Word of Mouth: Greenville, South Carolina | Cool Hunting
 
Image by Andrew Cebulka

Image by Andrew Cebulka

 
 

A straight shot down Elysian Fields Avenue brings you into the Marigny, a neighborhood bordering NOLA‘s French Quarter. Here you’ll find some of the city’s best jazz along Frenchmen Street, cozy sidewalk cafes and colorful homes with jasmine flowing off the side. This same road leads to Hotel Peter & Paul and its Elysian Bar—housed in the hotel’s rectory building. The hotel and its food and beverage outlets are the creation of both ASH NYC and Nathalie Jordi, a New Orleanian and Marigny resident. While Elysian Fields Avenue (and its role in A Streetcar Named Desire) played a part when naming the bar, ASH NYC partners Ari Heckman and Will Cooper also reference folklore as an inspiration, citing the Elysian Fields as “the final resting place of the soul in Greek mythology.”

For the hotel’s food and beverage partner, ASH NYC and Nathalie Jordi tapped the James-Beard-nominated Bacchanal Fine Wine and Spirits team to helpAt the northern tip of South Carolina, just south of Asheville, lies Greenville—a place that’s been quietly making a name for itself as a culinary destination in the south. Starting in 2007 with the opening of American Grocery, the farm-to-table movement began in Greenville. Today, it is now de rigueur for eateries to list the exact farm each dish or product was sourced from and waitstaff will proudly share details on the fresh produce from the area. This pride in homegrown produce has begun to extend beyond the plate with the addition of creative ventures from artists and artisans alike. With a walkable downtown, a burgeoning art scene, and a Farmer’s Market that shuts down a main thoroughfare, it’s no wonder Greenville has caught the attention of the entire country.

Hotel Domestique
Cyclist George Hincapie’s Hotel Domestique is technically in Traveler’s Rest—a 30-minute drive from Greenville—but the journey is worth it. The sprawling property offers a buffet of activities from cycling to fishing and hiking. They’re also quick to encourage guests to simply relax. Sitting outdoors among the trees, burbling fountains, and a postcard view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s easy to mistake this South Carolina escape for a chateau in France.

For those who prefer to be in a more centralized location, the Westin Poinsett on Greenville’s Main Street is the site of the original Poinsett Hotel, and a historical landmark in the downtown area.

Husk
The arrival of Sean Brock’s Husk solidified Greenville’s status as a food-lover’s town. Situated in the historic West End district, Husk is the newest and most celebrated arrival to the area, but don’t sleep on the old classics in town either. Just a few short blocks over the Reedy River puts you in the heart of Greenville’s downtown, and steps from Poppington’s. A mecca to popcorn, be sure to stop by for a treat from salt and vinegar to unicorn-flavored with vegan options as well.

Vault & Vator
The first prohibition-style speakeasy to arrive in Greenville, and perhaps the first true cocktail bar here, Vault & Vator provides an alternative to the pubs and tap rooms speckled around town. Conceived by the owners of American Grocery, the place is difficult to find, but worth the search. Located in the West End off a dark alley, keep your eyes peeled for sly signage. Once inside, the atmosphere is decidedly pared back. Brick walls and eggplant-colored curtains frame the space, while banquets and loungers encircle the central bar. The cocktails here have a slightly sinister touch, from Don’t Fear the Reaper—named for the Carolina Reaper, an exceptionally hot pepper—to Melancholy Ninja which features cold brew from local brand Ninja Warrior.

Billiam Jeans
It’s worth venturing outside Greenville’s popular downtown area for a visit to local Bill Mitchell, the founder of Billiam Jeans. Mitchell’s shop is a white airy space split by the rows of sewing machines that create his product on site, and while Billiam Jeans may be one of several fashion-forward locations in the area, they are also inclusive. All the jeans can be custom fit, allowing shoppers who struggle to fit into typical store sizes to create their ideal wardrobe. They’re also planning to offer FaceTime fittings to allow for out of state custom purchases. bring their vision to life—with the entire team focused on quality, community and respect. Opening in late 2018, the Elysian has chef Alex Harrell and general manager Lisa Nguyen at the helm and an opening menu that favors local, seasonal produce, pulling in plenty of New Orleans and French inspiration. Highlights include roasted gulf shrimp, grilled okra, fried brussels sprouts and plenty more.

The guests are a mix of locals and travelers alike, with many diners hailing right from the Marigny. The atmosphere is convivial and exploratory; each room holds its own unique design and walking through the space feels a bit like discovering the delights of a labyrinth.

Stepping inside The Elysian’s rectory door, you’ll find yourself in an entryway, not unlike a well-kept foyer of a historic New Orleans home. To the right is a small nook, housing a coffee shop and pastry counter. Coffee is sourced from Congregation Coffee (a local roaster situated across the river in Algiers Point) and the baked goods are overseen by Bacchanal’s Bronwen Wyatt. Antique blue and white delft tiles hint to the space’s inspiration—a tent outside a French castle.

To the left of the coffee shop lie the Elysian’s twin sitting rooms. Upon first glance, you’ll be instantly swept up in the visual fantasy, from the mustard yellow floor to ceiling drapes, upholstered chairs in matching gingham, and a duo of fireplaces—one the original Italianate marble mantle and the other its antique match. Meant to serve double-duty as a hotel lobby and a space to enjoy the small plates and specialty cocktails from the Elysian, these rooms were intended to embrace the “austere, but warm” atmosphere found so often in Swedish architecture.

Moving deeper inside the building, the patterned floor gives way to cheerful yellow walls adorned with hanging greens, framed by bistro tables and gingham-covered chairs. Here in the breakfast nook and dining room, guests have more seating options to choose from. (This seems to be a theme throughout—the hunt for the perfect chair—as the options are endless.)

Views from the dining room look out onto a private courtyard, where a burbling fountain plays music against the sounds of the wind rustling through the potted palms. If the heat of the New Orleans day is enough to deter you from the outdoor oasis, however, the piece de resistance of the venue lies in its bar.

A riff on the bald cypress (Louisiana’s state tree) with its distinctly recognizable roots and bayou presence, the back of the bar curves up in gleaming wood with narrow, root-like legs trickling down.

The effect is a warm halo, enveloping the room in its embrace, cushioned by the palette of yellows and pops of red, a cheeky show of irreverence in this former House of God. Saddle up to the bar, claim a crimson topped bar stool and peruse the expansive Bacchanal-approved wine list. If it’s past noon in New Orleans, it’s high time for a drink.

 
TravelLeora Novick