Friday, July 27, 2012

2108 Lunch Date

My friend Holly lives in Cayce.  Recently, she posted this on Facebook:
 Pay dirt!! Less than 1 mile from the crib, $2 draft HH, $3 draft anytime (decent brew selection) and the food is ooh lala! I had the collard spring rolls and Korean BBQ short rib tacos w/ jimaca slaw, w/ a side of jimaca slaw. $6.95-OMG.

 She's talking about 2108 State, which opened in the old "Lizard Woman" building in Cayce just before you hit the train yard.

As the conversation thread grew, she added this:
 I want to make sure the neighborhood bar and grill food critic Elizabeth Webber Akre checks it out and blogs about it:)

Well, how could I not hustle on over there after that? Today was one of the rare occasions that Neil and I were able to have lunch together.  I met him there.  It took me a minute to find him because, much to my surprise, this place is HUGE. I found him seated at the bar talking to one of the owners, Corey.  I joined them in a little chit-chat and then got down to the business of perusing the menu.

I have to echo Holly's excitement.  It's a really cool menu.  It was hard to decide what to try on this initial visit.  We decided to share an appetizer and each order a different sandwich and split them.  The overall theme of 2108 State is salads, sandwiches, burger and appetizers.  But what makes this different is that it's not like other menus of similarly themed restaurants.  For instance, their version of a cheese stick is "Dorito Crusted 5-Alarm" cheese sticks.  Their taco offerings do not include one made with ground beef.  The fries aren't what you expect, they have a Po'Boy du jour and how can you not love a menu that features "Critter Fritters?"  (hushpuppies filled with crawfish & crab.)

Neil and I unanimously agreed on the "Bacon Bleu Pimiento Cheese Dip."  That alone sounds enticing, but where they really won me over is the dippers are fried green tomato wedges.  Stop the presses!  This girl can dig on some fried greens.  

Sorry about the lighting; restaurants tend to be a little dark & this is iPhone photography!
And these were very well done...thick, but not too thick slices of tart green tomato with a crispy crust.  The pimiento cheese was nice as well.  Very cheddar-y.  I couldn't pick up much bacon or bleu cheese, but Neil could.  Even so, I'd gladly munch on this again!

Yummy warm Caribbean flavors & super tender pork
On to lunch:  Neil chose the "Jerked Pulled Pork Tacos."  This was two soft tacos filled with pulled pork that was delightfully seasoned.  I could detect cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, among other things.  Even though this is called jerk, it's not going to set you on fire.  It has all the Caribbean flavors of jerk, but not the blistering heat.  

After talking more to Corey, I learned that he and his folks lean more toward the spicy side as well, but have toned some dishes down so that they will appeal to all.  I'm willing to bet you could tell these guys to spice it up for you and they'd gladly comply.  And you know how pulled pork can be the most heavenly thing on Earth, but often, in restaurants, it ends up as a pile of dry, chewy shreds.  Not the case here.  The meat was very tender and juicy, as it should be.  It was accompanied by the jicama mango slaw, which again, was nice, but I think could benefit from some heat.

I chose to try one of the hamburgers.  I mean, any good joint must have a good burger.  It's just one of the laws of nature.  Well, not really, but it should be.  I decided on the "Grandpa Burger."  This burger is served with bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and thinly shaved red onion.  I asked for it to be cooked medium-rare and didn't get one word of hesitation about it.  Here's the verdict...this was one kick-ass burger.  In fact, I think it is the best burger in town.  What makes it different is:   
  • They cooked it as I ordered it!  It was pink inside, super juicy, and that meaty juice penetrates the bun, giving you one sloppy, delectable hamburger!
  • It was served with two thick slices of cheddar, so you could actually taste the cheese.  Tasting the cheese...what a novel idea!
  • When they say bacon, they mean it.  Unlike so many other places, I got a burger with smoky, salty and CRISPY bacon, again that I could really taste.  No flabby, half-cooked, no-point-being-on-my-burger excuse for bacon.
  • The red onion was shaved, so you can enjoy a little onion flavor without walking out with an onion force field around you.
  • Bun...not toasted to the point of scraping your mouth, soft but not chewy, the right size for the burger.
  • Bright green, fresh leaf lettuce and two slices of red, gorgeous tomato side by side.
  • The meat...this is important, so I saved it for last.  I'm going to put this in caps because it's that important.  IT WAS MADE WITH GOOD MEAT.  You know what I mean.  Juicy, flavorful, no little gristly things to gross me out and you can tell from your first bite that they are cooked over a flame.  Just outstanding. 
This is how it looked as it arrived.  Look at that pretty frilly lettuce!

Look at all that bacon tucked under that cheddar

I guess you've probably concluded that you need to rush right over and order a hamburger, huh?  Sorry Rockaways, Pawley's and every other place who touts themselves as Columbia's burger gurus.  You've been replaced. Your title has been taken. Bow your heads and just walk away.  And before I forget, their fries are awesome too. Instead of the norm, they are waffle cut chips that are cooked semi-floppy, but unlike 'raw fries' they aren't flabby and greasy.  

A really unique order of fries
They are crispy, but still have some bend in them.  We learned that on Fridays you can get some of their bleu cheese sauce drizzled on the fries 'gratis.'  It's "blue Friday."  This is a really nice touch and complements the chips well.

2108 State opened in May first for lunch only.  They are now open for lunch and dinner, have a large full bar with plenty of USC paraphernalia for you sports fiends to gawk at and they cater as well.  Owners Corey & Jeff are both accomplished chefs and have probably cooked for you before in various Columbia restaurants.  Seeing a hands-on owner who is present in the business is always a good sign as well. I really like this place and I recommend that you try it for yourself.  If you're in Cayce, it's on the corner of State St. and Frink.  From Columbia, cross the Blossom St. bridge, turn left on State St.  

If you're lucky, you might be there on a day when the passing truckers' CB radios break into the restaurant's stereo system.  We were so lucky and it was hysterical! 

That's a big 10-4 good buddy.  I'mma gonna give that there 2108 State a big ol' Breaker 1-9.  I believe we got us a convoy.

2108 State Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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