From my experience with Stella's Southern Bistro, they were one of the first restaurants in town who shouted the praises of their local farmers and food producers, and even have an entire wall devoted to them. Stella's Southern Bistro is one of the best restaurants in Upstate South Carolina. There's no question. I doubt anyone would argue this point with me. But you really don't hear much about it because it is tucked away in Simpsonville. People are always asking me what the best restaurants are in Downtown Greenville, but they are missing some of the best eating spots around by not leaving Main Street.
Chef's wicked skills in the kitchen are no surprise being that he, like many of our great Southern chefs, came up under the wing of Slightly North of Broad Executive Chef Frank Lee. Jason worked his way up to Sous Chef at SNOB and then became the Executive Chef of High Cotton Restaurant in Charleston when it opened in 1999. There he caught the eye of The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Southern Living, The Washington Post and The Food Network. After seven years with High Cotton in Charleston, he relocated to Greenville to take the Executive Chef position at the newly opened High Cotton Greenville. Then in 2008, he and wife Julia opened Stella's to rave reviews. You are seriously considering making reservations now, aren't you?
I've reviewed Stella's before, but Stella's owners, Jason and Julia Scholz, were so sweet to host me and my PR buddy Amy Corley of ACPR Media a couple of weeks ago to try some new items from Chef Jason. He even put together a special tasting menu for us. How awesome is that?! Our waiter was so stoked to even be serving the menu, that he kept a copy for himself. I had a hard time getting pictures because each dish was so complex, but I'll give you the rundown.
This beautiful plate of Pan Roasted Charleston Sheepshead with citrus rutabaga puree, eggplant caponada, beets and curry oil was pure heaven. I love when a chef challenges my palate, mixing flavors I'd never put together in a million years.
If duck is on the menu, I will always order it because it's not something I'd make in my own kitchen. (Yes, I know it wouldn't be THAT hard, but it's a mind thing.) I was totally pleased it was on the menu. This was a duck sampler plate with a crispy braised wonton, seared breast, confit, Crescent Farms shiitake, gingered plum and scallion salad, sesame roasted okra, bourbon barrel soy "umami". I ate my way around the plate savoring each and every separate piece of this dish.
I have never had a pork ribeye! I was mesmerized. This plate included grilled belly rillon, ribeye and riblet, heirloom hominy, sea island red pea succotash, a Johnny cake, Southern Relishes, and BBQ Pork jus. Beautiful.
I think both Amy and I were stuffed by this point. Half of this dish ended up in a to go box for my husband. On the plate, beautifully seared Deckle and Kobe Beef with Kobe beef bacon and a duck fat twice baked potato, with Crescent Farms carrots, caramelized cauliflower, and roasted beef au ju.
There are no words: Chocolate Torte and Praline Mousse with bourbon ice cream, bourbon caramel and Cracker Jack peanuts.
This piece of warm, Spiced Carrot Cake Bread Pudding with cream cheese frosting ice cream, cinnamon anglaise, and rum soaked raisins was a bit of heaven. It was a shame I was so full because I wanted to lick the plate.
Since opening Stella's has continually wowed diners with their coastal Carolina and American South inspired dishes. Both Jason and wife and co-owner Julia have gone above and beyond to create a unique and inviting dining experience every time we've eaten at their restaurant. They are in our top three favorite restaurants in South Carolina. No lie.