This column offers a sampling of dining experiences in the area. It is not intended as a review of the restaurant other than to provide the reader with one diner's experience. It also appears in The Herald's Friday entertainment section, "Ticket."
I was amazed when my friend -- who knew Lake Wylie "before it grew up," when S.C. 49 was a two-lane road and Bethel Lumber was about the only business -- said he'd never heard of Lake Wylie's sports bar, Christopher's at Village Harbor Drive. Christopher's is the self-proclaimed "meeting place of friends," so I told him to meet me there.
There's lots of parking, a welcoming always-room-for-more-seating availability, friendly people and staff, and a lot of menu options. Diners enter with a long bar on the right and tables in the back right as the smoking section. To the left of this, divided by a half-wall with a ledge and stools, is the non-smoking section. There's also a patio with many umbrella tables, a great place to enjoy the warm Carolina spring weather.
The decor is ... well, all about sports, and so there are televisions in the corners, in smoking and non-smoking, and at the bar for watching the games. There's everything on the walls from cross-country snow skis to autographed speed boat racing prints, as well as the usual plethora of pro Charlotte team memorabilia, NASCAR schedule and even a huge, lone hi-top sneaker in the glass front cabinet showcasing Christopher's own T-shirts and other items for sale.
On the front of the five-page menu that includes appetizers, deli sandwiches, soups and salads, burgers (which Lake Wylie voted "Best of" in 2007), steaks, pastas and my favorite, the wraps, Christopher's also announces it has a competition barbecue team, the Lake Wylie Smokers, with full-service catering and 20 years experience. In fact, Christopher's also was named "Best of Lake Wylie" for catering in 2007. However, there are no barbecue items on the menu.
But that's not the only goodness not listed on the menu. Although I've been to Christopher's many, many times before, my friend knew something I didn't.
A friend of his told him to order the fried pickles, not on the menu. The waitress said they are in the process of printing a new menu, and I hope they are on it. But if not, here's a little dilly for you: The fried pickles ($5.99) are like chips, and they are fantastic. I've only had spear-shaped fried pickles, which is like eating something fried and then there's a pickle in it. I like this chip-style way better.
For dinner, although my friend kept getting drawn in by the Loaded Spud ($4.99), "a meal in itself" loaded with diced ham, smoked turkey, cheddar and jack cheeses, sautéed mushrooms and bacon, he ordered the Smothered Chicken ($9.99), boneless breast filets grilled and topped with ham, bacon and smothered in melted cheddar and jack cheese with the grilled vegetables as a side and sautéed mushrooms instead of a salad. Served on a metal plate to keep it warm, it was very juicy. He said the 'shrooms beat out those at steakhouses.
As much as I try to stray, I like the wraps, especially the Black & Bleu Chicken ($7.59) -- blackened chicken breast and real bleu cheese crumbles. I chose pasta salad as the side. These wraps are huge, requiring two hands to hold. Packed with chicken and huge chunks of bleu cheese, with creamy bleu cheese dressing in a cup no the side, it's a wonderful, tasty meal. I like the pasta salad, too, because it's just that, noodles with Italian dressing and a few onions -- simple and good.
Christopher's is definitely a place to hang out for a while and catch up with friends. There's a long selection of beers ("That's a cold beer," my friend commented) and wines, too.
I like to go to Christopher's when I have time to sit back and relax, because after eating the food, I get so stuffed and satisfied that I just need to chill -- and this is a great place to do that.
CHRISTOPHER'S BAR & GRILLLocation:
1500 Village Harbor Drive, Lake Wylie
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, for a homestyle dinner in non-smoking atmosphere. Happy hour specials served 4 to 7 p.m.
Phone: (803) 831-2461
Ambiance: Family-friendly, casual sports bar and restaurant