By Becky Billingsley
Wednesday, July 4, 2012, Surfside Beach - "It's the most insane thing you could possibly do," said Shawn Roth, partner at the new Surf Diner at Surfside Pier, referring to opening on one of the busiest days of the year for Myrtle Beach area restaurants.
That was on July 3, as Roth, front of house manager Alison Krugman and the rest of the staff practiced their menu for family and friends during a soft opening. The Surf Diner opened to the public today, and will serve daily breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
The restaurant's layout has been changed since it was Nibil's at Surfside Pier; the space was stripped to the bones and completely remodeled. Where a counter and cash register used to be to the right of the main entrance, now restrooms are to the right, and a bar with seven stools and two four-top cocktail tables are to the left. Teal-colored booths line windows on the southern side, and tables and chairs with teal seats fill the rest of the dining room. Much wood was used in the decor, to create warm and bright ambiance with a beach house feeling.
The most expensive item on the breakfast menu, an 8-ounce ribeye with two eggs and grits or hash browns, is $11. Most breakfast dishes are less than $9.
There are Biscuits and Gravy, Chipped Beef and Gravy, and Low Country Omelet with pimento cheese, Vidalia onions and sausage. From the griddle are Chicken and Waffles; Loaded Pancakes topped with a choice of blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, sliced banana, crumbled bacon or chocolate chips; and Raisin Bread French Toast.
Breakfast sandwiches include The Waldo with fried bologna, a fried egg and American cheese; freshly baked pastries are delivered from Benjamin's Bakery; and there's a Strawberry/Banana Smoothie for $5.
Hand-cut fresh fruit is available in a bowl or as a platter, or a bowl of fruit can be teamed up with yogurt. Roth is also cooking breakfast Frittatas, Casseroles, Pizzas and Country Benedict, where sausage patties are put on a split biscuit and topped with fried eggs and sausage gravy.
For lunch and dinner the menu starts with finger foods like Sand Dollar Fried Pickles, Salt & Pepper Calamari, and Buffalo Shrimp and Pot-chos, which are house-fried potato chips smothered with toppings. The chips can also be ordered without the toppings and with a house-made barbecue blue cheese dipping sauce.
A cup of She-Crab Soup is $4, and it's laced with dry aged sherry. Seven salads include Shrimp Salad and the Chicken Salad Plate that comes with fresh fruit. The chicken salad, which is Roth's mother, Wilma Roth's, recipe, contains apples, grapes, celery and honey-glazed pecans. Roth says when the salad is blended, some of the pecan glaze breaks off into the mixture to create its delicious honey-infused flavor.
Many sandwiches are offered, including Nathan's Hot Dogs; Carolina Classic BBQ Sandwich; a Half-Pound BLT; the Crabby Abby Burger topped with crab meat, avocado and Monterey Jack; and the Surf Classic Burger made of ground short rib and brisket.
"The Surf Classic is based on a burger by Pat Lafrieda of The Food Network's "Meat Men" show," Roth said. "It's incredible."
Of course seafood baskets are served, from Fish and Chips to Calabash-style Fried Shrimp and Crab Cakes. A trio of tacos can be filled with pulled pork barbecue, Buffalo chicken or fish.
Pasta entrees include Tuscan Sunset Penne with bell peppers, Vidalia onions, black olives, toasted pine nuts, tomatoes and baby spinach. Other entrees include Sea Scallops that can be fried, grilled or blackened; Prime Rib; Fried Chicken Breasts; and the vegetarian Portabello Tower with mushroom caps, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, Asiago cream sauce and "the veggie of the moment."
Children's meals are mostly $4 each and include fries or fresh fruit. Those choices are Grilled PB&J, Grilled Cheese, Sea Monster Hot Dog, Boneless Fried Chicken with cheesy dipping sauce, and the Mini Net Load, which is popcorn shrimp and Goldfish crackers.
After summer is over, Roth and his partner, Bill Howard, plan to expand the already lengthy menu with more specialties. Plans are also underway for future special holiday meals and events, including Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day. Surf Diner has a full bar.
A door has been added on the beach-facing side of the dining room, where steps lead down to the beach. Eventually the men plan to add a patio on the beach.
Surf Diner is at 11 N. Ocean Blvd. in Surfside Beach, on Surfside Pier. It's open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and the number is (843) 712-1850.