Living in not-so-High Cotton

Special to local readers who will acctually give a damn

I usually listen to people I respect, especially when it comes to food. This time I didn’t. Because I’m an idiot.

My wife and I celebrated our eighth annivesary last night. Just a few weeks ago, we’d gone to Rick Erwin’s and had a great meal with great service. Because we don’t get out much, we decided we’d pick a new place to celebrate eight years of bliss. Almost on a whim, I picked High Cotton, a new-to-us joint overlooking the Reedy River. We made the reservations Monday. That night, I ended up in a poker game and asked some friends if they’d ever eaten there. Two people recommended I change my reservation to somewhere else. For reasons I can’t really explain, I didn’t listen.

High Cotton is built on atmosphere. It has one of the best views in town and has a fairly standard menu for this area of the country. We started with some rare tuna, served with guacamole (a new pairing for me), chili sauce, and ginger-ish slaw. The tuna was not the best quality I’ve had and it lacked the flavor of most of the good Ahi I’ve run across in recent years. We also shared some shrimp and grits fritters, which were interesting but heavy. I regretted my entree choice nearly as soon as I’d made it. I’m not sure why I went for a filet and lobster tail (the standard unimaginative fallback for the bored diner), but I did. The steak was slightly overdone, the lobster was chilly. My wife’s halibut was seasoned well but overcooked, too. I won’t get into the dessert, because we knew going in exactly what it was going to be. I finished off with a finger of Johnny Walker Blue.

Here’s the thing: I’m not a food snob. I enjoy fine dining, but I accept food for what it is. It takes a great, great meal to get me all riled up. Greenville is a great city for eating. Most people who don’t live here don’t give the community the respect it deserves. There are some great chefs in town and some really great places have opened up in the past few years (American Grocery stands out, if I think about it hard enough). As my wife and I walked to High Cotton last night, I remarked how I’d like to bring some of my food snob friends to town and let them visit one of the greatest downtowns in the Southeast. Then I had our anniversary meal and knew, if I ever did get anyone to come here, I would have to do a lot more research. Hight Cotton wasn’t horrible. It just wasn’t memorable.

We went for a long walk after the meal and looked for some good live music to watch. In an ironic twist, we ended up at the place my friends had recommeded we have dinner in the first place: The Brown Street Club. We listened to a jazz pianist play for an hour or so and chatted with what we decided was one of the better bartenders in town. He recommended “Not Quite Pale Ale” from the Magic Hat Brewing Company out of Burlington, VT. I’d never had it before, so I ordered a pint. Give it a shot if you run across it. It’s a little sweet for some palates, but not much you wouldn’t drink two or three.

In short…don’t go out of your way to book a table at High Cotton, but do check out the Brown Street Club and the Magic Hat tap.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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3 Responses

  1. Fulkie says:

    We had a similiar experience at High Cotton last year for our 10th. Food was decent but not stellar, a tad bit overpriced, and the service was OK. If you’ve never tried it, go to Gerard’s in Greer. Fantastic food and amazing service.

  2. Tom says:

    I had wondered about this place, but had not given it a try. We have an event there in a few weeks, and I’ll keep your comments in mind. We’ll see if our experience is like yours.

    Sometime you might try Cafe Paulista on Wade Hampton. It’s got some great Brazilian food.

  3. joaquinochoa says:

    Great post. You really should write about food. You know, Otis does food in Canada…a newbies guide to following his nose to the cusine of Canada. I’m just saying…I think you might also need somone to represent you.