Variety Restaurant

Review by: Michael Stern

Welcome to the mid-20th century. In every way except for price, the Variety Restaurant shows no evidence that anything has changed in the world of dining-out for the last three score years. A dimly-lit dinner house with wood-paneled walls, paper placemats, and eclectic-personal-nautical-Grecian décor, it is entirely demode, off the radar screen of savvy foodies. But still, it’s thriving, thanks to a steadfast clientele of regulars who come for exuberantly large portions of steak and potatoes or seafood and potatoes preceded by a crisp iceberg lettuce salad along with saltines in cellophane.

Waitresses are old-school. They neither introduce themselves by name nor offer the provenance of daily specials. By the second time I visited, I had earned the moniker “Hon’.” Square-meals eaters who appreciate such vintage diner hospitality and retro ambience without a jot of fashion will see the Variety as a rare gem.

Ribeye steaks are a house specialty, available in sizes from 10 to 20 ounces. The meat is choice, not prime (in the $30 range, not $50), aged enough to resonate with deep mineral potency, fork-tender, and full flavored. When filet mignon is on the menu, it’s a prize: tender, juicy, radiantly beefy. On the side of steaks comes a huge, fluffy-centered baked potato, a twice-baked potato, or a great tangle of French fries along with a few spongy hushpuppies.

Seafood is the Variety’s main claim to fame, most of it brought in fresh from the coast by proprietor “Jimmy the Greek.” To begin a meal, I’ve enjoyed she-crab soup vibrant with spice and loaded with sweet meat and oyster stew that balances buttery and oceanic — less about comfort and more like a thrilling nautical embrace. And of course, there are oysters, sparkling on the half-shell (or, if you wish, fried). Among fabulous flatfish usually available are grouper, shark, a plate-wide grilled salmon steak that is velvet-soft inside with crisp, caramelized edges; and whole flounder boasting fine, flaky flesh. A medley of seafood can be had on the “King Fisherman’s Platter,” which runs well over $20 at dinner but less than that when the restaurant is open for lunch. (Lunch service is discontinued during summer months.)

Note: Please pardon digital noise in some of the interior photos. It is dark enough inside the Variety that many were shot at ISO 50,000.

Directions & Hours

4pm - 10pm
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: 4:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 4:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Thursday: 4:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Friday: 4:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Saturday: 4:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Sunday: Closed

What To Eat

Blackeyed Peas

DISH
Collard Greens

DISH
Iceberg Lettuce Salad

DISH
Broiled Salmon

DISH
Ribeye Steak

DISH
Hushpuppies

DISH
Baked Potato

DISH
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

DISH
Oysters on the Half Shell

DISH
Hamburger Steak

DISH
Seafood Platter

DISH
Broiled Shrimp

DISH
Green Beans

DISH
Cole Slaw

DISH
She-Crab Soup

DISH
Broiled Flounder

DISH
Hash Brown Potatoes

DISH
Greek Salad Dressing

DISH
Stuffed Flounder

DISH
Sirloin Steak

DISH
Oyster Stew

DISH
Broiled Scallops

DISH
Broiled Grouper

DISH
French Fries

DISH
Fried Shrimp

DISH
Filet Mignon

DISH
Spaghetti

DISH
Garlic Bread

DISH

Variety Restaurant Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Variety Restaurant?

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