You may have heard the word before. Apparently it has a number of disparate meanings, several of them uncomplimentary terms for people. My favorite (according to the Urban Dictionary) being: A derogatory (mean, rude) name for a ridiculously straight man. Often associated with trailer trash, Chumbo’s tend to be womanizing, beer drinking, steak eating, american football watching heterosexists (homophobics).
But forever after in this space and in my taste memory it will refer to the heavenly concoction created by North Myrtle Beach’s Rockefeller’s Raw Bar. “Ch” for chowder and “umbo” for gumbo.
Imagine one half of a bowl filled with ultra-thick seafood chowder (the creamy kind, with potato chunks) and the other half containing a slow-cooked gumbo. A line of rice divides the two stews.
But I summoned my courage and asked for a bowl as my entree, accompanied by steamed veggies (cooked to watery limpness and lacking in any flavor at all, unfortunately). When I saw some of the others’ tiny little appetizer cups arrive I was glad I’d gone for the bowl.
Turns out a cup would have been just right. It was so rich I couldn’t finish.
The savory brown gumbo was a perfect counterpoint to the decadent chowder. (I could literally feel the heavy cream coating my mouth.) I alternated between eating bites separately and mixing the two together on my spoon. Thank goodness for the balance brought by familiar, bland rice.
Rockefeller’s ambience added to the Chumbo experience. The dark interior is punctuated with mermaids, nautical brick-a-brack, old-school sportfishing chairs turned into barstools, fake palm trees, a touch of low-key rowdiness and a good measure of drinking-to-get-tight. Rockefeller’s is a notch too nice to be a dive but far from a fine dining establishment — comfortable, warm and fun. My kind of place.
Next time, I’ll go for one of the steamer kettles — maybe scallops or lobster chunks steamed in wine and garlic herb butter, served over pasta. With a cup of Chumbo, to start.