Savory Saturday

Palmetto Olive Oil Co. and Bacon Brothers Public House have lingered on my list of places to check out. Thanks to some free time, a gift certificate, and indecision, we were able cross them both off the list on Saturday.

We started our day at Palmetto Olive Oil Co. on Augusta Street. The shop specializes in fresh olive oils and high-quality balsamic vinegar varieties. Upon entering the shop, one of the nice ladies who works there asked if we would like to sample. We said yes and were given a bowl of bread chunks and some general guidelines.

At first, we sampled the oils. The store stocks oils from both hemispheres depending on which area is harvesting. The oil we tasted was pressed from olives in November and December. Since this oil is very fresh, it contains antioxidants and other health benefits not found in grocery store oils. The flavor is also very different. The more robust oils take on the flavor on what grows around the olive trees. This can lead to a very fresh almost grassy flavor. I have to admit, this was not my favorite.

We moved into the flavored oil section. I found many things to like here. A few of my favorites were the spicy chipotle, a rich butter-flavored oil which would be great if you wanted to reap the health benefits of replacing butter with olive oil,  a delightful Herbes de Provence, and zesty blood orange. We wound up bringing home the blood orange olive oil. While I look forward to using it for entrees, I’m also interested in the idea of infusing brownies with a hint of orange by using this oil.

After sampling the oils, we moved to the white balsamics. A few of the highlights here were the fresh peach, Sicilian lemon, pineapple, and the original unflavored white balsamic.

We moved the the back of the store and exchanged our bread for a scoop of vanilla ice cream to use with the dark balsamic vinegar selections. Mr. McB loved the Tahitian vanilla and black cherry. We brought home bottles of both. I was a big fan of the maple, champagne, lavender, and raspberry. I selected a small bottle of maple and am looking forward to pairing that with the blood orange oil for what could be a delicious salad dressing.

After leaving the store, we decided to travel toward home and have lunch at Bacon Brothers Public House. This small farm-to-table establishment is located in a strip mall on Pelham Road. If Farmer Brown was a hipster, his house would look like the inside of Bacon Brothers. Functionally, there is a smoker behind the restaurant and a chamber inside the restaurant where their homemade meats and sausages are cured. Take the name as a clue, Bacon Brothers is not for vegetarians.

We both ordered the burger which is made from ground chuck, brisket, and bacon. Mr. McB had the traditional two-patty version and added a fried egg. I went with one patty and added a side of onion rings.

bacon brothers public houseLook at the size of that egg hanging off the side of the burger. After one bite, he had a pool of rich, egg yolk all over the plate. The burger became a fork-and-knife food at that moment. He doesn’t normally like messy foods but the unique flavor of this burger made it worthwhile.

photo 2Before I get to my review of the burger, let’s start with the onion rings. They weren’t the crispiest rings I’ve ever had but, they were far from soggy. They were fresh and featured a very light beer batter. The sweet onion was really allowed to standout instead of being overpowered by a mound of coating.

photo 4As you can see from this photo, the single burger is pretty substantial. The flavor is very different from a normal burger. Here you are getting the sinful smokiness of the bacon and brisket. It’s like a barbecued burger minus sauce. The leaf lettuce, American cheese, pickle, and special sauce all complimented the flavor very well. They balanced without muting. As a bread-lover, I have to take a minute to wax poetically about these delicious house-made buns. They are fluffy but still substantial enough to handle this burger.

We look forward to returning to both establishments and enjoying more of what they have to offer.

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Mason Jar & Acme General Store

Mason Jar Greer SCLast Sunday, Mr. McB and I decided to head to downtown Greer for lunch. After looking at a few menus, we decided on The Mason Jar, 202 Trade Street.

The restaurant is located in an old store; we selected a table in what would have been a display window. There were a number of families eating at The Mason Jar. The restaurant features a number of special nights and performances including family night, live music, trivia nights, and karaoke. There’s really something that appeals to everybody.

I think that universal appeal also applies to the menu. While they wouldn’t be classified as “gourmet,” there is a great selection of tasty burgers, sandwiches, salads and entrees.

grilled cheeseMcB selected the grilled cheese with fries. This grilled cheese is made in a cast iron skillet and McB said that you could tell from the flavor and golden crispiness of the bread. He was very happy with his selection. He also raved about the fries. As you can see, they are fresh-cut and still have peel on the ends. This is not normally the kind of fry that he likes but he was won over because they were hot, crisp, and perfectly salted.

I selected the “bird dog” which is chopped up chicken planks served with cheese and honey mustard on hot dog buns. The chicken was crispy and perfectly seasoned. The texture of the chicken was a nice contrast with the soft hot dog bun. I had “half-and-half” and really enjoyed the beer battered onion rings. Yummy!

We really enjoyed our lunch at the atmosphere of The Mason Jar and will definitely return.

We concluded our trip with a visit to the Acme General Store. I was curious about what was in the store and after receiving a tip about their ice cream counter, we had to stop in.

The store has a bit of this-and-that. In addition to apparel, toys, soaps, lotions, toys, and outdoor gear, there is a small selection of food products including condiments, specialty beers, crackers, cookies, and nostalgia candies.

Acme’s second floor houses a climbing wall for kids and a nerf ball battle zone for all ages. There are several cannons set up were you can shoot balls at each other. It’s a lot of fun and it’s free. McB wasn’t in the mood to wear a helmet so we shot on the same side but on our next visit, I think we’ll square off.

The battle zone is probably the best thing at Acme but the ice cream counter isn’t far behind. There are a number of fun flavors to chose from. I had Knob Creek bourbon butter pecan and very pleased.

McB selected his standard vanilla shake and wasn’t disappointed by this thick, creamy concoction. Look! It’s the same straw you’d be given for bubble tea and he still wound up eating most of the shake with a spoon.

It was fun, relaxing afternoon in Greer and one that I’m sure we’ll repeat soon.

Yes, he picked Indian food. No, he doesn’t have a fever.

Mr. McB is known for being a picky eater who doesn’t generally like to try things outside his comfort zone. This reputation is not entirely fair. He is pretty conservative in his choices but he has also become increasingly adventurous in recent years. That’s why I am so pleased that an office outing took him to Saffron Indian Cuisine; I know he would have never selected it on his own, but he gave into peer pressure and came to learn that he really did enjoy it.

After his visit, McB decided that he had to treat me to the lunch buffet. I enjoy Indian food and am always eager to try new things so I was pretty excited for our visit a few weeks ago. The restaurant, located at 1178 Woodruff Road in Greenville, is part of a small strip mall. While the exterior of the building might seem a bit bland, the inside is bright and welcoming. Inside you’ll find a relatively spacious dining area with Indian art and ample seating.

The buffet ($7.95 during the week, $9.95 on weekends) isn’t particularly massive but it still manages to feature a nice variety of choices in both vegetarian and chicken entrees as well as some salads and other specialties. Patrons pick up their own plates from the warming station and no one seemed to be bashful about making multiple trips to visit the buffet.

my plate from saffronMcB limited himself to chicken korma, naan, and basmati rice. I tried a small helping of almost every dish that was on the buffet including a lentil curry, lemon tofu, panir makhni and tandori chicken. I can’t complain about any of the dishes that I tried. They were flavorful and well cooked. I didn’t make a pig of myself but I did feel satisfied for the rest of the day.

My only disappointment was that the samosa tray was empty when we arrived and was not refilled until just before we left. I could have helped myself but I was far too full by then. Thankfully, they were very diligent about replenishing the naan. I suspect Saffron goes through at least 100 pounds of naan daily. It was very popular with everyone who visited the buffet.

Whether you love Indian food or want to try it for the first time, I highly recommend Saffron. The very affordable buffet provides a nice mix of spicy and mild dishes that can please any palate. The staff is nice and helpful and the restaurant is clean and bright.

If you don’t take my word for it, you might be interested to learn that Saffron is also Greenville’s highest rated restaurant on Trip Advisor. It just goes to show that no matter the cuisine, good food is bound to be noticed and respected.

 

 

Our big fat Greek(ish) dinner

After our outing to the Greenville Zoo on New Year’s Eve, Mr. McB and I were starving. He really wanted pizza so we headed down to Pelham Road to have a pie at Bertolo’s only to find that they were closed. The same was true for Moe’s Southwest and Acapulco.  It was just four in the afternoon so the folks who own/run these establishments must have been gearing up for quite that party that night.

We notice that The Original Acropolis (3620 Pelham Road – Earth Fare Plaza) was open and since he was starving, McB was more willing to try a Greek restaurant that normal. Things were pretty quiet so we got a seat immediately. The décor is very showy. It seems that this is true of many Greek restaurants in the US. I don’t mind it, it’s just very…fancy.

We review the menu and quickly realize that Acropolis serves a mix of Greek and Italian dishes. This seems to be pretty popular in this area. We had a good experience at Greek/Italian Pomodoros just south of Asheville and our beloved Mythos pizza comes from a Greek/Italian kitchen.

I am pretty hungry so I select the moussaka. It’s a heavy dish but I’m hungry enough to handle it. McB picks pizza (regular Italian not the pita version.)

Greek saladMy meal came with a Greek salad. It was a good basic salad with a flavorful Greek vinaigrette that really popped with the olives and feta in the salad.

 

MoussakaThe moussaka was a bit different than what I was expecting. I was presented with a slightly Americanized version of Greek moussaka (eggplant/potatoes, seasoned ground beef, béchamel sauce) but it was surrounded by a hearty tomato sauce with slices of feta. It was like a little Italian moat around my moussaka castle. The core dish was good for the most part. The beef was well seasoned with the traditional cinnamon and all spice. The potatoes weren’t cooked as thoroughly as I would have liked.  There was also some bitterness to the eggplant but it’s eggplant and sometimes that just happens. The tomato sauce and feta pairing was good but I feel like they were there on the plate trying to cover for the shortcomings of the moussaka. While this odd combination wasn’t horrible, it didn’t provide the authentic experience I was looking for.

Pizza from AcropolisMcB’s cheese pizza featured the same sauce that surrounded my moussaka. It was a heavy sauce that was applied liberally – too liberally for his taste. The crust held up to the sauce but the ratio of cheese to sauce was less than ideal. The next day I tried to have one of his leftover pieces as cold pizza but this pizza just isn’t made to be eaten cold. I wrapped it in foil and reheated in the oven. I wasn’t fond of the pie. The sauce was just too much for the pizza.

I’m not sure we’d head back to The Acropolis. We only go out once or twice a week so I don’t see us using one of our limited opportunities there. It’s not a horrible place, the service is good and the portions are plentiful and other than the pizza, the food isn’t bad. It’s just not the place I would pick.