9/06/2012

Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House: Scene on 7 Dinner Club Event

We have quickly become hooked on the Scene On 7 Dinner Club. Last month was our first experience with it and we had nothing but fabulous things to say about Devereaux's. This months restaurant of choice was the new Palmetto Ale House located off Pelham and 85 right on what is locally known as "Restaurant Row". We have never ventured out that way in the short time we have lived here simply due to the fact that "Restaurant Row" is also what we would refer to as "Corporate Row" (chain restaurants such as Joe's Crab Shack, On the Border, etc.), We tend to prefer more one-of-a-kind venues where quality and service are just as (if not more so) important as making a profit. Palmetto Ale House was a pleasant surprise in a sea of cookie cutter joints.

If you have never attended one of these Dinner Club events, you are truly missing out on a wonderful evening out with some of the absolute bests hosts imaginable. The second you are seated at your table, you will feel like you belong and are just another one of the members of the Scene on 7 group. Sit back and enjoy yourself...and don't forget to enjoy the food!

When this Scene on 7 Dinner Club restaurant was selected, I was a little skeptical. Our first dinner club event was, like I said previously, at Devereaux's which just happens to be a very upscale restaurant in the heart of Downtown Greenville. We were simply spoiled and our expectations were set at a level probably way too high for many of the other Scene on 7 Dinner club venues. I think Kimberly said it best to us this evening prior to our main entrees arriving, "It's an Ale House, not Devereaux's". And boy am I glad we had that conversation prior. It made me realize that I was at an Ale House and that I should have expectations only of what a true Ale House should be about: an extensive beer selection and average bar fare. It would not be right for me to compare this experience to our first Dinner Club at Devereaux's. It is like comparing apples to oranges. Neither is better, both just different and special in their own right.

With that said, the evening included any of their $4 draft beers or a glass of house wine, salad with sticky honey bun, selection of one of 4 entrees (12oz Prime Rib, 10oz Sirloin, Salmon with an orange barbeque glaze or Shrimp and Grits) with any one side and white chocolate bread pudding all for $25. We were not given a special event menu so we had to rely on our server to tell us what our options were each step of the way. With 4 entrees and several sides to choose from, it would have been nice to have had a paper copy in front of us so we could have had time to really think about our choices instead of having to decide on the spot. Just a hint for the future Dinner Club Venues...

We were confused about the wine because the menu had stated "wine flight" and listed 4 different types of wine. My assumption was you would get a small sample of the 4 different types of wine. Not true. You could choose from one of the house wines to be included in your meal. They did have a table set up where you could sample wine, but it was not made clear to us if that was included or if there was an extra fee...or if those were the house wines or even specialty wines that were an option in lieu of the house wine. A little extra communication to the servers on that may have been helpful.

Our salads came out before our wine arrived. The salad itself was iceberg lettuce, but the pieces were really quite large. I used a knife to cut mine smaller. It included egg, cheese, bacon, tomato and walnuts. It was actually a decent salad...mostly because of the candied walnuts. Without them it would have been pretty basic but as a usual walnut-hater, even I couldn't get enough of them! A honey glazed cinnamon type bun was also served, but ours arrived smack dab on top of the salad. It not only caused the lettuce to become gooey and sweet, but it made it difficult to mix dressing into the salad as it was half the size of the plate and we had nowhere else to set them. We did notice that later salads were being served with the sticky bun on its own separate side plate. Good call on that change! The sticky bun was delicious, though. I could have eaten several of them and been completely satisfied.
As for our entrees, The Wife selected the Salmon with glaze and a side of "loaded" mashed potatoes. She loves salmon, but typically is not a huge fan of adding sauces of glazes. She prefers a lighter piece of fish with just some olive oil and a few seasonings. She went for it anyway because she doesn't do grits and she wasn't in the mood for a big slab of beef. We need to look at this dish as well as the next dish in two different ways. What our original expectations were and what realistically they should be. The salmon was served with two huge 6-8oz portions of what I would suspect as prepackaged servings. Was the salmon over cooked? Yes. Was it over sauced? In my wife's opinion, Yes. It was still decent though...keeping in perspective that this is an Ale House and not a fancy white-linen restaurant. The portion size was massive...two large fillets of fish. The wife was excited because it was a great value...and because she could take it home and use the leftovers in a salad for lunch the next day! The mashed potatoes were nothing special and actually were the only item of the entire evening that was lacking salt or seasoning (not sure why they refer to them as "loaded"???). The wife originally suspected them to be imitation potatoes, but one cannot be sure of this.

I went with the 12oz Prime Rib and am still kicking myself for not selecting the Shrimp and Grits. When we were seated, it was a bit of a confusion not really knowing if we were being seated for the Scene on 7 Dinner or if we were just going to order off of the regular menu like you would do on any given day. We expected maybe a special print out of what the meal would include (like on our previous experience) rather than given a regular menu. I suspect that being just a month into this journey, they wanted to get new people in the door and expose them to the actual menu, makes sense. The issue with this was, the menu had some pictures of the more popular dishes and the picture of the shrimp and grits really didn't appear to look at all appetizing. But, after it was all said and done with my meal, the first shrimp and grits arrived at the table next to us, and it looked amazing. Damn menu and the human instinct of eating with your eyes. So, that is how I ended up with a huge chunk of meat in front of me. I wish I would have changed my mind when I was asked how I wished for my steak to be prepared. I ordered it medium rare and was quickly told that this cut of meat could only be ordered medium to well done. Oh well, it came out medium well. The cut itself was simply what you would expect at a fine steak house, with the exception that again, the protein was way over salted. It was clearly present that the cut of prime rib was soaked in the au jus prior to being served to warm it up and that is what was way too salty for someone who loves salt. The au jus on its own was almost inedible. Now, when I look at this cut of steak with the minor hick-ups, (au jus removed from the plate) this cut of meat was simply wonderful and I would challenge any other Ale/Pub House around to offer any better. In fact, the entire menu could not be challenged by any other wannabe or real Ale/Pub/Tap styled establishment around.

The real treat was the grand finale, the white chocolate bread pudding. The custard had the perfect consistency and had a delicate flavor that was just simply a nice way to end a wonderful meal. Sometimes the most simple things are easily some of the greatest things in a kitchen.

With everything stated above we were pleasantly delighted with our entire meal. I cannot emphasize enough to get to one of these events. You will meet great people, enjoy wonderful food and have some of the classiest hosts imaginable. We were told several times by Kimberly, herself, how excited they are for next month's Dinner Club. She wouldn't let it leak as to where, but we have our suspicions. We'd love to see you there...wherever it may be! As for Palmetto Ale House, give them a try! Expect to find an elaborate beer selection and a menu that will make you scratch your head. Not your typical Pub Grub food selection here.

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