The monopoly tycoons of the 19th century traditionally did their wheeling and dealing at fine-dining establishments, cleverly concealing the fact that they still lived with their parents. Upstage top-hat-wearing phonies with today's deal: for $25, you get $50 worth of fine dining and drinks at Saluda's.
Saluda's puts a fresh spin on its dinner menu of contemporary cuisine by peppering it with Italian, French, and Lowcountry permutations. A starter of baked brie, served with puff pastry and balsamic strawberry-pecan relish ($9), thaws out saliva icebergs in preparation for the main course. Savor some soulful flavors with the locally caught shrimp and grits (shrimp, red bell peppers, chicken sausage, white-cheddar Mornay Adluh grits, and fried green tomato, $19), or mouth-sail a sea of pan-seared deepwater sea scallops swimming in a school of lobster succotash, cauliflower purée, and truffled corn emulsion ($26). Human piñatas that have already stuffed their stomachs with presents for tomorrow's birthday parties can keep it light by pairing a cup of lobster bisque ($8) with a warm spinach salad (baby spinach, diced tomato, warm shallot-bacon vinaigrette, and fried goat-cheese medallion, $8).
Saluda's also serves an extensive list of wine by the glass, by the half bottle, by the bottle, and (under rare circumstances) by the Super Soaker from several tables away. Share a half bottle of 2005 Cambrian pinot noir ($23) with a dinner date, and sensuously eye-wrestle beneath arched windows, high ceilings, and an elegant, sophisticated ceiling that keeps diners from being crushed by the falling sky.
Saluda's Restaurant celebrates many histories. Its solid mahogany bar was part of Philadelphia's Blakely Hotel in the late 1800s, its walls sport vintage European posters advertising festive drinks, and its menu pays homage to timeless Southern staples, from shrimp and grits to artfully grilled rib eyes. Perhaps the greatest nod to the past is the building itself, which was constructed after World War I as a VFW officers club. There, veterans would gather to carouse and reminisce, fostering a convivial tradition that Saluda's has since restored and nurtured.
Executive chef Blake Fairies fuels the animated atmosphere with dishes whose down-home roots benefit from French and Italian influences. His prime concern is freshness—in an interview with Undefined magazine, he revealed how his fish du jour is often prepped the day after his friend Mark, a member of Abundant Seafood in Charleston, lures it onto his boat with promises of a free tropical time share. Like much of the kitchen's produce, chef Blake’s flash-fried green tomatoes come from local farms, and his entrees incorporate seasonal ingredients to complement ones imported from across the world. The results are plates that blend classic taste with inventive zest: steaks in black-truffle butter, helpings of handmade pasta, and pork chops brined in sweet tea. At the bar, guests can peruse more than 300 wines as well as cocktails and small-batch bourbon.
751 Saluda Ave.
Columbia, South Carolina 29205Get Directions