Gwen Fowler



Restaurants shine at Taste of the Town in Myrtle Beach

Posted 10/13/2011 7:42:00 AM

A hungry crowd packed the Myrtle Beach Convention Center earlier this week to sample the best foods from more than 50 Grand Strand restaurants.

Taste of the Town began in Myrtle Beach 28 years ago, back when there wasn’t much happening at the beach. But even with all the development of the past three decades, the culinary feast remains a favorite of area residents. Everyone is welcome at Taste of the Town, but it is one of the few events in the area where locals actually outnumber tourists. It is the social event of the year.

And it’s definitely a family event. While kids roamed the center devouring beautifully decorated cupcakes from Cakes by the Sea in Little River, adults lined up at booths to test new dishes or got a beer or wine refill.

The crowd at the Sea Captain’s House booth stayed thick throughout the evening, and it was easy to see why when the judging was over. The longtime Myrtle Beach favorite restaurant – and one of its oldest – won the top awards for its entrée -- a lobster roll -- and its dessert, sweet potato cake with butterscotch cream.

Second place in the entrée division went to Mykonos for its braised lamb Osso Bucco style, and third place went to a restaurant that won’t even open until spring. Rocket Fish, which will be a sushi restaurant and is part of the Divine Dining Group, was serving a sweet and smoky tuna roll.

In desserts, the judges awarded second place to Greg Norman’s Australian Grill for its apple cinnamon cheesecake. Tommy Bahamas won third place for its chocolate malted pie.

Those attending also got to vote on their favorites. Those 13 and older voted for the entrée from Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse and the dessert from Chili’s Grill & Bar. The younger set voted for the entrée from Bimini’s Oyster Bar & Seafood Café and the dessert from Melting Pot

At the Nacho Hippo booth, Chef Sean Christenson was serving two kinds of giant tacos: the Carolina Kid, with pulled pork barbecue with slaw, and the Kamikaze taco, with seared tuna.

One of my favorite stops of the evening was at Lulu’s Cafe, where manager Erin Adams and her staff were serving small grilled cheese sandwiches with havarti and provolone, and an amazingly delicious roasted red pepper bisque with smoked gouda. This was really a very dressed-up tomato soup, but such a simple name wouldn’t do this bisque justice. The soup was served in the cutest covered containers that looked like miniature stock pots, and Adams was dressed to match her 1950s diner restaurant, complete with pink eyeglasses.

If they gave awards for food carvings, it would have to go to King Kong Sushi. Chef Hyun Lee’s creations included a watermelon with the restaurant name carved on it, and a couple of wading birds perched on logs made of carrots.

Taste of the Town is the annual fundraiser for St. Andrew Catholic School