Columbia is quite the sprawling town. You can be in the Harbison area and you’re in the city of Columbia. You can be flung out towards Fort Jackson and you’re still in Columbia. You can be out at someone’s lakefront condo and STILL be in Columbia. And of course you can be all the way out towards the Village at Sandhills and yes, you’re still in Columbia. It was kind of amusing then when I suggested a road trip to Mint Julep to a few friends for Saturday night adventure.
After not getting lost (this is a lie, we totally had to call the restaurant because we were in the strip mall behind it), we arrived at Mint Julep, which has a festively decorated patio are adorned with white lights and sprawling plants that give this plain strip mall restaurant a more upscale feel. The inside is painted a dark, soothing blue-green with chic green accent lights. There are several rooms within the restaurant, the bar area with barstools and high top tables, then a larger room towards the back good for larger groups.
We sat at a high top table looking out over Clemson Road, and our very charming waiter took our drink orders. K and I decided it couldn’t be a real Mint Julep experience without ordering a mint julep. These things taste of straight up bourbon and mint. Wow. I had to sip mine slowly and even then gave half of it to K, a true bourbon lover. Other reviews of this restaurant caution against having a full second drink, so we heeded this advice.
I was personally very excited to try the Black Eyed Pea Hummus, so we ordered that along with a plate of Black Bean Nachos. The Black Bean Nachos were not made of tortilla chips, but rather of delicate, fresh pita chips. Covered in queso, corn, black beans, and sauce, they were superb and scarfed up quickly. I may or may not have used my fingers to get the last of the queso off of the plate.
The black eyed pea hummus had sturdier pita chips accompanying it to hold up to the thicker dip. It had the same consistency of chickpea hummus, but with a distinctly black eyed pea-y, earthier tasting difference. While that isn’t exactly the most enthralling description, it’s hard to capture the taste in words, so go try it to really capture the taste.
After stuffing ourselves with appetizers, the food came out in perfect time. J got the Seared Crab Cakes with rice pilaf on the side. Doesn’t that corn chutney look delicious?
K got a White Pizza but substituted the spinach for bacon and chicken on half. I think she only got through one slice from being so full from the appetizers! It looked and smelled fantastic though, as all brick oven fired pizzas do.
And finally, the meal I can comment the most on- mine. I ordered the only non-pizza vegetarian entree on the menu, the PLT sandwich with sweet potato fries. PLT stands for pimento, lettuce, and tomato, and the tomato isn’t just a raw, red slice, it’s a breaded, fried green tomato. Upon first bite into this sandwich, pimento cheese came oozing out of the other side of the sandwich. Being pretty full myself, I set the sandwich down, ate a few fries, and called for a box. For the record, the fries were gone the next morning (guess the bourbon made me eat them when I got home!), and the sandwich was MUCH easier to eat and just as delicious if not more after spending the night in the fridge. The pimento cheese got a chance to firm up and held the sandwich together quite nicely. I am a fan of firmer pimento cheeses, not drippy ones, which is why I wasn’t grooving their version warm on the sandwich. Less liquid, more solid ingredients makes a good pimento cheese shine, and makes it less likely to fall into your lap.
If you’re going to be over near Sparkleberry anyways, I absolutely advocate making a stop at Mint Julep, but I wouldn’t drive over there from Lexington County for lunch alone. I’d have to pair it with a trip to visit a friend in the area, or shopping at Sandhills, which is just another three-ish miles out.