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By Waterway or Highway, Head to Fayz at the Lake

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema

After a day of prime fishing on Lake Marion, aim your boat or car toward Fayz at the Lake in Manning, SC. Located at Randolph's Landing, this fish camp-turned-country cooking café is just the place to snag a hearty, home-cooked meal, exchange your best fish stories and chat up the locals.

Come as you are - the staff is down-home friendly and the dining room casual. If ambiance is your thing, choose a window booth for the best lake views and linger awhile. A sign in the dining room declares: "Friends and Family Gather Here," so consider yourself one or the other, or both.

Fayz covers all the bases, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Start your day with fluffy pancakes (a family recipe not to be confused with "flapjacks," the menu warns), cheesy hash browns studded with onion, peppers, tomato and ham, or pillowy omelets filled with your choice of breakfast meats and veggies. Who knows? A good breakfast might give you the right edge to hook the "big one" during the Clarendon County Striped Bass Festival or execute a perfect chip shot at nearby Wyboo Golf Club.

For lunch, the hand-patted burgers deliver as does the patty melt on rye, a version that stays classically true with grilled onions and Swiss cheese. The house salad - mixed greens tossed with cucumber, onion, tomato, shredded cheddar and herbed croutons - makes a cool, crisp accompaniment; do ask for the house-made ranch dressing for optimum summer flavor. The fried catfish sandwich is oft requested, as well, as are the onion rings: fat, golden bracelets of battered sweet onion served piping hot with a light sprinkling of salt. In fact, go ahead and build your lunch around them. Everything pairs perfectly with onion rings, right?

If you come for dinner, come very hungry. That's the best strategy for a showdown with flame-grilled pork chops, homemade meatloaf, country fried steak, hand-cut rib-eyes or steaming bowls of catfish stew. The prize dinner catch-of-the-day, however, didn't land on the menu via rod and reel. Prepare to be hooked by Fayz's fried chicken, a half bird expertly cooked and served piled high on the plate. Think of it as a monument of sorts, a Mt. Rushmore of crunchy goodness representing everything that makes fried chicken the quintessential Southern dish: crusty, juicy and spiked with enough seasoning to forgo the salt and pepper shakers. If you don't normally give thanks at mealtime, you will once you sink your teeth into a meaty drumstick or chicken breast.

Fayz at the Lake is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Located at 13028 Hwy. 260 in Manning at Randolph's Landing, Fayz also is accessible by boat. Beer and wine are served Monday through Saturday, and free Wi-Fi is available. Hours change seasonally, so call ahead at (803) 478-3805.

Libby Wiersema
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