Greenville this weekend hosted the eighth edition of Euphoria, the song-and-food festival founded by Edwin McCain and the restaurateur behind Soby’s. While I couldn’t stay for the entirety of the event (Taste of Charleston beckoned!), it didn’t take more than a few hours to appreciate the city’s enormous civic pride, which seems to extend equally to its restaurants and rubberized sidewalks.
But with stiff competition in both directions on I-26, Greenville may still be a few years away from unseating either Asheville or Charleston as a culinary destination.
Event organizers appeared to acknowledge as much by secluding Charleston chefs in the VIP tent at its Taste of the South sampling party on Friday night: Only attendees holding a $795 weekend pass were allowed to sample drinks from The Cocktail Club and bites from Oak, Cypress and The Grocery, pictured here. Jeremiah Bacon, Craig Deihl and Kevin Johnson were literally situated above the homegrown chefs, who were stationed in the shell of the building which once housed the Duke’s Mayo factory.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t terrific food in Greenville: I had my meal of the month at American Grocery Restaurant, a wonderfully down-to-earth restaurant which didn’t participate in the festival. Although chef-owner Joe Clarke has previously engaged with Euphoria, I’d guess the event’s corporate leanings might not sit well with him: Restaurant groups are big in Greenville, and their properties dominated the event schedule.
Yet while I wish the event took a slightly broader view of its region, that’s a small complaint: The festival ran extraordinarily smoothly, and I look forward to seeing the culinary scene it presents next year. With companies such as BMW and Michelin bringing more Europeans to town, and civic pride at a fever pitch, sophisticated Greenville’s growing so quickly that I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s changed since I left on Saturday.