Archive for the ‘Dining’ Category

Sugar Creek Sunset

The Outer Banks is always one of the best shoulder season spots to visit in our area.

One of the greatest thrills is being able get in our favorite restaurants without a hassle and enjoy all the comforts we’d refuse to stand in line for during the season.

For years RV’s was a top dining location, particularly on the Manteo causeway.  It is now named the Sugar Creek and owned by Ervin and Teresa  Bateman, both NC natives, for the past 7 years.Co-owner of restaurant

Sitting on the shores of the Pamlico Sound, Sugar Creek provides a pleasant, tranquil environment to watch flocks of Canada geese float around while turtles crawl along the bottom.  Out on the sound  wind surfers and jet skiers take advantage of nature’s resources.

But the real thrill is in the food.  This restaurant is huge with multiple dining rooms and outside dining opportunities.

Our dining party gave the restaurant a 5-star, thumbs up for the fried oysters - our major reason for stopping at Sugar Creek.  We got 18 oysters, crispy French fries,  homemade slaw, all moderately priced.

Sugar Creek  offers an extensive menu for adults and children.  See:   Sugar Creek Menu.

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OMG!  It was a Thursday night.  More than 200 people were already inside at 6:30 p.m. They'd parked with tires on the highway.  Behind neighbors' car ports and cars.  There was a huge line at the outside carry out window.  And people were still streaming in.  We knew we'd arrived at the Long Creek Fish Fry in Dallas, NC - an offshoot of Gastonia. There's nothing we dislike more than chain-type restaurants.  We try to find the local joints, owned by locals, frequented by locals, and packed by locals.  We search Yelp.Com, check the reviews - must have several reviews - not just one or two that might be inserted by the owner or a friend. We are not fans of fried foods, but we make an exception about every 6 months when we hit on a 'special' place. The Long Creek Fish Fry was such a place.  We counted more than 30 employees, about 20 on the wait staff alone - like sharks - always in motion. Despite the crowd, we were immediately seated in the sparse, cavernous restaurant. Our waitress was instantly at the table.  Drinks (no booze) arrived at our elbows.  We looked around at the other diners.  Many were a wee bit overweight, gray headed, or bald.  Some in bib overalls and work clothes. Very few youngsters or kids. Oysters.  Fried. Fish. Fried.  Scallops.  Fried.  Hush puppies.  Fried.  Potatoes fried.  Everything except a baked potato was fried.  One of us ordered a small size oyster platter and the other took perch plate. The meals appeared within minutes and there were enough perch for 3 people and the French fries looked like a double order.  There was a large helping of homemade cole slaw, a dozen hush puppies, and large size cup of homemade tartar sauce, sitting on top of the oyster plate with contained 18 large size oysters in addition to the other sides. Half gallon pitchers of iced tea was left on the tables. We said, "OMG," who can eat all of this and they are just a half size orders.  In 5 minutes the drinks were refilled, the waitress left two carry out boxes (how did she know?), and our check.  Everything was served in throw away containers - everything thing and our table was cleared before we could leave the room. It was an incredible experience.  There were 12 pieces of perch and 12 large oysters that went into the carry out boxes to take to the motel for a midnight snack. Total price?  $23.54.  I left a $5 tip and the waitress, with sweat running down her cheeks, gave me a big hug and kiss and pleaded that we come back again. Outside the restaurant, carry out orders were leaving almost as fast as patrons could pay and most had a 1-gallon jug of sweet iced tea. The owner never left the inside cash register because there was always a line waiting to pay- it took us 8 minutes to get to the register.  Incredible experience and the fried seafood was not over done and well worth the trip.
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I always seek a local 'gourmet' restaurant when traveling.  Chain restaurants never!  I'd never heard of a 5-star rated catfish restaurant until I arrived in Russellville, AR.  My local research led me to Brown's Catfish restaurant 1804 E. Main. There it was. Everybody who'd eaten there had given it a 5-star review on Yelp. And gourmet it was.  On the lunch menu our attention was immediately drawn to Al's Catfish Po' Boy. It is a mouthwatering treat just to read its ingredients on the menu:  Catfish, Creole cole slaw, fried green tomatoes, jalapeno-pepper spiked 'angry' tartar - remoulade on a classic roll. Green tomatoes?  Is that a side, we asked?  "No. It and the cole slaw is on the sandwich.  The side is French fries."  That caused us to let out a silent, but collective 'WOW!' to ourselves.  "We'll take that and unsweetened ice tea with lemon." When the waitress left, we discussed green tomatoes on a sandwich.  Al came by and we inquired where he developed such a 'concoction' for a catfish sandwich. "That's the way we used to eat 'em down in Louisiana when I was growing up, so I started it here," he explained, adding he first opened the restaurant 24 years ago,but has remodeled recently and he's now opening for lunch. He has numerous cajun specialities from back home and offers a large buffet at dinner. Anyone passing with 50 miles of Russellville should visit the laid back, comfy little southern town of Russellville where the mayor has a monthly coffee with the citizens in city hall and council agendas are posted on the web for all to see - proud of their transparency. Home of the state's only nuclear power plant, Russellville is also the home of Arkansas Tech University. It is the county seat of Pope Co. and has a population of only about 27,500 people with only 6,182 living in the city. There are always residents of note in these little burgs.  In Russellville's case notables include Scott Bradley, an American composer noted for his works in Tom & Jerry cartoons; Russellville high graduate, actress Natalie Canerday who played in Sling Blade, October Sky, Walk the Line; Jeff Davis, thrice-elected governor and later U.S. Senator; and Brooks Hays, U.S. representative and adviser to both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. To the notables, I have to add Al Brown and his catfish restaurant. For more information go to http://www.browns-catfish.com.
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A top veggie restaurant that serves meat?

A top veggie restaurant that serves meat?

BOONE, NC - - I’d been waiting 3 days to go to Melanie’s Food Fantasy restaurant. The restaurant is well known as a 'hot' vegetarian site and is always crowded.  It has the reputation as being the No. 1 vegetarian restaurant, not only in the town, but in the entire region. My traveling companions are all proud carnivores.  It was the last place they wanted to go for a dining experience, but I’d been going with them to BBQ and other meat joints.  But me?  I have no memory of ever tasting fowl or pork.  I did eat beef for a few years, but quit completely in the mid-80s.  I do eat seafood and dairy products. Once when I picked up a family takeout order at Taco Bell several years ago, I ordered my usual - bean burrito supreme.  I got beef tacos and stuff for rest of the family and drove about 10 minutes to the house. The takeout meal was spread on the table.  I grabbed the burrito and started to take a bite when I noticed it was a BEEF BURRITO.  I was furious. Hungry!  Only option?  Go back 10 minutes to Taco Bell. Arriving, I found about 8-10 people standing in the line with the order taker I’d ordered from. Not willing to wait, I walked around those waiting and went to the front of the line, slammed the burrito down on the counter beside the cash register so hard the filling squirted out onto the floor. I announced in a LOUD - VERY LOUD AND ANGRY VOICE:  “I ordered a bean burrito.  You gave me a beef burrito.  You know what would have happened if I had eaten this thing?  I would have gone nuts, stripped off all my clothes, moved in a circle honking like a goose and then I’d sh-t in the floor.  And you know what else?  I would have to go to the hospital and I would come back and sue you and sue Taco Bell!” Read the rest of this entry »
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BLOWING ROCK, NC - - WOW! Bistro Roca & Antler's Bar Restaurant. Well off the beaten path in this beautiful mountain town, Bistro Roca was a surprising find in our search for fine cuisine and great service.
Covered porch offers outside dining

Covered porch offers outside dining

Located down Laurel Lane, behind the town park and across the Broyhill Lake causeway @ 143 Wonderland Trail, Bistro Roca features wood fired dishes and outdoor dining on a covered porch - complete with propane heaters when chilly temperatures move in. Our group ordered the Cuban Crepe of slow braised pork, ham, Swiss Cheese on a crepe served with fried plantains, white bean, & grilled chile salad ($10) - was a wonderful blend of mixed flavors and was adequate to be shared with two of our guests. Another Ooohed and Ahhhed over the Antlers Pizza, made with house-made tomator sauce, sausage, roasted garlic with mozzarella. Way more than a 1-person pizza and was shared with 2 others who were equally delighted. ($9). Read the rest of this entry »
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