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Monday, July 4, 2011

Columbia Eats: Brunch at 116 Espresso and Wine Bar

State St. is quickly becoming my favorite spot to be in Columbia, South Carolina. With Cafe Strudel, Terra, and Tea on the side for a little ethnic flare, it's become an area that I'm happy to indulge in as long as my wallet allows. For some odd reason, however, I've some how passed up the 116 each and every time I've ventured into the area. What a mistake. This low key Wine and Espresso restaurant may be one of Cola's best bites, and one of the most affordable at that.

I visited the 116 for brunch this past Sunday. Unfortunately work kept me from trying out their mimosas and other morning pick-me ups. A tragedy. Fortunately, the surprisingly well-priced menu of brunch items was there to give me the much needed adrenaline boost. Usual fair like steak and eggs, shrimp and grits, stuffed french toast, and omelets were on the menu - all equally fantastic in their own right - but it didn't take me long to pick out the odd, but exciting man out on this menu, a stack of sweet potato pancakes - a steal for $6.

"Light, but heavy" may be the worse possible way to describe these cakes, but they absolutely were in the best way possible. Soft to touch, creamy, melt in your mouth to bite, and surprisingly filling considering its size, it's an order that won't make you regret not having a little meat on the side. It had just the right amount of crispness on the exterior and the fluffiness in the interior that you love about a great pancake. A generous slab of butter and maple syrup only made things better while a side of fruit kept the palate clean for the next bite. Easily one of the best brunch items I've had in awhile.

My partner-in-crime for the day decided to stick to the Southern classic and grabbed an order of shrimp and grits. The shrimp were grilled and well seasoned, but peeled, leaving me wishing there was a little more to gnaw on. The grits were cheesy with a hint of tabasco. Not creamy like you'd expect from low country grits, but rather baked, providing a bit of a cakey cheese grit, almost like a biscuit. This may sound like a bad thing, but I promise it is not. Though satisfying in its own right, if you are a fan of ultra creamy low country grits, this may not be the thing for you.

No Reservations, the lowdown on 116
Atmosphere: Relaxed, casual. Less charming then it's neighbor Cafe Strudel,
but still pleasant for meeting friends.
Cost: Great brunch prices, between $5-10.
Try: Sweet potato pancakes for sure. Stuffed french toast
also looks great, and really how often does this go wrong? (Don't answer that!)

Don't be weary about the "Wine Bar" aspect of the restaurant's namesake. This is first and foremost definitely a restaurant pushing out great food. Definitely recommended for brunch, especially to students looking for a quality, light-on-the-wallet weekend outing. It's a nice, busy place that brings in locals of all ages, and is surely a fair, atmospheric place for a romantic dinner. I'll definitely be interested in coming back for dinner one day and checking out their tapas menu.

Oh yeah, they have a tapas menu. Oh yes, they have a tapas menu.

116 Espresso and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon


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