Located in Camperdown Plaza in downtown Greenville — a space that could very well be the new center of downtown, according to executive chef Drew Erickson — Camp recently opened with a mission: to provide an experience that embraces the already established culinary scene in town while also providing an experience that will help that same scene grow into the future.
The newest restaurant for the Greenville-based Table 301 Restaurant Group, Camp is the brainchild of Erickson and Table 301 founder Carl Sobocinski. Erickson, a Greenville native, started working for Table 301 right out of high school. After working at Soby’s, Erickson then moved on to help open Passerelle Bistro as a sous chef before leaving the area to stage at Thomas Keller’s famed Napa Valley restaurant the French Laundry. A two-week visit turned into a month, which turned into four years for Erickson, where he eventually rose to the position of saucier.
“After four years, I was ready to come home — the plan was always to come back and work on a project with Carl,” Erickson said. “Then the shutdown happened and it seemed like almost perfect timing as I was already leaving.”
Over the course of 2020, Erickson said they kept planning. When things began to look a little better, a little brighter, they decided to pull the trigger. Being able to design every component of the restaurant from the ground up, they were able to make it truly their own — and truly a place that could become a neighborhood spot. The design of the restaurant speaks to that. Overall, a nature-inspired mix of browns and greens creates a relaxing environment for casual and comfortable dinners — including an eight-top table at the center of the dining room complete with a lazy susan — while the indoor/outdoor bar (where they will be working on to-go cocktails) and rooftop space encourage good times around light bites and cocktails.
The menus, too, were designed to befit a neighborhood spot in the Upstate. To Erickson and his team, that meant creating something that would appeal to the varied patrons in the up-and-coming food city that is Greenville.
“Since Greenville is recognized as a food city, people are ready to begin trying new things and being more adventurous. With my training and with my team, we can take things that are new and make them approachable,” Erickson said. “The menu we started with, as well as our menus moving forward, will be diverse but super approachable. We want to have a little bit of everything for everybody.”
To figure out what exactly would make it on the opening menu, Erickson worked with his team over the course of about seven months, hosting 10 tasting menu dinners of 10 dishes each. From there, they used the feedback to narrow down the final dishes.
What they decided on was a menu that bearhugs the idea of variety. Not only do each of the sous chefs have a say in what makes it on the menu, allowing each to showcase their own specialties from time to time, Erickson said, but the menu was also and will continue to be dictated by seasonality. Erickson added that the goal is to change the menu monthly if not every other week.
“Instead of putting ourselves into a corner saying we’re just this or that, we wanted to focus on the concept that there is no concept.”
The opening menu showcases this through dishes ranging from a wagyu corndog with truffle aioli to “dark spore” mushroom tartine with roasted garlic, sherry cream sauce, thyme, and warm ciabatta to chilled ceviche with market fish, leche de tigre, charred habanero, sea beans, nori, and lime.
The variety does not stop with the food, though. The cocktail menu, put together by Table 301 beverage director Joe Crossan features drinks such as What’s The Story, Morning Glory (butterfly pea-infused Hendricks, lemon, blackberry, lavender, orgeat, and mint) and Rose Colored Glasses (Barsol pisco, lime, lemon, strawberry, rose, and aquafaba), as well as a variety of non-alcoholic mixed drinks to choose from.
Having the ability to change the menu often and not be boxed in my descriptors, Erickson said, if nothing else helps those involved to consistently have a good time and not get bored. The hope, too, is that without tying themselves to a particular type of cuisine, Erickson and his staff will be able to grow as Greenville’s culinary scene grows, solidifying their space not only in the Table 301 family but in the scene as a whole. Opening when they have, just as life is returning to some semblance of normal, gives Erickson hope that they’ll be able to do just that.