Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Willcox Hotel | Grand Hotel | Aiken, SC
Review by: Michael Stern
Not Typical Roadfood, That’s For Sure
A meal at The Willcox hotel does not exemplify Roadfood. Strictly speaking, the qualities of this grand hotel would banish it from a rigorous Roadfooder’s itinerary. After all, a typical Roadfood restaurant is not stylish, does not cost a lot of money, and serves meals that clearly reflect regional flavor. Yes, you will find glimmers of Dixie on the menu — collard greens gratin with that steak? cheese grits with breakfast? Still, I don’t suggest coming here for a representative taste of Central Savannah River Area foodways. On the other hand, The Willcox offers a golden opportunity to savor brilliant New American Cuisine in a setting that is historic, romantic, casual but polished.
What to Eat
You cannot pigeonhole the menu. Many dishes reflect global reach: Moroccan sweet potato soup, Arab-inspired shakshuka, beef carpaccio Japanese style with tempura oysters. On the other hand, I have enjoyed some items that are uniquely American, but with a twist. How about waffled mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon? Dessert of PB&J made from panna cotta, Concord grape jelly, and peanut butter crunch? A posh S’mores that includes chocolate bourbon mousse? An Arnold Palmer cake that mixes tea and lemon flavors in a completely different way? If you seek a big, juicy, beautifully grilled and gorgeously dressed hamburger or a handsome steak with all the fixin’s, look no further. (And oh, the truffled fries alongside!) Expect textbook-right eggs Benedict at Sunday brunch. The eggs get even better when silk-smooth smoked salmon takes the place of Canadian bacon. Potato pancakes come “loaded” with smoked cheddar, scallions, sour cream, bacon, and fried eggs.
A few Willcox dishes I won’t forget have been crisp-sweet-bitter Szechuan Brussels sprouts, featherweight calamari, and big, beautiful scallops with bacon and honey-roasted parsnips. No matter what else you eat, or even if you come just for a drink, pâté is essential. Smooth and organ-plush, it is a signature Willcox dish.
Note: The Willcox is a thriving hotel and spa and is, without doubt, THE place in town to stay as well as to eat. Reservations for a meal are recommended. Reservations for lodging in this grand hotel are essential. Around the beginning of April when the Masters Tournament is played across the river in Augusta, rooms get booked a year in advance.
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|