P. Simpson's Hometown Grille: Simpsonville, SC
I went ahead and made reservations via Opentable.com since they were one of the 1,000 dining rewards restaurants, BIG mistake. I didn't even realize that my opentable account and strugglinghomebrewer.com are linked together thus making a reservation at 5:30 on a weeknight and being the only people in the restaurant. Needless to say, service was excellent, maybe too excellent to the point where we were uncomfortable. Our main server did a fine job all on his own making sure we were taken care of and all, but then they threw in a second server to check on us in-between of our regular server. Then we also had the owner trying to take care of us as well. It was almost to the point where we interacted more with the staff and owner of the restaurant more than I was able to enjoy my family and my meal. Needless to say, this is why I needed to go back and experience things at a different time and setting before I could write this.
All of that aside, let’s talk about the food. After several trips to P. Simpson's, I have learned one thing (and this is just my opinion) on this fine local restaurant who I believe is a huge contributor to the wonderful community of Simpsonville, stick with the small plates! What you see above is probably one of the single most desirable appetizers I have ever had. Stuffed Hot Banana Peppers, Italian Sausage, Roasted Tomato Sauce, Parmesan Cheese...8. You get two whole banana peppers each stuffed with an Italian sausage that the owner has shipped in fresh from his hometown in Ohio somewhere. The tomato sauce, not sure if it is homemade or not, but it has such wonderful sweet flavor and compliments the pepper and sausage well. This dish is absolutely to die for and one that I constantly rave about to others. Sit at the bar, have a cocktail, and order this dish.
On our first, uncomfortable visit with the entire family, we each ordered entrees. I went with Ava Jane’s Shrimp and Grits, Country Ham Crème Sauce, Blackened Shrimp, Fresh Tomato and Spinach Grits…17. The wife went with “3 Generations” Angus Sirloin, Hand Cut Aged “Certified Angus, Fresh Vegetables, Roasted Red Potatoes, and Sautéed Mushrooms…16. I see a ton of reviews about how overpriced this place is etc... But I'll be honest; it really isn't overpriced at all. I can see it both ways just from firsthand experience, but if they were putting out the quality of food they say they are, then this place is a bargain and you would pay, in some cases, twice as much downtown for the exact same meal. My shrimp and grits had plenty of room for improvement, mostly in the shrimp, but overall the dish was wonderful.
Here is where the value could possibly be critiqued a little, the shrimp used were maybe a 35-40 count in size and were way overcooked by the time it arrived to the table. Now instead of putting a dozen or so tiny shrimp where you lose all control over quality in the preparation, I would have preferred to see 4 or so much larger shrimp where you can control the cooking quality much easier and present a much higher quality dish, but again, this is just personal preference. The wife's steak wasn't anything special, but it wasn't bad either. The presentation was a little sloppy at best, but overall a quality cut sirloin that was seasoned properly and cooked perfect to the wife's Medium well.
As for a family friendly establishment, I was a little nervous going into this place as my perception of the Upstate and higher-end restaurants it offers are not as kid friendly as you would find in other parts of the country. P. Simpson's is not one of those. They are about as kid friendly as Chuck E. Cheese's and that is the honest truth. They bring the kids markers and let them color all over the walls, in every little nook and cranny and the kids just loved every part of it. Overall, it also gives the restaurant a nice feel and very comfortable setting and not the stuck-up environment I was expecting. Lesson learned, don't judge a book by its cover and try out local restaurants even if what you find online scares you away (for example this site, just one man and family's opinion).
Bottom-line, my family and I will be making P. Simpson's a regular stop on our family favorites list of local family owned places, but we will be sticking to the small plates (appetizer) menu. The bar area is as unique in character as the restaurant itself and offers two complete different dining experiences in one restaurant. Take the wife out for Tapas and cocktails and sit in the bar, or take the whole family and friends out for dinner and get a little bit of everything on the small plates menu to share. I know my kids are begging to go back and I will have to cave in again someday, but for now, this place is a favorite for just the wife and I to enjoy some quality time away from the kids.
On a separate note, in an effort in try to increase traffic to our little blog more (we currently average about 7,500-10,000 visitors a month and want to see that double in size next year so we stay motivated to continue doing what we are doing), we created a Facebook page for our readers. In the months ahead, we will be giving away a gift certificate to one of our lucky fans on our Facebook page to this very restaurant. More details to follow, but don't wait and like us on Facebook now!