Background: The Riverwalk area in Rock Hill is growing like crazy. The walking trail is busy every day and packed on a beautiful weekend. There are new apartments and homes going up at warp speed, a wine bar just opened (a second location of The Grape Vine--a Baxter staple), and a hair salon and a Brixx Pizza are coming soon. Not to leave out the pinnacle of Riverwalk, of course--the shiny, beautiful BNA building. A close second, however, is the brand new restaurant, The Pump House.
The Pump House is the vision of Ell Close and Colby Mosier, who, along with Jeff Conway, the owner of Napa on Providence and Ruth's Chris Steakhouses in Charlotte, have turned the dilapidated Celanese Textile Factory pump house into the one of the most unique and best restaurants in York County. The restaurant sits directly on the Catawba River, offering 180 degree views of the river. It is a five story restaurant--the top story is the bar, the fourth floor is reserved for special events, and the third floor is the main seating area. The second floor is used for storage and the first floor is where you enter. You can even see the original pump sitting outside of the restaurant!
Full disclosure: Jason's parents are a 1% owner in the Pump House, so we got to go the investor dinner before their official opening. Riverwalk perks!
Eat This: The menu is what we'll call "Modern Southern." Their entrees average around $20 and include three types of shrimp and grits, steak, trout and catfish, and many other southern delicacies.
The calamari was light and tasty. Other appetizer options included a rock shrimp cocktail, tomato soup, and caesar salad.
The filet and the trout were both served over pureed butternut squash and greens which were seasoned and sautéed to perfection. Also, the filet was cooked a perfect rare, as requested--only good restaurants are willing and able to cook rare steak, so that's a good sign. The southern fried shrimp and grits came with collard greens and house made bacon, and tasted like we imagine great-grandma used to make them (not a Jewish grandma, obvs).
Dessert: We tried the Cheerwine molten chocolate cake, which might have been the best chocolate cake we've ever had. It was so good that the two of us ate it all and didn't save any for Bernie (The Bern), who was politely talking to the couple next to us while we ravaged it. We then convinced our waiter to let us have another one for the table. Alas, The Bern still didn't get to eat that much of the second one. Oops. You have to be fast with your fork when you dine with us.
Drink: Some super awesome cocktail offerings--Jason tried the River Water, which was served in a mason jar and made with moonshine, blood orange syrup, and love.
Atmosphere: Sophisticated country vibes abound. Modern seating and stainless steel combine seamlessly with wood panels and a taxidermy beaver under glass ("Justin Beaver"). It was not open on the night we went, but soon the patio will be open (fifth floor), which will be so lovely for drinks and watching the sunset and wildlife on the river.
Southern Hospitality: Our bartenders and waitstaff could not have been any sweeter. The owners said that all servers would be attending training at Ruth's Chris restaurants in the next week to further hone their fine dining service skills.
Frankie's Notes: BNA is where Jason Ackerman IV will work; Just kidding, Jews don't name their kids like that; We hope the seafood is not from Lake Wylie; If only the real Justin Beiber could be preserved under glass; We owe The Bern two chocolate cakes; Expect to find the BNA staff dinning al fresco on a Friday evening in the near future.
Rating: 3 out of 5
575 Herrons Ferry Rd
Rock Hill, SC 29730