Spanish Wine, French Chef, Southern Hospitality

Bonjour!

It’s no secret among area food lovers that Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro in Little River is the place to be. This is a lovely upscale restaurant, voted the Best French Restaurant on the Grand Strand last year and in the running in the current competition. The restaurant is in a restored circa 1910 home visible from U. S. 17, just minutes north of Myrtle Beach, although sitting back from the highway and facing a side street. The mood for fine dining is enhanced by the architecture and the seating in several small rooms, as if it’s still a private home hosting a few guests for dinner.

Kimberlee and Chef Eric Masson

The French chef/owner Eric Masson has classical training, three degrees from a noted French culinary school and extensive experience which is reflected in the delicious and creative entrees. His wife Kimberlee is popular for hosting the Wine Club which meets monthly for themed tasting events. The couple is increasingly recognized for their culinary contributions to the Grand Strand scene. Chef recently hosted a private dinner for celebrities Aaron McCargo Jr. (left) of Food Network TV's "Big Daddy's House" and Guy Fieri, (right) also of current Food Network fame.  Seven courses, a lot of wine, a few beers and about five hours later, the guests raved about the hidden gem of a restaurant. Daily choices are a light menu at the upstairs wine bar, a four-course prix fixe or a diverse les viandes (meats) and les poissons and fruits de mer (seafood) menu. The chef grows his own herbs and chooses fresh seafood brought from local waters. The discriminating seafood lover will be happy in this one local place which does not serve a single fried seafood platter. A recent wine club meeting showcased a five-course menu with tastings of 20 Spanish wines which members brought.  The Chef’s Amuse Bouche was Indigo Farm Organic Fig with Fresh Goat cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon. The chef actually goes to the nearby farm and picks his own figs too. The next course was the Paella de la Casa with local shrimp, imported Chorizo, grilled chicken, sautéed peppers and steamed mussels in a Spanish saffron rice. You can't eat this without saying Yummmmmm! The next plate arrived, and most diners abandoned knife and fork for the finger-licking good lamp chops, Chuletillas de Cordero con Mermelada de Pimientos de Piquillo. That was followed by Tapas of Spanish cheese. One of the chef’s specialties was presented for dessert: Cinnamon Scented Crème Brulee. I've sampled his various flavors of creme brulee on other occasions and loved every one of them. The wine club dinner meetings are limited to an intimate gathering of 20 with reservations required, and the conversation flows as freely as the wines. Masson’s previous successes as executive chef include Marché at 74 State Boutique Hotel, Albany, New York; owner of Saratoga Lake Inn & Bistro, Saratoga Springs, New York which was voted Best French Restaurant by the Metroland in the first year of business.  He also was the Iron Chef Competition Winner in 2004 for the local competition sponsored by the March of Dimes.  He was executive chef/operations manager/owner, Ferrandi’s Restaurant, Amsterdam, New York which was voted Best French Restaurant by Metroland three years in a row.  He was awarded the 40 under forty by the Capital Region Business Review in 2000. His French experience was as executive chef, Chez Mary de Rosay,Megeve, France;  executive chef/partner, Restaurant Le Quincampe, Paris and executive chef, 5 Infanterie Regiment, Paris. A little bit French and totally lowcountry in warm hospitality, this is a dining experience to repeat often. For information about the wine club, cooking classes or special events: TheBrentwoodRestaurant.

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