Heads Up: There’s a new “it” spot in town. ART Burger Sushi Bar opened in October on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, against the tide of tourism and yet, four days into its existence, we could not get a table for dinner.
I said to myself “they must be doing something right!”
We took two seats at the oceanfront end of the bar, right beside the liquid nitrogen dispensers, a chilly fog wafting across us as owner Larry Bond mixed up a battery of specialty cocktails, served icy cold, in artisan glassware and still misting.
“Welcome to the best seats in the house,” Bond said rubbing his hands together. “You get to taste a bit of everything I make right here!”
And so the ART journey began.
With every roll of the fog, we were handed a plastic spoonful of drink delights from Bananas Foster and Chai Latte martinis to a taste of Green Tea Sake Mojito and Blue Crush with a Malibu rum base. Like liquored-up gelato, each one was smooth, creamy and refreshing.
On our host’s recommendation, we ordered his namesake Bond Roll of spicy tuna, cream cheese, tempura flakes and avocado, drenched in a torched crab salad. With a dipper of house-made soy sauce, a shot of warm sake and a pair of elegant metal chopsticks, we were in heaven.
Bond was intensely interested in our opinion of the roll and obviously proud of his authentic Japanese sushi chef.
Absorbing customer feedback like a thirsty sea sponge, it came as no surprise to find out Bond was a key player in the opening of Flying Fish Public Market & Grill and Capriz Italian Feast. Breaking out on his own, he and his wife, Fabiana, “cashed in everything” to open their own venue.
Nitrogen-chilled beverages may be a vital element in spurring on curiosity sales, but Bond’s passion will be the fuel that ART runs on.
In between chit-chat and tastings, we moseyed on over to the “Burgers & Such” side of the menu—which is printed on a wooden artist’s palette.
ART makes it known that all meats served there “are responsibly raised, hormone and antibiotic free,” noting their supplier-partners Strauss Brands and Keegan-Filion Farms. And you have the option of a gluten-free bun, which I found to be just as tasty as the “glutinous” version.
I went for the El Greco, a perfectly cooked ground beef patty, a knob of chorizo in the center with marinated red peppers, manchego cheese and micro greens. I could have had house-cut or sweet potato fries as the side, but I opted instead for the kale slaw. With a savory-sweet dressing to counteract the bitter nature of kale, the slaw was nothing short of outstanding.
A finishing school habit of mine, I always cut a burger in half and rarely eat both pieces. But the El Greco was too delicious to forego and even after eating the whole thing, I didn’t feel the least bit stuffed, which is a testament to quality ingredients and minimal fat.
My husband struggled to choose since ART offers pork and lamb sandwiches and even a tempting burger with pork belly and a fried egg. He finally set his sights on the Picasso, a blackened burger topped with bleu cheese crumbles, marinated red onions, finished with more bleu cheese in a sauce. I was allowed two measly bites and it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted.
ART offers a smattering of “Something to Share,” (how about ahi tuna lollipops or fried mozzarella wontons with tomato jam?) and fresh tossed salads, but the headliners of this menu board are the “Sushi Bar” and “Burgers & Such.”
You can have nigiri, sashimi and a roster of specialty rolls. And you can have it made your way: temaki, maki or pressed.
And, if you want to stretch beyond the burger, ART is more than accommodating.
The Da Vinci features a falafel veggie burger. There’s a Cuban mojo pork patty, a slow-roasted pork shoulder sandwich, ground lamb in pita bread, blackened tuna, turkey and grilled black bean burgers.
In a long galley space, ART renders a cozy, beachy-hip vibe. Works of local artists line the walls. The staff is friendly and eager to please. As refreshing as the liquid nitrogen-infused beverages, they conduct themselves like ART ambassadors rather than smile-if-I-have-to, tip-profiling servers.
We could have stayed there all night, but after hours of food and drink and conversation, we asked to tab out and Bond seemed genuinely disappointed that we were leaving, “Are you sure I can’t top up that sake? Can I get you something else?”
Yes, indeed, you can do something else for me: Keep this magic going! I want to come back, again and again. After all, I feel like I’m practically family now!