Revisit to 33 Liberty in Greenville, SC
I'm back in Greenville for work for the third time, and tonight was my third time at 33 Liberty; this place never fails to satisfy.
For those who've never heard of 33 Liberty, the menu at 33 Liberty has solid Southern roots, with a mix of adventurous ingredients. The price point puts the restaurant in the upper tier, with appetizers ranging from $8-12 and main dishes from $20-26. John Malik, the chef owner, tends to cycle out a few dishes every week. Currently they are offering a New Orleans inspired Creole menu which will last until February 5th.
I've tried some of the other upscale restaurants in the Greenville area, but I find myself wanting to go back to 33 Liberty the most, because their style of food isn't readily available in the San Francisco area.
This time around I dragged one of my coworkers from SF, and we arrived starving. In the past, 33 Liberty offered only a 3 course, 4 course or 5 course menu option with the portion size adjusted accordingly, but now everything is offered a la carte. Fortunately, when we asked John for recommendations, he offered to do a tasting menu for us, which made things easy for me because there were many dishes I wanted try. I chose a barbera d'Alba red wine, which with its fruitiness and acidity is usually a slam dunk pairing for most foods at many restaurants.
I forget what the amuse bouche was tonight. It was a pleasant bite though, and got us ready for the rest. The first course was a spicy shrimp remoulade. The remoulade had a hint of heat for a subtle kick, with balanced acidity. Next was an oyster casserole. I couldn't identify some of the ingredients in the casserole but the menu describes it: "...as served at Christian's restaurant." My guess was a garlic, parsley and butter sauce...and a quick Google search for Christian's Restaurant in New Orleans reveals that it's baked oysters in a butter-garlic sauce with mushrooms, parsley, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. My coworker, who has had oysters only one other time in his life (in a cocktail), enjoyed this oyster dish. Some might find the garlic, butter, and saltiness levels a bit high, but for this dish, it seems almost necessary and for me the combination worked. The third course, still in the appetizer range, was bbq shrimp (New Orleans style) with garlic toast. The shrimp was prepped with some dry spices, and the sauce is a hot sauce that they make in house. The heat wasn't overpowering, and the acidic bite of the sauce with the juicy shrimp made this the winning dish of the night for me and my coworker. Curiously, there were bottles of store bought hot sauce on all the tables which I hope no one would use when dining here. There is no need for blasting heat and therefore smothering whatever flavors the chef wants to highlight.
Our first main course dish of red beans and rice with ham and andouille sausage was a bit of a letdown for me. After the bursting of tastes in the mouth from the bbq shrimp, the red beans and rice seemed a little muted and ordinary. The following grilled pork tenderloin resting on a sweet potato and bacon hash was a welcome surprise. The mustard bourbon glaze gave that little acidic touch that worked well with the heavier pork and potato elements. The tenderloin arrived with the center of the meat just slightly off pink and juicy.
After all this, we had reached a comfortable limit and my coworker waived off trying their cheese plate. The dessert we received was a bread pudding souffle in a small ramekin with a light banana ice cream on top. Hot sweet with cold, creamy sweet, what's not to like?
Another satisfied visit. Hopefully I can make it back again next week.