Amazing food in Rock Hill, SC? Yes, it’s true! Try Culina!

Greetings!While I may live in South Charlotte, with quick and easy access to many a great restaurant, my parents chose to live just over the border in South Carolina in the city of Rock Hill. It takes me a good 45 minutes to get there from my house. Just close enough and just far enough away!

Unfortunately, because it is away from town, the culinary choices close to home that are not a chain restaurant are very limited for them. So imagine how happy they were when they discovered Culina!

Culina, modern comfort food, is located at 295 Herlong Ave, #404. If you are familiar with the area at all, it’s in the same shopping center as McAllister’s or Talbot’s. It’s a neighborhood gem and the food is amazing!

Here is a link to their website.

http://www.restaurantculina.com/

This is a tale of two trips really, first my initial experience there and second the amazing supper club they have at the end of each month.

My first trip…

was with my parents and some new neighbors, who are also from California. I think my parents wanted to show them “see there is good food in your new neighborhood”.

It’s a small plates joint so we ordered a ton of stuff and shared. Here were some of my favorites!

First up is this amazing salad. It had amazing local tomatoes, with a wonderful and light vinaigrette, and obviously some shaved red onions. Their menu tends to be very seasonal and this was a summer salad that is no longer on the menu.

culinasalad

What is still on the menu is…THIS!

monicaimposter

If you read my New Orleans Jazz Fest post, you’d know about my love of Crawfish Monica, which is essentially a mac and cheese, with crawfish. At Culina, they serve a Smoked Crawfish Mac and Cheese, with pancetta, garlic and shallots and it is a very close cousin to Crawfish Monica. Upon eating it I told my server to tell the chef I loved my Crawfish Monica. When she came back, she asked if I was from NOLA, confirming indeed this was inspired by my Jazz Fest favorite.

Another amazing staple on the menu, the Tomato Pie.

tomato pie

This dish was really delicious and since there were five of us, we ordered two. It has tons of fontina cheese, they make the dough in house. Super yummy.

Another great dish for sharing was the Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups.

chickensaladwraps

These had a wonderful curry in them that delivered just enough spice. No mayo in here. Just delicious wonderful local flavors.

The Supper Club…

is a fun, intimate, limited seating dinner they do on the last Sunday of each month. It’s $75 a person (I think that’s what my Mom told me) and that includes your wine pairing with each dish. We attended Super Club #3 at the end of September.

The first dish was Ceviche. As a fan of Ceviche, which is raw fish w/ citrus (the acid cooks the fish) and veggies, I was pumped to see what they did after looking at the menu. It was described as day boat scallops, plantain chips, and olive oil powder.

This is what it looked like…

culinaapp

and no joke it was DELICIOUS. The olive oil powder was really light. The flavors were amazing.

Next up was North Carolina Amberjack, which is a white fish from local waters. It’s kind of like a Sea Bass. I had it at a restaurant recently and when I didn’t recognize it…I asked. Don’t be afraid to ask about something you aren’t familiar with on a menu.

This Amberjack was pan seared, with charred baby leek and squash blossom (yes you can eat the flower of the squash), red oak (a great local lettuce) and romesco.

fish

The romesco (the orange sauce) was so flavorful. What is a romesco?

Wikipedia says:

Romesco is a nut and red pepper-based sauce from Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain. It is typically made from any mixture of roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive or sunflower oil, bitxo peppers and/or nyora peppers

Also worth noting was that they served this with a Rose wine, which I normally don’t enjoy. However this one, a Badenhorst Secateurs Rose from South Africa, was lovely. It wasn’t as sweet as I expect a Rose to be and that is why I liked it and bought two bottles. Wine.com carries it…check it out for $17 bucks.

http://www.wine.com/v6/Badenhorst-Secateurs-Rose-2013/wine/124912/detail.aspx

While we are talking wine, I thought it was super smart of the owners to pair the food w/ such moderately priced wines. I am much more likely to buy them and so are the nice people of Rock Hill.

The next course was not my favorite. I wanted it to be but in all honesty it just fell short.

It was described as a root beer braised short rib with a rosemary grit cake, pumpkin pooridge with lobster butter. The chef told us how he had slaved over it and how it had braised for hours. It looked and smelled amazing…

shortrib

but at the end of the day…your short rib should be succulent and soft and you should NOT have to use a knife. This was tough. Everyone has an off night.

The wine for that course was a french wine called, Domaine La Casenove, “La Garrigue”. It was very much like a nice Cabernet, again I bought two bottles.

Dessert was an adventure!

It was titled “The Miracle Berry Experiment”. Everyone was poured a glass of the Simonet Blanc de Blancs Brut from France (a champers if you will) and then this was put in front of them.

dessert

Say what? Why did you just serve me a plate of lemon, lime and other citrus?

Well what you can barely see is a plate in front of my plate that contains a red miracle berry tablet. I’ll be honest we were all a little skeptical. However, the chef came out and said, they had tried to find miracle berry in another form but this was all they could find. He instructed us to sip our drink, and make note of the taste, which was not sweet. Then, he instructed us to put the tablet on our tongues and let it dissolve. He told us to get it all over our palate.

Then…try the drink again. This time…it was SWEET!

He said, now try the lemon or the lime…ALSO SWEET.

Such a fun way to make dessert interactive and fun!

Here is a link to the tablets if you want to try this at your next dinner party.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ab3f/

All in all, they are doing some really creative food at Culina. It’s a local spot that needs your support! So please give it a try!

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