FORT MILL TOWNSHIP — One of the corniest lines in one of my favorite movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” pretty much sums up how I feel. Not long into the film, George Bailey asks Uncle Billy, “Do you know the three most exciting sounds in the world?”
“Sure!” Uncle Billy says. “Breakfast is served, lunch is served, dinner is served.”
Old Uncle Billy may have been absent minded, but he wasn’t crazy. As someone who shares his interests in life’s culinary pleasures, it’s getting difficult to keep up with all the new restaurants opening in Fort Mill. I decided to have breakfast, lunch and dinner at three of the new choices. One day, three restaurants. Here’s how it went:
Fort Mill Family Restaurant in Avery Plaza (the Food Lion shopping center next to Springfield Parkway near Leroy Springs Complex) is open for all three meals. Eager to try a new destination for breakfast, I called a like-minded friend to meet me there.
There was something familiar about the place, and it has nothing to do with the fact that it used to be one of my favorite pizzerias when I moved to Fort Mill 10 years ago. Soon after we were served, it hit me: Fort Mill Family Restaurant is reminiscent of the 24-hour diners me and fellow Northern transplants pine for – except for the 24/7 part. Maybe it’s the eclectic menu, the look of the plates or subliminal scents that transported me back, but the most important part of the experience sealed the deal.
My friend ordered scrambled eggs, bacon and home fries (the restaurant makes a point of letting diners know hash browns are not an option). I went with a Mediterranean omelet, grits (and she’s the native Southerner), whole wheat toast and bacon on the side. The plates arrived filled and the food was the perfect temperature. My friend reported her eggs as fluffy and fresh, and offered me a taste of the home fries. Perfect. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and obviously homemade.
The omelet was a thing of beauty, the fresh spinach fragrant and neither wilted not watery. Also fresh – and plentiful – was the feta cheese and black olives. I don’t think I’ve tasted as fine a Mediterranean omelet in the South. What I have had plenty of here though is grits. This place knows what it’s doing in that arena, too, judging from the creamy consistency. My friend thought they could have used more salt, but I argued salt is more easily added than subtracted. Besides, there’s no one right way to eat grits.
We both agreed the bacon was excellent. Thick, crisp and smokey, and not a trace of excess grease.
Other menu items include sandwiches, burgers, wraps, pasta dishes, fried chicken – the works – and daily specials. I can’t wait to go back and try the beef stroganoff. Fort Mill Family Restaurant’s full menu is available on its Facebook page.
After several incarnations in Kings Plaza (just off Highway 21 on Regent Parkway, a couple of doors up from Carmella’s in the Regent park area), this storefront, known as Flipside Cafe, seems to have found a winner.
Dining solo, I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood the mood. The menu, with its gourmet take on comfort foods – meatloaf, mac and cheese, shepherd’s pie with braised short ribs – didn’t make it any easier. I settled on the lobster quiche.
Much like downtown Fort Mill’s Local Dish and Passion8 Bistro, Flipside is fine dining. I picked one of the more expensive entrees, mostly because I love lobster and I never tasted it in quiche. For $10.90, I expected a bigger portion. However, the aroma could be worth a couple of dollars alone and each forkful was gold. It came with a nice garden salad on the side.
Flipside Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – or just coffee – and I look forward to going back enough times to try everything on the menu at least once.
The newest edition to Fort Mill’s culinary scene, The Mill Eatery and Drafthouse opened in what used to be Fishbone Grille, which closed in 2008. I brought along a couple I’m friends for dinner.
Two of us are fairly discriminate about our beer consumption, and The Mill has more than two dozen drafts on tap, including Charlotte area microbrews. The selection of draft ales, IPAs and stouts is flat out the finest I’m aware of in Fort Mill. The other member of our party favors wine, and the selection there also is impressive.
The menu is extensive, with entrees that range from burgers and sandwiches to chicken, pan-seared salmon and other seafood, pasta dishes and steaks. Our server suggested the baked crab dip as a starter because it’s apparently the most popular choice, but we started with the slightly spicy and infinitely tasty Bam Bam Shrimp, which was plentiful enough for three.
For the main course, I went with the 12-ounce ribeye, which arrived with the sizzle that’s half the reason you order steak, and a side of sauteed garlic spinach. It came with a side salad. This time, I took our server’s advice when she suggested the homemade Italian dressing. One friend chose the half-rack of ribs with fresh potato chips on the side and his wife, the steak salad.
We all enjoyed our meals, though both steak orders were cooked maybe half a minute or so past the medium-well. The ribs got a thumbs-up, but with a comment that slathering on less sauce might make them better. We all tried the chips – there was more than all three of us could finish – and I thought they were exceptional even though some were less than fully cooked.
Fishbone has been closed so long I don’t remember how the interior differs. But The Mill has has a great look and feel. There’s a central dining area apart from the bar area, where we ate at one of the elevated tables. The bottom line: There’s no reason The Mill should disappoint.
Serving from 4 to 10 p.m. and open until midnight, The Mill is planning to open for lunch later this year.
Michael Harrison • 803-547-2353; firstname.lastname@example.org