Why must these Southern towns have such a draw? Camden now joins the list of places in the South that I need to revisit with my spouse in tow. From the good eats to the amazing historic buildings, this place could keep me occupied for a week.
The drive down the main drag today took me past a menagerie of historic buildings and sites including the building that General Cornwallis used as his headquarters in the southern theater of the Revolutionary War. I'm a big fan of local and small business, so to see all of the family-owned stored dotting block after block of Broad St. was a delight.
And oh the food. The highlight of traveling for me is to try out food from places that I may never see again. Lunch today was from a small place on DeKalb St. called Camden House of Pizza. It's a little spot right at the main intersection of town sporting a variety of Greek and Italian foods. I went for the chicken souvlaki platter, and it was very tasty. That pita bread must've been made just for me, all warm and fresh with a hint of smokiness about it from where it had scorched just a little bit. The chicken, though seasoned well, was a bit on the dry side. Nothing the side of sauce couldn't fix.
Interesting side note told to me by the person who recommended it: the restaurant was started by an immigrant who then found and "imported" an immigrant family to run it. He apparently did this many times, dotting the towns along US-1 with his restaurants, each sporting unique menus and ownership. I'm curious now to give the others a shot. I'd give this spot 4 out of 5 stars.
I wasn't quite sure what to do for dinner, so I hooked up the yellow pages to see what's out there. Thankfully, the selection of places staying open past 7PM was much more copious than during my trip to the Savannah area. While Hinesville may have a huge army base, it's about as sober as a rural Utah town. I picked out a place advertising Japanese and Chinese cuisine and hit the road.
It wasn't long before I realized that I had either totally missed it or it wasn't there anymore. The empty building a few miles back with Asian-style red windows was probably the place I was looking for. Not fancying dining on dead bugs found under abandoned booths, I pulled into the lot of a little place called The Magnolia Restaurant. They'd apparently converted an old brick house into a restaurant, complete with remaking the brick porches into enclosed dining areas. Once I saw that they had founder, I knew I had to take a seat.
Flounder is a fish I haven't had in the better part of 13 years or so, though I always remember it being a delicious and flaky whitefish. Oddly enough, I don't think I've ever seen it on a menu anywhere I've eaten. I decided I'd go for a shrimp and flounder dinner.
The fish was as every bit as good as I remember it being. It was flaky, tender, and wonderfully un-fishy. The shrimp were excellent as well, with a good coating of breading and wonderful firm texture. This, my friends, it why you need to live near a coast. Utah makes me long for eating seafood like this all the time. The rice pilaf that came with it was… unimpressive. I mean, I suppose you can call it a "pilaf" if you have rice and some other grain (the "other grain" looked like orzo to me), but dang if they didn't drown it in butter. I like butter, but this little dish had visible pools of the stuff at the bottom. The hush puppies were also a bit lackluster: a bit too crunchy and chewy for my tastes.
Amazingly, I had room for dessert after my meal, even though it was a pretty generous portion. What better way to indulge that sweet tooth than with a slice of key lime pie? While it had a great balance of sweet and tart, I knew it wasn't made there. The frosting on top was still frozen when the slice was served to me. I don't mind that so much, but $3.50 for a slice of frozen pie? That's a bit steep.
Overall, I'd give Magnolia House a 3 out of 5 rating. The tasty entree was detracted quite a bit by the so-so sides and over-priced dessert.
Enough about food. I really want to go see the Revolutionary War Park just up the street from here. The problem is that I don't think it's open in the evenings when I have free time, so I may have to sneak up there Wednesday morning before I make my way back to Columbia to catch my flight. This, of course, still doesn't leave me enough time to peruse the historic buildings downtown, including an old courthouse. There's a bunch of historic sites in neighboring counties as well, and Myrtle Beach is a mere 2-3 hours from here.
Hey Shauna… want to add South Carolina to our list of places to go?