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BLUE RIDGE BREWERY- Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina

Posted by The LunchMen Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Make no mistake, the Lunchmen are Columbians, through and through. We exhibit an almost unhealthy amount of pride in residing in the Capital City, and will defend any assault on our home turf vehemently and without limitation. However, that is not to say that the Lunchmen never leave the Midlands, or that they don’t enjoy a good road trip. On the contrary, the very reason we are so confident in our love of Columbia and all its culinary delights is that we have traversed this great nation and find no city in comparable size and make-up that can offer the stomach what Columbia can. But, every now and then, when out on the road, a restaurant strikes such a chord with our taste buds that we are duty bound, regional allegiances be damned, to blog about it. No matter where you are, when the food is good enough, attention must be paid. Such is the case with the Blue Ridge Brewery in Greenville, SC.

If you are from Greenville, then (1) you are probably reading this on a Macbook Pro, (2) you are already knowledgeable about Blue Ridge Brewery, (3) you think you know of three or four “totally better” places in Greenville that we should have reviewed, (4) and you probably mistakenly think that this article serves as some sort of validation that your town is in any way superior to Columbia. Let me disabuse you of that notion on the front end: it is not. You can give your main street a thousand more face-lifts and pour in as many wannabe hipsters and artisans as you want, nothing in the upstate can match the dilapidated charm sprinkled with Government and Military Architecture that is Columbia, SC. You may have more money, less crime, better roads and superior schools, but you also have Bob Jones University, Traveler’s Rest, and the worst Interstate in the country in I-85. There is just no comparison.

Now that we have settled that debate, onto the meal. Work obligations took Rabbit to Greenville last Friday, and I jumped at the opportunity to catch up with dear friend (and Columbia Native) “Cap’n Charley” who now resides there. We met for lunch at the Blue Ridge Brewery on Main Street on a glorious Spring afternoon. It was a Friday, and the weather was perfect, so of course I had to order an appetizer: the Pale Ale. Blue Ridge features four beers that they brew on site seasonally. In addition to the Pale Ale, they also offer a Blond, an ESB, a Stout and Barley Wine. My Beer was cold and refreshing, and set the tone for the rest of the relaxed meal. Unfortunately, Cap’n Charley didn’t partake in the drinking, stating that “this is the heart of the bible belt, I don’t think you can drink at lunch and go back to work.” What a crappy town.

I don’t know what they put in the beer at Blue Ridge, but whatever it is it makes you crave their menu. A quick perusal revealed your standard bar fare, but an in-depth reading reveals the care and detail that Blue Ridge puts into their food. They use only fresh and local ingredients when they can, and even make their own ketchup and mustard. I opted for the Cuban, which was Moist and tender Pulled Roast Pork and Ham with Swiss, Mustard, Onion, and Pickles on toasted Cuban Bread. Absolutely stunning. Cap’n Charley went with the Gyro, a Warm, Soft Pita Bread Wrapped Around Fresh Sliced Chicago Style Gyro with onions, olives, feta, lettuce, tomato and homemade Tzatziki Sauce. There were no leftovers.

Other interesting items to try are The “Steak Bomb” - Onions, Provolone, Mayo, Bell Peppers, Mushrooms and Sweet Cherry Peppers on a N.Y. Hoagie Roll; and a Pimento Cheese Dip Appetizer - Applewood Smoked English Cheddar and fresh Roasted Peppers with Jalapenos served with grilled Flat Bread. At night, the menu is punched up several notches, and includes Brick oven Chicago style pizza that is apparently unrivaled in the area. The only bad thing about this place is the fries that come with your sandwiches. They aren’t terrible, but I was expecting thick cut, homemade steak fries given the rest of the Blue Ridge Experience. These seemed more like frozen, pre-cut fries I could get at the Grocery Store. A small disappointment, but one worth noting.

Overall, the beer was cold, the service fast, the food tasty, and the company delightful. The next time work or pleasure takes me to the Upstate, I’ll undoubtedly make a trip back to Blue Ridge Brewery, hopefully on an occasion when I can try all the beers and not just one.

-Rabbit

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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.

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