The Green Room in Greenville, which just celebrated its third birthday, has become known for its TGR meatloaf, a sweet chipotle-glazed meatloaf served with jalapeno macaroni and cheese and creamed green peas.
Chef Patrick Long describes The Green Room as "an upscale comfort food establishment that blends great food in a comfortable atmosphere."
In addition to the meatloaf, the restaurant features seafood dishes, steaks and sandwiches along with daily specials.
"We're known to come up with some pretty creative dishes depending on how we're feeling on any given day," Long said. "One of my personal favorites was a Philly Cheesesteak Soup."
Another favorite is his Cauliflower Gorgonzola soup, and you can see the recipe below.
The Green Room is at 116 N. Main St., Greenville.
Q: What are you cooking these days that excites you the most?
A: All of it is exciting! There's no greater rush than when you're cooking on the line and "in the weeds," and you're spinning around in circles trying to get everything out as quickly as possible. A busy restaurant is an exciting restaurant. But if I had to choose one thing I'm loving, it's braised items; they require a lot of steps and technique.
Q: What five things are always in your refrigerator?
A: Leftovers, milk, preserves of some berry mix my mom makes, beer and ice cream. The last two go so well together.
Q: What restaurants do you like to eat at when you're not working?
A: I love finding spots that are both delicious and inexpensive. Thai food, pizza, Mexican ... here in Greenville, I bounce back and forth from Compadre's and Papa's and Beer. As far as pizza, Gourmet Pizza and more, in my opinion, has the best in town. I've been going there since I could walk and their Greek Deluxe Pizza is so good, it'll make you crave one on a weekly basis. Pita House is a local secret; it's just awesomely cheap, and I usually go there for lunch. I haven't found a better gyro in Greenville yet. But if I hear about a place that's expensive and worth the money, I'll make it a point to try it out.
Q: Who is the best American chef?
A: Sean Brock (of McCrady's and Husk restaurants in Charleston) puts a pretty strong argument in. But every single chef that owns/operates a restaurant for longer than five years in New York City is a rockstar. They set trends years ahead of their time just by staying on top of the times, changing menus by the minute according to what people want. I don't like to play favorites, but anyone who can cook up a storm and make it taste addictive, then that person to me is the best American chef at that moment.
Q: How important is presentation?
A: First impressions go further than just human interaction. You eat with your eyes first. For instance, you see the sheen of a beautifully kneaded ball of mozzarella and it makes your mouth water. The thought that you will be tasting delicious cheese makes your body anticipate the fact that you will be eating; it starts the natural digestive process. When you look at a plate of food and you see various colors that play along with each other like a giant purple mound of beet risotto that just relaxed itself onto a place, and a nice brown sear on a piece of fish atop the rice, along with some vibrant green of some grilled asparagus with a bright red pepper coulis, the plate is gorgeous and screams...'eat me.'
Q: What's the best tip you can give a home cook?
A: Don't go crazy. Stick to what you know. If you've never tried a certain cooking technique read up on it ... a lot, then try it. Accept the fact that you just might fail, and you just might ruin dinner, and in that case, have a back-up grill-and-go type of meal ready to go.
Q: What's your prediction for the next big food or restaurant trend?
A: I anticipate the next trend will be doughnut burgers and other sweet and salty combinations that are best eaten in moderation (or at least best for our waistlines)
Q: Who in your life has most influenced your cooking?
A: Thanks to my mom, I've been around food since I was a toddler. I spent summers as a child in my mother's bakery located in downtown Greenville. She puts so much care into anything she is making. I did learn a few tricks along the way from Chef Tim Armstrong and Chef Jacques Larson. And my No. 1 rule of thumb: If I wouldn't eat it myself, then I won't serve it to someone else.
Q: What was your favorite food as a kid? What was the dish or food you hated to eat the most?
A: I basically grew up in my mom's bakery, so I ate my fair share of cookies and bread. But my absolute favorite was my mom's mac and cheese that she learned from her grandmother. I absolutely hated vegetables and I think my mom purposely would torture me by putting every single vegetable known to man in her chicken pot pie. I remember having to eat a little of the crust with every bite just to get it down.
Cauliflower Gorgonzola Soup
1 medium size head of cauliflower, trimmed into florets
1 medium onion, diced
1 quart of vegetable stock
1 cup of gorgonzola cheese, crumbed
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Sweat the onions on low heat in a large pot, until translucent. Add the cauliflower and vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes.
Strain and keep the liquid the cauliflower has cooked in. In a blender place some of the cooked cauliflower, some of the gorgonzola cheese, and some of the heavy cream. Then add about 2-4 ounces of the cauliflower liquid in order for the vegetables and cheese to emulsify. Repeat until all ingredients are pureed into the soup. Season to taste.