The owners of North End Café don't just purchase local produce: they also grow vegetables and herbs in their own garden in Simpsonville. Since April, 2003, their chefs have championed this focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Café's menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to vegetarian lasagnas, stir-fry, and cakes. For sharing, chefs build eclectic small plates such as crab cakes, fried goat-cheese ravioli, and almond-crusted brie. They also prepare a range of vegan and gluten-free dishes, taking care to avoid the pyrotechnics that result when steak and tofu touch.
To accompany these meals, bartenders pour American and international wines, and blend cocktails from fruit and old-fashioned ingredients. At the Highlands location, a brand-new tap system spouts 23 craft beers, including imperial IPAs and peppery black porters. In warmer months, the aromas of cooking and laughter of clientele also fill the Highlands location's new outdoor patio, an expansive wooden deck surrounded by leafy plants and tall, wispy trees.
At Zen Garden, many of the Asian dishes sound familiar, with adjectives like "orange," "sweet ‘n’ sour," and "kung pao." However, rather than tossing chicken or beef in with these classic flavors, the kitchen has adopted a meat-free credo. Chefs mix masterfully seasoned bites of tofu and other meat alternatives with fresh veggies, creating entrees such as green beans stir-fried with mock duck and the barbecued-soy sandwich. Noodles tangle around shiitake mushrooms in both the udon-noodle soup and the shiitake mushroom lo mein, and curry sauce imbues eggplant and shredded tofu with a spicy kick. Guests can pair their meal with a cup of green tea, prepped hot, iced, or in its purest form: emeralds that have not yet been juiced.
The sandwich makers at Sub Station II do not add any chemicals to their sandwich fillings, instead relying on fresh produce sliced every day to flavor nearly two dozen subs. Corned beef, shaved steak, and salami join a medley of veggies, cheeses, and dressings atop East Coast Italian rolls. The staff builds catered party subs that range from 6 feet in length down to 6 centimeters.
Sis's on Monmouth treats guests to a feast for the senses, with the strains of live country and folk music serenading diners as they dine on hand-breaded cod sandwiches, Texas-style chili, homemade meatloaf slathered with brown gravy and ketchup, and taco salad served in a crisp tortilla bowl. While enjoying the music of local songwriters, customers chow down on hearty pub fare, or can order catered meals of spaghetti and meatballs, roast beef, and lasagna.
The folks at the 'wich on Sycamore wanted to create more than just a fast, easy option for their diners. They wanted to do it better—with fresher ingredients, house-roasted meats, and options that were always made-to-order. The result was a lunch and breakfast menu that features a long list of options for customizable sandwiches or hand-crafted signature creations such as roasted eggplant on ciabatta, or pecan chicken salad sandwiches on buttered and toasted honey-wheat bread. Lunch isn't the only focus, though; fresh ingredients are used to create breakfast food such as ham, bacon, and green onion cream cheese on a raisin bagel or goat cheese, basil pesto, portabella mushrooms, and roasted red peppers on toasted honey wheat.