Upstate, South Carolina
is a new section within GraciousRoots where we take a closer view of locals around our Southern Highlands. Want the GR team to FOCUS ON your favorite place? Let us know.
The first installment is a gastronomic, foodie and libation lovers dream - Greenville, South Carolina
Why choose Greenville, SC for our first installment? Well, it is the traditional winter home of the eastern band of the Cherokee nation, and ballyhooed by many as a city on a major up swing:
- TOP 10 BEST EMERGING DESTINATIONS - USA TODAY
- TOP 10 UNDERRATED CITIES FOR ART LOVERS - US NEWS & WORLD REPORT
- TOP 13 BEST SMALL U.S. CITIES TO SPEND THE WEEKEND - THRILLIST
Recommended destination by:
- The New York Times
- Travel & Leisure
- Wall Street Journal
So Yeah, Greenville is not the Greenville of your youth. We're very happy Greenville has come of age. This small city has much to offer everyone, families and little one. 'G’Ville' is nirvana for foodies, those over 21, festival lovers, shoppers, active outdoors lovers, and much more. Speaking of more, you know how we love to curate the BEST of our Southern Highlands? We’ve done just that with this Gracious Gastronomy edition. We work hard to find the real treasures, the places the locals love and kind of don’t want others to know about. Chain establishments? AH, NO!
West End Historic District
The West End of Greenville, located just across the Reedy River from downtown, has a long and interesting history. Although settlement in the area (near the intersection of Main, Pendleton and Augusta Streets) began as early as the 1830's, the real impetus for growth of the West End resulted from 2 events occurring in the 1850s. Furman University was established in 1852 on fifty acres of land in the West End, where it expanded and remained until 1958; and the first train on the Greenville and Columbia Railroad arrived in the West End in 1853. These factors led to both residential and commercial development of the area.
The West End has so many small 'gems' tucked away in a district packed with fun and uniqueness. Winning baseball in one of the prettiest ball parks anywhere, event venues, top ranked greenways/parks, a gorgeous mix of preserved archetecture, boutiqus, boutiques, and more boutiques, gastro pubs, a hidden speakeasy (as it should be), live music most nights, high end restaurants, free trolley, we could go on and on. We're not going to broadcast all of our secret favorites, but we will share a few.
Vault & Vator
VAULT & VATOR is downtown Greenville's first speakeasy-style modern cocktail lounge offering hand-crafted, made-to-order libations inspired by The Golden Age of cocktails during pre-prohibition and prohibition.
Tucked away in a subterranean basement space featuring the original Vault and Elevator (thus, Vault & Vator) that was built and occupied by the Dr. Pepper Cola Co. during the turn of the century, VAULT & VATOR aims to create a sophisticated atmosphere where cozy conversation can be exchanged while sipping on convivial cocktails paired with a well-curated, small menu.
The owners closed American Grocery in July and decided to act on a vision for a Speakeasy a "passion project" in the West End of Greenville.
V&V followed the playbook from other concepts like their speakeasy. Often you hear about a restaurant or a bar and people want to know what the place is like without having visited the establishment. This is where the House Rules come in:
According to V&V the most significant pushback they’ve experienced is the no cell phone use policy. "We don’t want people on their phones necessarily because it could disrupt the experience for other patrons. This is a place where you can put your phone away and enjoy your wife, your friends, whatever, and allow other people to do so without the glow of screens or people talking on the phone. We’re not going to be crazy about it; we are merely trying to cultivate an environment of interaction and enjoyment. If you want to take a picture of a drink for social media, by all means! We’re not opposed to those sort of things; we're just asking people to be responsible with their cellphones and respectful of others."
The current approach to food is to have something to ‘nosh’ on while you’re enjoying your cocktails. True to speakeasy form, it's more about the drinks than the food. Sundry nosh plate choices: charcuterie, hummus, smoked trout plate, pimento cheese, etc. are the usuals. As V&V moves forward, they may end up doing some pop-ups! Maybe 6 to 8 moderately small plates on a Wednesday until they run out of food. Keep your ear to the ground for this concept and more in the works.
The GraciousRoots team has frequented many speakeasy concepts from coast to coast, with The Hawthorne in Boston, MA standing out as one of our favorites - The Hawthorne craft cocktails are served, for instance, in a snazzy hotel setting that feels like a modernist living room. So we asked V&V about their inspirations. The answer certainly didn't disappoint. "PDT in New York, Violet Hour in Chicago, The Varnish, and Lock & Key in LA. We brought back pieces we liked from each of those to then blend and make it our own."
MOST POPULAR MENU ITEM
Bartender’s Choice: Choose two items (descriptors listed), and the bartender will ask you a couple of questions before creating your cocktail. “It is probably the most popular choice because people want to trust Jenny and the bartenders to come up with something that’s custom. Example: I often hear 'I don’t like gin.' They come in staunchly against the spirit, and it’s because they don’t understand it, or they are just used to the big 'juniper bombs' like the London gins such as Tanqueray. That’s okay if you don’t like that very heady style gin but there are many, many, styles of gin that are not made with heavy juniper. In a cocktail made by a pro, gin can be quite lovely. Just like mezcal, it is also misunderstood. We have conducted classes like Mezcal versus Tequilla to educate patrons’ palates. They come away amazed that a cocktail containing Mezcal can be incredibly tasty." - Jenie Fletcher, Head Mixologist
Wednesday nights are Whiskey Wednesdays - "It’s like Taco Tuesday, but for Bad Asses!"- Jenie
Every other Thursday is Tiki Night - V&V turns into a kitschy 50’s tiki bar with Hawaiian shirts and other paraphernalia.
Every night - Three one ounce pours of whiskey on a flight for $18. An incredible deal considering the caliber of whiskeys and bourbons available at V&V. "We're experiencing a bourbon revolution worldwide, so this is a good way to test new things on a budget!" - Jenie
Vault &Vator take that passion for crafting your perfect cocktail very seriously. In fact, using the example above, allow Jennie to create a cocktail for you using one of the 'boutique gins,' and if you don't like it, she'll take it back. "Nine out of ten times the customer is amazed they like it." - Jenie
The team at V&V enjoy educating patrons on all of the spirits. Occasionally V&V will offer classes. Jennie also brings in Brand Ambassadors from numerous labels such as Bullet Rye, Virgil Cain, and others for fun events such as Guest Bartender night.
Tuesday nights are Service Industry Night - wherein service industry workers who come in receive discounted rates on specific items.
Le Petit Croissant
Located downtown Greenville in the Historic West End, Le Petit Croissant Bakery is a fine pastry and chocolate shop, from the esteemed Chef Vincent Caradonna. Serving the best of European/American pastry and chocolate, the bakery offers traditional desserts with a twist, as they like to say 'European with a twist!' The Chef and Owner Vincent Caradonna has traveled the world at long last to open this excellent little pastry shop in the Upstate.
Collecting top marks and international awards along the way, Vincent Cardonna has cooked in Paris, in New York City, and in Las Vegas, and now, he wants to bring his fine chocolates and pastries to Greenville.
The Master Chocolatier and Pastry Chef opened Le Petit Croissant in July 2017 in the former Joe’s Books location.
“We give you an experience, visual and by the taste,” says Caradonna, who is partnering with his wife, Ashley, and mother in law, Angela Gilstrap in the venture. “So everything will look really beautiful and taste even more.”
Le Petit Croissant (the name comes from the nickname the two have for their infant son) will offer a menu of primarily handmade chocolates and excellent French pastries, coffees, and teas and a few traditional French sandwiches.
BREAKFAST, BRUNCH, LUNCH
Sweet and Savory come together to make a scrumptious breakfast. The GR team adores the classic French small quiches with crunchy pie crust with quiche dough, garnished with ham and Swiss cheese. Or choose from Spinach over Lemon and Spicey Ham and Sundried Tomato. Quiche isn't your thing? Ahhh, the French have the answer - Soft and delicious french style crepes filled with seasoned ham and Swiss cheese or Spinach and mushroom. The Real Deal on-demand!
Le Petit Croissant brings a new level of focused and crafted pastries and chocolates to downtown. It is a craft that he has spent years perfecting, and that requires a coordinated dance of the right ingredients, the proper technique, and the right flavors to perfection.
After years of testing chocolate, Caradonna has settled on a supplier from San Francisco. The company, Guittard Chocolate Co., a small family-run operation, will supply his main ingredient, while he will look to local producers for items like fresh produce. And Caradonna has already worked out arrangements with both West End Coffee, which will supply all coffee for his desserts as well as the store’s espresso menu, and Dark Corner Distillery, which will provide its specialty whiskey for some of the truffles and caramels as well.
Le Petit Croissant offer about 16 rotating, seasonal varieties of chocolates, ranging from various caramels like passionfruit, pistachio and salted, to handmade truffles in flavors like green tea, traditional and even wasabi, and about 16 varieties of pastries, from various croissants to napoleons, and mousse au chocolate, all presented with his distinct twist.
“I’m not going to serve a single chocolate mousse in a cup,” Caradonna assures. “To me, it is not interesting, so I will make it much more visually interesting, adding some crisps, some nuts, really working on the flavor profile.”
The proof will be in the details, Caradonna says. He spends days in some cases infusing flavors, prepping chocolate, caramel, and cream and building the elements of his treats.