by Kat Robinson
It must have been close to 9 p.m. when we pulled into the parking lot at The Cowpen under the US 82 Greenville Bridge. I’ve passed it many times going one place or another, but this was the very first time I’d stopped. We’d have probably ended up someplace else, had we not heard the recommendations from the folks at the Lakeside Motel, the Visitors Center and the check-out lady at Fred’s. Popular place.
The parking lot was packed. I mean, heavily packed. We managed to slide into a parking spot being vacated near the door, lucky us, and headed in to the raucous noise of folksy country twang emanating from the porch area.
We were tired. We were looking to eat light. But the moment I saw Eggplant Parmesan listed on the menu (as a side dish, even!) I knew it had to be mine. I went ahead and ordered it with an entrée of Fried Clam Strips ($13.95 with side item and hush puppies). Grav was going easy on things, so he just went for the Chip & Dip ($3.95 individual, $6.95 regular). He wasn’t asked about what sort of size he wanted, but I figured it’d be something sane.
The real winner for me, though, was the Eggplant Parmesan. I’ve had the Italian restaurant equivalent time and time again and been either just satisfied or disappointed. This, though, was almost an eggplant lasagna with well-baked eggplant slices between the layers of ricotta and mozarella cheese and a sweet and chunky tomato sauce. It wasn’t just fork-tender; it was press-down-with-your-finger-and-cut-it tender. And it was awesome.Rohwer Relocation Center National Monument in the hottest part of the afternoon and trying to catch shots of the old US 62 bridge from atop the new bridge without getting hit by a car) and steak just wasn’t going to do the trick. However, I can tell you that it did come highly recommended, and that there’s a nice variety of steaks on the menu. Go check it out over on the Cowpen website. Really.
We ended up walking out of there with a slew of leftovers… and ended up paying about $23 before tip for all we got. Now I have to take others back there, not just because of the steak but the Crab-Stuffed Catfish. And yes, The Cowpen even does its own tamales.
You can’t miss it — right before you go on the new US 82 bridge there’s a turn-off to the right. It’s right there. Give it a shot. The Cowpen is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday and for lunch on Sunday. (870) 265-9992.