The “Clarks” Meet at Clark’s
When old friends from Clark, New Jersey, reunite at Clark’s Seafood and Chop House in Little River, hilarity ensues over an impressive meal.
It’s funny how, with some people, time and distance has absolutely no effect on the dynamics of a reunion.
Just about 10 days ago, yours truly made contact with a guy I hadn’t seen in nearly two decades. We used to carpool every day to our teaching jobs, his car one week, mine the next. Our personalities and our mutual outlooks on life pretty much guaranteed that we’d arrive at both school and home smiling — if not outright laughing.
Turns out, Johnny and I retired to towns within an hour of each other, and by a quirk of fate we reunited last week — and picked up with our sophomoric laughing right where we had left off.
As fate would have it, another colleague from my teaching days would be coming to visit me and the missus in OIB for a few days. He also happened to be Johnny’s supervisor back in Clark, New Jersey. So I arranged a surprise dinner to reunite the two of them — and the three of us.
The meeting place was, appropriately, Clark’s Seafood and Chop House down in Little River, South Carolina, and we couldn’t have picked a better, more accommodating place to stage the reunion with our wives and one of our close friends.
Since Clark’s, part of the Callahan chain of great restaurants, is located just a tad south of my usual catchment area, meaning the bailiwick of the magazines for which I write, I am including the story here.
By plan, Johnny and Rosalie would be sitting with their backs to us as we entered — at a table reserved for me. I was to “confront” them about being at “my” table, thinking that Johnny would stand to “defend” his position and the reunion would, hopefully ensue — sans fisticuffs.
The plan worked perfectly. After initially thinking he might have to call the local constabulary to break up a fight, Rollie recognized Johnny and the festivities began. The stories, the reminiscences, the tales of characters who had become caricatures commenced and continued throughout the evening.
Enhancing the entire scene was the absolute excellence of Clark’s Seafood and Chop House, its kitchen and its front man, John/Jason, depending on whether we were pleased with our meals and service … John if yes, Jason if no.
The food was nothing short of perfect, and the service by John was impeccable —attentive, cordial and self-deprecating. (Though Jason did manage to get his finger in our group photos twice. Thank god for the cropping feature.)
Johnny and Maureen ordered the fabulous Hurricane Chicken, and Rollie and I had two perfectly executed filet mignons (which just happened to pair perfectly with Southern Tier’s Pumking, a liquid, smooth pumpkin pie in a glass). It’s good enough to enjoy with just a cup of coffee. Debbie ordered a spectacular tuna dish, Rosalie may have finally found her elusive perfect prime rib, and the missus was wowed by a salad topped perfectly with grilled shrimp.
In a word, the desserts were fabulous. We felt no guilt, either, because John/Jason told us (with a wry smile) they were all “non-caloric.”
The craft beer list was quite impressive, including the aforementioned, nationally recognized Pumking (try Warlock — not on the menu — from Southern Tier for an even more intense experience), Wicked Weed’s Pernicious and other outstanding selections. The wine offerings were equally varied and enjoyed by those oenophiles in the party.
In between laughs (and some very inappropriate jokes, according to my censor) everyone at the table was really impressed by the food, the ambiance and John, who helped to make the night as fun and memorable as possible. Of course, John had front-row seats for the laughs, jokes and general hijinks, which ricocheted through the restaurant for two hours.
Thankfully, it was a Thursday night in the off-season, and the restaurant wasn’t packed to its usual capacity with folks who enjoy great views, great food, great service and exceptionally fine dining. We only chased two tables out.
So impressed was I with Clark’s Seafood and Chop House that I made Thanksgiving reservations there.
When you try Clark’s, you can let John/Jason and the staff do the legwork. Just take his comments about desserts with a grain of salt, and have him mind his fingers when he takes your group photo.
Want to go?
Clark’s Seafood and Chop House
720 U.S. Highway 17, Little River, SC