Willcox Hotel

Eclectic | New American
Memorable
One of the best
Michael Stern | February 12, 2017
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A meal at The Willcox is not typical Roadfood. Strictly speaking, it is not Roadfood at all. It is swanky, it costs a lot of money, and while the menu does reflect glimmers of regional flavor — collard greens gratin with that steak? cheese grits with breakfast? — it is not the place to find a representative taste of Central Savannah River Area foodways. It is, on the other hand, a golden opportunity to savor stylish New American Cuisine in a setting that is historic, romantic, casual but polished.

At mealtime, you have a choice of sitting in the formal dining room or in the more relaxed lobby bar, where you can get a secluded table but also observe the comings and goings in this grand hotel. Continue reading

A meal at The Willcox is not typical Roadfood. Strictly speaking, it is not Roadfood at all. It is swanky, it costs a lot of money, and while the menu does reflect glimmers of regional flavor — collard greens gratin with that steak? cheese grits with breakfast? — it is not the place to find a representative taste of Central Savannah River Area foodways. It is, on the other hand, a golden opportunity to savor stylish New American Cuisine in a setting that is historic, romantic, casual but polished.

At mealtime, you have a choice of sitting in the formal dining room or in the more relaxed lobby bar, where you can get a secluded table but also observe the comings and goings in this grand hotel. Each setting is a different experience, but the menu is the same. Townies tend to prefer the lobby bar not just for meals, but for drinks, small bites, and socializing.

There is no pigeonholing the menu. Many dishes reflect global reach: Moroccan sweet potato soup… Szechuan Brussels sprouts … beef carpaccio Japanese style with tempura oysters. On the other hand, some favorite items are American pop-culture icons, with a twist: waffled mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon, dessert of PB&J made from panna cotta, Concord grape jelly, and peanut butter crunch; a posh S’more that includes chocolate bourbon mousse. If you are looking for a big, juicy, beautifully grilled and effulgently dressed hamburger or a handsome New York strip steak, this is the place. At Sunday brunch, eggs Benedict are textbook-right; potato pancakes come “loaded” with smoked cheddar, scallions, sour cream, bacon, and fried eggs.

Among my must-eat dishes (other than the fine hamburger) are 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 to drink in the lobby bar, it is essential to have pâté. It is a Willcox signature dish — smooth and organ-plush, some of the best anywhere.

Note to lovers: The restaurant offers romantic meals in the form of customized candlelight dinners served either poolside or in a suite as well as picnics in the nearby Hitchcock Woods. “The ultimate Aiken experience” is a feast for two served under the stars atop the viewing pavilion of the nearby Whitney Polo Field.

Also 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 are essential. Around the beginning of April when the Masters Tournament is played in Augusta, rooms get booked at least a year in advance.

 

Dishes to try
Willcox Hotel, Hamburger
Hamburger
Must-Try
As savory as prime steak, Willcox's burger comes in various incarnations, this one with little straw potatoes and pickles. On another occasion, It was dressed with gruyere cheese, smoked mushroom duxelles, sweet pickled onions, and truffle aioli.
Willcox Hotel, Chicken Liver Pate
Chicken Liver Pate
Must-Try
Velvety chicken liver pâté, enveloped in port wine gelée, is a Willcox signature dish.
Willcox Hotel, French Fries
French Fries
Must-Try
Herb-speckled French fries, excellent as seen here, also are available with Parmesan cheese and truffle oil.
Willcox Hotel, Szechuan Brussels Sprouts
Szechuan Brussels Sprouts
Must-Try
Teetering between sweet and bitter, Szechuan Brussels sprouts are fried to a crisp and woven with cilantro, scallions, and peanuts. A divine "small bite" that is quite large.
Willcox Hotel, Scallops
Scallops
Must-Try
Escorting silky sweet scallops are honey-roasted parsnips, bacon, kale, and cippolini onions.
Willcox Hotel, Calamari
Calamari
Must-Try
Calamari are ethereal -- tender, crisp, sweet.
Willcox Hotel, Chicken Milanese
Chicken Milanese
An evening special of Chicken Milanese comes atop a rigorously marshaled bed of noodles.
Willcox Hotel, Cole Slaw
Cole Slaw
Cole slaw never is ordinary at the Willcox. This is an Asian-accented version made with carrots and a peanutty-sweet dressing.
Willcox Hotel, Ice Cream Trifle
Ice Cream Trifle
There's always an ice cream dish of the day. This one is a trifle variant, made with vanilla and date-nut bread.
Willcox Hotel, Baked Flounder
Baked Flounder
Baked flounder is accompanied by a crisp-fried ball that looks like arancini but opens up to reveal a vividly spicy gumbo-complex interior that contains Carolina yellow rice and chorizo sausage.
Willcox Hotel, Pork Schnitzel Fries
Pork Schnitzel Fries
Pork schnitzel fries, adorned with caper-lemon-thyme butter, are a wonderful munchable to go with drinks.
Willcox Hotel, Salmon Fillet
Salmon Fillet
Fillet of salmon is perched atop butternut squash miso puree and a broad, crisp wonton and topped with Napa cabbage pear slaw.
Willcox Hotel, Maple Syrup Steamed Pudding
Maple Syrup Steamed Pudding
Maple syrup steamed pudding lolls in a puddle of caramelized white chocolate cinnamon cream.
Willcox Hotel, Roasted Duck Breast
Roasted Duck Breast
Caramelized ginger mandarin orange slices accompany a roasted duck breast.
Willcox Hotel, Coconut Custard Cake
Coconut Custard Cake
A gloss on bananas foster, Willcox coconut custard cake comes with a little mound of cinnamon toast crunch.
Willcox Hotel, Brownie Bite
Brownie Bite
A deep-fried brownie bite is small, but packs overwhelming chocolate flavor.
Directions and Hours
Information and Policies
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
No
Reservations Accepted
Yes
Delivery Available
No
Takeout Counter
No
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