16 17 www.htcinc.net | Spring 2017 Spring 2017 | www.htcinc.net Ferrandi Culinary School in Paris shortly before enlisting in the French army. There, he became a personal chef for a colonel and catered to parties ranging in size from 15 to 400 people. After various professional endeavors and a move to upstate New York to be with his love (and now wife) Kimberlee, Eric stumbled upon the perfect opportunity to own and manage a restaurant in coastal South Carolina — and on Luck Avenue, as fate would have it. The vintage home is rich with history, and it didn’t take long for Eric to fall in love. The white mini-mansion boasts a picture-perfect curb appeal, and the interior is equally charming. With its original structure intact, the restaurant’s upstairs and downstairs areas are laid out into five separate dining rooms. The building greets all who enter with warm wood paneling, rich floors, vintage knick-knacks and pearly white tablecloths, all of which come together to create a welcoming feel. Venture to the second floor, and you’ll pass beneath a beautiful old chandelier and past a collection of mixed-media masterpieces, such as a wine bottle-opener puzzle. Just beyond the vintage piano at the top of the stairwell, savory smells waft in from the kitchen — it’s enough to whet your appetite before you even glance at a menu. The home-y feel upstairs is supported by a large wooden bar and entire walls masked completely with wine corks. “Instantly, people feel comfortable here,” Eric says. The historic building, originally built in 1910, is balanced by a newly built outdoor pavilion, which sits off to the right front side of the house. Edison lights are strung from the pergola-style architecture, making every evening feel like a celebration. An outdoor bar sits quietly, waiting to host gatherings during the upcoming summer months. The pavilion also features an outdoor open kitchen and regular live music, providing a more lively, casual atmosphere than the formal feel found inside. With its creaking floors and romantic wraparound porch, the main building invokes a sense of Old Southern charm before you even sit down. But that’s when the real magic happens. Eric dubs the experience “Lowcountry/French cuisine,” meaning his dishes include many Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes and crab cakes, but with a French twist. “The most important thing about French cuisine is the quality of the ingredients,” Eric explains. “They have to be the freshest ingredients you can get.” That bodes well for someone who is mere miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Eric incorporates local, fresh seafood into many of his dishes, and insists on not overburdening his dishes with excessive cream, sauce, spice or “extras.” “If the ingredient is truly of quality, you shouldn’t have to add much to it,” he explains. “You must let the ingredients speak and not cover them up.” That doesn’t mean the cuisine is simple to prepare, of course. French food is famously sophisticated and tricky to get right, but Eric finds joy in it nonetheless. “I really enjoy preparing duck confit, especially because it’s my grandmother’s recipe — so the heritage is there,” says Eric. “The escargot bourguignon as well — that is my uncle’s recipe. I love to make it, and I love to eat it!” He explains again that it’s a relatively simple recipe, but the quality of the ingredients and the execution of the cooking technique let the food shine. “I love when people try escargot for the first time. A taste of my uncle’s recipe has convinced thousands of people to love it!” Eric also takes a special pride in The Brentwood’s beef Wellington, saying, “It’s a very intricate dish, but it’s so delicious — just layers and layers of flavor.” Although it’s not on the daily menu, it’s often a special. And offering a testament to its popularity, people often call in to see if it will be prepared for them. Another standout can sometimes be found on the dessert menu. “Now this is a dish that is difficult to do, and difficult to do it right,” Eric says of the chocolate soufflé. “Timing is everything with this one, but it’s a great ending to a dinner. People love it.” That’s not all they love about his restaurant. The old building has inspired many ghost stories and legends, and was even featured on A&E’s Biography channel. The house was originally built around 1910 for Clarence and Essie Bessent- McCorsley, and Essie was left to care for their four children after her husband passed away. For $1.50, she rented rooms to fisherman passing through and served them a hot breakfast in the morning. Since her passing, some say they’ve seen Essie looking out of the upstairs window, perhaps awaiting fishermen she can host. Although many stories have circulated over the years, the most frequent report is a “funny feeling” in the upstairs bathroom — people have gotten locked in, equipment starts by itself, and a dark shadow has been sighted several times passing by. Beyond that, wine glasses frequently crash and break for no reason, and multiple orbs have been captured in digital images. If paranormal activity entices you, The Brentwood offers dinner and ghost tours for those who inquire. Perhaps a more savory feature setting The Brentwood apart is its wine club. Its 100 members meet monthly for a 6-course meal with varying themes, as they have for over 10 years now. “We have a very unique relationship with our customers,” says Eric. “They’re definitely our friends, and now they come in for all special occasions — birthdays, holidays, that sort of thing.” The Brentwood also hosts private cooking classes, events, weddings and parties. It’s a tough job, Eric explains, because consistency is of the utmost importance — the staff has to be good all the time. Another challenge of owning The Brentwood has been the maintenance of such an old building. “Little by little, we’ve re-done every single room,” says Eric. From a new roof to the landscaping to re-wiring the entire house, Eric has made countless enhancements while still maintaining the architectural identity of this local institution. One way he did that was by switching to HTC Phone, High- Speed Internet and Digital Cable. “I was a little scared of switching, because we get used to certain ways, but no — making the switch to HTC was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.” As community philanthropists, Eric and his wife appreciate the fact that HTC is local and very involved in the community. The couple host several charitable events throughout the year, including live and silent auctions, wine dinners and various fundraisers. Their biggest event is the annual “Whiskers, Wags & Wine” event, which supports the North Myrtle Beach Humane Society. It’s a tough business, especially in a tourism-driven market like this, but Eric loves having the opportunity to provide people with good food and good experiences. “It’s great to be able to offer people quality time together,” says Eric. “People come here and feel happy, and will get dressed up. Being a part of that special occasion — that’s the fun part.” If your stomach isn’t already grumbling at the sound of these dishes, read the full menu and make a reservation online at www.thebrentwoodrestaurant.com. 4269 Luck Avenue, Little River, South Carolina | 843.249.2601 Eric and Kimberlee Masson.