Southern Specialties

Posted On July 31, 2016

Make it southern, buy it locally, throw in something unexpected. Shazaam!

By Kathy Pettit

Photos by Jay Browne

We’ve heard lots about the tempting treats at Café Strudel.  Foodies rave about their specialties, and friends meet there all day and into the evening, for food, fun and good times.

Would they share the recipes for a few of their fan favorites?  They would.  They did.  Hooray.

Café Strudel, a short jaunt across the Congaree River from Columbia, is famous for its sumptuous Sunday brunches.  Their Bloody Mary cocktails are legend. But what fills the tables on a regular Tuesday lunchtime, Wednesday evening, or Friday morning?  Sure, it’s got easy access from downtown.  And it’s downright cute, with the tin ceiling and local artwork.  Appealing, for sure, but without the food, it’s all window dressing.  And they’ve got the food – fresh and tasty, thoughtfully prepared, often locally sourced.

It’s a family affair, here, with owners Trip and Marila Turbyfill, their children, and staff who feel like family. Executive chef/general manager Kyle Turbyfill grew up in his parents’ cafe, but also ventured beyond to get training at places like Sysco, returning with ideas like the duck fat fries and unique duck nachos.  Everyone contributes – we all enjoy!

Try these recipes at home, to impress your own family and friends.  No time to cook?  Call them.  They sell many items to go, in bulk, perfect for a party.

And one more thing.  If the recipe calls for fresh greens, pick them from your backyard garden, or buy them from a local green grocer.  The fresher the better.

If pina colada is your go-to drink, these concoctions are probably not for you.  They taste fresh, healthy and delicious – a drink you could enjoy before or during dinner and feel good about your choice. 

Ginger Beer Mohito

Makes one drink


1.5 ounces Don Q. White Rum

1 teaspoon lime juice

6-8 fresh mint leaves  

2 ounces ginger beer (they use Regatta)



In a medium-tall glass, muddle the mint leaves in the bottom to release their flavor.

Fill glass with ice, then add rum and lime juice.  Stir.

Top with ginger beer and add a mint sprig and lime slice to the drink.

Strawberry Basil Margarita


1 ounce tequila (They use Lunazul Blanco.)

1 ounce Cointreau

2 fresh strawberries

2 fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon lime juice

2 ounces fresh lemonade


In a medium glass, muddle the strawberries and basil to release color and flavor.

Fill glass with ice, then add tequila and lime juice.  Stir

Top with fresh-squeezed lemonade and add a sprig of basil to serve.

Most good southerners could eat pimento cheese with a spoon.  If you’re trying to show a modicum of restraint, try this version, spiced up with a bit of horseradish, on a bagel chip. 

Horseradish Pimento Cheese

Yield: about 4 cups (8 - 4oz servings


3 cups shredded cheddar

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 ½ Tbsp cream cheese

½ cup diced pimentos

¼ cup horseradish

½ tsp salt

finely grated white onion, to taste


Mix all ingredients until well-blended.  May be prepared a day before use.  

Substitute for your formerly favorite recipe.

Bagel chips.  For added oomph, make your own chips by thinly slicing bagels, spraying with vegetable spray, sprinkling on roasted garlic seasoning, and baking at 325 degrees in a convection oven for about 15 minutes.

Chicken Salad

Yield:  about 4 cups (8 – 4oz servings)


3 cups cooked chicken

¾ cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sweet relish

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp onion powder

1 ½ tsp celery seed

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. 

Congaree Chicken Salad

Yield:  about 4 cups (8 – 4oz servings)

4 cups chicken salad

¼ cup Craisins

½ cup chopped pecans

1 ½ Tbsp curry powder

Combine all four ingredients together in a bowl.

Green Onion Aioli

Yield:  about 2 cups (8 – 2oz servings)


1 ½ Tbsp garlic

¼ cup olive oil

1 bunch green onions, roughly chopped

1 ¾ cups mayonnaise

Mix first three ingredients together in a blender, then combine with Mayonnaise in a bowl and stir together. Allow flavors to marry.  Then, marry those flavors to fries or a sandwich and enjoy.

Cranberry Mayonnaise

Yield:  about 2 cups (8 – 2oz servings)

1/3 cup cranberry sauce

1 2/3 cup mayonnaise

Mix two ingredients together in bowl, chill and serve. 

Café Strudel likes to serve cranberry mayonnaise with thinly sliced turkey, Havarti, & lettuce on a toasted cranberry baguette.

Café Strudel

300 State St., West Columbia


Days & hours: Monday 8am-3pm; Tuesday through Saturday, 8am-10:30pm; Sunday brunch: 10am-2:30pm; Supper 5-9:30pm

Cafestrudel.com; (also check Facebook & Twitter)

A private dining room seats 18; catering available; kitchen closes daily 3-5pm and 30 minutes before closing.