Last week for the first time in almost a year, I ventured out to a restaurant, and not just any restaurant, Larkin’s, which is a fine dining experience located in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. My youngest son has recently returned home from The University of South Carolina. Unfortunately for him, his final exams took place on his birthday, in fact he spent his birthday taking two of his finals. To assuage his disappointment over his less than ideal birthday, Tom and I offered to take him out to dinner once he was home, and Larkin’s was his choice. We’d dined there after his high school graduation, and he wanted a really good steak in an outdoor setting, so he decided that a return visit to Larkin’s was in order.

The weather was that perfect temperature where short sleeves are completely comfortable, and it is pleasantly warm without feeling hot at all. Upon arrival, we were greeted with lovely smiles, and our hostess proudly announced to us that it was her first day on the job. She wasn’t nervous or apologetic, she was simply happy, which set a great tone for the evening. She led us to the covered patio, which features ceiling fans for a nice flow of air and beautiful views of the river walk. Oddly enough, out of the many tables located on the patio, we were seated at the exact same table as last time.

Our first dish of the night was the Fried Calamari with pepperoncini, Asiago and Calabrese aioli. It was delicious. Although not an uncommon appetizer, this calamari is the best I’ve had from any restaurant.

My son and husband ordered what they came for, steaks, but for me, once the weather is warm, I’m almost always inclined to enjoy a lighter fish entree. I ordered Chilean Sea Bass with shrimp sofrito, onions, bell peppers, applewood smoked bacon and fresh spinach. As can be seen by the description, this dish packed a lot of flavor. The fish was perfectly cooked and the bacon led me on a sort of treasure hunt. I was a bit doubtful about the onions, but they were beautifully caramelized and in just the right amount to pair with the peppers.

Last, there was the dessert. There were many delicious sounding choices, but after such a nice meal, eating a heavy dessert is out of the question, so we all settled for Creme Brulee. It was as always, a classic perfect ending to a lovely meal.

I would rate the service as just right. Friendly and attentive, without being overly familiar or hovering.

After dinner, we took a stroll along the river walk, took in the water falls, park and bridges. We found that a few buildings that were little more than foundations a year ago were fully constructed and open for business. The takeaway was that we have a gem of a city, and we need to get out more!

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