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Pawleys holds a slice of food heaven

Chive Blossom Cafe's only downfall is this - it is located in Pawleys Island instead of Myrtle Beach.

If it were located closer to where I lived, I would dine there at least once a week.

The place embodies most of what I love in a restaurant.

For starters, the service is swift and highly efficient.

Karen Russo was my server the day I visited, and I was struck by how she was so gracious to the folks sitting at the three tables she waited on.

She checked on all of us regularly and was knowledgeable about the menu, giving me an honest opinion of what she thought of the rutabaga soup with caramelized onions.

"I taste more caramelized onions than rutabagas," Russo told me.

So I opted for the she-crab soup, which she told me was her favorite.

It was wonderful and definitely one of the best she-crabs soups I've tasted on the Grand Strand.

While I sipped my soup, I tried to figure out what I wanted for my lunch entree. Every item sounded good, and I struggled to decide until I saw Russo deliver a meal that looked incredibly delicious to a nearby table.

I asked the lady who received the dish what it was she had. She said they were okra pancakes. I flipped the menu open and noticed it was listed as a house specialty.

Since okra is one of my favorite vegetables, I decided to try the pancakes, which are topped with Lowcountry tomato shrimp stew.

I absolutely loved every bite. Two medium okra pancakes - really slices of okra held together somehow - were topped with deveined shrimp with the tail still attached and seasoned chunky tomatoes.

It was a taste experience my mouth will not soon forget. There was nothing fancy about the dish, but I was thoroughly impressed by how such a simple concoction made for such a magnificent lunch.

The okra wasn't slimy and there was a slight crunchiness at the bottom of each pancake. The meal was light but certainly filling. I could eat those okra pancakes every day for lunch or dinner, if given an opportunity.

Stuffed, I decided to take dessert home. I ordered the raspberry almond torte. It was about the size of a slice of apple pie, but instead of crust on the top there was some sort of crumb topping and slivers of baked almonds on top of that.

I ate just one spoonful later that evening at dinner time, and I went to food heaven. For me, the experience was better than indulging in chocolate.

The torte had an enormous amount of raspberry filling inside that had the consistency of a thick jam and the bottom crust was buttery.

As you might imagine, I was one happy customer because I had been treated to great service and food just as splendid.

Prices are reasonable for the dining experience and food quality, with prices ranging from $11 to $16 for the house specialties and $9 to $12 for the sandwiches.

The dinner menu has fine dining prices, with entrees starting at $24.

Menu highlights include wild salmon (black pepper encrusted and served over stir fried veggies with an Asian vinaigrette for $13), curry chicken salad (with fresh pineapple, mango chutney, raisins, roasted red peppers and toasted pecans over mixed field greens with ginger dressing for $10) and jumbo lump crab cakes (with smashed potatoes, sugar snap peas and dill cream for $29).

Visitors to Chive Blossom Cafe will enter a building that looks like a country home. The building is wood and inside is painted Spanish olive green. Old-timey wooden chairs sit at white-linen covered tables. The place is small and quaint, with seating that is intimate yet open to conversing with other patrons.

The spot could easily be a treasure of any discriminating foodie. It certainly won me over.

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