Monday, June 25, 2007

Eating in Myrtle Beach

Nance's Creek Front Restaurant in Murell's InletFrom our house it is 18 miles to an Applebees. A Bob Evans sits beside that Applebees. There is a Shoney's 26 miles from our house. And if we drive 35 miles to Princeton, WV, there's a Cracker Barrel, a new Chilis, another Applebees, another Bob Evans, an Outback, and another Shoneys. The nearest Red Lobster or Ruby Tuesday's? That's 67 miles. The nearest Olive Garden or TGI Fridays? They're about 125 miles from us, in Charleston, WV. heck, it's 55 miles to a danged Waffle House from where we live...

When we go to places like Myrtle Beach, we enjoy the opportunity to eat in nice restaurants. On our way to Myrtle Beach we ate at the Olive Garden in Florence, SC (and discovered you can't buy alcohol on Sunday there); on the way home from Myrtle Beach we ate at the olive Garden in Greensboro, NC. In Florence I had the Chianti Beef and Cheryl had the Mixed Pasta Misto with Shrimp and Alfredo Sauce. In Greensboro I had the mixed grill (skewers of Chicken and beef with grilled squash and zucchini) and Cheryl had the Tour of Italy.

The best food we had in Myrtle Beach wasn't in Myrtle Beach; it was in Murells Inlet, ten or 12 miles south of Myrtle Beach. On Tuesday we ate at Nance's Creek Front Restaurant and Oyster Roast. We both ordered a seafood platter and we got an oyster roast as an appetizer with the intention of having leftovers to take back to our room. The oysters can in a plastic bucket - about 30 of them - along with a shucking knife. We pried them open and dipped them in butter and lemon juice. Shucking the oysters was work; I'd guess we spent half an hour opening them. The restaurant had a beautiful view of the inlet and seated about 200 people, I'd guess. We spent about $60. I gave it a "nine." We'll go back...

Myrtle Beach acts like it invented the buffet. There are probably a couple of dozen buffets in the city. All of them have a variety of calabash seafood items ("calabash" is a batter fried seafood dish where the batter includes milk instead of water and more flour than corn meal). Almost all advertise crab legs (meaning snow crab legs), You get what you pay for. The cheaper places ($17.99 range) have a buffet with 50 or so items and crab legs at an additional price, not included on the bar. The top of the line places have 120 items on the buffet - raw oysters, crab legs actually on the buffet, prime rib or t-bones (though not cooked to order), desserts, soup and salad, etc.

We ate at the Sea Trawler on Monday because it was close by the hotel, on King's Highway in South Myrtle Beach. It was the bottom side of okay; we gave it a four or five on a scale of one to ten. It was abut $33 with a coupon that saved us eight bucks and it did not have crab legs on the buffet. On Wednesday we ate at Bennetts. Bennetts claims to be Myrtle Beach's first buffet; it was started in 1984, I think. The 120 item buffet included prime rib and t-bone (I ate some of both). I tried crawfish for the first time (mostly they were small). There were several shrimp dishes. The raw oysters were still in the shell and soaking in warm water (I'd rather have the cold). And I had a cluster of crab legs. The food was good (I'd be stretching it to say "great") and the buffet was $55 with tax for the two of us. We gave Bennetts a 7.5 on a scale of one to ten.

After Bennetts we stopped eating at buffets. The bottom line is that you get a lot of food (more than we wanted) for the same money you'd pay for a menu item at most restaurants. And the quality of menu food is better (IMHO).

Country Kitchen on Kings Highway in South Myrtle Beach - DON'T go there...Breakfast buffets are different. It's hard to screw up bacon or scramble eggs wrong. Our best breakfast was at Mammy's Kitchen on the corner of King's Highway and 10th Ave. N. It's a buffet. Our worst breakfast was at County Kitchen the morning we left; the establishment is at the corner of Kings Highway and 2nd Ave. S. My pork chops were good and my hash browns were crunchy. Cheryl's biscuits could have been used for golf balls at a nearby putt-putt. We sent them back because she couldn't cut them and the replacement biscuits never came. The manager figured it out at the cash register and got us to hang around an extra 6 or 7 minutes waiting on a complimentary "to go" order of them. To be fair, it was Saturday and they were busy; but the waitress took a 10 minute break in the middle of our meal. Their bathrooms were truly disgusting.

Other meals included the free breakfast at the hotel, Denny's twice, a dinner at TGI Fridays, and a dinner at Cheese Burgers in Paradise.

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