Like an elderly soldier remembering former glories, we can put on rose-colored glasses and peer back in time, recalling wonderful experiences. My childhood recollections of the old downtown Hotel Danville (in Danville, Virginia) dining room and its food might be an enhanced version of the truth, but nevertheless such memories are fun to mull over.
The elegant ambience and wholesome Southern cooking of that establishment were almost as impressive to us as the infrequently-visited (and more awesome) Hotel Roanoke (in Roanoke, Virginia). But gone are the days of the lovely Hotel Danville meals, so what is one to do?
Tables await breakfast guests at the Chesterfield Inn, 1983.
Do as we often do and get thyself to the Chesterfield Inn in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The mellow hotel sits kerplunk in the middle of crazy, over-commercialized, oceanfront Myrtle Beach, near the Pavilion. Clay and Pat Brittain have run this family-oriented establishment for longer than I can remember, and they and their staff are the epitome of warm Carolina charm and graciousness.
The dining room of the Chesterfield looks out over the Atlantic. It is decorated with art work by Charleston artist Elizabeth O'Neill Verner. It is not a formal place, but attractive, and the food is Southern cooking and abundance at its best.
Breakfast at the Chesterfield Inn, 1983. The figures in the background on the right are Patricia, infant David, and Sarah Mitchell.
The menu each night offers a choice of three entrees, such as fresh filet of flounder, prime rib, shrimp, Salisbury steak, deviled crabs, etc. Choices of appetizer are recited by one's waiter. Salads and vegetables, and melt-in-your-mouth little biscuits are brought to your table. There is always more luscious food than one can possibly eat.
Many of the cooked vegetables are seasoned with ham in traditional plantation style. The Chesterfield cook prepares squash and string beans in this manner. The classic Southern touch is evident, too, in the rich cakes, pies, and ice cream treats which climax the meal. One can even order pink lemonade to drink!
Breakfasts, also, are extraordinarily good and ample, and are included in the modified American plan. During the off-season, non-hotel guests can make reservations to dine in the Chesterfield dining room. The inn is located at 700 North Ocean Boulevard.
While breakfast is being served at the Chesterfield Inn (in background), Myrtle Beach lifeguards have positioned beach equipment for the day.
Guests are assigned a particular waiter, and over the years these gentlemen become trusted friends. My husband and I once accepted an invitation to hear a sales spiel at a time-share condominium at Myrtle Beach. After the pitch was delivered, the salesman asked if we could think of even one advantage our present hotel (the Chesterfield) had over his condos. We both replied, “You don't have Marvin [Stevens]! — or Phillip [Cooper]!” (Or any of the other personable staff, for that matter.)
Beachfront condominiums may have a few amenities, but the Chesterfield has a lot of nice people!
Owners Clay and Pat Brittain with the author's children David and Sarah Mitchell, April 1987.
The Chesterfield's longtime waiter Marvin Stevens with the author's children David and Sarah Mitchell, April 1987.
David Mitchell happily approaches the beach from the Chesterfield Inn, September 1, 1984.
Patricia, Sarah, and David (in Patricia's arms) Mitchell greet the sunrise on the beach at the Chesterfield Inn, 1984.
Patricia Mitchell enjoys a palm-studded early-morning ocean view from just outside the Chesterfield Inn's dining room, 1983.
Patricia and Sarah Mitchell contemplate the ocean from the beach access ramp at the Chesterfield Inn, 1981.
The author of this article and a cousin enjoy the Chesterfield and its beach, ca. 1962 (photo by John L. Beaver).
A Chesterfield Inn advertising postcard, ca. 1980:
Available directly from the publisher, and at museums throughout the United States.
The following book contains further nostalgic notes regarding the Chesterfield Inn:
Delightful Dreams of Dixie Dinners
And for more Southern nostalgia:
Real South Cooking
Good Food, Good Folks, Good Times: Just Being Southern
Simply Scrumptious Southern Sweets
Specialties from the Southern Garden
Southern Born and BREAD
Waking Up Down South: Southern Breakfast Traditions
Copyright © 1991–2012 Patricia B. Mitchell.