Looking for classic Southern comfort food with a modern, state-of-the-art flair? Look no further than The Green Room in Greenville, South Carolina! Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even accommodating late-night dining, The Green Room can be sure to provide you with an amazing dining experience, regardless of the time of day! Combining an upscale – yet casual — atmosphere with its historical building ensures that the ambience cannot be beat, while bold, artistic takes on Southern staples ensure an exciting yet accessible menu! What makes the Green Room so unique is that it can accommodate all kinds of diners and events – whether a romantic, special night out or a quick, relaxing bite with friends during a lunch break! I had a chance to speak with Chef Patrick Long to learn more about him and The Green Room!
RD: What kind of culinary training and experience helped shape your technique?
CL: I’ve been around food my entire life, starting in my mom’s bakery as a child and then cooking in my uncle’s restaurant in high school. After high school, I attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Charlotte. When I graduated I had some amazing opportunities to work in a few high end restaurants under extremely talented chefs. Those chefs mentored me and taught me so much, and I hope I can return the favor by helping out other young chefs.
RD: How would you describe the overall atmosphere of The Green Room?
CL: The Green Room is an “upscale casual restaurant” with a unique atmosphere. The atmosphere is sophisticated and intimate, but not stuffy. The restaurant stays very busy and high-energy, but it’s not noisy — people can come here and have a very relaxing dinner.
RD: What kind of cuisine can diners expect at your restaurant?
CL: Our specialty is comfort food. We like to take classic dishes like meatloaf and shrimp and grits and then add unexpected ingredients and unique sides. For example, our meatloaf is served with bacon peas and jalapeno macaroni and cheese.
RD: What are some of your favorite dishes currently on the menu?
CL: Right now, my favorite dish is the seafood pasta. I mix together seared scallops, shrimp, calamari and mussels, serve them over a bed of angel hair pasta and then top it off with a white wine butter sauce.
RD: The Green Room is housed in a turn-of-the-century building! Could you tell us a little bit about its history?
CL: The building is very old and brings a lot of character to the restaurant. The walls are made of exposed brick and add rustic charm to the restaurant, and the original hardwood floors creak underneath our feet each day, having been walked on for many decades. The building has housed a number of establishments including a bakery and small cafe that used to entertain audiences with plays and comedies while they dined.
RD: How does your location in Greenville, South Carolina influence your restaurant?
CL: I grew up in Greenville, SC, so this town has always been home to me. However, people that move here from other places quickly settle into Greenville and call it home. It has a homey feel to it, and for me personally, that homey feel translates into the comfort food I cook. People visiting South Carolina expect Southern food, so a lot of our menu reflects classic Southern dishes with unexpected modifications.
RD: The Green Room boasts the nation’s best French fries. What makes your fries so tasty?
CL: I won’t sacrifice the quality of ingredients we use at The Green Room- even in something that’s often viewed as a side dish or an afterthought– like a french fry. I am a very picky eater when it comes to the quality of food, and I want that to translate into the food I serve. The fast food industry has made the french fry a side dish, when I believe it can be the star. That being said, people want upscale comfort food now — so even though french fries traditionally fill that need, the consumer wants creative twists– things like hand-cut chili cheese fries, honey, and almond drizzled sweet potato fries. As long as foods can find a way to adapt to the changing food culture, they’ll stick around. I don’t think french fries are going anywhere soon.
RD: You’re open early for breakfast and stay open for late-night dining – how does your restaurant change throughout the day?
CL: Sunday brunch in Greenville is the thing to do. When the weather is nice and people can sit on our patio, we are packed from the time we open until last call. It’s always nice to see a couple visiting Greenville stop in for a mid-afternoon drink or bite to eat, and then of course we get the after-work crowd for happy hour. It’s fun to watch the crowds change as the day goes on– but the consistent thing is we strive to be a casual restaurant — you don’t have to come here wearing a suit and tie. You certainly can, but the person at the table next to you might be wearing flip flops. And that’s perfectly acceptable.
Photo (French toast) courtesy of The Green Room.