Conway Downtown Alive coordinated a culinary tour of nine restaurants in the downtown area of Conway, SC. Each restaurant featured 2-3 menu items for $2-$4 each between the hours of 11am – 3pm this past Saturday. One of the host restaurants told us this was the second year for this event.
Kelly and I were excited because it replicated the “Around the World” food tour we created on our own through Market Common earlier this year, but this one featured locally owned restaurants in Conway! We met up with two friends at the Conway Visitor’s Center for our menus and mapped our food-path through the city.
We started at Bodega for their Wine & Cheese Pairing. Bodega is a boutique for “cooking, entertaining, and food enthusiasts” as one visitor stated. There are two floors full of kitchen gadgets, cookware, and an assortment of wines and beers, among many other food-related items. In the back we found their small bar with four wines (two whites: a pic poul and an Austrian Gruner Veltliner; and two reds: a Washington Merlot, and a California Agent Red Merlot) and four cheeses (goat cheese, brie, a Mexican cheese, and blue cheese). We enjoyed a wine tasting of each selection to pair with the cheeses. I enjoyed the pic poul and goat cheese whereas Kelly enjoyed the Agent Red and bleu cheese.
We walked down the street to Rivertown Bistro, my favorite restaurant in this area. It is known for it’s “culinary artistry.” We ordered a chicken, spinach, tasso ham, cheddar and jack cheese fried Lowcountry Spring Roll served with honey Dijon and a Housemade Meatball Slider which was a small fist-sized meatball nestled in the end of a hoagie roll covered in melted mozzarella cheese, served with homemade Yam Chips. They were both delicious! As we knew they would be. They also offered a California Shrimp Sushi Roll.
Our next stop was right next door, at Crafty Rooster, a local bar and restaurant which was opened by a Coastal Carolina University graduate, and an establishment we frequent often. They introduce a new beer every Thursday and offer locally brewed beer and seasonal beer on a rotating basis, announced on a large chalkboard painted on one of their inside walls. Kelly and I have previously joined their “Beer Club” which prompts you to try a new beer every time you visit. We both ordered a seasonal pumpkin brew as well as the fried mushrooms and chicken bog. The chicken bog had a slight bite to it with a few diced green peppers – very tasty. They were also offering Southwest Spring Rolls which we opted against since we had just had some at Rivertown Bistro. We ended up getting a doggy-bag for the chicken bog to eat later as we were surprised at the large serving.
K.C.’s Deli is on a corner and follows a number of restaurants who have inhabited that location unsuccessfully. I was surprised to see that they offered fresh made bread brought in two times a week! They were offering Hummus or Baba Ghanoush, a Riverdog hotdog (nine different kinds!), and a cheeseburger wrap. Because we were admittedly full at this point, we opted for the Hummus or Baba Ghanoush. I placed the order at the counter while the rest of my party seated themselves. I totally forgot that we wanted to find out what Baba Ghanoush was and I ordered the roasted red pepper hummus with pita chips to slow our food intake down. Upon delivering this to the table, I was reminded that I was supposed to order Baba Ghanoush. We opted to ask what it was instead and found out that it was chunky eggplant, black olives, some kind of peppers, and more. We decided I probably ordered the right thing. We ended up tasting the hummus with one pita chip each and taking the rest to-go, making our way to the next establishment.
Salano’s Trattoria is a new Italian restaurant in Conway. It is tucked into a row of businesses on a side street. We were greeted and seated by a pleasant waitress. The décor was of a typical Italian restaurant, very quaint, with a wall of exposed brick on one side. A small bar was tucked in the back. Our appetites were slowing down but we ordered Cheese Bites (a triangle version of a mozzarella stick…which I love), a Polenta Cake topped with Ala Vodka shrimp, and an Italian sausage stuffed mushroom with demi glaze. All three were amazingly tasteful! We felt like Solano’s Trattoria was one of those best-kept secrets we had just unearthed!
We exited through a side-door that led to a mural-painted tunnel of one-of-a-kind stores including a haberdashery of nice men’s clothing and a shoe and hat boutique. Our next three stops were for dessert. Provisions, A Bakery Café, is located a little farther down on Main Street than the hub of the downtown shopping and dining businesses. They had teal and bronze balloons announcing their presence (it was also Parent’s Weekend for Coastal Carolina University that weekend and CCU’s colors are teal, bronze and black). There was standing room only in this small bakery. There were a few small tables inside as well as two outside. We stood in line hoping to get a Seven Layer Bar and White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookie. The cookie was still warm! And the Seven Layer Bar was amazing with coconut, butterscotch chips, graham crackers, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and pecans. We were pleasantly surprised at this delicious bakery. Another treasure of Conway. They also were offering Key Lime Cupcakes but were sold out.
Crady’s Restaurant & Bar: Eclectic Cuisine on Main, is a restaurant I have always wanted to visit. It is only open for lunch and on nights when there are performances at the Mainstreet Theater. They were serving a Mock Ice Cream Sundae, which turned out to be a bite size whipped cream and chocolate delight! Which was all that our stomachs could fit at this point. They also were offering Shrimp & Grits and The Crady, which is a sandwich with baby greens, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, and fried goat cheese, served with cider viniagrette. I wish I hadn’t been so full at this point and could have eaten that! The atmosphere was friendly. I can’t wait to go back for a meal!
Our last stop was The Trestle, a landmark bakery in Conway. There are two Trestle locations. One is a bakery and offers just baked goods and the other is a cafe with more of a diner atmosphere. We figured that the diner location would be the one participating in this event since the menu said they were offering a chicken salad roll, pasta salad, or dessert with coffee. We sat down at one of the many empty tables (it was 2:30 at this point and the lunch crowd had thinned out). We were promptly told that if we were participating in the Dine Around we needed to order take-out at the counter. I was kind of taken aback. At the counter we found out that they were only offering muffins and coffee, but their other store might have more of a selection. We decided to go to the bakery where we could hopefully sit down and enjoy our last dessert. At the bakery there was a short line forming as we all waited for the woman behind the counter to slice bread for a customer. It smelled delicious. We found out that they too were only offering muffins with coffee, which we were a little disappointed about because we had been staring at the donuts and pies and cakes as we waited in line. We split a chocolate (it almost tasted like it had a hint of peanut butter in it but we weren’t totally convinced) muffin and Kelly had coffee. One of our friends ordered a chocolate filled donut to take home and eat later. We sat at one of the small tables and watched people come in and leave with an assortment of delicious looking baked goods and waited for a pop-up summer rain shower to pass as we watched it from one of the large bay windows at the front of the bakery.
We checked the clock and realized it was five minutes to 3:00, the ending time of the Dine-Around event. We had managed to indeed visit eight restaurants (we skipped Skip’s Grill & Chill, a 50’s themed diner we had visited before that was offering a hotdog, cheese burger, cake or ice cream) within four hours! And some of those servings were more than just a sample! We thought that these samples were some of the best $2-$4 we had spent, and it was delightful to find new local restaurants to add to our list of establishments to recommend and visit again!