The distinctive twang of Willie Nelson’s voice often reverberates in my head. It is a haunting sound that most people either love or hate. Parts of his song, On the Road Again, feel as if they were written for me.
“On the road again / Goin’ places that I’ve never been / Seein’ things that I may never see again / And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”
Although the lyrics are meant to convey the essence of a musician’s life on tour, I am neither a musician nor on tour. I do, however, embark on road trips that take me to places I’ve never been and one of the most fulfilling parts of my travels is uncovering dining gems to which I would not have otherwise been exposed.
Our stomachs were our intrepid guide as we drove through Greenville, SC en route to Charlotte, NC. Our culinary wandering paid off as we stepped out of the car and into Mary’s at Falls Cottage which makes its home in a historical and protected building in downtown Greenville’s Falls Park.
The upstairs terrace of Mary’s, with stunning views of the Park, won me over in the short time it took my husband and I to sit down, make ourselves comfortable and open the menu. Mary’s is a beautiful setting for a wedding, but the real draw for us was the food coming from the kitchen. The menu features contemporary yet unfussy Southern dishes. While some of the dishes are the same ones you may happen across on other restaurant menus, place them side-by-side and the true standout will, well, stand out.
I consider myself a child of the south, but Fried Green Tomatoes never held much fascination to my taste buds. Having only eaten them perhaps a half dozen times, they’re typically not my first choice when eating out. However, my husband was game, as was I, to give them a try. Wise decisions seem to emanate from thin air. The thick slices of tart green medallions surrounded by a light and golden crust arrived at the table with little curls of steam rising from them. On their own, the tomatoes were delicious; when combined with a homemade tomato chutney, they were fabulous.
If a healthy dose of green is your pleasure, there are a few salads from which to choose. While the Chicken, Apple and Goat Cheese salad piqued my interest, I soon turned my attentions to the sandwiches portion of the menu. In the end, I was all the happier for my choice.
When you fill a flaky, buttery croissant with layer upon layer of Boar’s Head Turkey, thinly sliced green apples, buttery Havarti cheese and cranberry chutney, you can expect to find my lips wrapped around it. The aptly named Turkey, Apple and Havarti Croissant had me tapping my foot to a tune heard only in my head—it was a song of joy and my outward expression said everything my humming could not. Yes, it was exquisitely divine. The chutney served as the appetizing anchor and apple slices lent a refreshing air to the sandwich. Would I order this again? Without question.
Reuben fans will be happy to know that Mary’s presents it’s take on the sandwich as the Ultimate Reuben. Here is another sandwich stuffed with tender Boar’s Head meat—in this case, corned beef—along with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and 1000 island dressing all held in place with two gorgeously grilled slices of marbled rye. While not my favorite, it is a perineal go-to sandwich for my husband, and he declared Mary’s version a rousing success.
Other sandwiches include Mary’s Meatloaf Sandwich, Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy and a Crabcake BLT that features not only lump crabmeat but a fried green tomato.
Over the years, I’ve learned to never underestimate the beauty of side dishes. While my French Onion Soup was good, albeit a bit on the vinegary side, I was taken aback by the Broccoli Salad. Broccoli is on my list of “won’t do” vegetables as I find the taste to be somewhere between hideous and just wrong. At my husband’s urging, I tasted his side of Broccoli Salad. When someone says, “That’s the best broccoli salad I’ve ever eaten,” as my husband declared, you stand up and take notice.
Mary’s also offers Brunch Specialties (served on Saturday and Sunday only). What would brunch in the south be without Shrimp & Grits? I only wish I could have visited on the weekend; the mere thought of Maple Walnut Pumpkin Bread French Toast makes me salivate embarrassingly with desire.
Mary’s at Falls Cottage has hit all the targets head-on: a great location, real value for the money, a cozy and relaxed atmosphere and, of course, food that entices and keeps customers coming back for more.
Mary’s at Falls Cottage
615 South Main Street
Greenville, SC 29601
Closed on Monday
Tues – Fri: 11am – 2pm
Sat – Sun: 10am – 2pm
Mary’s also has a second location:
215 North Main Street, 1B
Simpsonville, SC 29681
Mon – Fri: 11am – 2:30pm
Closed on Saturday and Sunday