Even though my birthday isn't until Wednesday it was more convenient for the family to gather in Columbia on Sunday. The boys are finishing classes and preparing for exams, and Stephanie, Natalie and I are gearing up for Spring Break and our trip to New York City. So I got to choose where in Columbia we should eat – being MY birthday and all.
There are many fine places to eat in our state’s capitol, and making a decision is about as hard as a kid choosing ONE piece of candy in a candy store. I went online and checked a few menu’s and replayed prior dinners in my mind. It was the latter that won out, and I chose one of my favorite all time places – the Blue Marlin.
The Blue Marlin is located in the remodeled Seaboard Coast Line depot of the revitalized and thriving Congaree Vista District of the Columbia. The restaurant is about fifteen years in existence now.
I love seafood, especially when it is cooked in Low Country style. For those that are not aware of Low Country fare, it is the rich flavors blended from the Caribbean, West Africa and Indies brought here years ago with the plantation servants and slaves.
The Low Country is the area of coastal plains, marshes, beaches and inlets from Georgetown, South Carolina south to Savannah, Georgia. Many great, delicious, flavorful meals come out of this area from the shrimp, crabs, fish, and other abundant fauna and flora of the area.
The atmosphere at the Blue Marlin lends itself to an upscale eatery in the Vista, but dress is casual. The restaurant is filled with all sorts of wonderful smells, but the fresh baked bread aroma would make even the least bread-lover drool.
The hostess and wait staff were grand ambassadors of “Southern Hospitality” the entire evening. They even seated us before we had all of our party present. This is something a bit rare on busy nights, and with the Gamecocks just finishing off #1 Vanderbilt at Carolina Stadium ,it was about to get much busier. (Way to go ‘COCKS!)
The bar is fully stocked!
As we waited for Matthew and Katlyn to arrive, Patrick, Natalie and I enjoyed an appetizer. We ordered the Pecan Dusted Calamari. It’s dusted with crushed pecans and romano cheese with a sweet onion dipping sauce! Natalie, my six year old, loved it although we had to cut it into bite sized pieces for her. Patrick and I ate our share too. Steph is not a fan of “fish bait” as she calls it. That’s what I get for taking her deep sea fishing – more “fish bait” for me!
Once we gathered in all the directionally challenged people in our group, we were able to place our orders. The menu offerings were for all. The Blue Marlin has the fried seafood eaters covered with a large platter of many sea creatures. They have the land animals offered up in various chicken and beef dishes, as well. But tonight, I would be ordering from the Chef’s Choice section of Low Country cuisine – Tilapia Charleston.
(Tilapia Charleston is humorous in the fact that Tilapia is NOT a traditional Low Country fare as Tilapia is not a native fish! That understood, I like it better than the flounder or sea trout that are.)
This dish is two small pan seared tilapia filets topped with a light shrimp and crab cream sauce. Adluh grit cakes and sautéed fresh green beans were served up as the sides to compliment the main entrée.
Adluh grit cakes are made from Adluh grits - duh! The Adluh milling company is located in the Congaree Vista since the early 1900’s.
Next time you’re looking for a somewhere special to eat, try the Blue Marlin. The price is normal for restaurants of comparison, such as Bonefish Grill, or Chestnut Hill in North Myrtle Beach.