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Outer Banks- Duck N.C. (6/14-6/21, 6 restaurants) LONG!

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Outer Banks- Duck N.C. (6/14-6/21, 6 restaurants) LONG!

Markarotti | Jun 27, 2003 09:57 AM

Spent a week in Duck N.C. 6/14-6/21 First time down there.
Loved it! The restaurants are great! Even the casual places do
seafood well. Almost
everyone has wine and beer on the premises. Food was good to Very good
wherever we ate, but no place had the Complete " wow factor" of some
of our
Philadelphia restaurants.

There are probably at least Four restaurants that serve exceptional
food
with beautiful presentations....
Groupers ...located in Carolla (no kids menu but it has a "juniors" menu with small portions of adult entres),
The Blue Point...located in Duck ( No
kids
menu, eclectic pacific rim and California menu , located on the edge of
Currituck Sound), Elizabeth's ....Wine Spectator Award of
Excellence,
recently received a DiRona award , previous Chowhound thread mentioned
that
this place is condescending and VERY expensive, and The Left
Bank ...which
is the upscale restaurant affiliated with THE SANDERLING Inn .
We had three children, ages 7,9, and 11 in tow so the aforementioned places were
foreboden.

Here is a review of some of the places that we dined at:

First day down there had lunch at the RED SKY CAFɅ
Subsequently went back several times.
Has a laid back, California (almost coffee house) feel to the place.
Menu is very eclectic from California and Mexican to Continental and
Carribean . Even some French oriented sauces.
The creamy roasted red pepper soup that my wife and I savored that first
day was
one of the tastiest comfort foods that we experienced during our
entire
week.
The garden salad with a creamy ginger dressing was a refreshing
way
to start our dinner one night.
(They don't put tomatoes on the salad though...you have to ask for
them)
On two separate occasions I devoured one of the juiciest, most
flavorful
half pound cheeseburgers (in paradise) that a carnivore could ever
dream of!
Wrap sandwhiches were also delicious.
Our kids did not like the pizza.
Other Dinner items on the menu included Duck with
basmatti rice in a chile spiked marmalade and Pesto seared tuna steak.
(Their T-shirts here are way cool..have to buy one if you're down here)

First night Dinner was take out from FISHBONES Raw Bar and
Restaurant...
Located in the shops at Scarborough Fair in Duck

Loud, Friendly place inside, with very "Carribean oriented", seafood
Dominated, menu.

My wife had the New England Style Clam Chowder which was excellent,
thick,
and very tasty.
We both had Caesar salads which were very good. Very crisp
lettuce...chilled .
Delicious creamy dressing with an obvious bite of garlic…
No anchovies though.
Appetizers were delicious...Carribean Coconut Shrimp and Grilled Island
shrimp (the latter had a sweet,slightly citrus- ladened marinade that
had
just enough "after -burn" to keep your taste buds at attention .

Entres of Filet mignon stuffed with brie and Seared Tuna with a spicey
banana based remoulade were very good.

Sunday Dinner was in Carolla, @ 15 to 20 miles north of Duck.
J.K.’s was the name of our next culinary discovery ...
Slightly noisy, family oriented place with lots of big wooden booths,
scattered tables, and friendly young waitstaff.
They had a kids menu and the marina sauce on the pasta was a little
spicey
(" burney" per my 7 year old daughter) The kids pizza and chick nugs got the thumbs up, however.

The food here was quite good .
Wines by the glass were also better than average. I had a South African
sauvignon blanc that was delicious and crisp.
It paired well with my flaky filet of grouper encrusted with Pecans
and drizzled with a spicey Rasberry Salsa.

My wife and I both had she crab soup which was delicious.
Her grilled filet mignon was the best that we had that week.
Extremely tender with a dark, hickory smoked flavor.
We also split a crab cake which was thick and round but not as good as
the steak was.

Had a great slab of dense, tangy, key lime pie for dessert.

Monday and Tuesday night we ate a picturesque spot located on Currituck
Sound in Duck.
It was called SWAN COVE.

The restaurant is very non descript from the outside but it is
quiet and soothing inside with lots of burnished blonde( maple?)wood.
There are two rooms, one large and one small. no booths.
Many tables are placed strategically next to picture windows
overlooking the sound.
There are also some umbrella tables and a margarita bar outside.

Here the food was tasty but lacked some spices and flavoring that
could have "kicked it up a notch" ...so to speak.
Not bad, just not "wow"

THe one exception, was a fantastic scallop ceviche salad.
The salad/appetizer consisted of five juicy sea scallops ceviche
on a bed of cool, crisp, greens with a diced peppers, vidalia onion,
and mandarin orange salsa. The clincher was a smooth and snappy
sesame-ginger vinagrette.

I recommend this restaurant just for this salad/appetizer!
I mentioned to our waitress that this should not be a special but should be kept as a “regular” item on their menu all summer long!

For our first night there, I had a flaky Pacific ocean whitefish
called Escolar. It was swimming in a rich and creamy pool of mandarin-
beurre blanc. It needed some sort of spice..Ginger? Tamarind?
It was too one -dimensional. The side of Julienned vegetables was
delicious!
The saffron rice both nights was dry and had little taste.
My wife had filet mignon the first night and crab cakes the second
night. Both were very good. ( If you haven’t guessed by now, my wife is not too adventurous and either orders steak or crab cakes at most restaurants..)
My second night I had two legs of Mandarin Orange duck.
Again, it was good..crispy, very little little fat, lots of flavor
but I felt that
it needed something else, (Maybe I have been dining in too many Thai
and Vietnamese restaurants lately?!!). The first night I drank wines
by the glass. The second night I called ahead and asked about BYOB
and a corkage fee..they complied and only charged me $10 (not bad!)

My daughters went gaga over a dense, molten choc. cake with vanilla
icecream, smothered in hotfudge sauce.

I had a tamer dessert of blueberry topped custard tart...yum!

Wednesday was the SUNSET GRILLE AND RAW BAR also run by Fishbones.
This brightly colored, Bahamian -themed restaurant with numerous
bars, (inside
and out) has an upstairs room with some excellent views of the sound.
The bars looked like a place for "parrot heads" and young singles
to meet people at night.
The menu was similar to that of Fishbones and so was our meal so I
will not bore you with the details. They did have a soft shell crab special which could have been prepared one of two ways.
This is a fun place for families and for singles and I would definitely
recommend it. There is also a pier that trails away from the outdoor
bar on the sound. It leads to a gazebo which is perfect for photo- ops.
One thing that was peculiar to me was that the beautifully arranged Sushi bar upstairs.. was located just a few feet from smoking patrons
at the end of the
bar! If those glass partitions don't protect the fish, then I hope you like your sushi "smoked"!

Thursday night was junk food...Pizza and Burger King (for the
kids only)

For our last night , I wanted to try someplace a little bit upscale
so we went to the casual yet "fine dining" restaurant of the
Sanderling Inn, a few miles north of Duck. This is a Wine Spectator
Award of Excellence restaurant.
The Restaurant is called: THE LIFE SAVING STATION and surprise..it was formerly a lifesaving station!

The exterior was New England Light House or boat house and the inside
was rataan and light woods with tidal bird prints and paintings
of a nautical theme on the walls.
Older patrons and couples without children were seated in a nicer
dining area downstairs.

Those of us with young, budding, culinary afficianados were taken to
a nice Upstairs playground ...oops..I mean dining room.
Actually, everybody had well behaved children so the noise level was very reasonable.

My wife tried a cup of Cream of Wild mushroom soup which I liked
but she did not. It had a dense, “earthy” taste to it with a bit of
spicey "heat" that teased your tastebuds while you were reaching for
the next spoonful.

I ate a very eclectic and unusual salad.. and I am still trying to
decide if I liked it.
It consisted of chilled greens, camembert cheese, and a melange of
blueberries, raspberries, and spiced pecans.

My wife's entre was ...surprise ..a filet mignon.. and it was only
fair.

I was fortunate to enjoy my most delicious entre of the week.. a
beautifully presented plate of seared tuna wedges perched high on
a bed of jasmine rice with pinwheeling shrimp circumnavigating the perimeter of the plate.

The rice and shrimp were suffused in a light, curry cream sauce. The sauce must have had contained saffron as well since it had a golden yellow tint to it.
Oh My God..this was good!

The wine list here is impressive and so are the prices...@ 2-2.5 times
the bottle price in a liquor store.
I stuck with wines by the glass as my wife is a teetotaller.
The Toasted Head Chardonnay (Oregon) was $9.50 per glass.

The dessert sampler tray was the perfect way to end our
greedy, gustatory week in the Outer Banks.
The Vanilla Pana cotta was absolutely dreamy..heaven on earth!!!
Raspberry Creme brule was cool and not too eggy. The carmalized sugar
crust on top was done to perfection.
The Tiramisu (usually one of my favorite desserts) was nothing like
Tiramisu that I have ever eaten. It was the "weakest Link" on the
dessert sampler but it did have a thick strip of dark chocolate on
the bottom. The Key Lime pie was fantastic!

The entire meal with tip and three kids meals was @ $160...

The one place that we did not get to try but which comes highly
recommended by prior visitors to Duck is THE ROADSIDE CAFɅ
I checked out the menu and it has many similarities to that of the
Red Sky Cafe. A very eclectic and delicious sounding assortment of
soups,
salads, and entres.

All in all, it was a great vacation and it was filled with many
culinary highlights.

Lessons learned:
In the Outer Banks, just about everyone can grill a decent steak and
make a decent crab cake. Most seafood and grilled fish dishes are
better than the meat dishes.
All places have wine and beer.
Relaxed is the dress code.
Fancy and Expensive does not guarantee "best meal"

Hope to see you down in Duck next June.
Ciao!

Markarotti

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