Category Archives: Seafood

REVIEW: Capital Club 16 – Raleigh, NC

I’ve driven by Capital Club 16 many times but it always looked too fancy to go for dinner without an occasion. But one of my friends had a going-away party there, so it was a good excuse to dress up and go out for dinner to “Cap Club.” We started off with the Pimento Cheese and Fig Crostinis. I am not usually a fan of Pimento Cheese but with the figs, the dish was just the right amount of creamy and smoky.

Pimento and Fig Crostinis

Pimento and Fig Crostinis

I ordered the shaved brussel sprout and frisee salad with local blue cheese and sweet potatoes. I loved the texture of the shaved brussel sprouts and the crunchy strips on top. The salad and the harvest quinoa made for a healthy and filling meal.

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

Harvest Quinoa

Harvest Quinoa

Some more adventurous eaters in our party ordered the butcher plate: grilled artisinal sausages, smoked pork chop and seared pork belly with sauerkraut, spaetzle and gravy. At $20, this dish seems like a great deal for meat eaters, however I just admired it from afar.

Butcher Plate

Butcher Plate

For dessert, we got the brownie sundae – can’t go wrong with that! Capital Club is one of Raleigh’s fine dining gems without the snobbery that can tend to go along with fine dining. Maybe it was the dynamic group I went with, or the great food, but I know I’ll be back – they have so many vegetarian options I’d like to try; the portobello grilled cheese sandwich sounds like a winner.

Dreamy Chocolate Sundae

Dreamy Chocolate Sundae

Enjoy your dining experience at “Cap Club,” and be sure to let me know your favorites.

-Haley

Capital Club 16 on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Venable – Carrboro, NC

Venable Rotisserie Bistro in Carrboro takes comfort foods like chicken pot pie, ravioli and udon soup and turns them into something fabulous. I lived in Carrboro for two years and I can’t believe I didn’t try this restaurant until now. It is one of my new favorite restaurants in the Triangle. Venable is a fine dining establishment with the attitude (and price!) of a casual Carrboro restaurant. We started our meal with the chèvre salad, “local beets with hazelnuts, goat cheese, mixed greens and a sherry hazelnut dressing.”

Chèvre Salad

This salad was perfect. Creamy goat cheese, sherry vinaigrette and a waffle-cut beet. The presentation was very nice but equally important is the taste, which was phenomenal. It was difficult to pick an entree, given the elaborate choices. Here are some of their options (check out the full menu here):

NORTH CAROLINA FLOUNDER – $22
Bacon-wrapped NC flounder with butternut squash purée, braised red cabbage and roasted sweet potatoes

ROOT VEGETABLE CHICKEN POT PIE – $15
Rotisserie chicken with carrot, parsnip and celery root stew topped with puff pastry crust

GRILLED SALMON – $16
Grilled Atlantic salmon with soy-ginger green beans and skillet-roasted fingerling potatoes

Grilled salmon

Grilled salmon

We went with the grilled salmon, and it ended up being a great choice. The photo above is a half-portion, but with the salad, it was just the right amount of food. We got our salmon cooked medium, as our waiter suggested. It was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. With the description of “fingerling potatoes,” I was expecting a heap of fried potato strings. I was pleasantly surprised with the healthier option of large cuts of sautéed potatoes. I would definitely get this dish again!

Bonus: Venable has a lot of vegetarian and vegan options! And check out their brunch menu…so many delicious options!

I hope I’ve sold you on this wonderful restaurant! It is a great place to eat dinner before checking out a show at DSI Comedy or enjoying a local band at The Station.

-Haley

 

Venable Rotisserie Bistro on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Battistella’s – Raleigh

Battistella’s is one of the latest addition to list of restaurants at Moore’s Square in downtown Raleigh on Martin Street.It is run by Chef Brian Battistella who previously operated Battistella’s New Orleans Kitchen out of the Crabtree Inn. He gained a strong following in the Raleigh area and decided to move to a more prominent location in downtown.

I’ve been on the lookout for some good NOLA (New Orleans, LA for those that aren’t familiar) food ever since I took a road trip down there for a long weekend bachelor party (see the post from my food adventures down there). Before that trip, the closest tastes that I got to New Orleans cuisine was out of a box at Zatarain’s or from the drive-thru window at Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits. Don’t judge me. I am making amends and thank goodness I have a place like Battistella’s to help me through the process.

Battistella’s is closed on Mondays but is open from Tuesday through Saturday (11a – 2p for lunch; 5:30p – 10:30p for dinner) and Sundays for brunch (10:30a – 3:30p). They are serving a variety of different dishes from crawfish étouffée to Louisiana Crawfish Cornbread Stuffed Georgia Quail which sounds pretty damn good. They also have a po’ boy menu with various styles including the artery-clogging  french fry with brown gravy po ‘boy which I haven’t had a chance to try yet.

I made it down to Battistella’s for the first time since it opened back in September for brunch with my buddy, Bryan. It was a bit of a cloudy day outside but we were able to sit on the sidewalk and enjoy lunch with about 20 other diners with the same idea. Luckily, we were able to snag the last remaining 2-top outside and enjoy the nice weather while getting our brunch on.

Bryan ordered the jambalaya (above) which had andouille sausage and chicken plus the trinity of 25% celery, 25% peppers and 50% onions which is commonly found in the cuisine around New Orleans and then mixed with some Cajun rice which may or may not have been Louisana popcorn rice. The stock had a lot of flavor at the bottom and made for a great spicy dish jambalaya that Bryan needed after taking down multiple PBR tallboys the night before. I tried a bite and thought it was fantastic with a subtle spiciness that didn’t overpower the taste and loved the fact that they didn’t skimp on andouille or chicken. I would definitely contemplate ordering it next time if I don’t decide not to start checking off sammies on the po’ boy menu.

I ordered the shrimp & grits because I dominated quite a few Blue Ribbons at Southland Ballroom the night before and was also looking for a spicy kick to my taste buds. I wasn’t too big of a fan of the Bloody Mary that I ordered. It was relatively small for $7 and nothing really to write home about. I think they have changed around the brunch menu from the one posted on their web site because I don’t recall any goat cheese in the dish and they raised the price of shrimp & grits to $14 instead of the $12 that is posted online.

The shrimp & grits were great. The shrimp didn’t have that rubbery texture that so many places serve these days due to overcooking them. They were crisp on the outside with a firm but not tough interior which in my mind is perfect. The grits were coarser than most of the local places that serve the dish and probably imported from NOLA as opposed to the less coarse stone-ground grits that are manufactured here. When all of that was covered in Chef Battistella’s “Holy Trinity sauce”, I think the gravy-like sauce won me over against some of the North Carolina and South Carolina style shrimp & grits that are cream based which can be too rich for my taste buds.

Battistella’s just added a barbecue shrimp po’ boy to the menu which might be the first sammy to be checked off followed quickly by the oyster po’ boy. I also saw a variety of appetizers pass by our table like the fried jambalaya balls and fried green tomatoes that looked fantastic. If you haven’t noticed, fried food is my downfall. A couple sitting beside us were partaking in coffee and beignets which could be a nice romantic morning out with your significant other. The historic aspect of the building really gives it that French Quarter feel making the ambiance that much better.

Battistella's on Urbanspoon

Review – ACME in Carrboro

ACME menu

Their menu says it all!

Usually when you think of ACME, you may think of Wylie Coyote and the Roadrunner. Remember, the coyote would order many clever devices from ACME to try to trick the roadrunner. ACME in Carrboro may have some tricks up their sleeves, but there’s no smoke and mirrors in play when it comes to the outstanding food that is served here.

ACME has had a long standing reputation as being one of the first restaurants in the area to get almost all of their ingredients locally and to serve whatever is in season. They were trend setters in the farm to fork concept.  Chef Kevin Callaghan started the restaurant in 1998 and has gained the reputation of being one of the top chefs in the Triangle.

My husband and I have taken strolls down Main Street in Carrboro many times as it is the closest town to our home in Chatham County. We would look into the window of ACME and think this was a fancy place and probably out of our price range. But we were wrong. Yes, it is an upscale dining experience, but the prices are in line with most restaurants of this caliber and we found out that they have a great special on Tuesday evenings. All the entrees are just $12.95! Should you decide to go on a Tuesday night, though, you better have reservations, because many people already know about the Tuesday special and the restaurant is quite crowded.

watermelon mojito

This watermelon mojito was a refreshing summer drink

We went out with some friends this past Tuesday to ACME to try out the cuisine. While we waited for the rest of our party to arrive, we saddled up to the bar and had one of their drink specials, which was a watermelon mojito. It was made with fresh watermelon juice, simple syrup, mint and lime and a bit of soda water. It was a cool, refreshing summer drink.

fresh tomatoes

A tomato tray appetizer celebrating summer

We ordered two appetizers for the table. The first was a tray of Heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella cheese and a nice pesto made from fresh basil drizzled over the top. It came with a couple of deviled eggs and  the tray also featured a side of very intriguing pickled squash.  The squash was sweet and sour. We think it may have had some cloves and ginger in it. Everyone loved the plate.

chili relleno

Chili Relleno appetizer

The second appetizer was a chili relleno with a mole sauce made with chilies and chocolate. The pepper was stuffed with a shrimp and rice filling and had a light batter that was fried. Everyone at our table raved about the mole sauce. We all had to use some bread to mop up the leftovers because it was so good.

crab cakes

These were very meaty crab cakes

The entrees were also fabulous. I had the crab cakes that had been seared in a cast iron pan and were jammed full of crab and hardly any filling. They were served over a plate of swiss chard, butternut squash, sweet snap beans and corn kernels and were drizzled with a light citrus beurre blanc sauce. I savored every bite of this dish!

New York Strip Steak

New York Strip Steak

My husband had the New York Strip served over garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. The steak was tender and the mashed potatoes were rich and creamy. I could have eaten his whole plate if he had let me too!

Blackened Salmon

Blackened Salmon

One of our friends had the blackened salmon, which was served with cheesy grits. The grits were smooth and comforting. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the spices worked well with the rest of the dish. It had a tomatillo sauce served over the top of the salmon.  It also had a side of black beans, which were another great compliment to the dish.

fried chicken

Southern comfort food at its best, fried chicken and butter beans

Two of our other friends had the pecan crusted fried chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and southern butter beans. The sauce served over the top was a creamy tomato sauce and both men said the dish was really great. I didn’t try it myself, but I will take their word for it.

key lime pie

key lime pie

peach and blueberry cobbler

peach and blueberry cobbler

lemon mousse

Lemon mousse

We also decided to indulge in some dessert. One couple split the key lime pie. It was the real deal. A slice of tart key lime custard filling over a graham cracker crust. The other couple had the peach and blueberry cobbler served with some whipped cream. It was another comforting Southern dish. My husband and I split the lemon mousse with blueberries and fresh whipped cream. It was a cloudy, fluffy layer of tartness and sweetness. It was nice and light, making it a perfect ending to a tremendous meal. It was accompanied by some toasty coconut macaroons. They were a great compliment to the tartness of the mousse.

ACME is open seven days a week for dinner starting at 5:30pm. They also serve a Sunday brunch from 10am to 2pm. ACME is located in downtown Carrboro at 110 East Main Street.

REVIEW: Capital Club 16 – Raleigh

Photo Credit: NewRaleigh.com

I finally made it out to eat during a Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week. I have been trying to do it for about two years now. I guess moving to Raleigh made it a little bit easier to do. I headed down to Capital Club 16 with some friends (Aaron, Brooks, Brock, Liz and Tyler) for dinner before we went out for some cocktails with some college friends at 42nd Street Oyster Bar.

Capital Club 16 was offering a $20 fixed price menu with a variety of options:

FIRST COURSE (APPETIZER/SALAD – Choose One)

  • Butter Lettuce Wedge Slab (bacon, grape tomatoes, pickled red onions, and Sweet Bonnie’s Blue Cheese dressing)
  • Shrimp Skewer (with sautéed spinach and crispy cheese grits cake served with smoked paprika aioli)

SECOND COURSE (ENTREE – Choose One)

  • Summer Squash Mac and Cheese (our blend of Vermont white cheddar, Gouda and Jarlsberg; served with a side of market greens and fruit)
  • Steak Frites (NY Strip Steak with handcut fries, cabernet mushroom demi sauce and basted egg)
  • Red Drumfish (with smoked paprika and cauliflower potato gratin; petite local field green mix)

THIRD COURSE (DESSERT – Choose One)

  • Dotchie’s Poundcake (with fresh berry or fudge sauce served a la mode)
  • Apple Fritters (beer battered apple rings with vanilla sauce served a la mode)

The bar menu was fantastic with a bunch of great beers and wine plus what I’ve heard are some of the best mixed cocktails downtown although I will have to try them next time because I stuck with beer.

The Butter Lettuce Wedge Slab was very simple. The pickled onions were nice and added some sour notes to the salad. The grape tomatoes were sparse and truthfully was just a grape tomato cut in half. I know it is a fixed price menu and the portions are smaller than usual but that is kind of ridic. The wedge was fresh and plentiful with a heaping amount of blue cheese dressing. The most impressive part of the salad was the bacon on top which seemed to be more pork belly than bacon because of the thickness. All in all, it was a good salad.

By the time that we got to Capital Club 16, they had run out of red drum and substituted it with tuna. I was a little disappointed but I love tuna about as much as I love drum. It came with the same smoked paprika and cauliflower potato gratin with a petite local field green mix on the side. They pan seared the tuna but I think they could have seared it at a higher temperature for a more well-done outside and more pink on the inside. The gratin was delicious although I don’t think it paired very well with the tuna. The salad was a nice addition to the dish (even though I didn’t plan on eating two salads) because the sweetness from the watermelon was a nice contrast to the heartiness of the tuna and gratin.

I am not normally a dessert guy but, since it was included, I went ahead and got the apple fritter and asked for six spoons so everyone could try a bite. I was blown away by the one bite that I had. They cut an apple into rings, covered the rings in a funnel cake-like batter and then dropped them in a deep fryer. The fried apple rings were extremely tender and sweet and were a hit at the table. It was a good palate cleanser for everyone’s meal.

I tried their skillet lobster mac ‘n’ cheese thanks to Brooks and a bite of griddled belly with sauerkraut from Capital Club 16’s “The Butcher’s Plate” thanks to Aaron. Everything we had was fantastic and I look forward to going back sometime soon. It is definitely a place that I would recommend for a casual dinner out on the town or just to hang out for the evening drinking anything from $1.50 Miller High Life to $9 Sir Walter Raleighs (Gin, Blood Orange Juice, triple sec, Absinthe with candied lemon).

 Capital Club 16 on Urbanspoon

ROAD TRIP: Chick’s Oyster Bar – Virginia Beach

Chick’s Oyster Bar is a dockside seafood restaurant on the Lynnhaven Inlet (by boat) or just off of Shore Drive on Vista Circle  (by car) in Virginia Beach. This restaurant is a Virginia Beach staple that both locals and tourists have been eating at since it first opened as a seafood shack many years ago (not sure how long ago but I heard that it has been there for a while). They have increased the size of the restaurant to allow seating more people and have a great Bloody Mary bar on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

I was  up in Virginia Beach for one of my best friends’ weddings about two months ago and he had planned the groomsman’s lunch  at Chick’s that Saturday before the wedding. The groomsmen all headed up there  for lunch and had a blast. It is a great place to get together with friends especially when one of them is about to get married. Grab some cocktails and some good seafood and sit back and take it all in.

They have over a dozen picnic tables out on various patios right on the water and plus inside seating (but come on…why would you sit inside? You’re at the beach!!!). The inlet that Chick’s backs up to is a pretty busy waterway with boats constantly going up and down which is a lot of fun to watch. You will see everything from speedboats to Grady-Whites to shrimping boats so you won’t be bored as you watch them pass alongside the restaurant as you read the names on the boats and see where they hail from.

I do want to note that because you are sitting outside on the water that insects like mosquitoes and flies are prevalent. The benefits of sitting outside on a nice day far outweigh the issue of dealing with a few bugs in the air. It is so worth it when you see an old school 80’s speedboat idle by that looks like it was pulled off the set of the original Miami Vice.

When I think of Virginia Beach, I think of two things: jet noise and Orange Crushes. Jet noise is prevalent around Virginia Beach due to F-18s flying out of Oceana Naval Air Station and flying low enough around the beach area to make noise. Locals are so used to it that they seem to like it and actually even have bumper stickers reading “I (Heart) Jet Noise” but it may be a little too much for visitors who aren’t used to it. I guess it is like getting used to living with crickets in the country and bright lights in the big city.

However, I am more fond of Orange Crushes than I am of jet noise. An Orange Crush is a alcoholic drink served at many restaurants on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach that consists of a freshly squeezed orange, vodka, triple sec and Sprite over crushed ice. There are few things better than sitting out on a patio in the sun with some friends drinking Orange Crushes all afternoon. It might be the simplest beach bar drinks that you can easily make from scratch at home.

Here is the recipe for an Orange Crush that I found from Waterman’s which is considered by some as the best place to go for Orange Crushes in Virginia Beach However, Chick’s is up there with one of the best crushes on the beach:

  • 1 freshly squeezed orange
  • 1 oz orange vodka
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • splash of Sprite
  • crushed ice

Combine and then pour all ingredients over the crushed ice and enjoy. I prefer using pebble or pellet ice instead of crushed ice which I have heard that you can pick up by the bag at Sonic Drive-Thru’s but that is only what I’ve heard..

The Beach Party Combo ($17.00) is the combination appetizer consisting of four Oysters Rockefeller, four Clams Casino and four fried butterflied shrimp. If you are looking for a taste of what Chicks has to offer.  Seventeen bucks is kind of pricey for these for 12 items but they were all delicious and were off the plate almost as quick as the waiter was able to put it down.

We also ordered the North Beach Nachos ($9.50) with blackened tuna bites (+ $4.00) for the table. This was probably the least impressive of the dishes that we ordered. The blackened tuna bites were pretty good but I prefer my tuna when it is cooked Pittsburgh rare. The tuna served on the nachos were well done and kind of chewy. The kitchen could also have layered the nachos a little bit better because once the top layer was eaten, the remaining chips were almost naked and very bland.

We also ordered the Fried Oyster Basket ($12.00) which as you can see was already half-eaten by the time I was able to get a picture of them. They are served with a house dipping sauce called Lava Sauce which is a creamy and spicy. I love the way that Chicks fries their oysters because they use a light breading that has both a hint of salt and a hint of spice to it but let the oyster provide most of the taste. These were a hit and we reordered them the second time.

 

I don’t know why I ordered the She-Crab Soup ($6.00) that day because it was pretty dang hot outside but I had read on Yelp that you don’t want to miss Chick’s She-Crab Soup. It came in a large bowl with saltines and oyster crackers. Even though it was a hot outside, the She-Crab Soup was on point. It had large chunks of crab and some onions. I couldn’t tell what thickening agent they used outside of heavy cream and the crab roe. This was a great soup and would be even better if the outside temperature was a little cooler and there a nice breeze. I would recommend getting it no matter the weather.

 

I ordered the Golden Fried Flounder “B.L.T” ($10.50) on recommendation of a few of the guys who had been there before. The sandwich was a bun-sized piece of fried flounder with two pieces of bacon, tomato and lettuce on a kaiser roll. I was so impressed with the fried flounder that  I actually ordered this both days that I went to Chick’s that weekend. However, the bun was less than impressive. It fell apart, both days, as I was eating it especially if it touched any of the cocktail sauce that they serve with the sandwich. I decided not to put as much cocktail sauce on it the second day. The first day, the bacon wasn’t cooked to a crisp as I think it should be on a sandwich but they made up for it the second day with some extra crispy strips. The lettuce was great both days but the tomato was sub-par and could have been a little more ripe.

The fries for both the flounder B.L.T. and the burger were fresh cut and fried perfectly. I actually kept the Lava Sauce that came with the oysters and used it for dipping the fries in. They don’t pile on the fries but they do give you enough for a meal.

 

Someone ordered the Jimmy’s Ultimate Crab Topped Burger ($11.50) which was your average cheeseburger topped with an abundance of backfin crab meat. Both the cheese and the burger looked great but I didn’t get to try it. It seemed to be a winner. It is definitely a little pricey for a burger but anything gets expensive when you put crab meat on it. You will be spending anywhere from $8.00 to $11.50 depending on what type of burger you order.

Chick’s is considered one of the gems of Virginia Beach but it hasn’t been getting the best reviews on social media sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon. Most of the negative comments have been about the food or wait staff. I went twice over the weekend and received great service plus the food was fantastic. I don’t know if this place is hit or miss but it hit both times that I went. You should check out this place if you are in Virginia Beach on a beautiful day and let us know what you think.

Chick’s Oyster Bar only has valet parking, which is free, so make sure that you have a couple of bucks to tip the valets. I don’t believe there is an option to self-park. This seems to be pretty common in Virginia Beach due to parking limitations in the area. You will probably see some $200,000 plus exotic cars there so take a camera if you are a car lover.

Chick's Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

 

REVIEW: K38 Baja Grill – Wilmington

K38 Baja Grill is Tex-Mex restaurant that has been serving Wilmington baja-fresh style food since 1993. I went to the original K 38 Baja Grill located Oleander Drive. I was down there for an engagement party and a bunch of people going to the party met up there beforehand. This gave me the opportunity to get a better feel for the menu because most people at the table ordered something different.

The name K38 comes from a kilometer marker in north of Ensenada, Mexico near one of the most famous surf breaks in Baja Mexico. The owners, who’s motto is “Live. Eat. Surf.”, used to go down to kilometer marker 38 and found a taco shack that served some of the freshest baja fish tacos they had ever had. They decided to bring back the same style and atmosphere that they foun Along with K-38 which has two locations in Wilmington (Oleander Dr & Market St), the Live.Eat.Surf. squad also has two other restaurants, Tower 7 and Cafe del Mar, in Wrightsville Beach.

K38 Baja Grill’s original location does its best to look like somewhat like the taco shack that they used to frequent down in Mexico. There is a Mexican flag out front, a rusty tin roof awning over the front porch and a string of tacky lights illuminating the front. It is a pretty cool spot and not too close but not too far from all the beach traffic which is perfect if you want to get out of all the hubbub that is on Wrightsville Beach during the summer.

A few people in our group ordered the Santa Fe tuna roll which is char-grilled yellow fin tuna, black bean puree, roasted red pepper, spinach, Monterey Jack and a ginger-wasabi sauce rolled into a flour tortilla. It came with a dipping sauce that was some sort of soy sauce concoction. We joked at the table that it was Mexican sushi but it pretty much is. The presentation was beautiful (as you can see) and the rolls are something that you can order as an appetizer for the table or as a meal for one person. They have a couple different version of the rolls like chicken, fish, shrimp, steak or scallops. Sorry vegetarians…no tofu options on the rolls.

Two people ordered the taco salad which is actually called a bowl on the menu. They both went with the traditional which is leaf lettuce, black beans, mixed cheese, salsa fresca, guacomole, sour cream, green onions, & house picante with the choice of steak, chicken or ground beef. I didn’t try this one but both people said it was great. The ingredients all looked extremely fresh and the chicken looked fantastic. The bowls range from $8.95 (vegetarian) to $12.50 (carne asada) which seems like a great deal because of the amount of food that you get in the bowl.

I ordered a baja fish taco which is a Dos Equis beer battered cod filet with Roma tomato, mixed cheeses, shaved red cabbage and yogurt sauce  in a flour tortilla. The cod filet was massive and, that, plus the ingredients might have warranted a large tortilla to hold everything. The yogurt sauce was zesty adding to the taste of the whole taco plus it gave the taco a little more depth and kept it from tasting dry. I wasn’t blown away by this taco but I was impressed at the quality of the cod and how well it was fried. The black beans were a little bland and I might go with the Mexican rice next time.

I was impressed with the quality of the whole meal plus the service was fantastic. We had about 18 people at three different tables and we all got our food pretty close to one another. I look forward to giving the Live.Eat.Surf. crews’ other restaurants a try the next time that I visit my friend, Adam, who lives a short bike ride from Tower 7. If you are down in Wilmington, check out K38 Baja Grill at either of their locations. I don’t think you will be disappointed and everything that I hear says that it is the best Tex-Mex or baja place in town.

Click here for the K 38 Baja Grill menu

 

K-38 Baja Grill on Urbanspoon

ROAD TRIP: New Orleans – Mother’s, Deanie’s & Crescent City

I just got back from a long weekend down in New Orleans for one of my best friend’s bachelor parties and thought I had so many incredible food experiences down that that I thought I would share them with you. There are so many unbelievable places in The Big Easy that someone could eat out every single meal for a year and would be hard pressed to be disappointed in a meal.

I didn’t research much food before I went down there like I should have and we didn’t stop into many of Emeril’s restaurants. We basically just asked the locals where we should try within walking distance of our hotel which was located just a few blocks from Bourbon Street. We also used the Foodspotting app (my favorite mobile food app) to find some places in the area. We didn’t jump in one cab the entire time so everywhere we went was on foot and within about three to four miles of each other.

On Saturday, we went to the Crescent City Brewhouse for a little while to stop in and sit down for some beers after walking around the French Quarter Festival. It was a lot of fun because we were able to sit out on the balcony and watch everyone as they walked to and from the festival. We ordered two different appetizers. The first was a dish called Baked Oysters Three Ways which consisted of half dozen fresh shucked oysters topped with crab & saffron, spinach & herbsaint, and spicy eggplant and then baked. The baked oysters were delicious and the flavors were outstanding. It was the first time that I had tried herbsaint, which is a herb-flavored liquor produced in New Orleans, and I really enjoyed it. My only issue is that the oysters were a little gritty but I would no doubt order them again if I went back.

The second appetizer we got before lunch was called the Seafood Cheesecake. It sounds a little iffy but the dish was delicious. It consists of shrimp, crab, crawfish and a blend of goat cheese and provolone served with a pepper sauce and little crispy, buttered baguettes. The seafood cheesecake was delicious as either a spread on the baguettes or as single, seafood filled bites. I definitely recommend getting this.

Crescent City Brewhouse also had some great craft brew made in house. I stuck with their seasonal called the Saints Ambrosia which was a Euro dark lager. Just like Red Oak in Whitsett, NC, Crescent City brewmasters follow the Reinheitsgebot which is the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 stating that the only ingredients that can be used to produce the beer are water, malt, hops and yeast. It was delicious and one of the only beers other than Abita that I tried while I was down there.

Crescent City Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Deanie’s Seafood was the first restaurant that we went to when we all got in town. We heard from the bellhop at the hotel that it had some of the best fried seafood in town and he was right. We got to Deanie’s and there was about a 15 minute so we grabbed a few of Abita’s high gravity beers from the bar including the Andygator and the S.O.S. (Save Our Shore). While we waited, I made sure to eye some of the people that were eating at the bar and it looked awesome.

I started out the night with a small bowl of seafood gumbo. The gumbo came as a side to a po’boy for a few bucks extra but I was glad I got it instead of fries. The gumbo was filled with shrimp, crab and a bunch of delicious spices. It didn’t have as much rice as I am used to but, then again, I don’t eat down in Nawlins much so I can’t call myself a gumbo connoisseur. However, this was great and I would go back just for a big bowl of this stuff.

My friend, Jake, and I split an oyster po’boy and a shrimp po’boy so we could get half of each one. The shrimp po’boy (above) was our favorite of the two. I think it was because the shrimp were cooked perfectly and that the oysters may have been fried a few seconds too long. We also smothered the fried shrimp po’boy in Crystal hot sauce which you could find on about any table throughout New Orleans.

Deanie's Seafood on Urbanspoon

I am pretty sure that we failed at our attempt to go to the infamous Mother’s Restaurant. Everything that I have read about it since has said that you must get a po’boy or muffuletta when you go. We woke up early on Friday and it was about a block and a half away from our hotel so we decided to go there for brunch. However, they don’t start serving lunch until after 11:00 a.m. so we were locked in for breakfast after waiting in line for 20 minutes.

The breakfast is served all day but we were limited to only that because of the time we arrived. I ordered the crawfish étouffée omelet with a side of grits and a biscuit. Étouffée is a gumbo-like Cajun soup and it literally means “smothered” in French. The omelet was basic but cooked to a perfect fluffiness with a light cheese filling. The grits were plentiful but pretty bland and needed a couple of shakes of ground pepper. The biscuit was great and came with an awesome fruit spread.

I was pretty pleased with the breakfast but I just wish that I had been able to get a chance to try their po’boys or muffulettas. Esquire Magazine wrote that the Ferdi’s Special (a po’boy with their famous baked ham, roast beef, and “debris”) is one of the best sandwiches in America. I will be getting one of these the next time I go down there. One issue that I had with Mother’s is that most everyone that worked there acted as if the patrons were lucky to be eating there instead of the other way around.

Mother's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

 

REVIEW: Foothills Brewing – Winston-Salem

Foothills Brewing is one of North Carolina’s leading craft breweries producing some of my favorite beers including their Hoppyum IPA and their Total Eclipse Stout but they are probably most famous for their sought-after seasonal stout, Sexual Chocolate. Once a year, Foothills brews Sexual Chocolate and releases a limited amount of bottles that can only be purchased at the brewery and it usually sold out within a few hours. People will wait in line outside of the brewery just to make sure they get it. Beer lovers from all over the country make pilgrimages to Winston-Salem just to get a taste because Foothills’ distribution doesn’t currently reach very far. I’ve heard of people driving over 10 hours just to try it out so I figured a 45 minute trip for me would be well worth it.

I talked my friends, Elliot and Ashley, into heading over there on one of the nights of The Big Eat 2011 where downtown restaurants offer their signature dish at 50% off. Luckily, our trip to Foothills coincided with them  still having Sexual Chocolate on tap so we were able to try it out. Sexual Chocolate has a strong ABV (alcohol by volume) percentage so they serve it in 12 oz. glasses instead of pints for $5.50. I had tried it the week at the Jolly Skull Beer Festival but only in 4 oz. glasses so it was nice to be able to sit down and get a full glass in front of me. We all ordered a glass of Sexual Chocolate after I had been talking it up on the ride over but Elliot and Ashley didn’t seem to like it as much as I did probably because of the style.

 

We ordered the pub nachos which are smothered with salsa, black olives, jalapeños, diced tomatoes, beer cheese, scallions, and sour cream. Our server recommended these to us and I thought they were fantastic. You can add chicken or chili for an additional two dollars but we went meatless. The homemade beer cheese was the star of this dish. It was melted and poured all over the plate. Foothills uses their beer to make a lot of their dishes including their homemade ketchup which is made with their beer, their DIPA glazed tofu and their brats which are boiled in the IPA. They also beer batter a lot of items on the menu. Get the nachos if you go.

Note: Elliot hated the ketchup but he also hates all ketchup that isn’t made by Heinz.

Foothills’ signature dish for The Big Eat was the fish & chips. The full-sized dish normally costs $14.99 but it was 50% off that night due to The Big Eat so Elliot and I both ordered it. The full-sized dish is massive with two huge planks of ale-battered fish with a homemade remoulade sauce and hand-cut french fries. It is a large plate of fried goodness as you can tell from the picture above. The remoulade was tasty and gave a nice bit of tartness to the fish. The batter was pretty heavy (pancake style) but that tends to be the more traditional type from the English pubs.

Ashley ordered the smokey turkey & apple wood bacon wrap which had pepper jack cheese, guacamole, banana peppers, lettuce and tomatoes. She got the sauteed vegetables on the side which looked kind of generic to me. She told me that she loved the wrap and that it was pretty refreshing especially compared to the cardiac-inducing fish & chips that both Elliot and I ordered. I was impressed by the serving size of the wrap because normally places tend to skimp on the contents of their wraps. This thing was the size of one of the homewrecker burritos from Moe’s which I back especially when the contents are pseudo-healthy.

If you are in Winston, you should definitely stop into Foothills Brewing downtown and grab a few beers and some food. I noticed a lot of negative reviews on Yelp about the service and food but we didn’t experience anything like that at all. The atmosphere is a lot of fun especially if you dig beer. You should probably pick up a few bottles to take home with you because they are pretty hard to find if you don’t live in the Triad.

Foothills Brewing on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: The Silos Restaurant – Oriental

As you drive the 30 miles of Highway 55 between New Bern and Oriental, a small harbor town on the Neuse River in Pamlico County, you don’t pass by a whole hell of a lot other than a few small towns and acres of farmland. There are a few restaurants along the way but the majority of them are fast food so there isn’t much to choose from.

However, there are a few hidden gems along the way and I have found one and it is pretty hidden even though it is right out in the open. The Silos Restaurant (Silos…as the locals call it) resides in the skeleton of two renovated farm silos on the outskirts of Oriental so you might accidentally drive right by it if you didn’t notice the sign in front or all of the cars filling up the parking lot. It is definitely a local favorite.

Silos has one of the best craft beer selections in all of Oriental in their renovated bar in the upstairs dining room. They have a variety of different bottled beers plus 12 beers on draft. Even though Silos isn’t located on the water, this is the place where a lot of people go to tip back some cocktails and have a good time. They aren’t open very late because the Oriental community wakes up early and goes to bed early so make sure you are up there by 7pm or 8pm at the latest.

Doug and Keri Delisle, the owners of Silos, classify their restaurant as a unique restaurant with Italian flair offering a casual family dining experience and I definitely agree with them. They serve burgers, pizza, steaks, seafood, Italian dishes and a variety of sandwiches and salads. It is a pretty large menu. I spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out what I wanted.

I ordered a side Caesar salad as an appetizer. The salad came with homemade salad dressing, freshly baked croutons and some high quality Parmesan. It was pretty inexpensive for the amount that I got and the lettuce was extremely fresh.

I ordered the day’s special which was a two-topping medium pizza for nine dollars. Silos makes their own pizza dough and Doug, the owner, puts his homemade sauce on the pizza which is sweet and tangy. The crust was cooked perfectly. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Their toppings are topnotch and the cheese is very high quality. They offer pepperoni, ham, sausage, beef, bacon, salami, onions, green peppers, garlic, mushrooms, black olives, tomato, olive oil (not sure if this is a topping or not but its on their list), banana peppers and pineapple.

I want to give something else a try the next time I go down there to check out the rest of the menu but I think I would be hard pressed to try something else because the pizza was so good. I am sure their Italian dishes are equally as good. If you are driving down towards Oriental, you should definitely stop in Silos and get a bite to eat.

The Silos Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Related Posts with Thumbnails