Dive On In
by Meridith Elder
“The Dive In” food trailer at The High Dive officially opened in November, providing concessions for the dive bar, which previously did not have a food option, and giving Highlands locals and visitors a late-night place to grab a quick meal.
The Dive In menu was created by Kay Craig, owner of The High Dive and The Ugly Dog Pub, and local chef Gabe Murray and features a variety of sandwiches and hotdogs playfully named after movie titles, such as the “Blue Velvet” (Havarti and blue cheese, prosciutto, with a thin spread of fig preserves on sourdough bread), the “Get Him to the Greek” (feta cheese, roasted tomatoes, Greek olives, chopped fresh basil and pesto on a croissant), and the “Old Yeller” (all beef hot dog, cheddar cheese and chili & herb mayo on a bun).
The menu also features a traditional cup of tomato and basil soup and the not-so-traditional item aptly named “The Drop”: Fritos topped with chili queso ranchero and served in the bag.
JD Barton is the sole operator of the food trailer, acting as chef, as well as taking orders. According to Barton, the most popular menu items are the “Die Hard 3” (cheddar, smoked gouda and Havarti with bacon on sourdough bread) and the “Fight Club” (turkey, prosciutto, bacon, pepper jack cheese, spinach, tomato and salt and vinegar chips with chipotle mayo on sourdough bread).
Barton has a long history in the restaurant industry, working in both kitchens and in the front of house. He worked in his first restaurant at age 13 and spent most of his adult life working for high-end restaurants out West.
However, Barton is no stranger to Highlands. Originally from Anderson, South Carolina, he grew up spending summers hiking and fly fishing in the Highlands area.
For the past five years, Barton has spent his winters at his family’s house in Clemson.
This past year, he extended his stay into the summer, working at 4118 and then The Ugly Dog.
When he was offered the job running the food trailer, it was “perfect timing,” Barton says.
In addition to the regular menu, he runs nightly specials at The Dive In.
“Right now, we’ll be doing a little bit of everything,” Barton says. “Taking traditional items and putting a unique twist on them.”
So far, his specials have included dishes such as duck bacon wontons with a white wine-wild berry preserve with ginger sauce on top, and pan-fried fingerling potatoes, smashed with garlic butter and fresh herbs, and topped with house-made queso, bacon, and parmesan.
“We’ll be doing everything for specials, from tacos to quesadillas to different styles of panini-pressed sandwiches” Barton says. “We’re trying to keep it casual; southern-inspired cuisine, comfort food.”
He says that The Dive In will extend its operating house in the summer, but through the winter, they will be open from 5:00 P.M. to 12:30 A.M. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 12:30 A.M. on Saturday.