Oktoberfest at Haus Heidelberg

Haus Heidelberg Sign

Of all the ethnic holidays, I think I like Oktoberfest the best. It brings with it hints of cooler weather, fall colors, and one of my favorite cuisines – German food. However, fellow kayaker and chef Darren M. recently pointed out that authentic Oktoberfest has a very specific date range – two weeks running from late September through the first week of October. Any restaurants or festivals advertising Oktoberfest this late in the year (such as Walhalla this weekend, but I guess a fake Norse town can have a fake Bavarian celebration any time it wants) is doing so purely for advertising promotion. I guess it’s not that different from seeing Halloween ads all October, or promoting Christmas just as soon as the after school sales end. That being said, when my friend Keith Dover proposed heading up to Haus Heidelberg in Hendersonville to take advantage of their Oktoberfest specials, I jumped at the chance, cultural authenticity be damned.

I have long complained about the dearth of German restaurants in the area, especially with BMW and all the other German industry in town. But, I guess that number is increasing. Joining Haus Edelweiss and Schwaben Haus are Hans und Franz and The Bavarian Pretzel Factory. Even Strossner’s Bakery is now on the list of places offering German food. German restaurants seem to be more prevalent on up in the mountains, I guess hearkening back to the Alpine nature of Bavaria. Both The Black Forest in Ardin and Haus Heidelberg have been long-time staples of German food in our region. However, I don’t get up that way often enough to take advantage of them. This was the first time I’d been to Haus Heidelberg in ages.

The drive up early Wednesday evening was spectacular. The October sky was brilliantly lit with the setting sun, and the leaves are just shy of being at peak. Keith and I drove on up through Flat Rock, enjoying the ride. Continue reading “Oktoberfest at Haus Heidelberg”

Rolled Pita

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UPDATE: This restaurant is now closed.

I love Eastern Mediterranean food. There’s nothing like pita and hummus for a snack, and kabobs, olives, rice, and falafel make a perfect meal, especially when rounded out with baklava. So, I was thrilled to see that a Lebanese restaurant had opened on Wade Hampton Boulevard in Greer, within striking distance for lunch.

The Rolled Pita is located in the corner of a small strip mall near the old Allen-Bennett Hospital. For a long time it went unnoticed, with only a small sign proclaiming “Lebanese Restaurant.” I didn’t even spot it until they renamed the place and put up a larger sign. That was last Friday, so Wednesday I decided to give it a try.

Atmosphere

If it were a Greek place, I probably would have described it as “spartan” just to be witty. This goes beyond spartan. There are just a few tables in a surprisingly large area. The restaurant actually takes up two spaces at the mall, with the second space serving as a fish market. Unfortunately, the place reeks of fish, and I almost turn around and walk out.

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Continue reading “Rolled Pita”

Table 301

…or, “I watch way too much food television…” Laura and I had delayed our anniversary dinner. Our actual anniversary is right after Christmas, and this year we were traveling. So, this year we decided to go out for a nice meal at a more convenient time. We had been to The Lazy Goat several times … Continue reading Table 301

Wine Tasting 101

Wine Glass Tilt Shift

Laura and I were ready for a date night. We had both been so busy that we needed an evening off to ourselves. Unfortunately, this was also the weekend of Artisphere, so we were pretty certain that most of our favorite downtown restaurants would be inaccessible.

I got home at my usual time Friday afternoon, and we still didn’t have a plan. Laura had noted that Northampton Wines was having their “How to Taste” wine tasting this evening, and that would have been fun if we’d had reservations. We’ve tried going to that tasting before, but even calling early in the week we would find that it was full. I didn’t hold out much hope for a spur-of-the-moment trip, but I called anyway.

Turns out that our timing was perfect. Everyone was at Artisphere, so there was room for us. They had already set the table for the tasting, but said that they could re-arrange to add to more.

The Tasting

We knew that dinner wasn’t included with the tasting – only wine and cheese. We had a few appetizers at home so that we wouldn’t be drinking on empty stomachs, then headed over for our 6:30 tasting. We were the first to arrive, and were ushered into the back tasting room, which was lined with bins and bottles. As we waited, six glasses were filled with enough to taste the sample vintages for the evening.

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The rest of the guests arrived, bringing the total to 17. Our speaker was Richard deBondt, and this evening would focus on the wines of France. He began by talking about sparkling wines and the proper way to open a bottle. We were then served a taste, and were instructed on the proper way to toast. Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101”

Port Wentworth Friday Nights

For these lowcountry kayaking trips I often come down on Friday night so that I don’t have to get up so early on Saturday.  Wherever I am I like to find some place quirky and local for dinner, and this trip was no exception.

I checked at the front desk of the motel on I-95, and was informed that there were two good restaurants just up the street.  I scooted round the corner to the first, Silverado’s.

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The van, radio station banner, and balloons should have alerted me to trouble.  I walked in the door and was greeted by a plume of smoke, and a boozy greeting from a woman with stringy hair and fewer teeth than I have.

Well, howdy, you sharp-dressed man, and welcome to Silverado’s!  Have a seat on this here bar stool and buy me a drink!

No, thank you.  I had just driven all the way down straight from the office, and my slacks and white shirt stood out from the jeans and cowboy boots.  I glanced around.  Even if I had wanted to stay, none of the sparse tables between the pool tables and dance floor were available.

I guess the sign advertising Lingerie Lunch today should have also tipped me off.  I’d already missed it, and the smoke was more than I could bear, so I left.  I was after quirky, not hazardous. Continue reading “Port Wentworth Friday Nights”

Korean BBQ

Laura had an evening meeting, so I was on my own for dinner. You know what that means – time to explore the local cuisine. In this case, it was hardly local in origin. I decided to try the Korean BBQ place just off of Woodruff Road.  No catchy name here – just “Tasty Korean … Continue reading Korean BBQ

Hans and Franz

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One of my paddling buddies accused me of posting “food porn.” Sorry, James, but here’s some more…

For months now I’ve seen signs for Doner Kabob, and have wondered about the food being advertised. To me, a kabob is meat on a stick with vegetables, cooked on a grill.  Little did I know that it’s actually a type of German sandwich, in this case sold from a large trailer that moves from place to place.

One of our office co-workers offered to get sandwiches for everyone at lunch, and they were quite good.  Mine was a very spicy turkey on a flat sort of bun.  Along with the discovery of the sandwich came the discovery of a new German restaurant in the community of Pelham.  So, with Laura out of town, tonight was the perfect night for my sister Glynda and I to give Hans and Franz a try.

Background

First, the building – this was one of the original 1860’s buildings for the Pelham Mills.  It was a barn structure to support the main mill, which made Confederate uniforms during that war.  For awhile recently Rocky Creek Bakery occupied the building.  Glynda and I had a couple of lunches here, and loved the old structure and wonderful bread.  We were both thrilled to see the new restaurant here.

It’s my understanding that Hans and Franz is an enterprise by the folks that own Addy’s Dutch Restaurant in downtown Greenville.  They have been wanting to branch out into German cuisine, which has been sorely lacking in the area since the demise of Haus Edleweiss.  While not owned by them, the Doner Kabob trailer works in partnership with the restaurant in a symbiotic relationship.

Continue reading “Hans and Franz”

Pho 99

Laura had a Furman function, so I was on my own for dinner. I was in the mood something savory, but also something that would accommodate sore braces. I was on my way home, planning to do something simple, when I spotted Pho 99. Soup, noodles, and soft meat sounded pretty good, so I turned … Continue reading Pho 99

Schwaben House

Schwaben House

I was on my own for dinner tonight, so I decided to try the only German restaurant in town, Schwaben House.

Background

Annette Heilmann-Ferro and Karl Heilmann, a brother and sister team, opened Schwaben House a year ago in February of 2009.  It’s located on Pelham Road in what used to be the Kabob House.

Schwabia is a region of Southern Germany that includes Bavaria.  As its name implies, the restaurant features cuisine from this area.

Atmosphere

So many German restaurants have rich wood finishes and paneling for that “Bavarian” feel.  That’s just not the case here.  The walls are light with a aqua green wainscot.  There are bits of Bavarian decor, but these don’t dominate the place. Continue reading “Schwaben House”

Nation’s Bakery

Nations Bakery

NOTE: This restaurant location has closed. The restaurant has moved to Inman, SC, and a Mexican restaurant has opened in this location.

It started with a box of cookies…

A new bakery opened just down the road in Lyman. Its signs touting “gourmet cuisine” have been taunting me for the past couple of months. I’ve even stopped by twice, only to be told that they were not yet ready to serve lunch, but soon… The smells of fresh-baked goods made it hard to walk out the door unsatisfied.

Then this morning one of my tech team brought a selection of cookies from Nations Bakery and told me that they were now open for lunch. The cookies were excellent, and I knew I had to give this place a try.

Background

Once upon a time this used to be a popular ice cream shop. Many years later it found new life as Don Pedro’s, a Mexican restaurant with fairly good food, but a scary interior. It didn’t fare so well, and the building has sat empty for the past couple of years.

As previously mentioned, work began remodeling the empty restaurant a couple of months ago. The bakery opened first, and the restaurant opened just after Christmas. Continue reading “Nation’s Bakery”