Two weekends ago at Viva La Vista I saw a sign up in the long vacant space between World of Beer and the Wild Hare and was intrigued since that spot has been closed so long that no one remembered what it was. But it was soon to become… well, a steakhouse with the most amusing name I’ve seen in a while for a food establishment.
Yep, the Carolina Strip Club. But you won’t need any of these to tip your waitress:
The next weekend while at World of Beer I saw that there was quite the fancy looking soiree going on at the restaurant with stringed instruments playing on the patio entertaining guests who were dressed more nicely than most on a Sunday eve. I didn’t think much of it until I got to work the next day and realized that my dad’s birthday was that week. Ah, my mind pieced together, how about taking him to the fancy new meat place? But… how about checking first to see what their menu is like? So I drove over on my lunch break during the week and spoke to Chef Jeff who said that they had actually had several requests for meatless meals since they had opened only days before. He also said he would be glad to put something together for me if I let the server know to let him know I was there.
After checking out the luxurious and darkly-appointed interior, we chose to sit outside because it was also quite chilly in there. The patio faces Lincoln Street and the Adluh building, and was ripe for people watching.
We both made our orders, the rib eye (I think…) for my dad, and something “with no meat or mushrooms” for me. Our starters came out first, potato soup for him, and a salad with balsamic dressing for me.
The vegetables were perfectly crisp- nary a flimsy cucumber disgraced this plate. The croutons weren’t your plain rock hard hunks of old bread from a bag, these were soft yet crisp and with a buttery garlic flavor permeating each little bread pillow. There wasn’t a leaf left. Then our entrees arrived.
Daddy’s plate was mostly taken up by this considerable hunk of steak and restaurant style fries that tasted as though they had been infused with garlic. They were amazing, and I transferred a handful to my plate to continue munching on He said that it was a very good piece of meat, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Though Daddy wouldn’t agree with his hatred of vegetables, I totally won this meal, as this is what arrived in front of me for my entree. What you see in the uneven light through my iPhone lens is grilled herbed zucchini spears, asparagus, and risotto stuffed tomatoes on a bed of spring mix, with a balsamic glaze. Chef Jeff is amazing with his use of herbs. The zucchini was particularly dazzling, with the smoky grill char to whatever herbs he used on there (oregano, mint, basil?) creating a flavor explosion with each bite.
The asparagus was a nice late summer treat, as I hadn’t expected to get to enjoy it again this year. And those risotto stuffed tomatoes? Those were amazing. The grains were scooped together tightly into the raw tomato skin, which cooked the fruit’s flesh enough to take out that acidic bite that raw tomatoes have, something that I appreciated greatly.
After filling up, we both leaned back in our chairs, satisfied with exactly the amount of food we got- not too much and not too little- and savored the dining experience that was winding down as darkness set in. White twinkle lights flickered on, giving a festive ambiance to the outdoor area that was coming alive with the nightlife scene that was getting ready for the night ahead as we headed out of the Vista because not every birthday needs to end with a hangover. Happy birthday Daddy! Glad we can celebrate occasions with food for both of us to enjoy!
All of my compliments go to the chef for a wonderful specially prepared vegetarian friendly plate. If that, or some iteration of it, became a regular menu item I wouldn’t doubt that even meat eaters would enjoy it. This restaurant should be an excellent mid-range priced addition to the Vista restaurant scene,where you absolutely could drop a Benjamin on a meal for two, or not even come close to that if you make your menu selections carefully. Once more people realize that this space is functional and worth it, they’ll be packing it out soon enough.