Anchorage means a place where vessels anchor. But, it also has another meaning of securing or a source of reassurance. Traditional southern cuisine from the land definitely has a firm anchor in one of the hottest restaurants in the Southeast – The Anchorage in Greenville, South Carolina. Traditional southern staples of peas, corn, and even watermelon are a source of reassurance as dishes deeply rooted in southern cuisine thrive in the Anchorage.
The colorful mural on the outside of the blue brick building is just the beginning of a dining experience bursting with color, flavor, and fun at The Anchorage. My mom had seen an article in the Greenville News about the restaurant being featured in the “Bites” section of the New York Times. The Anchorage opened in 2017 and was a semi-finalist for the coveted James Beard Foundation Best New Restaurant award. It’s in the Village of West Greenville, a revitalized area of my hometown that’s now an uber-cool arts district filled with more than 60 galleries, shops, restaurants, cafes, and even loft condos.
I’ll call the food eclectic southern cuisine. In traditional southern cuisine, vegetables take certain stage and there’s a plethora of veggie offerings on the menu. The vegetables and foraged herbs are from the Appalachians. The rice and grains are from South Carolina’s lowlands and the seafood is from the coast.
The building is airy, yet historic. It was the Brandon Mill Infirmary, part of a textile mill complex was built in the early 20th century. The colorful mural and delightful patio with white tables and chairs against the blue brick will grab your attention immediately. As I walked in and saw how filled with natural light the historic building is, I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that! The decor includes a nautical nod in colors of the blue accents on the benches and even the blue dot on the plates to compliment the white beams and ceiling, earthy wall decor, distressed exposed brick, and steampunk-esque lighting.
As I perused the wine list I was immediately drawn to the first one on the list – Scarpetta Timido Sparkling Rosé from Fruili, Italy. Scarpetta was created by friends master sommelier Bobby Stuckey and James Beard Foundation award winning chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, owners of Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Colorado. After ordering a glass I looked at the rest of the wine list and loved two things – all small production and price points are very approachable. The wines-by-the-glass are in the $10-14 and with the exception of a couple of bottles, most bottles are under $65.
Small Plates, Huge Flavors
“Bigger than tapas and meant to share.” That’s what our server told us about the dishes. My mom and I had already decided on two dishes to split – Marinated Field Peas and Atlantic Halibut – plus a order of the Squash and Zucchini Fritters. There are four small fritters fried to perfection and packed with squash and zucchini served over tzatziki sauce. I love good ole southern field peas. These were done in a way I’d never had them. The Marinated Field Peas are served with canary melon (sweeter and tangier than a honeydew melon), a hint of lemon balm, benne vinaigrette (benne seed were a sesame seed brought over by slaves from Africa in the early 18th century and still an intricate part of traditional South Carolina cuisine), red onion and topped with Greek yogurt. The Atlantic Halibut was seared to perfection and served with a slice of grilled watermelon topped with watermelon granita, purple sweet peppers, pepitas, pumpkin seed oil, basil, and mint. The sweetness of the watermelon paired beautifully with the heartiness of the halibut. We ate every last bite!
Save Room for Dessert!
After looking at the three choices for dessert, we decided on the Choclo Torte. You might think it’s a chocolate torte based on the name but it’s not. It’s a light sweet corn cake served with pickled blueberries, sweet corn espuma, ice cream, and drizzled with blueberry fluid gel. Different and delicious! We absolutely scrapped the plate clean! Before we left we were already planning our next visit to The Anchorage for my next trip back to my hometown.