Marji Albergotti thinks she knows, and she should. Her father-in-law, Jim Albergotti, opened Chestnut Grill in Orangeburg 27 years ago, and Marji and her husband, Warren, run the restaurant with him.
"The general consensus is it's consistent and it's good," Marji Albergotti said. "We're not fancy. It's just good."
For its first two years, Jim Albergotti operated the restaurant as a Mr. Steak. But within two years, he turned it into Chestnut Grill.
The restaurant isn't far off Interstates 26 and 95, and it's worth a drive there just to have the chicken salad. Chestnut Grill is known for its great chicken salad, which is the restaurant's best seller. So it's what I ordered, on a croissant, for lunch there recently. It was excellent, with almonds and lots of diced celery. My side order of cole slaw also was delicious; the ingredients were so fresh and crisp that I knew it had been made from scratch in the kitchen that day.
Not only was my food outstanding, but the serving was so generous that I had half of my sandwich and half of my cole slaw for lunch the next day.
That's another key to the success of Chestnut Grill. Almost everything is made in house, including the tartar sauce and all salad dressings. Warren Albergotti cuts all the steaks.
Since I'd been told the chicken salad was fantastic, I had to try it. But there are so many things on the menu I'd like to try. There's a blue plate special each weekday, such as this recent one: Baked ham with butter beans over rice, fried squash and house-baked honey croissants. That sounds like quite a treat for $7.99. Another interesting menu choice is liver and onions, topped with bacon.
Marji Albergotti said a number of travelers off of the nearby interstates stop in several times a year, and they have local customers who eat there almost every day.