Last night was our final restaurant meal during our week here in Myrtle Beach, SC. We chose COLLECTOR's CAFE at 7726 North Kings Highway, very close to our condo, and highly recommended by almost everyone we have spoken to here in town.
The unpresuming strip mall location (well, almost everything here is in some kind of mall) made the place a bit difficult to find at first. The simple decor with white cloths covered by heavy slabs of glass, green (ugly) carpet and greenish streaky walls would have been truly dreadful were it not for the abundance of artwork hanging in the various rooms (hence Collector's in the name). The two owners display their own art as well as revolving displays of other artists, but one of them admitted to us that the art came first, the food second (a scary thought for someone seeking fine dining). Little of the artwork indeed was to our liking, much of it modern, though not abstract, and often a bit on the exposed girlie theme, though not bad nudity, That said, we ordered a bottle of CHALONE 2004 Chardonnay and began to sip and contemplate our choices.
Warm bread came as our server poured some seasoned olive oil on our plates (and told us how it was all housemade). Sadly the bread was on the verge of stale, and after it cooled was literally as hard a rock!
Will chose the FRIED MAINE LOBSTER & PROVENCALE Chopped Vegetable Salad with Tomato Aioli and Fresh Basil, which paled next to the Flamingo Cafe's similar appetizer the night before. The size was also smaller and the sauce was pretty bland next to the wonderful light bernaise at Flamingo. The unsurpassed hit of the evening was the PAN SAUTEED SCALLOP CAKE with Tomato-Scallion-Garlic Butter, which I had as an appetizer, but is alos offered as an entree. This frittata-like preparation is loaded with huge chunks of scallop and the sauce was a delicious light creamy texture and so flavorful, I desperately wanted to mop it up (but the bread wasn't up to it at that point).
Our Caesar Salads came and the Romaine was a bit on the bitter side, though the croutons were excellent. Oddly, here (as compared to The Library) the sell-up is from Caesar to Baby Leaf Salad with Gorgonzola, which again, we all skipped for the extra $3 or so. Indeed, the Library's simple House Salad with Romano was the best all week.
One of us had the scallops as an entree, Will chose the dryish GROUPER SPECIAL with PEARL COUSCOUS, Peas, Chorizo (a teeeeny bit) and Olive Tapenade Sauce. Despite the fact that we asked for long spaces between the courses, our server mentioned that the food was on the way as she cleared the salads. OH NO, NOT AGAIN! We begged for time, and she managed to hold off the entrees for 15 or more minutes. We had not even been served our red wine which we had ordered about 10 minutes earlier, a DUTTON GOLDFIELDS PINOT NOIR 2004 from Dutton Ranch, Russian River which was simply excellent; the best deal we had all week, at $40-something. My GRILLED SEABASS over ARTICHOKE MASHED POTATOES, Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables was moist and tasty, but covered with some pretty bitter Arucola leaves. Oddly, the Grouper was covered with what we thought were pea greens (that would have been nice), which turned out to be fresh thyme (and I immediately spat out my mouthful as I chomped down on the twig).
Desserts here are a ht, so stick with the SCALLOP CAKE and desserts such as the excellent KEY LIME PIE or the PEACH UPSIDE DOWN CAKE with Vanilla Ice Cream and super-yummy CANDIED PECANS.
So, as we spend our last evening here in the condo tonight (Will, Sam & Aunt Erica head back to DC tomorrow, while I head over to Charleston) we reflect on the fact that Myrtle Beach may not be a dining destination, BUT there is some good food to be had provided you are well informed. We look forward to a return visit in the future as there is so much to do as well.