.

On our first night, we visited the Oak Steakhouse.  My husband recommended it to me  since he had visited with friends a few years ago.  I was unsure, because at the time Urbanspoon had only rated it at 80%, and there were so many other choices rated higher.  That was my first lesson in not always letting a few detracting reviews keep you away from a restaurant.  It was our favorite from the visit.

Odd because my favorite appetizer, entree and dessert all came from different restaurants.  Not so odd when you consider what I heard Tom Colicchio quote on Top Chef: “People go to restaurants for food and they return for hospitality.”  So truthful, at least in my case.  Good service and a warm ambiance are a huge part of the experience and Oak Steakhouse has that in spades.

When we first arrive, I am taken by the warm atmosphere and balcony overlooking the bar area down below.  Upstairs was even more beautiful, with the large picture windows looking down on the street below and the murals painted on the walls.  The curtains were heavy, sending me back to a Gone with the Wind kind of time.  It was really magical for me.  Our waiter came by and began what would be an amazing service for the rest of the night.  He was so knowledgeable and helped guide us in our choices that night.  He even brought us treats to sample from the chef. All were, of course, amazing.  I thought we were going to bust there was so much food.  And all so wonderful, you didn’t want to leave a scrap behind.

oakbread

Maybe it is silly, but the bread that was brought to our table at the beginning of our meal was so delicious, I have to mention it.  Soft, warm rolls topped by a salty, crunchy mixture of herbs and garlic and accompanied with a bit of real butter.  I KNEW better than to eat the whole thing, but I just couldn’t help it.  They were that good.

oakshrimp

Before our appetizers, the server brought an amuse-bouche (thanks, Top Chef for that vocab lesson!) for us to sample.  Dustin MAY have let it slip that I write a blog, so there’s the reason for that extra treat.  The treat was a pickled shrimp on a lavash cracker slathered with onion jam.  The shrimp was firm, fresh and chilled and just slightly pickled with fenugreek, coriander, mustard seed, bay leaf and white wine.  The jam was sweet with a hint of cinnamon.  Beautiful together!

oaktartare

First course for Dustin was the Steak Tartare.  This is a mound of chopped steak that is…gulp…raw!  On top is an over-easy fried quail egg, with and herb aioli and served with crostini.  I tried a tiny bite.  I tried to enjoy it.  But alas, the rawness I could not overcome.  I think he does this on purpose so he doesn’t have to share with me.  Whatever the case, he loved it.

oakoysters

When we passed by the kitchen on the way to our table, I was struck by two things: First, that it was so small and so many people were being served out of it and second, that the oysters looked amazing.  My research had me carefully selecting dishes to try, I even saved them in a Google Doc file so I wouldn’t forget…but sometimes you just have to make a decision on the fly.  That was the right call.  My first course was Oysters Rockefeller, and not only were they beautiful, but delicious as well.  The creamy and cheesy spinach sauce with a hint of bacon capped these perfectly cooked oysters and then finished with a few chives and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  It was the perfect bite.  If you go, do NOT miss these.  Another caveat:  You can order them in any number, I got 4.

oakscallops

While waiting for our main courses to arrive, the server brought us another treat from the chef.  This one was seared scallops and they were so blissful.  The scallops were perfectly seared with a crispy crust and tender inside.  They sat atop a bright green fresh pea puree’, roasted sweet baby carrots, jalapeno jam and roasted cauliflower.  There was also a sherry gastrique underneath that had an Asian flavor, tangy and sweet, that owned me.  My husband pronounced those the best scallops he’s ever had.

oakribeye

So, no way we could eat more, right?  Wrong.  Here come the steaks…Dustin opted for the dry aged Ribeye with chargrilled onions.  It was so flavorful with a crusty outside  and a tender interior, cooked perfectly.  Chargrilled flavor was very prominent and wonderful.

oakfilet

I chose the filet mignon.  I always get berated because there is not enough fat marbling to properly flavor the meat, but tonight this was no problem.  My steak was soft to the touch with a perfectly crusted exterior.  The chargrilled flavor was so delicious.

oakcrab

It’s not over yet.  The waiter told us that the King Crab was caught by the guys on the TV show.  Sold.  It was huge, spiky and worth every pinch trying to get it out.  So much sweet crab meat.  I can’t even.

oakmushrooms

So this was one of those fancy restaurants where the sides are purchased individually.  We each got one and shared.  My research told me to try the truffle fries, but my husband was dead set on the Macaroni and Cheese and I couldn’t see getting 2 starches.  So, I chose the roasted mushrooms.  I adore mushrooms, but you know…these were mushrooms.  They were great, but you could do the same at home.  If you go, and want 2 starches, don’t give in to guilt…just get them both!

oakmac

The bacon macaroni and cheese was so creamy and worth every calorie.   The bacon added a smokiness to the cheese and the noodles had just enough bite still in them to provide a bit of texture.  But not too much, no one wants crunchy macaroni and cheese.  If you dine here, one of you must get this dish.

This was our first night in this magical city and our best meal.  The food was amazing, the restaurant was beautiful but the service we received was so attentive, it made the night.  Dustin and I disagree what our server’s name was, so I looked on my receipt.  It stated he was “The Bruce.”  So if you decide to go, you know who to ask for!

Oak Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Gaffney SC

Carolina Cafe

The Foodie Crew went out of our comfort zone, and back into South Carolina this week!  I must admit, I was doubtful of my friend’s pick.  When I called for reservations, I was told they didn’t take them.  Strike one!  Not only am I impatient about waiting, but after the accident, I find it hard to stand for long periods of time.  I’m so glad I prevailed!

This place is pretty far off of the beaten path.  You have to know it’s there, you probably are not just going to “run across” it.  Grab your GPS, plug in the digits (people still say that, right?) and head out.  When you arrive, you’ll see it jam packed with people.  Put your name on the list and wait.  When you sit down, you’ll see cinder block walls.  Get over it.  Seriously.  My steak was better at that hole in the wall than at Ruth’s Chris.

So, let’s see…we have an out of the way location, a lack of atmosphere and no reservation taking.  Doesn’t sound too promising, right?  Settle down.  The food is worth the trouble.

Appetizers

We ordered two appetizers, one was the Aloha Chicken and the other was fried onion rings.  The Aloha Chicken was a hot dip, with a creamy base then topped with cheddar cheese.  It was served with tortilla chips.  It was so good, though at first we were taken aback by how soupy it was.  We got over it quick, because it was so flavorful, with tender chicken, and just a tiny amount of sweetness from the pineapple juice.

The onion straws were nothing special, but they were good!  They were thin strips fried crisp and served with a spicy dipping sauce, reminiscent of a Remoulade.  The onions were a tiny bit oily but they were delicious, so no one complained.  We couldn’t finish them, however.  They give you a very healthy portion.

carolinacafealohachicken
Aloha Chicken
Onion Rings
Onion Rings

Salads

All of the meals come with a salad.  They are nice sized and very fresh, with homemade dressings.  I didn’t get a picture, because you know…it’s a salad.

Entrees

We all, for once, got four different things.  The first entree was the Beef Tips smothered with mushrooms, peppers, onion and shrimp and melted Monterrey Jack cheese covered all.  The tips were filet and Jeri pronounced the meat very tender, and the shrimp very fresh.  As you can see below, it comes with a large sweet potato, and that mixture in the cup?  Yeah, that’s melted butter and brown sugar.  My lord, it is good.

Beef Tips, smothered with mushrooms and cheese, with shrimp
Beef Tips, smothered with mushrooms and cheese, with shrimp

My hubs got the Cajun ribeye.  It was served with more of those yummy shoestring onion rings and cheese grits.  The steak was cooked perfectly and spicy and the grits were cheesy creamy goodness.

Cajun Ribeye with Onion Rings and Cheese Grits
Cajun Ribeye with Onion Rings and Cheese Grits

Robert ordered the Barbecued Ribs everyone raves about.  They were very tender and smoky, and just fell right off of the bone.  He got the whole rack, and was about to eat only half.  It came with French Fries, crispy and salty!

Barbecued Ribs
Barbecued Ribs

I got the Filet Mignon and added mushrooms.  It was served with a baked potato, but that was so unnecessary.  That might have been the best steak I’ve ever had, and I KNOW it was better than Ruth’s Chris.  Tender, juicy with just the right amount of chargrilling….and perfect doneness.  If only this place wasn’t an hour from my home, I’d eat there once a week.

Filet Mignon
Filet Mignon

Desserts

Oh my goodness we were so full after that delicious meal, but what’s that the waitress said?  Homemade desserts??  Yes please.

The men opted for the Lemon meringue pie, and it had the perfect tang that only comes from fresh squeezed lemon, a perfect crust and a creamy firm meringue.  Nothing could be better, right?

Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie

Well.  Then we tasted the Apple Dumpling with ice cream.  Cinnamony, pillowy, appley goodness.  I don’t even like apples, and that is the best tasting dessert I’ve had in a long time…ever?  If you go..get that.  Even if you don’t like apples, either.

Apple Dumpling
Apple Dumpling

We put off going to Carolina Cafe once and almost did again because of the distance and lack of reservation taking.  I am so glad we sucked it up and went.  It is truly one of those “diamonds in the rough” places.  Enjoy!

Carolina Cafe on Urbanspoon

Charlotte · Restaurants

Chima Brazilian Steakhouse

The Foodie Girls!
The Foodie Girls!

The Foodie Group visited Chima Brazilian Steakhouse this week, and guess what?  I didn’t get a single picture of the food 😦

There are several reasons, but the most true was simply because I was so darn hot in there I couldn’t think straight.

When you enter the building, you are immediately impressed by the winding staircase.  The dining room is downstairs by maybe 10 steps?  A tiny bit annoying to those with walking trouble, but a nice way to feel separate from the door traffic.  Can’t please everyone, right?

Cool things about Chima:

  • Free Valet
  • Unlimited Salad Bar
  • Unlimited meat
  • People come around and shave meat right onto your plates until you say stop.
  • The servers communicate by Iphones.

Not so cool things about Chima:

  • It was really hot in there.
  • They automatically added a gratuity to our table of 6.
  • Did I mention the heat?
  • We kinda had to look around for drinks.
  • We had to beg for our check as our waiter just disappeared on us.

When you are seated and your drinks are ordered, they bring around these little tapas for you to enjoy.  We had cheese stuffed popovers, breaded meatballs and this turkey spread that was surprisingly yummy on that meatball.  Once you were ready, you helped yourself to a plate and ran through the well stocked and beautiful salad bar.  That was the best salad bar I’d ever seen and I was like a kid in a candy store.  Everything was good, but my favorite was the endive salad.

Turn your coin over (it’s a cardboard circle, but whatever) and the parade of meat begins.  You’ll see ribeye, filet, lamb, fish, chicken and other stuff.  I will say that the “schtick” here is the overwhelming AMOUNT of meat you get.  And it is overwhelming.  But if you are someone who prizes quality over quantity..welll..you may just want to head to your favorite steakhouse.  The meat is good enough, but it is really expensive.  $50 for the meat and salad bar.  $30 for the salad bar alone (we had a difficult friend dine with us that night *Jeri*).  They had a fish and salad bar option, but we didn’t price it.

I’ve heard wonderful things about Chima, and was excited to try.  However, my dining companions all agreed we wouldn’t be going back.   Sorry Chima.
Chima Brazilian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Gastonia · Restaurants

Nick’s Steak and Taphouse in Gastonia, NC

Nick’s in Gastonia is a place I’ve tried to visit a few times before, but the timing was never right.  I’ve gone a time or two and it was in between services, or closed for renovations.  Finally the Foodie Bunch made a reservation and we visited last night.  And since going out every weekend since January of this year, I think we all agreed that this was the second worst experience for dining we’d encountered.

There was one handicapped spot in front of the restaurant and it was taken, so we used valet.  It was awkward because we had to stop in the middle of the street and make a dash for it with traffic blocked behind us, and hoping not to get hit by the traffic coming from the other lane.  Once we got done with dinner, the handicapped space was available, but the valet parked my car across the street instead of making things easier on us by simply doing a u-turn and getting the vehicle in a spot closer while it was raining.  Valet fail.

So we get to the hostess station, and were promptly seated per our reservation.  We were escorted to a booth with a two-top pushed up against it with 2 chairs.  So, we had to move the two chairs to slide into the booth.  Then we sat and the two top wobbled all night long.  We asked why we weren’t given one of the 6 top tables, and she said “other people are in them.”  I commented “but we made these reservations a week in advance, wouldn’t that give you time to plan for us to have a table designed for 6?”  She didn’t answer, so I tried to move on despite our discomfort.  Seating fail.

We begin to order and were promptly told that the prime rib was gone in addition to 2 other steaks.  We quickly went back to the menu to pick another item.  My friend and I ordered the French Onion Soup for appetizers.  The waitress came back from the kitchen to report they were out.  We then chose Shrimp and Crab Bisque, which we were told was out, too.  I finally settled on seared scallops.  So, 3 entree choices gone, and now 2 appetizers gone.  Our hopes for a delicious meal were quickly being extinguished.

The seared scallops arrived and looked nice.  They were sitting on a bed of sweet potato puree and looked to be seared  lightly.  I shared with table mates and we all agreed that they were just underdone, not enough to send back, but not perfect enough to enjoy.  The puree below was also not hot.  My friend got the Firecracker Shrimp and it was much better, though the shrimp were a bit fishy tasting.

Seared Scallop Appetizer
Seared Scallop Appetizer
Firecracker Shrimp
Firecracker Shrimp
Caesar Nicks
The Caesar is very cheesy. And has potato sticks atop.

By the time our entrees arrived, we had been sitting there at least an hour.  With empty glasses.  The steaks were barely warm.  The compound butter didn’t even melt on them, just sat right on top.  My dish was crab stuffed flounder with fried squash and mashed potatoes.  The sides were both ice cold and my fish was flavorless.  After one bite of everything, I sent the whole plate back and asked to see the manager. Food Fail.

Crab stuffed flounder
Crab stuffed flounder
Ribeye with fried squash
Ribeye with fried squash
Ribs & Shrimp combo with macaroni and cheese
Ribs & Shrimp combo with macaroni and cheese

The manager was gracious, apologetic and clearly exhausted from a long night where nothing had gone right.  She comped our meals, though we try to reject her offer.  We left a sizable gratuity for the waitress, though the service was not terrific.  We all felt like she couldn’t face coming to the table to give or hear any more bad news.

I doubt I’ll go back, to be honest.  Frankly, I don’t think Nick’s will be around much longer TO try again, unless they really revamp their service.  If I were to give them a second chance it would be because the manager came by and tried to make it right at the end.
Nick's Steak & Taphouse on Urbanspoon

Belmont

Old Stone Steakhouse in Belmont, NC

Old Stone Steakhouse in Belmont, NC

.Old Stone Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Well, heck.  I’d heard so many good things about this quaint little steakhouse in Belmont, and I wanted to love it.  I did.  But I didn’t.

First, let me commend the owners on the beauty of the restaurant.  They did great things with the small space, making it homey yet rustic.     I will say that the restaurant is very loud.  I had a hard time hearing my dinner companions.  Another caveat for this restaurant is their excellent wait staff.  Our waitress was attentive and kind and never let us get too thirsty.  The kitchen also is efficient.  We had a large party of 10 and we were served quickly, as if we were a table of just 2.

The only bad thing I can say about this little gem is the food was not the best.  And unfortunately, the food is the most important part of  a dining experience.  We began with a variety of appetizers at our table, but I only tasted the Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pita Points.  It was really good, not anything extraordinary, but very good.  My next course was a wedge salad, and it was just ok.  I did like that the dressing was homemade, but the canned potato sticks on top were just pedestrian.  Next time I’d get the Caesar salad, I snagged a bite of my husband’s and it was good.  Plus, it had black olives!  Who does that?

My entree was a petite filet stuffed with lobster, lump crab meat and tomato basil.  It came out with a half lobster tail protruding from the center of this succulent filet with some crab meat jammed in the center hole the lobster created and drizzled on the plate.  The lobster was a bit under-cooked and not very fresh.  The crab meat that was supposed to be “lump” was certainly not jumbo lump.  Even more horrible was the fact that it was mixed in with this very strongly flavored chopped raw tomatoes with basil.  This delicate crab meat was completely overwhelmed by these aggressive flavors and just did not work.  Perhaps the worst offense was in digging the crab meat from the center of my filet and seeing it pink because it was drenched in the bloody juice from my steak.  The steak itself was fine, but I’d order it alone next time.  It was a grave disappointment.  My other dinner companions complained that there steaks were not tender; they had ordered the Cowboy Ribeye.  I got macaroni and cheese for my side dish, which was described as a deluxe side, and therefore came with an added cost.  The cheese tasted like a processed American cheese with some sort of Mexican flair, perhaps Rotel tomatoes? Skip this.

Dessert was fine enough.  Most of the offerings were uninspired, nothing on the menu grabbed my attention.  I opted for the chocolate cake, hoping for a moist cake, but was vaguely disappointed.  It was serviceable, but nothing I’d get again.  My husband got the chocolate creme brulee and it was reminiscent of chocolate pudding with a hard sugar crust.

If you are craving steak, I can think of 10 better restaurants to try for the same money.  Skip this place.