Restaurant Review: Crowd Pleaser
21 Main at North Beach delivers a delightful meal
An amalgam of a private club-style bar, center stage sushi restaurant and traditional chop house dining room, 21 Main at North Beach has managed to zero in on the finest aspects of each of those worlds—a concept that goes a long way in pleasing the masses when you’re the home plate for the ever-revolving door of North Beach Plantation Resort.
Let’s start at the bar, shall we?
At the back of the house, and separated from the more formal white linen-covered tables of the dining area by a hanging water feature, is the long, gleaming wood bar that calls Absolut, Tanqueray and Bacardi members of its upper-class family of well brands. Signature 21 Main cocktails take a creative twist with concoctions like the Strawberry Fields Forever Martini with fresh muddled berries and Absolut vodka and the bubbly Elderflower Martini made with St. Germaine liqueur, pineapple and champagne.
A bar stool here during happy hour can be valuable real estate, especially when the resort is bustling. Consider the specially priced sushi rolls and nigiri—along with a roster of unique nibbles like littleneck clams casino, duck frites with truffle ketchup, baked brie, St. Louis-style pork ribs, homemade chips with caramelized onion dip, crispy calamari with sweet cherry peppers and chutney and a lobster knuckle salad on butter brioche.
We happened to visit for dinner as the new menu rolled out, a pared-down and focused lineup of house favorites with soups, salads, sauces and sides, a la carte.
It was impossible to pass on a starter that promised the “Best of Both Worlds.” Served on a mound of ice, oyster shells came filled with smooth truffled potato puree, crunchy cornmeal-encrusted oysters and topped with a delectable steak tartare dotted with tangy capers.
Unusual, yes. But worth every bite.
Although the slow-braised short ribs, grilled swordfish with lobster citrus salad and one-pound Wagyu mushroom-Swiss burger were tempting, we decided to go for the classic chop side of the menu: a 20-ounce Delmonico boneless ribeye, the 22-ounce veal porterhouse, fire-roasted mushrooms and creamed spinach with smoked bacon, please.
My Delmonico was perfectly medium and to-die-for tender with just the right amount of cabernet demi-glace to heighten the flavor without being overpowering. Simply seasoned, grilled and baked, my husband declared the veal chop to be the best he’s ever eaten and proceeded to work every morsel of meat from the bone. There’s no denying that hubby is from the carnivorous maximus people, so the fact that he asked to have the bone added to our doggy bag is testimony to a chop worthy of the last possible bite it has to offer.
Served in pots for sharing, the roasted mushrooms were unforgettable and, unlike the usual version of creamed spinach, this recipe called for fresh leaves drenched in a bacon-infused cream sauce with a lid of broiled cheeses.
As the all-male waitstaff expertly tends to each table, sushi chefs stand ready to roll. Although the concept of a sushi bar inside a prime steak house seems disparate at first, it works in its own odd way.
Fresh sashimi and nigiri run the gamut of sea swimmers from white tuna and yellowtail to the Kanikama crab stick and eel. House specialty rolls at 21 Main include the Long Island spool of tempura shrimp, spicy blue crab, avocado, scallion, tuna and eel sauce. There’s even a Surf & Turf offering that wraps seared beef tenderloin, lobster, asparagus and scallions.
21 Main is not for the faint of wallet, but most entrees and sides are ample enough for two. The brined and grilled pork ribeye, swordfish and shrimp pasta plates ring up at $22 each, the Wagyu burger topped with mushroom puree and Jarlsberg comes in at $28, while a 32-ounce bone-in ribeye hits the $45 mark. Specialty rolls range from $12 to $15 and the signature salads and side dishes run $7 to $8.
Across U.S. 17 from the frenzy and flash of Barefoot Landing and practically screened by Hamburger Joe’s, 21 Main is not a highly visible dining destination. But if you’re looking for a place to please a gang of different tastes, and especially if you’re looking for an outstanding steak house, take the time to seek it out.
21 Main at North Beach
719 North Beach Blvd.
North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
5–10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 5–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. www.21mainatnorthbeach.com