West Columbia cuisine and restaurants in the spotlight as Taste nears

Brookland Banquet and Conference Center

There are many wonderful restaurants in West Columbia. Some of them are in the Sunset Boulevard corridor, from Meeting Street to I-26.

Of the Sunset Boulevard restaurants, three are participating in the third annual Taste on the River, It’s Tuesday (Feb. 26) from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Stone River, at the Riverwalk Amphitheater, The three “Taste” participants are: The Brookland Baptist Church and Conference Center; Grecian Gardens and Delucca’s Italian Grill.

The Brookland Banquet and Conference Center is open to the public for the hosting of special events, at 1066 Sunset Boulevard.

The church also serves a Southern buffet Tuesday- through-Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m until 3 p.m.

Aside from its famous fried chicken, Brookland serves other Southern food favorites including homemade mac and cheese, glazed carrots, pork chops, Lima beans and shrimp creole. There is much more, and the menu changes regularly.

There will be a special treat at a Taste on the River from the restaurant.

“Brookland will display a sweet potato bar and one will be the traditional mashed potatoes, with all sorts of toppings,” said Marnie Robinson, Brookland Baptist’s marketing and public relations manager. Robinson said the Brookland staff will be glad to be at the “Taste.”

“The West Columbia Community are our peers. They dine at the Brookland Banquet and Conference Center weekly,” Robinson said.  “The West Columbia Community are the customers we serve, “Service Above Self.”

Vivi Koutrakos, of Grecian Gardens Restaurant, at 2312 Sunset Blvd., said the menu for Taste on the River has not been finalized yet.

“We are still in the process of planning our menu for this year’s event. We are thinking about debuting something new,” said Koutrakos.

And if last year is an indication, it will be good.

“Last year, said Koutrakos, “we served an assortment of appetizers: Tyropitakia, a blend of Greek cheeses baked in phyllo dough; Spanakopita, spinach, feta cheese baked in phyllo dough, bite-sized meatballs topped with marinara, and our specialty Lagana pizza, our sauce-less white-style pizza.”

Besides the food, Koutrakos likes the interaction at Taste on the River and the chance to bid on auction items.

“On both a personal and professional level, it’s a fun event,” she said. “In addition to catching up with friends, I’ve enjoyed meeting fellow restaurateurs and local business owners. I’ve met talented artists, sports broadcasters, and TV personalities. Last year, I even scored passes for a kayaking tour of the Congaree River from the silent auction.”

Delucca’s Italian Grill is at 1720 Sunset Blvd. It serves hearty Italian pastas, entrees and pizza. The atmosphere at Delucca’s is casual and the restaurant is colorfully decorated with lots of local art lining the walls.

While these West Columbia restaurants serve the community on a regular basis, participating in Taste on the River is another way to connect with the community.

“It is important to participate in Taste on the River because we are a part of the West Columbia Community and this is our way of demonstrating our commitment to having a presence in the community in which we live and work,” said Robinson. “This gives us the opportunity to show the residents the other things we offer in this community.”

Koutrakos said she loves West Columbia, and Taste on the River is a chance to express her appreciation.

Inside Delucca’s.

“I speak on behalf of my parents, aunts, and uncles who moved to West Columbia in 1985 from Greece by way of New York,” said Koutrakos. “The West Columbia community has been one of the most loving and welcoming group of people that we’ve ever met and we are honored to be part of it.”

Trip Turbyfill, owner of Cafe Strudel West Columbia on State Street, will also present food at “Taste.” He’s looking forward to it.

“We enjoy the community feel,” he said, “seeing customers and meeting new people and sharing some of our food. It’s not always about a direct boost to business, rather it’s about being involved in community.”

And Taste on the River is a celebration of that West Columbia spirit.

Other restaurants participating are: 116 Espresso and Wine Bar; Black Rooster; The Blended Bakery; Little Pigs BBQ Buffet; La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant; Parkland Cakes; Primal Gourmet; Zesto of West Columbia and Schlotzsky’s.

A Taste on the River is a can’t-miss event.

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