Recently, Mrs. Frodo and I invited some fellow Anglicans to join us in a festive German dinner in Prosperity, South Carolina. If you have ever been to Prosperity, you know that prosperity is not something that Prosperity has ever experienced. That notwithstanding, Prosperity (SC) does house one of the jewels of an eatery in GastHaus zur Elli (translated into Ellie’s Guesthouse in German).


We were joined by fellow Anglicans Mr. and Mrs. War Eagle. We invited Conan the Republican and his wife to join us in an attempt to entertain political diversity, but they could not join us because their child came down with the flu. Conan lamented the fact that he couldn’t attend and just continued to blame his child’s sickness on Obama-care. In any event, scrambling to find another couple to join us in the festive birthday celebration, Former Fatboy and his wife joined us. While not Anglican, they are our Scottish religious neighbors to the north and we figured a little geographic and religious difference shouldn’t keep us from enjoying a fine meal and abundant libations together.

Although I had previously dined at the GastHaus, two things immediately struck me as I entered. One was the picture of Ellie some 40 years ago hanging on the wall. Man, talk about a fox:

The irony of her looks 40+ years ago compared to current was not lost on our gracious host. She immediately began discussing with us how nature and gravity had taken its toll on her woman-features. She mentioned to no less then 2/3rds of the restaurant patrons that her breasts used to be considered “search lights,” but unfortunately, now they could only be considered “fog lights.” Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for a festive atmosphere. However, a discussion of circular protuberances of a 65+ German cook is not necessarily what I had in mind to get my appetite going. In any event, as Veronica said in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: "Oh, well, when in Rome." (Ron: "Yes? Please go on." Veronica: "Uh, do as the Romans do? It's an old expression." Ron: "Oh! I've never heard of it. It's wonderful, though.")

The second thing that struck me was Mrs. War Eagle’s lack of partaking in the spirits. She was so conspicuous about it, and her excuse so weak, I immediately knew she had one in the oven. Not that I was offended or anything—not in the least. I was simply worried that the intense aromas of Ellie’s cooking and Mrs. War Eagle’s sobriety would minimize her enjoyment of the experience. Seriously, my clothes still carry the aroma from the trip. The restaurant smells like a food stand at a David Hasselhoff concert and the smell lingers on you like the tune to Hasselhoff’s 1989 hit, “I’ve Been Looking for Freedom."

It appeared that Ellie and her food have become quite popular since my last visit a few years ago. When our party arrived at 7:45, our table was not ready. I had always understood that GastHaus policy was one seating a night. That is, if you make a reservation for 5pm, you can have your table for the night as there will not be another party seated at that table—you are not rushed so you can enjoy the dining experience. There isn’t a bar area, and the size of the entire restaurant is pretty small, so the six of us had to stand and wait as the party finished up at our table and the table was prepared. However, Ellie and the staff were gracious hosts and allowed us to pick out our own beers from the fridge (literally, there was a white Kenmore sitting there filled with beer that we walked up to and from which we took beers. I felt like I was at a Thursday night poker game at Tank’s house).

After a short ten minute wait, we were seated at about 8 p.m. The waitress, dressed in festive German apparel, brought us another round of authentic German beers. When in Rome . . .

The bread was brought with our 2nd round about 8:10. And then the real wait began. Former Fatboy began telling yarns about how cool and popular he was in high school and how life insurance is a great investment and I need to buy some more. Mr. War Eagle talked about the reemergence of Auburn football and how if he has a son he will name him Cameron Bo.

At about 9:10, having dined on nothing but bread and butter, we asked the waitress if she could take our order. The restaurant was slammed with every table filled. Our waitress informed us that she would be happy to take our order, but table seven had not received their meal yet and Ellie would not begin preparing our order until table seven’s was served. By this time I was half-drunk and was giving Former Fatboy my medical history so he could write me some super-premium universal life.

At approximately 9:45, our order was taken. Ms. Frodo and I went with the small sized portion of the veal schnitzel and the pork schnitzel, as did Mr. and Mrs. War Eagle and Former Fatboy’s wife. Former Fatboy, following my encouragement, ordered the large- sized ribeye.

The waitress took our order for a 5th round and we waited until our food arrived at 10:15 pm (our salads arrived around 10 pm). The food didn’t disappoint, but I ain’t gonna lie, you could have fed me poodle tartare at that point and I would have thought it was delicious. The wait is made up by the portion sizes. There is a reason that the Germans lost to the good old US of A in WWII, and it might have had something to do with the obesity of the citizens of the Vaterland from eating food like this:

The schnitzel was served with red cabbage, potato salad, and green beans. In my opinion, the schnitzel is better at Julia’s German Stammtisch on Fort Jackson Blvd in Columbia (http://julias.vpweb.com) as Julia’s schnitzel is a little more moist, tender, and doesn’t come with capers. Ellie’s was quite good, though, even if a little overcooked. I wouldn’t say this to Ellie’s face, though, as hell has no fury like a German woman’s cooking scorned and she very well would kick my ass if I said anything negative about her food.

The highlight of the evening, however, was when Former Fatboy’s ribeye was served. It was covered in thick gravy and served with mashed potatoes, red cabbage, and green beans. It was so thick and rich, I gained 2 pounds just smelling it.

Former Fatboy lived up to his name (Former Fatboy), and despite my encouragement for him to clean his plate, he only finished about 70%. In talking with him the this weekend, he informed me that he just recently recovered from this gastronomic delight. He claimed he was lightheaded for 2 days as the blood was re-routed from his brain to his stomach to assist in digestion.

After dinner, dessert arrived, which consisted of a cake, though honestly, by that point, I was so tipsy and full I can’t remember if it was coconut or some other type cream cake. I would ask Mrs. Frodo but I want to get this up on the blog so bad I am just going to make it up that it was a coconut cake.

We finished our meal at 11 pm or so. Once Ellie found out it was my birthday, a fact I was desperately trying to keep quiet, she gave me a free beer to chug upon my exit from the restaurant. Good thing the next day was a Saturday.

I can wholeheartedly suggest a trip to the GastHaus. It is a dining experience unlike anywhere else in the Midlands. However, before you go, keep in mind a few simple rules:
(1) It is not a quick experience. Ellie does not like to be rushed and will prepare one table’s meal at a time, before starting on the next table. It is not uncommon for the dining experience to last 2 or 3 hours.
(2) The portion sizes are huge and are not for the light eater. I am not sure if Ellie allows you to share dishes (I think she would think it is a sign of disrespect), so plan on eating a lot and taking home leftovers.
(3) If you are so inclined to indulge in the spirits, have a designated driver. In the true German experience, the beers have a way to adding up and before you know it, you’ve downed a six pack. And please, please, if she asks you to try a beer in the special mug, partake.

At last count, my dining experience contained: 5 ¼ hours (including travel to and from Prosperity - Columbia), 2500 calories, six beers, and one well compensated babysitter.


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Posted by The LunchMen Tuesday, April 5, 2011 8 comments

The Lunchmen are delighted to bring you a special guest post from loyal reader and commenter "Hooley," who has graciously provided this long overdue review of a true Columbia institution. Enjoy!

After their humiliating, first-round knockout in the Lunchmen’s March Madness Showdown, I’m here to stick up for Rockaway Athletic Club (a/k/a "Rockaway's"), whom I had winning the title in my bracket. This Columbia institution, this nigh-holy temple of burger artistry, this phoenix-from-the-ashes jewel in our capitol city’s lunchtime crown BOUNCED in round one? My friends, this transgression will not stand.

I’ve been frequenting Rockaway Athletic Club since it was a no-sign, secret-knock kinda place, when you had to “know someone” to show you which door was the entrance. And then it burned down. Seriously.

After they rebuilt, gone was some of their previous speakeasy charm, but the great burgers, pimento cheese fries, onion rings, and occasional seafood remained. Still no sign, though, unless you count the occasional cardboard box panel with their specials written on it wedged into the patio fence by the back door.

Let there be no doubt that the burgers are the stars of the Rockaway’s show. I’m sure I’ve had a couple hundred of them over the years, and I can’t recall a bad one. While you can choose several types of cheese (including their homemade pimento cheese), grilled mushrooms, and assorted veg, my personal jam is the bacon/Swiss burger. The burger itself is always juicy and tender. The bun is soft and fresh, and the toppings are nicely flavorful. For my money, it’s the best burger in Columbia.

Even with such an extraordinary burger, a man cannot live on burgers alone. I’ve explored the rest of Rockaway’s menu a bit over the years. The grilled chicken sandwich, onion rings, and hot dogs are all quite good. And you definitely shouldn’t miss the pimento cheese fries. The fries are crinkle-cut, my favorite style of French fry, and the cheese is smooth and creamy when melted. Make sure you only order the cheese fries if you dine in because they do not travel well. One last thing about the pimento cheese: you can order a side of it to put on anything. On a recent visit, I tried it on a baked potato, and it was excellent.

The knock against Rockaway’s I always hear is their poor service. Now I don’t doubt that’s the case because I’ve had a couple slow, inattentive servers there, but in my overall experience, the service has been just fine. Certainly nothing worth complaining about. In fact, on my most recent dinner visit, the food was at our table within ten minutes of ordering it, and our drinks were constantly refilled to the point of my girlfriend saying she wished our server would STOP refilling her drink. I guess I’ll just say I’ve heard the horror stories of bad service, but I haven’t personally experienced any service poor enough to remember.

With Rockaway’s you get awesome burgers and sides, ample parking, lots of seating options, and service that’s either great (my experience) or not great (Internet consensus). For me, it doesn’t get better for lunchtime in Columbia than a bacon/Swiss burger and pimento cheese fries from Rockaway’s. I’m still a little shaken up they got eliminated in the first round of the lunch bracket. Big thanks to the Lunchmen for letting me come on here and work through my issues.


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It’s been a long road, but after counting all the votes the Lunchmen are proud to award the crown of ultimate Columbia lunch restaurant to perennial favorite No Name Deli. Relying on its quick, efficient service of high quality lunch-fare, No Name was able to overwhelm gourmet challenger Hunter Gatherer in the finals with its relentless consistency. HG fought valiantly throughout the entire tournament, and should take no shame in falling just short of the ultimate crown. Thanks again to everyone for their votes and insight, and if you haven’t tried No Name yet, their on the corner of Marion and Elmwood downtown. Give them a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed.


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The readers have spoken, and their choices are clear. Hunter Gatherer and No Name Deli straight dominated their opponents in the final four to easily advance to the championship. While none of the experts are surprised to see No Name in this position, there are few people who could have predicted that lunch time new-comer HG would still be standing after the grueling gauntlet they negotiated en route to the final match-up (wins over Public House, Mousetrap, DiPrato’s, and Immaculate Consumption). After enduring such a hard road to the final, does HG have enough left in the tank to take down perennial favorite No Name? No Name’s road to the title game has been much less rocky, as the Deli scored easy wins in every round (remember Hardee’s???), regardless of the opponent.

Also intriguing is the variance in styles that this match-up presents. No Name is quick, efficient, with no frills or fancy trappings – but satisfying and successful nonetheless. HG is a more genteel, relaxed lunch experience for those in no hurry that can afford to enjoy a friendly waiter or waitress, a good beer, and true gourmet offerings.

Who will emerge victorious and claim the title of Ultimate Columbia Lunch Spot? Its up to you – post a comment with your vote or email us at lunchmen@gmail.com. Results announced early next week.


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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.