Friday, January 26, 2018

Le Spice of Spartanburg

Owners Nicolas and Amonrat Dhers are hard at work in the kitchen every time we visit, far more noticeable than the restaurant’s white wooden sign out on Abernathy Highway. We had passed the unassuming sign often on our way to Barnet Park and downtown Spartanburg, but didn’t give it a second thought until a friend suggested lunch after a morning at Hatcher Garden Woodland Preserve. Having tasted a pain au chocolat (here called choco croissant) just as light and flaky as I remember from our time living in France, I brought Roberts in so he could judge for himself.

While it might have been the French pastries that first brought us to Le Spice Restaurant and Bakery, it is the eclectic international fusion that brings us back; the French favorites mingle with Thai, Cuban and Mexican in a fascinating selection of breakfast and lunch dishes. Amonrat is from a small village in Thailand, and Nicolas from the Normandy region in France; the two met while working in the food industry in Miami, setting the stage for one of the Upstate’s most captivating international restaurants.

Chef's daily special, Buffalo turkey crêpe w/ carrot ginger soup

The menu isn’t overwhelming; there is a soup & salad section, the crêpes, sandwiches and house specialties. However I still haven’t managed to try everything, as favorites from previous visits vie with the as-of-yet unexperienced options. From the French end of things there are of course the crêpes, but also escargot, Quiche Lorraine, Niçoise salad and the Croque-monsieur. Mexican and Cuban flavors also make an appearance in the crêpe menu, with a Cuban chicken option that features pork belly, Swiss cheese and creamy mustard sauce, or La Mexicaine with cheddar cheese, guac, onions, peppers and tomatoes. These appear side-by-side on the menu with more traditional crepes: La Rousse with fresh salmon, creamy pink tomato sauce and Swiss, or the bacon, egg & brie.

The Duck Bun

We’ve delighted finding Thai flavors in the sandwiches, a popular choice being the Duck Bun: roasted duck, sriracha aioli, red onion jam and cilantro on a brioche bun. The Bangbang Banh Mi features marinated pork, aioli, carrots, onions, cornichon pickles, cucumber and bangbang sauce on baguette. The Thai Green Curry Bowl is a house specialty, while the Thai Pulled Pork sandwich offers a Thai twist on a southern classic.

The front entrance, with Chef Nicolas cooking up a storm in the kitchen

The little house with the blue door creates a welcoming atmosphere, with plenty of seating options. When we arrive with a group of moms (kids in tow), we’ll often choose to sit in the first room, the family-style table allowing us all to sit together without disturbing other patrons. Other times we sit in the main dining room with light streaming in through the large windows, while on a warm spring day we might venture out to the patio and listen to the breeze in the forest surrounding the small creek on its way to the North Tyger River.

If you get there early enough you might be able to sample one of the bacon chocolate cookies for dessert, although don’t be despondent if you miss out – there are plenty of other mouthwatering options such as maple sea salt pecan pie and lemon meringue to tempt your taste buds. In lieu of dessert we’ll often purchase bread to take home, the multi grain loaves soft and pillowy, sometimes disappearing before their intended role in lunch the following day.

A raspberry Danish, choco croissant and cinnamon roll

Le Spice is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8am to 3pm. Everything is cooked fresh and to order, but there is a call-ahead option if you’re short on time. Le Spice does to-go orders, as well as catering, whole pies, and a Chef’s table option. Located at 8881 Warren H. Abernathy Hwy. in Spartanburg, Le Spice can be found online on Facebook and Instagram.

This article is part of the series Food on Friday.

Le Spice has also been featured in Spartanburg Magazine and in the new book by Hub City Press, A Taste of Spartanburg.

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