Dining out: Coast Grille's grits rock!

May 13, 2008 

Well, now I've gone and done it. After living in the Carolinas for more than 11 years, I've got a new craving besides sweet tea and barbecue. It's grits.

Yep, Coast Grille in Rock Hill has this Yankee hook, line and sinker. I've sampled them from friend's plates from time to time in the past, never enjoying the taste, or was it the texture? I'm not a fan of warm cereals to begin with. Maybe it's because of mom, but I do keep trying foods that I don't like. Once in a while, I find I like something I never did before -- and now, I'm in love.

My friend had suggested Coast Grille, a bright yellow house on Cherry Road converted into a restaurant. The small parking lot out back reflects the quaint, non-smoking atmosphere inside where there's seating for 40, or 10 tables, and two front porch tables, too.

There's also a small bar with a selection of import, domestic and draft beers, as well as wine. A look around and you're transported to Charleston, my friend tells me, because I've never been. But I did relax, like taking a trip to the beach with the sandy-colored walls, large Coastal painting over the fireplace, bright artwork, lots of natural lighting and most of all, a menu that's all about catches from the sea -- crab, oysters, shrimp, lobster, trout, grouper and tilapia.

Our waiter was so friendly and quick with drink orders, and helpful knowing, or at least asking the cook, how dishes are made. My friend doesn't eat red meat or pork, which is why she didn't have the grits and shrimp. Apparently there's kielbasa in it. However, the Grilled Mesquite Shrimp isn't made the same way, so she ordered that from the appetizer menu ($3.95 to $7.95), a half-order to the main dish ($12.75 to $24.95 and up for surf and turf, lobster or shrimp). She started with the Coast specialty salad, which was mixed greens, dried cranberries, feta, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette for $4.95.

"This is good stuff," she told the waiter, turning to me to say it packed just the right amount of "Mesquite" heat.

I was hungry for fish. My mother raves about tilapia, so I gave it a go, ordering the Lemon Italian Tilapia (2) that came with two sides ($16.95). I had steamed veggies and decided to give the shrimp with lobster sauce a try ... with the intention to share.

I took one bite of the tilapia and knew it was all mine. Then I tried the grits that looked like lumpy egg whites with the lobster sauce as the yolk. Ooh, baby! They were almost creamy and the taste with the sauce, and even by themselves, is something I'd go back for.

I'm jealous of our waiter who said he has my new found love for breakfast every morning. Dr. Seuss comes to mind: I will not eat them here or there, I will not eat them anywhere. I tried them, and I liked them.

In fact, I like this small restaurant a lot. It's big on service, presentation and most importantly, taste. And it comes with a relaxing, home-at-the-beach atmosphere to boot.

I'm ready for vacation, or at least to make a get-away to Rock Hill every now and then for some Coastal delights.

Catherine Muccigrosso, Lake Wylie Pilot editor

Location: 610 Cherry Road, Rock Hill

Hours: Lunch, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; dinner, 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Phone: (803) 328-2039

Ambiance: Quaint Carolina Coastal restaurant

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