Great New Girl in Town...Mary Beth's (Greenville SC) Report
Looking for a perfect breakfast or lunch downtown? Head to Mary Beth's in McBee Station. My visit was on the restaurant daunting Mother's Day. Our party of 8 arrived at 11:00 and were seated in less than 5 minutes. No reservations accepted but the crew at Mary Beth's adroitly handles and accommodates a crowd.
Service was prompt, light-hearted and professional. It really set the tone for a great meal. The menu is a combination of breakfast (served all day) and lunch (served after 11:00a). The offerings are accessible to all palettes yet astutely accomplished in each outing. I had French crepes with a strawberry compote. The crepes were thin perfection, with a delicate kiss of citrus. I opted for the strawberry compote and I was rewarded with a freshly made, awesome compote. In a really great "break the mold" way, it reminded me of how much abysmal mediocrity I have been served recently. This breakfast choice was light, refreshing with a sweet hint of decadence. More on the true decadent side, my husband ordered a classic eggs benedict. They have a few intriguing variations of eggs benedict but he is a traditionalist. He is a confessed benedict snob; once his meal arrived, I did not hear anything from him. No conversation. No offering of a bite nothing. The man was in hollandaise bliss (a weak, ill-prepared hollandaise is usually the deal breaker)! When he rejoined the conversation, he smiled and pronounced Mary Beth's to have "the best". OMG. I wish I had bought the plate to frame. Others at the table enjoyed mixed field green salads (with ultra-thin apple slices, candied pecans and basil balsamic vinagrette) topped with seared ahi ("perfectly cooked, quality cut"); grilled chicken ("so flavorful and juicy"); and grilled sirloin ("served cold but, a delightful taste. Definitely worked).
Mary Beth's features a daily fish and soup. We did not partake however, the potato crusted grouper, pan-sautéed then finished with a white wine butter sauce sent my low-fat brain into overdrive telling my begging tummy "no"! Soup of the day was salmon chowder. Again, did not try but I like the concept.
The atmosphere is bright and crisp. The menu inviting and intriguing (asian barbeque chicken sandwich on ciabatta to a turkey, apple and brie on baguette to an applewood-smoked bacon waffle and many delightful stops in between). A few tables are available outside and I cannot think of a better place to ease into a perfect Greenville Saturday, fork in hand, smile in place. Mary Beth's is a girl's best friend.
After visiting Mary Beth's today, I was very disappointed. Considering the location and judging from the exterior of the restaurant I expected a promising breakfast stop which the city of Greenville seems to be lacking. After entering the front doors I began to realize how misleading my initial observations were.
Upon entering the cafe I felt as though I had entered a retirement homes' dining room or even worse, a hotel's dining area. My husband had an even better comparison to banquet room dining. The servers were dressed in khaki's and starched button down oxford shirts, embroidered with the company's logo. Despite paintings and a few artificial plants, the restaurant is devoid of any character or the cozy ambience I had hoped for.
As we looked over the menu, I was again disappointed. Although some of their offerings seemed promising-eggs benedict, french crepes, sweet potato pancakes-I had a bad feeling that all would lead to disappointment...and I was correct.
I played it safe and ordered their homemade granola with vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit for $6.95. I also asked for a side of whole wheat toast and of course my mainstay of freshly brewed coffee. My husband on the other hand went big with the mega breakfast priced at $12.95. This included eggs, potatoes, waffles, toast and sausage. Sounds like a big breakfast! Unfortunately, when the food arrived i immediately took note of the actual value which at most should have been $7.95. Although he did get to taste a little of everything it was very small portions, most of which could fit on a dinner plate-hardly worth $12.95.
My children also ordered from the menu. My daughter ordered a waffle with a side of sausage and my son a fruit plate and biscuits. While the biscuits seem to be the only thing on the menu priced appropriately at $1 for two 4" biscuits, my daughters side of sausage was hardly worth the $4.25 for two patties. Although my granola wasn't bad, the whole wheat toast was quite obviously thin sandwich bread from the supermarket and the fruit was not worth mentioning in the menu's description. Most everything we ordered screamed "Direct from SYSCO. Just prepare as directed." My sons fruit plate consisted of a couple pieces of sliced melon lined up on the plate, surrounded by a few peeled orange segments and one strawberry sliced thin to add a punch of color.
The waffles were made from a mix, perhaps a step up from the Eggo's, you might pull out of the freezer and the eggs while fluffy, hardly made up for the once frozen and shredded hash browns next to them.
Perhaps the only redeeming item of food on our table was the fig preserves which were so tack-fully placed in disposable, plastic containers-taking away any points this restaurant may have earned from the cheerful wait-staff.
All in all, if I haven't made this clear, this restaurant is not worth the visit. It is over-priced, lacking character and presentation, not to mention flavor. If you'd like to buy the fig preserves, I noticed you can purchase them near the entrance. Do yourself a favor and buy a loaf of bread from the Publix bakery, slather on the preserves and enjoy the ambience of your own home OR go to IHOP, at least there you'll get your money's worth.
re: Just here for the food
To be honest, I really like granola and after tasting mediocre "basics", why would I spend more on the more "complicated" items. I'd much rather drive up to Asheville to Tupelo Honey to have their sweet potato pancakes with peach butter and spiced pecans that I know are out of this world and probably priced less than Mary Beth's, than spend another penny in MaryBeth's. Sorry to be so harsh.
re: Just here for the food
My 2 cents on Mary Beth's:
although my review will be no where near as effusive as Powderhound's...I've now been to Mary Beth's twice for Sunday brunch. it's my new preferred brunch, beating out Bohemian pretty easily.
Although nothing is outstanding, everything is good. The first time I had the mega breakfast (or something to that effect) with pancakes, eggs, toast, you name it. More recently I limited myself to scrambled eggs w/ goat cheese and fresh basil + ciabatta toast. I like having that option for toast, and they brought me fig preserves and strawberry preserves...in ramikins, not smucker's pull tabs (death knell to a brunch place for me).
You can get French Press coffee...it's good...French Press is always good...but the coffee itself was a little mild for my taste. They have 'house' bags of coffee for sale...I wonder if they are using West End Coffee roasters whose coffee I have a low opinion of. (and I'd LOVE to love it...they sponsored a bike team for several years, so major kudos, but I've just not thought highly of it the times I've tasted it)
Oh, and the grits are good quality, coarse ground. The gentleman I take to be the owner has been in evidence both times and appears genuinely concerned that his guests are happy.
I finally had a chance to try Mary Beth's, though for lunch, not breakfast. There were many interesting points: the owner greeted us and made sure we had a pleasant experience, they are open 7 days a week, 6:30 until 3 and they serve breakfast all day and then lunch at the appropriate hour, all breads are made in house (and wonderful), and there is a breakfast bar (a la diner) for individual diners.
I had the turkey, apple, and brie on a baguette, with a honey mustard sauce. The bread was terrific - I asked where they bought it in the hopes I could buy it for home use as it's far superior to any other outpost I've tried. It was a giant sandwich, with good quality turkey, generous amounts of brie and a crisp, granny smith apple. The fries were plentiful and quite good as well. My DC had an asian chicken sandwich on ciabatta, which he thoroughly enjoyed as well.
We saw many salads served around us that looked wonderful and they offer a few specials every day (quiche, portobello mushroom sandwich, and chicken rice soup were today's offerings).
The service was prompt, the restaurant was clean (though had far more of a breakfast spot feel (go, you'll see), and the prices are good too. They are a little off the beaten path in McBee Station, but once the rest of the retail fills in, I'm sure they will be easier for people to find.