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Guests at Long Bay Resort are fortunate to have the on-site, European-style restaurant Martin's in their lobby for a delicious dinner without having to leave the property.
But if you're looking for a night out on the town, one of the most unique dining experiences in Myrtle Beach - Collector's Cafe & Gallery - is only a few blocks away.
You wouldn't know it from the parking lot of this strip mall on the corner of Kings Highway and 77th Avenue North. Amid a row of gift shops, hot dog stands and nail salons sits a low-key stretch with limited signage and nothing to indicate what lies inside.
But walk through the wooden double doors and enter another world of elegance and class. Collector's Cafe & Gallery occupies six rooms and 6,000 square feet of space with luxurious decor, comfortable couches and furnishings, and an incredible art collection.
That's because Collector's Cafe & Gallery is actually two venues in one - an upscale restaurant specializing in authentic Mediterranean cuisine and a European coffeehouse/ art gallery featuring the works of artists along the East Coast from Miami to Canada.
The unique concept is the result of an unlikely partnership between local art dealer Thomas Smith and restaurateur Michael Smith, who opened the much-smaller establishment in 1994 in an effort to build a niche locale and bring some sophistication to the Myrtle Beach dining scene and art community. Twenty years later, the experiment is thriving.
Collector's Cafe & Gallery has continued to expand over the years to include a posh lounge area with a stained-glass bar and cozy couches, an upscale dining room with soft lighting and white table clothes, a cozy and intimate coffeehouse room and a spacious art gallery where the walls are lined with creative works on display to all customers.
But the main draw at Collector's Cafe is the food, which is also treated like precious works of art. Choose from fresh seafood, like the house special Scallop Cake or the catch of the day prepared in a variety of ways, or traditional "landfood" items, such as the rack of lamb and filet of beef. The filet medallions over crab cakes topped with hollandaise is a popular dish among longtime regulars, who love the food and atmosphere.
Collector’s Café is also open for lunch, with a menu focusing on fresh salads, soups and starters. The Roast Chicken Flatbread, Vegetarian Ciabatta and Apple Arugula Salad are among the top choices, and the coffeehouse is open for an afternoon tea and on-site baked goods. The art gallery is also available for perusing during the daytime, but the action heats up at Collector’s Café after the sun goes down.
Enjoy drinks at the bar while you await your table and rub elbows with some of the movers and shakers in the community. In fact, out-of-town celebs, like actor Samuel L. Jackson, TV talk-show host Montel Williams, and the pop-music duo of Hall & Oates are among the big names to grace the guest list.
Enjoy a delicious dinner in the dining room, take a tour of the art gallery and find a cozy spot in one of the corners for after-dinner drinks and conversation. The Lion’s Den and the Hideaway are two cozy areas perfect for small parties and couples to relax, and the Grill Room is a nice hangout for larger parties to chill. The laid-back environment is accentuated by live music and DJs, making it a great place to kick back, enjoy the scenery and collect a few memories of your own.
(Photo courtesy: CollectorsCafeandGallery.com)