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When February 14th rolls around, it is only natural for one’s thoughts to turn to love. Whether you are starting a new relationship or have been together for decades, nothing brings out the “sappy romantic” quite like Valentine’s Day. If you want to make this year’s “Day of Love” something your sweetheart will remember for years to come, then Downtown Greenville is the place to start!

What girl (or guy for that matter) doesn’t love to receive some beautiful flowers or something sweet on this most romantic of holidays? If you have found that you have somehow forgotten to pick up something for your significant other the morning of the 14th, Urban Petals can help you resolve that matter. With a “Pop-Up Flower Shop”, which will be located at Port City Java (11 S. Main St) Thursday morning, suitors can purchase hand-tied bouquets of gorgeous, fresh flowers for their Valentines. From a “Best Buds” bud vase for $15 to a breath-taking arrangement of one dozen flawless red roses for $75, there is something for every price point and budget. Don’t procrastinate – Urban Petals will only be at Port City Java from 8AM until 1PM (or until the flowers run out). So get there early, grab a morning cup of coffee and pick some pretty posies sure to keep you out of the “doghouse”!

If your loved one has a sweet tooth, then head down South Main Street to Augusta Street and stop by Coffee To A Tea for a treat as sweet as your beloved. With savory pastries, delectable cupcakes and cookies, not to mention beautifully decorated , decadent cakes that are almost (notice I said ALMOST) to pretty to eat, this cozy little bakery and coffee shop has something for every taste. Leave your calorie counter at the door and indulge in the delicious “yumminess” available here! A dessert from Coffee To A Tea will definitely put you and your dear one in the mood for love!

You can never go wrong with a special evening that includes fine dining…especially on Valentine’s Day. Several Downtown restaurants are preparing special Valentines menus just for couples to enjoy. High Cotton invites you to join them for an evening of dining and music. The culinary staff at this wonderful eatery is preparing a special fixed price menu of 3 delicious courses for $65 per person. Start your dining experience with Charleston She-Crab Soup or Gulf Oysters on the Half Shell, then follow up with Lobster –encrusted Filet Mignon or North Carolina Duck Breast…YUM! Dessert offers such tempting choices as Dark Chocolate Terrine and Salted Pretzel Crème Carmel…to enjoy while listening to the cool tunes of the Sonny Thornton Quartet, featuring guest songstress, Sharon Lamontte. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 335-4200.

Not to be outdone, Devereaux’s Chef Spencer is creating a special 5-course “Chef’s Tasting Menu” certain to please the one you love. This delight for the taste buds includes such choices as Palmetto Quail and Rare Seared Tuna…along with suggested wine pairings. For dessert, enjoy the ultimate in chocolate decadence, a “Chocolate Trio” of Brownie, Milk Chocolate Caramel, and White Chocolate all in a sinfully good Parfait. For more information and to make the required reservations, call 241-3030.

Soby’s New South Cuisine can always be relied on to provide culinary excellence. Chef Shaun is offering his seasonal menu with a few Valentine Features such as Panko Fried Extra Select Oysters, Grilled Aged Ribeye and Pan-Seared Scallops. For the perfect finish to a perfect meal, try their “Romantic Ending for Two” – Chocolate and Red Velvet Cake with fresh raspberries, white chocolate mousse and chocolate dipped strawberries. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling 232-7007.

For something a little more exotic, but no less romantic, plan to spend your evening at The Lazy Goat. Chef Vicky’s list of Valentine’s Day features were definitely created with lovers in mind. From the luxurious “Oysters & Pearls” (Kumomotos, Caviar, Champagne and Pink Peppercorn Mignonette, Blibis and Crème Fraiche), decadent Smokey Cocoa Seared Duck Breast (with Minted Cous Cous, Pine Nuts, Chick Peas, Braised Green & Cherry Demi), not to mention a lavish dessert of Dark Truffle and Raspberry Truffle Tart, will arouse feelings of “l’amour” in no time! For reservations, call 679-5299.

Few things are more romantic than beautiful music. And few musical instruments can inspire such gentle feelings of love as the piano. Greenville’s premiere concert pianist, Emile Pandolfi, will be giving a special Valentine’s performance at The Greenville Little Theatre at 8PM on the 14th. A pre-performance reception will be held starting at 6:45PM. Tickets are available for $40 online and can be obtained through http://www.greenvillelittletheatre.org.

All this fine dining and romance may make you and your Valentine decide to truly make a night of it. Why not be a “tourist” in your own hometown and book a room at the historic Westin Poinsett. Their wonderful Spa Package offers a room for $349 a night for two (or $249 a night for one, if you want to give your significant other some “quality time” alone) and includes a One-Hour Customized Therapeutic Massage in their River Falls Spa. Some restrictions apply and advance reservations are required. Find out more at http://www.westinpoinsettgreenville.com.

Plato once said “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” Well, in your case, maybe not a poet, but all this romance may bring out the creative genius in you and may put you in the mood to paint a masterpiece or inspire a culinary creation of your own. Sassy Paints is offering art classes in a romantic theme with their recreation of “Out Tree” Reservations are required and rates and other information are available at http://www.sassypaints.com. For the infatuated foodies among us, Charleston Cooks is offering a Couples Cooking Class on February 13th. For more information, call 335-2000. Or you may just want to stroll down Main Street, holding hands and checking out all the cool art galleries, shops and sites our fair city has to offer. However you decide to celebrate, LOVE is definitely in the air in Downtown Greenville!

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So, did the delectable food at Greenville’s Greek Festival last weekend leave you yearning for more?  Found yourself with an overwhelming urge for souvlaki, dolmades and baklava? Don’t despair, Downtown Greenville has a variety of restaurants serving Greek, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine to satisfy your every craving!

For more than 40 years, Never on Sunday has been a little piece of Athens (that’s Greece, not Georgia) in Downtown Greenville. The atmosphere is cozy and eclectic, rather like visiting Grandma’s house  –  if Grandma grew up near the Aegean.  A true “Mom & Pop”,  proprietors  Nick and Iris  make it their mission to give you a good home-cooked meal (Nick cooks, Iris serves it up with an indulgent smile). Regulars say the dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) are a must have…as well as their Greek salads with Nick’s delicious homemade dressing. Don’t leave without sampling their legendary Baklava – best eaten with your fingers to get every savory morsel. Make sure you request a jug of wine for that true Greek dining experience. Located at 210 East Coffee Street, Nick and Iris serve up lunch and dinner every day except…you guessed it…Sunday (& Monday). Prices are very affordable and although reservations are not required, weekends can get a little busy at dinner, so you may want to call ahead.

Greek marries Italian at Milano Kozani, a charming restaurant with plenty of Mediterranean romance.  Located at 12 South Main Street, this restaurant and its Italian trained chef, strive to bring diners the best in Italian cuisine from the region of Emilia Romagna. Try the Pollo Isabelle- grilled chicken breast  topped with fried goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and a white wine lemon cream sauce to die for…all served over olive oil sautéed spinach. Or, if you love Lasagna, try theirs either with meat or vegetarian, one of the House favorites. Can’t decide what to have? Then order their Greek or Italian Sampler Platter for a little bit of everything!  Add to this a supreme wine list that will make you think it was designed by the god of wine himself, and you have a meal that will have you feeling like you’ve gone to Mount Olympus! If you find yourself Downtown at lunchtime, then stop by for their Lunch Buffet, served Monday-Friday 11AM-2PM. At less than $10, you’ll be glad you did!

Speaking of Italian, Ristorante Bergamo brings a bit of Northern Italy to the heart of Greenville. A culinary cornerstone of Downtown for over 25 years, this destination of Italian foodies is named for Greenville’s sister city, Bergamo, Italy. Chef/owner and native Bergamasco, Nello Gioia has made his mark on our local restaurant scene with a menu that is a culinary work of art. A believer in the Slow Food method, this creative chef uses fresh, sustainable ingredients such as organic herbs grown in his own garden, Tuscan olive oil, heirloom vegetables grown regionally, Carnoli Rice  (the signature of his risotto dishes),  and polenta – the yellow corn meal staple often found in Bergamasca cooking.  Located in a primo spot at 100 North Main Street, Ristorante Bergamo offers fine dining in an intimate atmosphere, with lovely views of Downtown. Dinner is served Tuesday – Saturday and since the restaurant only seats 80 guests, reservations are strongly recommended.

Another Mediterranean restaurant with incredible views, but a more casual atmosphere is The Lazy Goat. This RiverPlace establishment offers an array of delectable dishes from Greece and Italy, with a culinary nod to the succulent flavors of Spain, Morocco and the Middle East.  While enjoying gorgeous views of the Reedy River from the dining room or the outdoor patio, diners can feast on such “made from scratch” delicacies as Pumpkin Tagliatelle – a crispy pancetta, served with braised greens, pine nut & sage brown butter, Braised Moroccan Lamb Shank – served with warm pita, cucumber yogurt and plantain chips, or Fried Goat Cheese sprinkled with pistachio dust and drizzled with honey (my personal favorite).  The bar selection’s not too shabby either – try the refreshing Easy Breeze Martini (Absolute Ruby Red Vodka, Cranberry Juice and Fresh Lime) or the decadent Godiva Truffletini (Godiva Dark Chocolate and Godiva White Chocolate Liquor, Stoli Vodka, in a Chocolate laced glass with a splash of milk). You may just decide to spend your Saturdays there, sipping drinks on the patio with friends while listening to live music – for time that is truly “well wasted”.

For a meal that is a step above the ordinary, try Pomegranate On Main. This upscale West End restaurant with its exotic décor and Persian-inspired delicacies will have you expecting to see Lawrence of Arabia walk in at any moment! With delectable offerings of kabobs, stews and, of course, hummus, your taste buds will be dancing with elation all night! Try the Chicken Torsh Kabob – generous chunks of lean chicken breast, marinated in a zesty Pomegranate sauce that’s both sweet and sour, mixed with walnuts and served with basmati cranberry rice – YUM! Vegetarians will love the Kashk Bademjan – sautéed eggplant and onion, topped with Persian cream of whey, crispy fried onion and mint, or the Vegetarian Fesenjan – a savory stew with sautéed Portobello mushrooms slow cooked in a finely ground walnut and Pomegranate sauce, served with basmati rice. For the ultimate dining experience, have your meal outside under the pergola, while sipping wine and people watching from its South Main location.

It is the diversity of restaurants such as these that continue to make Downtown Greenville a major culinary destination. From the cozy, home-like setting of Never on Sunday to the fine dining of Ristorante Bergamo to the laid-back casualness of The Lazy Goat, there is never a lack of good times centered around food in our fair city. SALUTE!

More…

Never On Sunday: 210 Coffee Street; 864-232-2252; Hours: Lunch-11:30 AM-2 PM Tuesday-Friday; Dinner – 5-9 PM Tuesday-Saturday

Milano Kozani: 12 South Main Street; 864-263-3561; www.milanokazani.com; Hours: Food served from 11AM -10PM, 7 days a week

Ristorante Bergamo: 100 North Main Street; 864- 271-8667; www.ristorantebergamo.com; Hours: Dinner – 5:30pm – 9:30PM, Tuesday-Saturday

The Lazy Goat: 170 RiverPlace; 864- 679-5299; www.thelazygoat.typepad.com; Hours: Open for lunch at 11AM & dinner at 5:00, Monday – Saturday

Pomegranate On Main: 618 South Main Street; 864-241-3012; www. pomegranateonmain.com; Hours: Lunch – 11:30AM to 2:30PM; Dinner – 5:30PM UNTIL-Monday-Friday; . Saturday 11:30AM UNTIL.



Mother’s Day is coming up on May 13th. What most Moms want more than anything, is quality time with loved ones – that and taking a break from the kitchen. A great way to accomplish both is to take her to one of the many wonderful Downtown restaurants for a nice brunch. And with the delicious menus these fine establishments are cooking up, you’re certain to become Mom’s favorite!

If your Mom loves cool jazz as much as fine Southern cuisine, then High Cotton is an excellent choice.  This Downtown favorite is extending their usual brunch hours to 10AM -3PM so that they may better offer a special Mother’s Day menu.  With such delectable items as Crispy Banana Stuffed French Toast, (served with a pistachio brittle, red berry compote and Tahitian vanilla bean syrup), Wild Mushroom Quiche (served with goat cheese, Swiss chard, asparagus salad, grainy mustard aioli), and the ever popular Shrimp & Grits (with smoked chicken Andouille sausage, sweet corn, charred tomato), Mom’s eyes will sparkle with pride at her smart, sophisticated children!  For more information and menu items, visit http://www.mavericksouthernkitchens.com/highcotton/greenville

If Mom prefers to dine al fresco, then The Green Room is an utter delight!  With wonderful outdoor (weather permitting) and indoor dining and a menu that will make you drool, The Green Room aims to please. Try the Blue Corn Crab Benedict – two poached eggs on top of fried green tomatoes & blue corn crab cakes with a spicy Hollandaise sauce and served with your choice of side (I like the House Potatoes) or, to satisfy your sweet tooth, the Stuffed French Toast – thick bread stuffed with raspberry cream cheese and coated with Frosted Flakes (yes, Frosted Flakes) and served with two sausage links – YUM! Have the bar staff mix up a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa and your Mom will truly be in “high spirits”! To see more of their delish menu offerings, visit: www.thegreenroomupstate.com

If your Mom is a traditional sort, take her to brunch at Greenville’s historic Poinsett Hotel. Spoonbread Restaurant at Poinsett recalls the days of yesteryear, when ladies wore white gloves and men wore hats to church.  Named after the famous spoonbread served at Poinsett’s restaurants for decades, this charming establishment has all the gracious hospitality South Carolina is known for.  With such menu items as Chilled Strawberry Mint Soup, Cucumber Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette and Broiled Atlantic Salmon with Lime Butter, you will swear you’ve been transported back to the Roaring Twenties! To see more of their nostalgically delectable menu, visit www.westinpoinsettgreenville.com/restaurant.

If your Mom is a little edgy and …well, Bohemian…then the aptly named Bohemian Café has the vibe she’s looking for. The Bohemian boasts a cool, laid back atmosphere that jives well with its eclectic menu, (after all, what do you expect from a restaurant that takes pride in being non-conformist). My favorites are the Veggie Burger (I always order mine with bacon – and they actually do it!) and the Salmon Florentine Benedict (have a to-go box ready to take home the extra, trust me). With their “Build Your Own Bloody Mary” option, it’s no wonder this groovy spot is a favorite with local artists and musicians. Check out more of their amazing menu at: www.thebohemiancafe.com.

To add a distinctly Mediterranean flavor to your brunch, make your way to The Lazy Goat. Not only does this truly unique restaurant offer gorgeous views of the Reedy River from their outdoor dining patio, but their menu will make you think you’ve found the Promised Land!  Try the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Macerated Berries, the Souvlaki Marinated Pork Loin or any of their assortment of homemade pastries and fresh fruit.  Finish off the meal with a dessert of Mini Key Lime Tarts or Mini Chocolate & Hazelnut Tarts and a cup of strong coffee. Nirvana! For more menu options, see: http://thelazygoat.typepad.com.

These are just a few of the many wonderful brunch options in our gorgeous Downtown. Sunday brunch is popular, especially on pretty days, so reservations are STRONGLY recommended (and in some places, required). After your meal, you & Mom can walk off all those calories in Falls Park or along our picturesque Main Street, or visit one of the many art galleries and museums Downtown. Your Mom will finish up her special day thinking she just might have raised you right after all!

Here are a few more Brunch Options:

■Nose Dive (0AM – 2PM)  PH: 373-7300

■Ford’s Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen (11AM – 2PM) PH: 233-6009 – The Green Room’s Cajun Sister Restaurant

■Soby’s (10AM – 1PM) PH: 232-7007

■Larkin’s on the River (11AM – 2PM) PH: 467-9777

■Wild Wing Café: Blue Jean Brunch (11AM -3PM) PH: 242-9453

■Liberty Tap Room (11AM – 2PM) PH: 770-7777

■Mary Beth’s (9:30AM – 3PM) PH: 242-2535

■Nantucket Seafood Grill (11AM – 3PM) PH: 546-3535

■The Trappe Door (11AM – 2PM) PH: 451-7490

■Devereaux’s (11AM – 2PM) PH: 241-3030

■Smoke on the Water (11AM – 2PM) PH: 232-9091

■Coffee Underground (9-2) PH: 298-0494

■Blue Ridge Brewing Co. (11-2) PH: 232-4677

■ Mary’s at Falls Cottage (10-2) PH: 298-0005

■ Saffron’s WestEnd Cafe (9:30-3) PH: 241-0401

■High Cotton: Jazz Brunch (10AM -3PM) PH: 335-4200

■The Green Room (9AM -5PM) PH: 335-8222

■Spoonbread Restaurant at The Westin Poinsett (10:30AM – 2PM) PH: 421-9700

■The Bohemian (11AM – 2PM) PH: 331-2589

■The Lazy Goat (11AM – 2PM) PH: 679-5299



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