After 23 years working his way up in the industry (from age 14), Rick Erwin decided to open a restaurant in Greenville, SC . . . putting his name on it. That takes nerve. If it’s a success, he’s a hero. If not, he’s a zero with a big loss permanently attached to his name.
Rick bought the West End Historic District building at 648 S Main St., opening Rick Erwin’s West End Grille in May, 2005. His concept was to do what he knew – beef (with seafood). What many don’t know is that Rick built aÂ sumptuous 1,400 sq ft.Â Corporate Suite on the second floor “for the business traveler looking for quiet, comfortable accommodations with all of the amenities”. Rick has been quoted as saying he’s all about the “Business Plan” and in his free time, he can be found on the golf course, not cooking.
This interesting video of top Greenville, SC restaurateurs (including Rick Erwin) discussing “the challenges and excitements of owning a restaurant” gives a small peek into the world of restaurant ownership.
PIC and I had an early dinner at the Grille prior to a theater performance, “appropriately” ordering from their Theatre Menu. Really, we ordered from this menu because it offered what we were in the mood for that evening.Â The Theatre Menu, at the time we were there, was actually two menus; one priced at $29.00 pp and one at $38.00 pp. Differences are one additional salad course and notched up entrees at $38.00. Now it looks like they’re offering just the $38 pp version.
The interior feel at West End Grille is one of warm, cozy, brick and wood-paneled elegance.
Seated at a window overlooking S Main St, we watched the foot traffic while commenting on how delicious the bread was and that it was served with a balsamic, oil, cheese mixture that was more substantial than many.
We both chose Seafood Bisque as our “Salad Course” and were thoroughly happy with the thick, chunky, creamy goodness of “shrimp, crab and scallops in the creamy lobster and sherry soup”.
Being a sucker for Surf and Turf, I had to go for their version: Carolina Surf and Turf; a 4oz filet of beef and a pan seared “crab cake”, served with whipped potatoes and a mix of sauteed vegetables. A lemon wedge garnished the plate next to a small bowl of tartar sauce.
Here come the ONLY negative comments about this dining experience. Perhaps my filet expectations were too high, Rick having been in the steak house business for over 20 years. And, they tout “Rick’s signature USDA Prime, Certified Angus and 1855 Swift steaks” aged to “Rick’s specific requirements”.
Although cooked medium as ordered, the filet didn’t have the sear I love, was lacking somewhat in deep, rich, seasoned flavor and although very tender, didn’t have that melt-in-your-mouth texture brought by the “great ones”.
This wouldn’t prevent a return visit, but I’d definitely be looking for a more robust filetÂ experience.
The crab was delicious, but I wouldn’t call it a crab “cake”. I actually pondered as the plate was served: “that’s not what I expected, not a “cake”, but I don’t want a bunch of filler either, so this is probably better than what I was expecting”.
PIC went with the $29.00 menu Salmon Stack: blackened salmon, served with whipped potatoes, sauteed spinach and a crawfish Creole sauce. He loved it. The salmon was moist, flaky, well seasoned and complimented perfectly by the Creole sauce.
Two desserts, ordered with sharing in mind were the Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee and the Kahlua Chocolate Torte.
Loved both of these, especially the fresh berry surprise on the Creme Brulee! A wonderful sweet finish to an overall excellent meal.
Service was exceptional. We were “taken care of” through our entire meal, including the knocked over broken water glass (our fault) episode. Everything, including linens, was swooped up and away, quickly replaced with new (dry) everything. Luckily this happened early.
- Rick Erwin’s has a private dining room available that’s gorgeous.
- Valet Parking is right outside the front door.
- Rick Erwin’s West End Grille was named in Open Table’s 2009 first annual Diner’s Choice Awards as One of the Top 50 Best Overall Restaurants in the United States.
- Rick gets even nervier. Opened in May of this year, Erwin’s second restaurant: Nantucket Seafood Grill. It’s off the lobby of the brand new Courtyard by Marriott, 40 W Broad St.
Rick Erwin’s West End Grille
648 South Main St.
Greenville, SC 29601