Charlie’s Steak House is the oldest restaurant in Greenville in continuous operation. Established in 1921, I think it’s been in the same location at 18 East Coffee Street all of those years. Oddly enough, as much as we eat out and as long as I’ve lived in the area, I had never eaten at Charlie’s until tonight.
Stepping into Charlie’s is like stepping back in time. The place is small and dimly lit. The furnishings look like they are 1960’s vintage, albeit in very good condition. There is a colored glass divider that dimly diffuses the soft light.
Having been in business for so long, the walls are covered in memorabilia and newspaper clippings about the place.
Steaks – that’s what it’s all about. There are a few chicken and seafood selections, but, really, why bother? Prices start at $18 for a steak kabob, and go up to $30 for the extra thick sirloin. There is a "Steak for Two" selection for $30 and even a "Steak for Three." These are served with potatoes and a salad. You can’t get more basic.
Right next to our table was an old vintage menu. I have no idea what year, but the items were almost identical. Back then, the "Steak for Two" sold for $4 and the extra thick sirloin went for $3.75.
We started with cocktails. I ordered my standard – "a dry martini, straight up, with as many olives as you can spare." They took me seriously.
The initial salads were simple, but the dressing was homemade, delicious and served family-style.
Laura and I got the New York Strip. Other members of our party got T-bone’s and fillets. When they steaks arrived, they were enormous. The flavor was good, but there were also inedible parts of grizzle. The menu took pride in describing how they cooked the meat with no seasonings since they were so proud of the quality. Subsequently, I wound up adding lots of salt, pepper, and steak sauce. Overall, though, the food was good and filling. We all had eaten far too much to think about dessert.
Our party of 6.25 was accommodated nicely. Service was quick, friendly, and efficient.
The food was good, but I think the mystique comes from eating in a place so well established. Better steaks can be had at better prices elsewhere, but everyone should give Charlie’s a try at least once and decide for themselves.