Category: columbia

Quick Trip Report: Publico

I wonder if the folks at Publico planned to open on Friday the 13th. That kind of ominous opening might imply that I had a terrible experience there, which is quite the opposite. I left a bit before noon to avoid the parking crunch in Five Points and was rewarded with a spot not too far away. The first thing you notice about Publico is the decor. I had to laugh at all of the hipster restaurant cliches that they fulfilled there but you know what, it comes together nicely. Male bartenders and servers in plaid shirts? Check. Reclaimed wood walls? Check. Sputnik light? Check. Garage door windows rolled up to reveal a beautiful November day? Check. I can’t say anything about hipsterness though, I was at the bar Instagramming my meal with my iPhone. Check. Publico offers fusion tacos, tosados, burgers, and other Mexican-ish-Asian-ish fusions, along with a pretty sizeable tap list. I went for the lunch special which was two tacos and a side, the two tacos being the agedashi tofu and the avocado crunch with Mexican sticky rice. The agedashi tofu taco was easily my favorite. The tofu had to be flash fried, it was crisp on the outside and perfectly puffy on the inside. The peanut sauce brought the whole taco together. And it didn’t seem weird that the mostly Asian-ish flavors were in a tortilla....

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Columbia’s Inaugural Gervais Street Bridge Dinner

This past weekend after several weeks of worry and stress over unprecedented flooding in our capital city, a thousand citizens had the opportunity to dine on the most iconic bridge spanning two of our rivers on a crisp autumn afternoon. It began with a cocktail hour, with beer and wine being served on the Columbia side, and liquor on the West Columbia side (apparently it was illegal to serve liquor outside on the Richland County side of the river or something like that, who knew?). Of course, I hit up the River Rat Brewery tent for their offerings.   Everyone was taking their selfies by the water, because we often just zoom over the bridge in a hurry in our cars without ever taking the time to stroll across admiring it slowly.   By 5:45 we sat down to dinner where salads from Spotted Salamander were waiting. This spring mix salad featured bacon and black eyed peas for a Southern twist. But wait, they did plan ahead to have vegetarian/vegan/gluten free options available, which is a rarity at these large dinners. The options were from Good Life Cafe and arrived in boxes to those of us who waved our hands in the air for them.   As the sun sank into the horizon the setting got even more glorious. I was so taken with the location and the sights and...

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Rise Gourmet Goods and Bakeshop

Columbia is getting sassier and classier by the month, and October’s addition to the growing gourmet food scene is a small in-and-out style bakeshop in Five Points. Located at 926 Harden Street, Rise Gourmet Goods and Bakeshop is in a teeny building with clean, modern lines with its most noticeable feature being what isn’t there- a place to hang out. The only seat in the place is in the bathroom, giving the bakeshop a hit-it-and-quit-it vibe that likely mimics places in New York City, where co-owner Sarah Simmons is returning from. There are three major elements to the menu at Rise: pastries, breakfast and lunch, and a to-go case featuring compounded butters, spreads, dips, and shmears. (photo via Yelp) On my first day back at work following days off from the historic flooding in South Carolina, I needed coffee (again) like nobody’s business by lunchtime and dragged myself down to Five Points to check out Rise. Happily, I found a parking spot at the handful surrounding the storefront and oohed and ahhed over everything within. The folks there seem super excited to be working there and explained everything that was available. I went with a hot Counter Culture coffee with a Cafe Brulot flavored cream, which is made with burnt orange and clove; and also a sorghum sticky bun. The coffee was great, though I forgot to ask for...

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Conquest is Set Up Right for the Jams

I’ve got a special treat as a post today… my husband Patrick went to a show at Conquest Brewing this weekend and commented on how great the space was for music. So I asked him to do a write up on his experience there since he is a connoisseur of music and small bands. I would introduce myself, but i’m sure that lovely vile wildebeest nice lady I live with has done that quite a few times before. I’m here to write a post for her on the wonder that is live music at Columbia’s first brewery, Conquest Brewing Company. My good friend Moses has been booking acts there for a quick minute for live music. I’ll be honest, I don’t go out much, so I had not been. I didn’t know how the acousticswould work in that space. . . Saturday changed  my thoughts on that . Some good friends I know from the music scene were in town, along with a newer act that I’ve been fond of, and an out of town act I have literally heard nothing but the best of, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but let’s just start with the space. Conquest is situated in what is best described as “a whole mess of garages with a sizeable parking lot” near Williams Brice Stadium. You would not normally think this was...

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Spotted Salamander Cafe: Where The Ladies Lunch

Summertime is for taking time off to enjoy the weather, so a few weeks ago I scheduled some time off for yesterday and today for a nice luxurious four-day weekend. Because I spent the actual weekend mostly sleeping for some reason, I made the most of the other two days including lunch at a new (to me) place that I’ve been meaning to try. After seeing a post on Facebook about a mac and cheese tomato pie from Spotted Salamander Cafe, that pretty much sealed the deal and I dragged Patrick there for lunch. Beware though, if you ask Siri for directions she’ll try and take you to Assembly Street- it’s really on Richland, which I realized and course corrected before we got too turned around in lunchtime traffic. When we arrive the line was nearly out of the door, and almost every table was full, and it was kind of loud in there from all of the people enjoying their lunch break. Luckily we were able to snag a spot outside and the clouds kept our time out there mostly overcast.   Since Spotted Salamander doesn’t always have a lot of meatless options I took advantage of one of the daily specials, that tomato piiiie. It came with a side salad and I added a Boylan Shirley Temple soda in a bottle because I’ve never seen that flavor...

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About April Blake



April Blake does media relations by day and writes by night, usually about local food, unusual flavors, and craft beer. Please follow me on Twitter, but not in real life.



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