The Herald Bulletin

August 20, 2013

Dining summer casual

By Nancy Elliott
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — It’s summer. Sometimes there’s just nothing better than sitting outside with your friends, enjoying good food, maybe some brews, and, of course, lots of good conversation. Rigo’s at Grandview offers just such a possibility.

Nestled up to the city-owned Grandview golf course, the restaurant offers an outdoor deck for a relaxed bite to eat with friends, most likely washed down with a beer or a glass of wine.

“Every chance that the weather is good for the deck, people are there,” said John Rigsby. He’s one of the four owners of Rigo’s, and serves as general manager. “I don’t know of any other dining venue in Anderson as good as that. It’s just a great place to eat.”

Whether you’re outside or indoors, Grandview’s 18-hole golf course makes a natural surrounding for an unhurried meal. As pleasant as the view is, the restaurant is casual and unpretentious.

“This is where people kind of come to have fun, and always have,” said Rigsby. Rigo’s offers a menu that makes it interesting, reasonable prices, good service and inviting presentation in a comfortable atmosphere.

Inside, there’s table seating in the bar area with ample windows looking out on the course. This spot can get a little enthusiastic whenever there’s a big game on TV, with flat screens all around for easy viewing. If you want a little calmer atmosphere, try the spacious dining room.

“My grandparents had their wedding reception in that room,” said Rigsby. Indeed, take a peek at the black and white photo hung above the mantel in the dining room. That’s Buck and Julia Rigsby standing on the terrace at Grandview in 1933, on the day they celebrated their nuptials. Receptions and parties continue today at Rigo’s.

The building has been a part of the Anderson area landscape for a long time, predating the golf course. Rigsby said he thought it originally opened in the late 19-teens as a sanitarium. In 1988, Jay and Micky Janes redesigned and remodeled the facility. As a recent college grad at the time, working for Ace Sign Company, Rigsby actually sandblasted the glass sign that still announces the lounge in the bar area.

The restaurant as we know it today is the brainchild of a partnership between Rigsby and his wife, Carla, of Rigo’s Catering, and Tim and Lori Hardacre Swanson. Rigsby said the four are longtime friends with real estate backgrounds. They opened up Rigo’s just over a year ago.

“We’re pretty fortunate, we have three culinary grads in the kitchen,” said Rigsby. “They’ve really kind of blown me away with their knowledge.” Daniel Voyles is head chef at Rigo’s and the man behind the specials. Henry Murphy III, also known as Trey, has his stamp all over Rigo’s six, count ‘em, special barbeque sauces. Andrew Thompson rounds out the culinary crew.

There’s plenty of sandwiches on the menu. Here, you eventually have to try “The Rigo.” This house specialty bears the mark of the Rigsby’s barbecue expertise. Rigo’s pulled pork is slow cooked for 12 hours. Expect a thick, tempting pile of pulled pork and creamy coleslaw tucked in between Texas toast.

Thick pork chops

Carla’s Chicken Salad Croissant offers a lighter, still filling, touch, with freshly smoked chicken, mayonnaise, celery and ‘special touches’ in a homemade blend. Other offerings on the bill of fare range from a Rigo dog to a chicken cordon bleu sandwich.

None of the sandwiches will break the bank. The Rigo comes in towards the high end of the sandwich price range at a conservative $7.49, and each comes with chips and a pickle spear.

Hand preparation is a big factor in the popular and ample offering of appetizers, including Rigo’s wings, breaded shrimp, fried mushrooms, onion rings and mozzarella sticks.

“People like fresh, they just do,” said Rigsby.

If you’re in the mood for a tempting entrée, the chicken marsala is one that fills the bill. This consists of a beautifully presented 8-ounce grilled chicken breast atop a bed of wild rice and doused in Chef Daniel’s marsala sauce. For $12.99, you also receive two sides. The sautéed mushrooms might seem redundant, but they’re oh-so-good. Top the whole thing off with raspberry cheesecake.

“Our thick pork chops are our number one entrée seller. We marinate it in a mesquite marinade usually 48 hours,” said Rigsby. Beef eaters need not go wanting, either, with 6- or 8-ounce filets to tempt, or a handcut ribeye rubbed with Rigo’s special spices. Rigo’s also offers weekly and some holiday specials.

“A lot of people come on Friday for the fish,” said Rigsby. “It’s the best deal in Anderson.” For $7.49, diners get 4 pieces of breaded tilapia, coleslaw, and hush puppies or fries.

Of course, there’s no smoking inside the restaurant, but it is accommodated on the deck. So while the ample deck calls out to you on a summer evening, if you’re sensitive to smoke, be aware.

Wherever you choose to sit at Rigo’s, just relax and savor the flavors while you enjoy the company of friends and family.

If you go What: Rigo's at Grandview Where: 1905 W. Northshore Ext., at Grandview Golf Course in Anderson When: Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 pm., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Monday Website: This article appeared in the summer edition of Madison magazine which is available at various local retail outlets and The Herald Bulletin office, 1133 Jackson Street, Anderson.