Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Down to the River

Wilmington, North Carolina
Dining Destinations

This city has a wonderful boardwalk along the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River.  The "Riverwalk" stretches for one mile and as you walk (or ride your Segway) you will hear the sounds of friendly people and smell the aromas of great restaurants. (You might even come across a film crew!)  And besides the numerous clubs and bars there is plenty of interesting river traffic...drinks, dinner and a show!

The historic district of this coastal town covers 200 restored blocks and stretches right down to the river...making it one of the largest historic districts in the country.  We enjoyed several meals in restaurants on the Riverwalk and housed in historic buildings.

Following is a list of restaurants we recommend when you visit the Cape Fear Coast:

Circa 1922
3 blocks off the river.  Order several Tapas from the menu and share.

The Pilot House
On the Riverwalk.  Wilmington's best Low Country cuisine.
Strawberry Charlotte

On the Riverwalk.  Delicious seafood and the best service in the city.
Crab Stuffed Shrimp

Wrightsville Beach.  Local favorite for burgers and shrimp.
(You can literally dock and dine here.  Boat slips are even on the menu!)
Shrimp Salad

Boca Bay
Traditional coastal seafood restaurant.  Very good crab cakes.

The Graystone Inn
Tops our list of Best Breakfasts...EVER!

Happy Birthday to You!

Our last evening in State # 33 was Guy's birthday so I saved the highest reviewed restaurant for our celebration.  Located only 3 blocks from our hotel we strolled downhill to...


Our evening was off to a wonderful start as we were seated at a window table; Guy's place was set with a handwritten birthday card from the chef.  Also, we could see the beautiful sunset over the Cape Fear River(Down the alley and beside the Chinese take-out place.)

Above is a photo of our "Pre-Courses"...are you hungry yet?  I had perfectly Fried Oysters with maple pepper bacon, bourbon maque choux and crispy baguette toast points.  Guy wanted a change from seafood, so he enjoyed Rustic Steak Bruschetta...fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella relish with seared beef tenderloin on toasted crostinis.  (I am not kidding!)

For dinner the birthday boy had an "8oz. Filet Mignon"...marinated with thyme, rosemary and garlic then grilled to order.  This mouthwatering fork tender filet is topped with caramelized onions, Maytag blue cheese and a fig red wine reduction.  It is served over Yukon gold mashed potatoes and sauteed broccolini.  (A perfect meal for my perfect husband!)

So, I must be beyond perfect because this is a photo of my dinner.  Chicken & Dumpling Potpie...OH MY!  Made with all-natural Ashley Farms North Carolina chicken breast that is pan seared and then roasted with vegetables, thyme and saffron in a natural pan veloute sauce.  And the dumplings are Italian gnocchi that were light, flavorful pillows of deliciousness!  Served with a triangle of pastry crust on top.  (5 slaps of the table!)  Have you seen my food blog?

This meal more than exceeded our expectations...I'll tell you why.  When we sat down, our lovely server informed us that they were out of their 2 signature dishes!  (On a Tuesday?)  This was NOT a good sign.  Someone in the restaurant industry please explain this to me.  Guy is not amused when a dining establishment promotes their "House Specialty" and cannot produce it for you.  ("There is a Kroger right down the street"... is his usual comment.)

The special birthday dessert was Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream...looks good and sounds good.  I knew the answer to my question after one bite..."Do you have a pastry chef?"  The answer was, "NO...our chef does all the desserts himself."  No wonder making dessert is the downfall of so many on Top Chef!  Notice in the title the word apple is singular...he only used one and it was NOT crisp.  Good intention - bad execution.  (But I love the tiny skillet!)

Since this was a road trip, we would like to recommend 2 restaurants along the road to
North Carolina:

 in Augusta, Georgia - State # 10
French Market Grille
Excellent Cajun & Creole dishes in Georgia! 
(I should know!)

**This restaurant is near Augusta National - FORE!**


in Columbia, South Carolina- State # 40
Mr. Friendly's New Southern Cafe
Absolutely the best Buttermilk Fried Chicken we've ever eaten!

Next time:

One if by Land;
Two if by Sea -
(We Flew by Air!)

State # 21

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