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ROAD TRIP: Harry & Harry 2 – 719 Sumter Highway, Bishopville, SC

Posted by The LunchMen Tuesday, November 23, 2010 3 comments



Burgers Prepared 88 Ways.

This week I found myself passing through Bishopville, South Carolina, about 50 miles east of Columbia. Unfortunately, the purpose of my trip was not to capture the infamous “Lizard Man” on film or to visit South Carolina’s premier alpaca farm. Work, as usual, was the basis of my trip to Lee County . As always, I intentionally scheduled my meeting for 11:00 am, thereby ensuring I would need to stop and sample some of the local flavor for lunch before heading back to the office. As anyone from the area knows, the best place to do that is right off Interstate 20 at “Harry & Harry Two.”



H&H2 sits on Sumter Hwy in a building that looks more like a Duck Camp than a restaurant. However, the welcoming sign boasted that they can prepare hamburgers no less than 88 different ways, so I knew I was dealing with some folks who take their food seriously. Encouraged, I walked in and looked for a spot. 



Like many small town locales, most of the people inside looked to be regulars who knew the way things were supposed to run. There was no need for a hostess or a sign directing me to sit down or any other wasteful formality. A little intimidated and feeling the glances of the native diners, I quickly found a seat in the non-smoking section and ordered some iced-tea. The drink only confirmed my long held theory: There is an inversely proportional relationship between a town’s size and the amount of sugar in their sweet tea. The smaller the population, the greater the amount of sugar. As you can surmise from Bishopville’s size, the H&H2 tea was extremely sweet and extremely delicious.

As for the menu itself, in addition to the aforementioned burgers, H&H2 also serves a large variety of sandwiches, wraps and salads. Most of you faithful readers know that I go with salads most every time, but road trips are different. Once outside Richland or Lexington County, I allow myself the small indulgence of ordering whatever I damn well please. Thanks to some local insight a few friends let me in on, that meant on this trip I was going with Mrs. B’s famous chicken salad on texas toast. From the looks of things this is their signature item, and they do it very well.



The sandwich itself is massive, and if I had Mrs. Rabbit with me we probably could have split it and both been full. Unfortunately on this day I dined alone, so I had the daunting task of finishing it off by myself. A tough job, but someone had to do it. Accompanying the sandwich were some of my favorite type of French fries. I’ll call them steak fries for lack of a better term, but to give you a point of reference, they tasted like the ones you can get at those “Great Steak & Fry” places in the mall, but with less grease. These crisper versions were a perfect compliment to the entrĂ©e, and there were none left behind at the end of my meal.

As for the place itself, it stayed busy the whole time I was there, but a few staff members who had obviously been doing this for a while seamlessly kept the place running and everyone’s drinks filled. There were a few tables where folks who had long finished their meals were staying around just to chat, enjoying the slower pace of life in a small town. As I learned on my way out, one of those tables is known simply as “ The County Council,” and apparently features pillars of the Bishopville community who make H&H2 their lunch destination on a pretty consistent basis.

H&H2 saved the perhaps best for last, presenting me with a bill for $6.00 for my entire lunch, drink included. I don’t think you’d get half of this meal in Columbia for that price. I happily paid my bill and was walking out when the matriarch of H&H2 said “Wait, that’s a Columbia boy, hurry up and add some more to his bill!” as she blew a puff of smoke from her freshly lit Salem Light. I smiled and thanked her again, thinking geez – is it that obvious I’m not a local? Apparently so.

- Rabbit

ROAD TRIP: Park Row Market No. 1, 108 Courthouse Sq., Edgefield, SC

Posted by The LunchMen Tuesday, November 16, 2010 4 comments

"Explore the past while enjoying the present."

This week I found myself visiting the Federal Correctional Facility in Edgefield, SC. For those of you who have interacted with people that are dealing with unfortunate incarceration, you know that life behind bars can leave prisoners lonely and in need of human interaction. Such was the case with the prisoner I visited today, who decided to take this opportunity to talk about anything and everything under the sun. Therefore, I had four long days to search Edgefield, SC for a suitable dining option. At first I thought I was going to be limited to a couple of old fast food chains and suspect Chinese options. However, once I drove into downtown Edgefield, my eyes spotted the Park Row Market No. 1, and I knew I was in business. Any place that puts the huge, ten foot sign on its outside wall to greet customers is sure to be a awe-inspiring establishment worth visiting:



As you can imagine, after reading this I had high expectations for the Market. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. The first day I was in a bit of a hurry, so I asked the counter person what could be made quickly. She said it all could, but she recommended I try the chicken salad. I agreed and sat at the bar without even looking at the menu. Within 90 seconds she brought out a thick Chicken Salad sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato. It was, in a word, huge. No exaggeration, it was at least 50% bigger than anything available in downtown Columbia. Further, it came with kettle chips and a pickle for 6 bucks. A meal like this would cost you upwards to $8.00 in the Capital City. Speaking of the Capital, did you know that Edgefield has given birth to TEN governors of the State? Well, they know it, and tell you every chance they get. I’m sure there are richer, more quaint towns in South Carolina, but I guarantee you there are none as proud as Edgefield (see above photo).

Anyway, the chicken salad sandwich, while not a normal go-to for the Rabbit, was so good that I decided to return to the Market the next day to further explore the menu when I had a little more time.

On day two, I looked over the menu and was ready to go with the Clemson Bleu Cheese Salad when something caught my eye. MUFFULETTA. Those of you that know the Rabbit know that, while I eat salads 99% of the time, there is one vice that I cannot resist – a proper New Orleans Muffuletta. If you are unfamiliar with this culinary triumph, Wikipedia describes it as follows: “one muffuletta loaf, split horizontally. The loaf is then covered with a marinated olive salad, layers of capicola, salami, mortadella, and provolone.” It is without a doubt the best sandwich on the planet. The Market’s version was just perfect, with soft, warm bread encompassing salty meats and olive salad, along with some sort of vinaigrette that really finished the product off nicely. I probably should have left some on the plate, but I couldn’t not finish something this good.

As for the Market itself, it was originally opened as a general store in 1932 and is located on the downtown square of Edgefield in a picturesque setting. 



The inside has a variety of mismatched tables and chairs, and a lot of stuff on the walls like you would see in Cracker Barrel. However, unlike Cracker Barrel, I think this stuff is actually antique and was not made in some novelty factory in Taiwan. The place is, as you would expect, full of locals and regulars, and everyone knows everyone. Obviously, I stuck out pretty bad in my suit and tie, and because I was eating alone and in a hurry – both of which appear to be rare occurrences for the market. As a result, I confess I was not brave enough to take pictures of the food inside the restaurant for fear of being run out of town, so you’ll have to use your imagination. My apologies.

In summary, if life ever finds you in the land of ten governors, whether it’s to visit an inmate or tour the National Wild Turkey Federation Headquarters, no trip to Edgefield is complete without a stop in at the Park Row Market No. 1. You won’t be disappointed.

-Rabbit


Editors Note: The views expressed in this blog entry are those of Frodo and do not reflect that of the Lunchmen or this blog. This applies to both the quality of the restaurant, and its appropriateness for "Date Night." 

After a long and restless Halloween weekend chasing around 17 month-old baby Frodo, Mrs. Frodo and I decided that we owed it to ourselves to give each other a little quality alone time.  Therefore, we decided that we would make Monday night . . . DATE NIGHT!

Where would an acceptable date night destination be for Mr. and Mrs. Frodo?   We tried to consider an eatery that would clean from our systems the copious amounts of Halloween candy ingested the night before.

Would it be somewhere romantic, like a Garibaldi’s or Restaurante Divino? 
What about a little out-of-the-way place, like Mr. Friendly’s? 
Or, somewhere in the ‘burbs we haven’t tried like Travinia’s?

Mrs. Frodo and I struggled with this decision all day, emailing, phoning, and Facebooking each other with one idea after the next. 

We went to Mr. Friendly’s on our last date night, and while delicious, we were ready for a change.
We wanted to avoid the suburbs like the plague.  We had heard that the ‘burbs were like trying meth for the first time, and we worried that if we went to the ‘burbs and tried it, we might never make it back.

The romantic idea didn’t fit well with a Monday night date night—we wanted to go somewhere a little something more, shall we say, “blue collar.”  A place where it is totally acceptable to show up wearing a Dickies shirt with your named patched on the breast. 

So what would fit the bill?  On the way home from another day slaving for the man and counting my day in six minute increments, I saw a Light that provided my answer. I capitalize “Light” because it was so bright and vibrant it was like the Star of David leading the Three Wise Men to Baby Jesus, only this Light led me to culinary delight:




Mrs. Frodo, ever the proud soul, had her reservations about my choice.   With its octogenerian clientele, cafeteria line service, and florescent lighting that is only rivaled by an operating room, this place is not known for its ambiance.  I have seen pictures of North Korean gulags that have more of a welcoming interior than the S&S Cafeteria.

But, once I explained that the Light guiding me was nothing short of divine inspiration, Mrs. Frodo, ever the faithful one, agreed to make S&S Cafeteria our date night choice.

All I can say is that Mrs. Frodo was not disappointed.  She went with the fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and iron-skillet baked cornbread.  I went with the freshly carved roast beef, turnip greens, steamed cabbage, and jalapeno cornbread. 




The roast beef normally comes (literally) floating in gravy, but I had the courteous S&S server just drizzle my roast beef with the au jus.  It was roasted perfectly—medium rare, and cut thinly for easy eating.  The turnips are the best you can get west of Florence, and the cabbage did such a number on my taste buds that they are still dancing.  Mrs. Frodo raved about the fried chicken, with its crispy exterior and moist, tender interior.  She informed me that the macaroni and green beans were above average. 

But, the highlight of the meal was the bread.  Folks, simply put, you will not have better cornbread that what is offered at the S&S Cafeteria.  My Me-Maw cooked cornbread growing up, but I would laugh in her face and hide her denture cleaner if she made me choose between her cornbread and S&S’s cornbread.  S&S cooks their cornbread in an cast iron baking pan greased with bacon drippings or lard, resulting in a crispy, crunchy exterior.  The interior is loaded with corn kernels and jalapeno peppers, resulting in a sweet and spicy bread that simply makes you want to make out with your wife right there in the middle of the restaurant.  Most of the patrons in the S&S wouldn’t notice anyway because they have to take off their glasses during the meal as their bifocals fog up from the steam of their food. 

If you want a place that has a romantic ambiance, you may want to look elsewhere.  However, if you take your eating seriously, and want the best home cooking short of your grandmother’s house (with many more options that your grandmother could ever offer), I suggest you swallow your pride and follow the Light to the corner of Beltine and Forest Drive to the S&S Cafeteria.

-Frodo

Andy's Deli - 2005 Greene Street, Columbia

Posted by The LunchMen Friday, November 5, 2010 0 comments


My Friend, My Dear.

There is only one thing that upsets my man Tank more than poor food quality and service – lack of parking. On numerous occasions, the Publican and I have witnessed Tank react to a lack of spaces with what can only be described as a mild coronary. The guy just does not like circling around looking for places to park. It is such a problem that he has vetoed lunch options solely on the premise that parking would be too hard to come by. However, rather than merely gripe about this, I decided to use Tank’s strange condition to my advantage. Following a morning long Sudoku session (more commonly known as continuing education seminar), I threw out the idea of an old favorite from my childhood in the capital city – Andy’s Deli. Tank was somewhat apprehensive, but as soon as I regaled him with tales of a large and spacious lot to park in, he was on the suggestion like a fat girl on a BB.

First, a little history – I’ve probably eaten at Andy’s Deli more than any other place featured on the blog (including No Name Deli). Back in High School, I probably went at least twice a week for over three years, and many times more often than that. This continued while I was at Carolina. I know Mr. Andy. His younger son was in High School with me, and his older son was my First Week chaperone. (If you don’t know what First Week is, then you were not cool in High School and should find another blog to follow). In other words, I am well versed with the menu and its highlights. Why then, you may ask, are we just now getting a review on this Columbia landmark? Well, since I work downtown and live in the sticks, I don’t get to 5-points as much as I’d like, and just haven’t had the occasion to stop by in a while. All that changed today, however, as the three original lunchmen went in for another bold Friday call.



If you know Andy’s then you know what it’s famous for – the sauce. Much like it’s rival Groucho’s, the sandwiches at Andy’s are, while serviceable on their own, merely the stage upon which Mr. Andy displays his true culinary triumph – a delicious mixture of 1000 island, dill, and other undisclosed ingredients. The sauce is thicker, and in my opinion superior to Groucho’s 45 sauce, but I mention it to provide others with a point of reference and comparison.

For this day’s lunch, Tank went with the R2D2 – a grinder style sandwich with roast beef, pastrami and swiss – heated and served with the aforementioned sauce – plus a bowl of chili (Editor’s note – many people find that Andy’s while undeniably delicious, is somewhat lacking in the portion department, and therefore order additional menu items such as chili, an extra bag of chips, or a hot dog. Rabbit is too restrained (read: cheap) for such indulgences, but it is a common occurrence amongst others). The Publican, always a traditionalist, went with the Andy’s Special – another grinder featuring Roast Beef, Turkey, Bacon and Swiss, and added an extra bag of chips to complete his meal. Speaking of chips, a big draw of Andy’s is their variety of Wise brand chips you can choose from. All sandwiches automatically come with chips, and you can choose any one of several delicious flavors at your fingertips when you stand in line. Both patrons made quick work of their entrees. Tank summed it up when he said “the only word that can accurately describe an R2D2 is ‘delicious.’”

As for this guy, I went with my favorite – the My Dear’s Salad Bowl (as previously featured in my list of top 25 Columbia Salads post last month). This salad is covered in ham, turkey, bacon and cheese, and you can get the sauce as your dressing, either on it or on the side. As you can see by the picture, if you order this, there is no need for a second item to fill you up – you are lucky to get through this in one sitting. Though it had been a while since I had been in, Andy hadn’t lost his touch, and I soon found myself stuffed and satisfied. Add in a tall diet coke or tea with some of Columbia’s best crushed ice (and now featuring – finally – free refills) and you’ve got the makings of a great Friday lunch.



I encourage everyone, whether an Andy’s veteran or a first timer, to remember this place and all its history and deliciousness the next time you are near campus looking for a solid lunch call. You won’t be disappointed.

-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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