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Yesterday was M’s birthday.  We had originally planned for a whirlwind adventure down to Cola and then back up towards Charlotte but due to the gusting winds and generally ick weather yesterday we opted to just go out to eat at dinner time instead.

Now most of my readers know that M is an accomplished cook.  I learned my mad skills (modesty? pffft what is that?) at the apron strings of a master so a restaurant better bring their A-game when she sits at their table.

It doesn’t happen often and sadly did not happen last night either.

We are all still suffering from dinner last night.

Emphasis on suffering.

We went to a fairly well established restaurant, one that has put a great deal of PR into their charcuterie which is what hooked out interest initially.  I mean, I’m currently brining a hog jowl that I had intended to smoke later today but instead I will be using more of a non-smoked application… more on that later on.

Initially, things looked ok.  I did not care for the decor but to be honest my style is somewhere from log-cabin chic to Chateau de Versailles to minimalist Japan.  We were seated at what amounted to the kitchen-door table.  OK, fair enough, the place was moderately busy and we had the kids with us…. not a really valid excuse because my kids are like little restaurant reviewers on their own and at 11, 12 and 16 it’s not like they’re going to be needing high chairs and goldfish.

I digress.

Enter first nameless, wide-eyed, wait staff type person who was not really our waiter but was more of a paid greeter, filler of water-glass guy.  I had high hopes for him.  It was for naught.

Sophie went through her typical spiel of introducing herself and everyone at the table to which he replied (while pouring tepid water that tasted like Greenville City’s finest UNFILTERED tap) “I’m not your server.”

Well ok then.

We read over the menu, made initial decisions and then our actual waiter appeared.  I have a history of entertaining waiters.  It’s kind of my thing.  Some respond well to it (they are my favorites) and others just blink a lot and ignore me.

Guess which one we got?

So I opened with “this is our first time here and it’s M’s birthday!” Happy smiley face! He returned with “Great.” Zero affect, I hate my life face.

OK.

Me- “OK then, well… B will have the burger….” Here I’m interrupted with “You’ll want the kids menu?”

Me- “ummm…. no. He’s a cyclist, they are eating machines, he’ll want the regular size burger”

Blinky- “it doesn’t come with fries”

Me- “ok, we will order them as a side then”

Blinky “the kids version comes with fries”

Me- “ok… ummm… he really wants the bigger burger…..”

Blinky- blink,blink… and then proceeds to tell me what the kids’ burger consists of… which is sliders which B notorious does not like because they aren’t dressed like a burger which is what he wanted.

At this point B pipes up with “I really want the burger please, not sliders” so Blinky heaves a sigh and writes down the order, then in the most put-upon voice imaginable says something to the effect of “you want the regular sauces and stuff on it?” and B nodded indicating yes.

The rest of the ordering went ok until it got back around to me at which point I made another gallant effort to engage Blinky and failed once again.  I asked what he recommended after seeing the variety that we had ordered so that we had a good general idea of what the restaurant could do.

This should have clued him in that I do the occasional review.

It did not.

He pointed out the highest priced item on the menu, something else that I honestly cannot remember and a sandwich.

I went with the sandwich because at this point I was annoyed and just wanted the ordering nightmare to end.

While waiting on our food I had an opportunity to watch many orders being readied for service and also to watch other diners eating their meals.  I noticed that some of the servers took a lot of care in their presentation while others didn’t really give a flying…. well… you know.

I was just getting to a place of calmness when another waiter started screaming in the back. SCREAMING!!! Something about tea, something about coffee. I realize we were sitting in the galley for all intents and purposes but c’mon… people don’t play $12+ for a hamburger to hear screaming while it’s being prepared.

I digress… again.

The food came out and I was underwhelmed immediately with the plating.  The only “Insta-worthy” plate was Xander’s sandwich.  M’s plate looked like they simply slopped whatever available meat was handy onto a plate, Sophie’s as well.  My sandwich and B’s sandwich looked like lonely little satellites on their plates, especially B’s which was missing the fries that he had ordered.

At this point I was still, surprisingly, optimistic.  I can forgive a myriad of sins if the food is good.

My first bite of Reuben was potentially good. The flavor was intense but entirely too salty for my preference. The bread was good tho.  Sophie said she enjoyed her ribs, however she didn’t eat them all. I did taste them and the flavor was ok, not my favorite spice blend, but ok.  B said the flavor of the burger was good, tho a bit plain. X’s sandwich went soggy rapidly so the enjoyment factor waned a bit but he said it was ok. M’s meal tho… it was not good.  The brisket was predominately fat.  The pulled pork flavorless without the sauces which did not taste balanced at all to any of us. The hash which is my bench mark judge of any place that even tries to do a BBQ was horrible.

HORRIBLE.

It wasn’t so much hash as really finely minced pork in the terrifically unbalanced sauce over undercooked rice. Not crunchy like bottom of the rice steamer rice… but this-rice-has-had-about-10-minutes-in-rapidly-boiling-water rice.

That, my dear readers, is an unpardonable sin.

Blinky did come around several times and kept the drink glasses full, thankfully as our salt intake was sufficient enough to cause dehydration.

I tried to ask him about other items on the menu and I’ve never had a waiter undersell a menu as much as he did.

Me- “tell me about the popcorn!”

Blinky- “it’s just crackerjacks with bacon and grease mixed in” (yawn  implied by tone)

Me- “oh… well then… nevermind.”

And then he asked if we wanted dessert, we said no and we paid and we left.

As far as I know, M’s birthday went under the radar even though I mentioned it not only to the hostess, but water-pouring waiter and Blinky.

There did seem to be a lot of excitement (aka yelling) about one of the other tables so maybe they were distracted, I don’t know.

So, needless to say we left a bit unhappy.  M was not impressed and my birthday present to her is writing this review.  I’m leaving out the restaurant name as I honestly in my heart feel like maybe there is a management problem, maybe a staffing issue as I’ve seen posts on their social media that they are hiring all positions… that would indicate something not working exactly right to me.

I don’t like leaving bad reviews, likewise I don’t like that I felt like we were judged and minimalized as “worthwhile” guests when we walked in.  Had the waiter been upbeat about menu items we would have ordered them, but his “meh” attitude indicated to us that it wasn’t worth our money or his time to place the order.

We took our left overs to J who was stuck in the ED and even he had a hard time with the saltiness and the unbalanced sauces.  This morning found him green and queasy with a sudden dislike of all BBQ and more than once we feared that he would actually need that emesis bag that we kept in the backseat of Landy from when the kids were little.

That doesn’t tend to induce future visits.

So cross that one off my list of restaurants to try in G’ville.  It’s the first one that failed so horribly and cause our entire house of foodies to feel like we had been clearing trees and burning brush while snacking on salt licks in the pastures.

I’ve left enough unique descriptors in this post that locals should be able to easily figure out where I’m talking about and I’d like to leave it at that.  I like the premise this restaurant is trying to achieve with supporting local farmers but I feel that there’s a bit of the emperor’s new clothes effect going on.  Just because you are doing the trendy thing does not mean you can drop the ball because it’s a Thursday and you don’t think diners will notice. Calling yourself a “restaurant that just happens to serve BBQ” means that your BBQ game needs to be strong, otherwise don’t do it and stick to your charcuterie.

 

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Yesterday found us heading out on a hay run which lead to J and I checking out a new to us restaurant off of Woodruff Road in Greenville.  We have been long time fans of the Korean BBQ on Woodruff (the one in the same building as the Red Robin gas station…weird? yes!) but had seen that another Korean restaurant had popped up a little further down the way and decided to swing in to check it out.

It is a tiny restaurant so large parties or families with lots of kids will have some difficulty seating together but for just the two of us it was very quaint and cozy.  There are pictures of menu items on the walls and the menu was well illustrated with pictures and both English and Korean titles.

We started with fried dumplings.

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They were good, not spectacular, but tasty.  The dipping sauce was exceptionally good and accentuated the standard pork filling nicely.

J ordered the Bulgogi at a level 9 spiciness.

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This was very tasty and fairly spicy but was more like any Asian stir-fry.  It was a large portion and heavy on the beef so well worth the price, just not the flavor we had been anticipating.

I ordered the Duk Boki.

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Duk boki is kind of like a stir fried or maybe braised spicy rice cake.  This was very spicy and was ok.  I felt the rice cakes were a little mushy so there wasn’t the chewy texture that I am more familiar with and the spicy flavor was a little one dimensional, but otherwise it was good and the portion was ginormous!

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I felt that the side dishes were a little lacking.  There were three kimchi type vegetables and 2 bean sprout type things but there wasn’t a sweet or sour balance to the flavors.

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Everything was just HOT and SPICY or somewhat bland.  The kimchi was very good.  VERY good, so next time I would probably get something that focused on the kimchi.

All in all I found it to be a fair restaurant.  Not exactly where I would go for my Korean fix, but not a bad restaurant.  You get a lot of food for the price and J and I left full and sated.  The staff was very friendly and we enjoyed talking to them so I can definitely see us going back there but just ordering different items.

Kimchee Korean Restaurant is located at 1939 Woodruff Rd, Greenville, SC 29607

If ever I decided to (and had the funds to) open a bed and breakfast La Bastide would be my ideal.  From the exquisite food to the beautiful rooms to the gorgeous grounds… it is truly amazing.

I had a marvelous time, and honestly I’m glad it was for just the one night as more than that would’ve been sensory overload (not to mention financial!) and I seriously missed waking up to the sheep baaahing for their breakfast (so much so that I woke up at 6am because I didn’t hear them)

Anyway… we stayed in room #5, which we heard is Kevin Costner’s favorite room when he’s up for the golf tournaments at the Cliffs and I can see why.  It has lovely views of the mountains and grounds and as it’s the last room on the hall it has a bit more privacy.  Honestly, I’m not really impressed with name dropping so the fact that Kevin Costner liked the room mattered not a whit to me.  We kept teasing that now Kevin Costner gets to stay in our favorite room… isn’t he ever so lucky?

Anyway.  Dinner was marvelous!  I started with pistou, then duck breast with duck confit over wild mushroom risotto and finished with a chocolate lava cake.  Jim had the Mediterranean salad, Filet Mignon with truffle frites and finished with the apple galette.  We had a bottle of Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir (I think, it was on the house so I would have to ask Jim for specifics) and we had the ever fabulous Leopard Forest coffee with dessert (and to revive me after all that wine!!) and everything was wonderful!

I think one of the things I liked the best was how laid back everything was.  I mean, yeah, the place costs a small fortune to stay there, the accommodations are exquisite, the food is phenomenal, but the staff are very friendly and open and funny!  There was a marked lack of pretentious snooty people… sure there were a few there who paraded around like peacocks… but for the most part it almost felt like hanging out at a friend’s house… very comfortable.  Jim and I enjoy fine things, but are by far more comfortable in our wellie boots out with the animals or in the kitchen making dinner… so for us to feel completely at ease and “at home” was a really big thing. 

So anyway… here are a couple pics.

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walking barefoot on the terrace while waiting for dessert and enjoying the herb garden.

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A view of the vineyards from the terrace.

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EEEK… we look scary!!!

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View from our room. I think it was about 6:30ish when I took that pic… I couldn’t sleep… no sheep baahing… too quiet!!

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The dining room set for breakfast… seriously beautiful!!

I didn’t take still photos of our dinner because the lighting was so very low that a flash would’ve been necessary and I thought that might be seriously frowned upon!!

But the lighting was good for breakfast!

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Jim’s breakfast: Gruyere Omelet, grits, sausage, potatoes and spinach.

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My breakfast: waffles with fresh berries and bacon. Very tasty, but Jim’s was so very delicious! I’d definitely go for the omelet next time!

I failed to mention earlier that we had the loan of a BMW X6 for the weekend as well. Jim had a blast driving his dream car all over the mountains!

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He pretty much grinned like this the whole time!!

We cruised the Blue Ridge Parkway, slalomed through some torturous twisty mountain roads, and generally had a blast. I drove it from Bryson City to Travelers Rest and while I enjoyed it immensely I felt like I was cheating on Landy… so I left the rest of the driving to Jim.

Anyway… we had a great time and Sophie is already planning when SHE can go to the “Mountain Hotel” as she calls La Bastide. Matter of fact, she just came through with her little suitcase all packed… informing me that she was ready to go when I was! Gotta love her taste 🙂

First off, we LOVE Cuban food.  LOVE IT!  We were first introduced to it in G’ville in a little dive of a restaurant that had the best Cuban sandwiches hands down!  We have yet to find a place that has a comparable Cuban sandwich so it was with great enthusiasm that we arranged an outing to La Cubanita on East Broad.

La Cubanita

La Cubanita

First off, this is a tiny place that is working their niche as a downtown business lunch stop.  We were the only family there and I got the impression from the other patrons that it was unusual to see a family there at lunch.  That paired with the fact that the tables are mostly bistro/cafe style with tall stools it’s not immediately kid friendly.  Luckily they have a couple corner booths that were perfect for our brood.

I read a couple reviews online and it was highly recommended that you always try the special so we kept that in mind.  We found the menu to be very limited, don’t go expecting ropa vieja and carnitas ’cause it ain’t there!  Still there is something for all and even though I was really hoping for carnitas, I was still more than happy to try something else.

 Pan con Lechon

Jim ordered the Pan con Lechon ($7.95) which is a roasted pork sandwich.  He said it was excellent and it must have been because he wolfed it down before anyone could have a taste!

Sandwich Cubano

Sophie and I split the Sandwich Cubano ($6.95) which was ok.  I wasn’t over the moon about it, but it was good.  Personally there was too much mustard.  Sophie loved the little shoestring potato thingies that came with it and she loved her half of the sandwich, although she completely deconstructed it to eat it!  The bread is made fresh daily and was a big hit with Sophie!

the beef stew special

M and the boys got today’s special: Beef Stew (Never saw a price but it must have been $$$ so be sure to ask before ordering!!).  It was quite tasty and a big hit with both Xander and Beckett!  Our only complaint was that the portion of beef stew was so small for the price.  The stew is tomato based with olives and potatoes… very, very yummy!  I didn’t have any rice, but I did manage a taste of the beans (as Beckett was shovelling them into his mouth!) and they were very good as well.  The plaintains were excellent, just wish we had more!

Flan with Coconut

When we ordered the flan ($3.49) the waitress asked us if we wanted coconut on it.  I’ve never had it that way and it’s YUMMY!  I really enjoyed this, although Beckett wasn’t sold on it at all… I ate his part 🙂

Churro Rellano

We also ordered the Churro Rellano ($1.95).  It’s fried dough filled with caramel.  This was very, very good.  Jim wasn’t very willing to share it and it was very hot!  Definitely will be getting this again!

For drinks the boys had iced tea ($1.99) and the rest of us had water.  The water… not so good… definitely splurge for the tea as the water must come straight from the tap as it’s got a “city-wang” to it. 

Overall it wasn’t a bad restuarant.  It’s not one that I would immediately recommend to families with small kids (like us).  If the corner booths are taken then the seating options for a table with a high chair are tricky.  It’s definitely making the most of the downtown business dinner rush (almost all the other diners were in power suits and talking shop).

Would we go there again?  Possibly, if the mood strikes.  I’m hoping that it does well here in G’ville as I do get a hankering for Cuban and usually that means I have to make it myself, which isn’t always convenient.  And someday maybe they will add carnitas to the menu 🙂

Beckett enjoying the food!

Yummy!!

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