The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Restaurant Review: Steven W's Downtown Bistro, Newberry, SC

Just a stone’s throw up I-26 from the state capital at Columbia, Newberry, South Carolina is a quiet little rural town not quite in the middle of nowhere, but not really on the beaten path to anywhere. So what’s the attraction? For one, a beautifully restored historic Opera House that draws top name acts from across the country and around the world. Go figure! And then there’s Steven W’s Downtown Bistro.

This is where the stars eat. On any given evening, one might find oneself dining with Pat Boone, Colin Raye, Roy Clark, or any of a hundred other performers who have graced the stage across the street. And there’s a reason for this: the food is unbelievable!

Actually, we’re not just talking “food” here; the fare served at Steven W’s qualifies as grande cuisine. In a bucolic little town filled with the usual assortment of fast-food joints, barbecue palaces and Mom ‘n Pop eateries, Steven W’s Downtown Bistro absolutely shines as a culinary beacon. This is a place one would expect to find in Charlotte or Atlanta or Charleston. Located in a renovated drugstore dating from the early years of the 20th century, the quaint-but-elegant ambiance strikes you as you walk in the door. Friendly hosts or hostesses seat you at white linen-covered tables, where you are immediately attended by Steven’s personable, knowledgeable and efficient wait staff. No gum chewers in t-shirts and tennis shoes here. These are polished pros who observe the rules of proper service etiquette.

And the menu is simply astonishing. My wife claims she is spoiled to anybody else’s filet mignon, served with a béarnaise sauce that has to be experienced to be believed. That is when she’s not enraptured by the apricot flounder. Alfredo di Lelio himself would be proud of the creamy sauce Steven serves over perfectly cooked pasta and nobody’s mama ever made better mashed potatoes. Steven shops the big city markets for the freshest seafood and best cuts of meat. Everything is top quality and fresh made, right down to the delicately hand crafted almond baskets that surround delicious homemade ice cream. Steven’s ultra-creamy, ultra-rich chocolate mousse is straight from Above. In fact, there is nothing on the menu that is not positively heavenly.

Best of all, all of this primo cuisine comes at a price that won’t ruin your appetite. Yeah, it’s a little more expensive than the Waffle House down the road, but for the quality we’re talking about here, it’s probably a little under priced. Chalk it up to another small town benefit.

Dress is a mixed bag, depending on what's going on across the way. Business casual is always safe, but be prepared to mingle with the tux and gown set. There's a small parking lot adjacent to the building and ample onstreet parking. Reservations are a very good idea, especially on show nights at the Opera House. But even when there are no stars shining across the street, the tables stay full with regulars who are in on the best kept culinary secret in the Southeast.

Check it out once. So what if it’s fifty or a hundred miles out of your way? You’ll be back.

Steven W’s Downtown Bistro

1100 Main Street
Newberry, SC
(803) 276-7700

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