Two Roads Tavern [Outer Banks]

This weekend was a cold, rainy weekend in Northeastern North Carolina. We even experienced snow flurries on Sunday (none of the snow flurries had the opportunity to stick as the ground was already so saturated). My initial plan for this weekend was to venture up to Williamsburg, Virginia to scoop out their farmer’s market but once I saw the weather forecast, I changed my plans and decided to take a drive to the Outer Banks.

Our agenda was simple: Duck Donuts, Two Roads Tavern, and the Manteo Aquarium. I came across Two Roads Tavern’s website a few months ago and have been interested in trying their food since then. Two Roads Tavern is a burger joint with a neat retro vibe inside. But the burgers aren’t just your regular run of the meal burgers. They are a mix of 80/20 Hereford ground chuck combined with amazing toppings. Now, you can build your own burger but I scoped out the menu and knew I wanted one of their Specialty Burgers.

We started with the Cajun Fried Cheese Curds served with a Jamaican jerk aioli that we couldn’t get enough of. The cheese curds were crunchy and flavorful and the gooey cheese inside was just what we needed on a dreary day.

I ordered the Hangover [bacon, hash browns, fried egg, and cheddar cheese with maple bacon jam] while Robb ordered the Sounds Good [American cheese, BBQ sauce, bacon, onion rings, jalapenos, and a fried egg]. I ended up stealing a couple of Robb’s jalapenos (I trades him a hash brown for some) and he opted out of the BBQ sauce, instead requesting Jamaican jerk aioli on his burger – the sauce was that good. Even though the menu says no substitutions, they were willing to accommodate his request.

2017-03-19 12.33.09
“Sounds Good”
2017-03-19 12.33.54
“Hangover”

Though I didn’t try Robb’s burger, mine was absolutely delicious. The meat was juicy and the flavors melded together well. The maple bacon jam gave my burger a whole “French toast” vibe that I loved. It was like eating breakfast!

The burgers come with hand-cut fries that were perfect. I couldn’t get enough of them and continued to shove them in to my mouth like I was starving.

All in all, this place is awesome. The food is delicious and the entire staff is great. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about eating out at a place.

We followed up our lunch with a quick jaunt to Duck Donuts. I cannot say enough good things about this place and I plan my Outer Banks trips around getting my donuts. Even though we showed up near closing time, they had donuts left and were more than happy to fix us right up.

2017-03-19 12.34.17
Don’t worry – it rained on the box but the donuts were safe and warm inside.
IMG_20170318_160417_345
Cinnamon Sugar | Chocolate Glazed with Peanuts| Powdered Sugar | Blueberry with Powdered Sugar (a surprise favorite)

Continuing our beach adventure, we made our way down to the Manteo Aquarium. I hadn’t been there since they completed the sea turtle conversation area and enjoyed looking at their work. The last time I was at the aquarium, the otters weren’t out so I was tickled when I saw them swimming about. Robb attempted to touch a sting ray at the touch tank but every time one drew close, they would suddenly realize he was there and ran away from him.

2017-03-19 12.32.07
Sharks!
2017-03-19 12.34.44
The sea turtle conservation area – and I managed not to be a single good shot of a sea turtle.
2017-03-19 12.35.43
Alligators!

Even though it was raining, we didn’t let it ruin our fun and explored the Nature Play Area/Nature Trail. It was great fun and made us both feel like children again! I can’t wait to go back to the aquarium once they have their jellyfish exhibit complete.

20170318_153757

[Note: I just got a new cellphone on Friday so during this trip, I relied only on my cellphone for photos. I still need to play with the built-in camera so that I can take better quality photos without lugging around my big camera. I might have accidentally turned on MACRO for some of these.]

Two Roads Tavern
3105 N. Croatan Hwy (Milepost 5.5)

Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
In The Seagate North Shopping Center
Monday – Saturday 11:30 am to 9:00 pm

Barley’s Pizza [Elizabeth City]

Barley’s Pizza opened up last fall in Elizabeth City but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I was able to get out there (even though it’s located just a few miles from where I work). The restaurant is a good example of re-purposing the space you have. Located in an old Burger King building, Barley’s Pizza still sort of sets off that BK vibe. Little has been done to really impact the interior, which makes sense to me. When you decide to start any business, everyday you are unable to sell to customers is money down the drain. Besides, this is a pizza joint. As long as the food is good, we don’t need white table linens and fancy decor.

So how IS the food? Not too shabby really. After returning from Alaska in October, I compare all of my pizzas to the delicious one we ate at Moose’s Tooth and the pizza I had at Barley’s Pizza was almost there. I tend to like a more unique pizza so we ordered the Capri [Ricotta Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Garlic Oil , Mushrooms, Tomato, Spinach & Broccoli]. It may sound a little weird but all the flavors melded together nicely. There was a nice saltiness that I enjoyed and though we ate until we were stuffed, we still had plenty of leftovers.

p2

That’s another thing I noticed about Barley’s Pizza. The portion sizes are huge! A few weeks later, I ventured back and ordered a Reuben. I love Reuben’s but I’m not such a fan of corned beef sometimes, so I typically special order my Reuben with turkey. If you’ve never tried a Reuben with turkey then you are in for a treat. I ate half of my sandwich, a few waffle fries, and was beyond stuffed.

p1

Robb and I definitely plan to return and hope to someday have the occasion to order the party size pizza. That thing is HUGE!

If you read some of the reviews on the internet, you’ll find that most people say that the food is good but service is slow. While I don’t necessarily disagree with that, I think that in a new place, it can sometimes take a little while for the staff to get their footing. All in all though, definitely check out Barley’s Pizza for a great deal on good food.

Barley Pizza Family Restaurant
1333 N Road Street
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Monday-Thursday 10am -11pm
Friday-Saturday 10am-12am
Sundays 10am-11pm

 

The Fitzroy [Charlottesville]

[Note 12/5/2016: I had some website issues this morning that involved me just getting irritated, deleting the hosting system and starting from scratch. I only lost one post – this one – so I am attempting to recreate that lost post now. I did have a few drafts saved but since I had wanted to cross post them to The Southern Belle Blogs, I had copies there. Lesson learned: I need to back up my files more often. This post also doesn’t have any pretty pictures.]

Exhausted after a fun day at the Heritage Harvest Festival, mom and I went back to the campground, though we weren’t exactly excited about the notion of hot dogs cooked over the fire for dinner. Yes, they would have been delicious (and basically free) but we just were not feeling it that evening. Instead, we hopped into the truck and headed downtown to explore and hopefully find something good to eat.

The Downtown Mall in Charlottesville seems to be the happening place in town. It is a bit trippy for newcomers as sometimes the road runs right next to people dining outside, but there are lots of cute little shops and restaurants to check out. Almost too many options we quickly discovered.

Initially I wanted to eat at Citizen Burger. Citizen Burger had been on my to-do list for months but after having a burger for lunch that day, we decided to go for something else. My mom and I wandered the streets for a while, growing hungrier and hungrier, as I browsed through menus on my phone. While I wanted something tasty to eat, all mom wanted was a cold Bud Light and nothing “funky” to eat. I finally came across the menu for The Fitzroy, a relatively new establishment, but one that met both of our requirements.

I went with the Fried Chicken [boneless, buttermilk battered, a little honey, hot sauce] with a side of Broiled Mac & Cheese. Mom chose the Shrimp Po’Boy [fried shrimp, remoulade, tomato, crisp lettuce]. While my fried chicken was delicious and cooked exactly how I like it, I did have a rare bout of food envy once I tried mom’s dish. It was really good (though the remoulade could have used a bit more kick – mom makes a version that is perfect to me). I wasn’t crazy over the mac & cheese and wish that I hadn’t ordered it (it was good but we had so much left over).

Looking back, I wish I had tried one of their signature cocktails. The Majestic [St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Drambuie, Bubbles] sounded amazing but I simply stuck with water.  After being in the sun all day, that was probably not a bad choice though.

All in all, this place was a definite win. The service was good, the prices were reasonable, and the ambiance was great. The Fitzroy looked like it would be the place to come after work and hang out with friends or even a great spot to bring a date.


The Fitzroy

120 East Main Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 am – 12 am
Friday and Saturday 11:30 am – 2 am

Duck Donuts [Outer Banks]

Every year around the 4th of July, my family go down to the Outer Banks to stay in a timeshare. From middle school thru college (and a few years after), I was able to go every year. Then life got in the way. 2016 marked the first time I had been able to attend since 2012 and I certainly have missed going.

Now, to be honest, my favorite time to visit the beach is in October – the off-season. The weather is still decent, there isn’t much traffic, and most of the businesses are still open. There is something so magical about being able to sit on the beach and watch the waves without the excessive heat and noise of Summer surrounding you.

20160317_185319-768x461
Taken in March 2016

Duck Donuts is a must each and every time I go to the beach – no matter what time of the year it is. I first discovered Duck Donuts not long after its opening in Kitty Hawk back in 2007. Funny story – the original Duck Donuts is actually the Kitty Hawk location, not the Duck location! The one located in Kill Devil Hills is my favorite one though and just a brief bike ride away from our beach condo.

Duck Donuts are the best donuts I have ever eaten – and this is coming from a girl who was born and raised on Kripsy Kreme. Duck Donuts are made to order, so when you get one, it is crispy, crunchy, and blistering hot. The inside is more cake-like than yeast and it tastes like something decadent and buttery. The really neat thing about Duck Donuts is that you get to customize your own donut with any variety of coating/topping/drizzle. I usually go for just the chocolate glazed (or chocolate glazed with peanuts if I’m feeling adventurous) but they are all delicious (cinnamon sugar is my second favorite). The maple glazed with bacon is pretty popular, so I’ve heard.

20160702_083055-768x461
Chocolate glazed with peanuts… mmm.
Be warned – during the Summer, there will be a line at Duck Donuts. I went on a Saturday morning at 8 and waited 20 minutes, then returned the next day at 7 and still had to wait 20 minutes! Even though the line was out the door, don’t get intimidated and leave. The line will move quickly and the donuts are worth the wait.
20160702_081242-e1468866063458-614x1024
All hands are on deck to get your donuts out in a timely manner.

You can even have the donuts shipped to your home, but nothing beats a fresh one.

Keep an eye out on their website – new locations are popping up everywhere and one may be popping up near you!

Kill Devil Hills, NC
710 S Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948, United States
Mon – Tues: 6:30 AM – 9:00 PM*
Wed: 6:30 AM – 3:00 PM*
Thurs – Sun: 6:30 AM – 9:00 PM** I suggest visiting their website or their Facebook page to make sure the hours are still valid if you are going in the off-season.

bu•ku [Raleigh]

[Note: Same as in my previous review, there are no pictures of the food below. Though I had my camera with me when I was in Raleigh, I neglected to carry it inside as I wanted to focus on my friends. Plus, I do think that sometimes you forget to enjoy your dish when you are busy trying to find the best angle to photograph – contrary to what recent research has found about how Instagramming your food may make it taste better. I will try better in the future.]

bu•ku opened up in downtown Raleigh about the time I decided to move back home. It’s one of those rare restaurants that had intrigued me for years and I have been waiting for the right opportunity to try it. I finally had the opportunity last weekend. While in Raleigh for a business meeting, I coerced an old friend of mine to gather a couple of her friends to meet me up there.

I cannot say enough positive things about bu•ku. Everything was phenomenal from the food all the way to the ambiance and the service of the wait staff. Even the reservation process itself was super simple and I even received a personal call on Friday to confirm my reservation. I arrived early (well, technically on time) while the rest of my party ran about 15 minutes late but I was still seated at our table so that I could enjoy a drink. I elected to go with a glass of Ricossa Moscato D’Asti while I waited – one of my favorite beverages. Sequestered off from the rest of the dining area in its own room, there were 4 tables, each having plenty of seating for groups. I loved the large windows in the room that gave me the opportunity to glance outside.

20160617_193333-768x461

The menu at bu•ku is eclectic. It features street food from around the world and can be a bit intimidating to look at. Luckily enough, our waiter was able to give us some great recommendations.

We all ordered a different small plate to start – the Aloo Chana Chaat [spicy potato cake, chickpea, cucumber, cabbage, cashew, raita, tamarind, cilantro-mint chutney], Chinese Steamed Buns [Szechuan pork belly, pickled vegetables, hoisin-tamarind], Seared Pork Dumplings (Napa cabbage, scallion, ginger, chile-soy), and the Baja Crab Flautas [jumbo lump crab, pineapple, cream cheese, pickled serrano, cilantro, mango-habanero salsa, crisp flour tortilla].

Everyone raved over the Aloo Chana Chaat (which was my pick), but I enjoyed the creaminess of the Baja Crab Flautas best of all.

For dinner, I went with the day’s special – Chilean seabass with roasted maitake, grilled eggplant, massage kale salad, local cherry tomato, Burgundy macerated raspberry, sweet potato crisp. It was delicious! The seabass was perfectly moist and flaky. I tried a bit of the duck confit leg (from the Filipino Duck Adobo dish) and it was equally as good.

I ordered the Filipino Halo-Halo [parfait of coconut custard, sweetened plantains, guava sauce, ube ice cream] for us to share between the 6 of us at the table for dessert. It was different. There were aspects of the dish that we liked and aspects that we did not (including a red gummy that we thought tasted like cherry cough syrup). We all had a blast eating it and trying to guess what each component of the dish was. The custard and ice cream were delicious and I would order this dish again just for how fun it was to eat.

Now, bu•ku isn’t cheap. For just myself (for a glass of Moscato, appetizer, entree – which I did go with a pricier entree, beer, and dessert), my tab was close to $85 after tip. But the experience was worth it. There aren’t a lot of places where I live now that I can visit that are just different. Plus, I rarely am able to visit with that friend. All in all, it was certainly a memorable experience.

Tip: The traffic in downtown Raleigh was certainly bustling on a Friday night. Instead of driving around in circles looking for a parking spot, I parked in the Moore Square Parking Deck. Sure it cost me $5 to park there (which I heard caused some contention at one point) that night, but it was just easier and I didn’t have to worry about my vehicle being towed. Some of my friends used Uber, which is another great option (plus it allows you to drink as much as you want and avoid getting behind the wheel).

bu•ku: global street food
110 E. Davie St.,
Raleigh, NC 279601
Monday-Thursday 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Friday/Saturday 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Sunday 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM/5:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Garland [Raleigh]

[Note: There are no pictures of the food in this review. Though I had my camera with me when I was in Raleigh, I neglected to carry it inside as I wanted to focus on my friend. Plus, I do think that sometimes you forget to enjoy your dish when you are busy trying to find the best angle to photograph – contrary to what recent research has found about how Instagramming your food may make it taste better. I will try better in the future.]

Back in May, I found myself in Raleigh thanks to work. I had lived in Raleigh for about 7 years previously and the only thing that I miss now about the city are the food options. You can find pretty much anything that you are craving at any hour of the night. Not so much where I am now but living here still has its perks.

I decided to call up an old friend of mine and arrange dinner. At the suggestion of another friend, we went and ate at Garland, located in the downtown area. I had forgotten how much I did not miss having to drive and park downtown. I don’t parallel park. I’ve never had the need to. Instead, I prefer to just drive around in circles until I find a place that I can zip in. Thankfully with my little car, there are lots of places that I can now just zip into.

We started off the night with cocktails. I elected to go with the Dearly Beloved… [gin, rhubarb shrub, pink & Szechuan peppercorns, sparkling rose, lavender] while my friend went with the Lodger [tequila reposado, Aperol, yellow Chartreuse, cocoa, ancho chile, coconut]. She wasn’t able to try my drink as there was something in it that she was allergic to (lavender maybe? Or maybe the rhubarb?) but I tried hers. I did not like her drink at all but that didn’t surprise me. I like more of a delicate sweetness to my drinks almost to the point where you wouldn’t think of them as containing alcohol. She loved her drink however, and I loved mine. I would probably drink it on a daily basis if I could get away with it.

We ordered the Pakora [“bird’s nest” fritters of farmers market vegetables, spicy chickpea & rice batter, tamarind and cilantro-mint chutneys] as an appetizer. My friend had tried pakora before, at a different restaurant, but she thought that the one at Garland tasted much better. The fritters were perfectly crispy. While I enjoyed the cilantro-mint chutney (again, it’s a sweetness thing), my friend enjoyed the tamarind chutney better.

For the main course, I had to make a tough choice between the Local Catch and the Tandoor Chicken. They both sounded delicious but in the end, I ordered the Local Catch [pan seared NC fish, fragrant broth, sauteed local greens, Laurel Branch Gardens shiitakes, shaved fennel, puffed rice salad, chili oil], which was simply a beautiful dish to look at.

My friend ordered the Vegetable Curry [roasted cauliflower, house-made paneer, local root vegetables, baby peas, tomato broth, coconut milk, cardamom basmati rice, pickled onion, whipped coconut cream]. I enjoyed my dish, especially the puffed rice salad (I liked the texture) and my friend’s dish was equally as good.

The vegetable curry was a bit heavier than my dish, so my friend did fill up quickly. But that just meant that she had some delicious leftovers to take home.

The service was great and I loved the little touches such as having the glass bottle of water sitting on our table (I drink a lot of water). The decor of the restaurant was pleasing and certainly gave off a “hip” vibe. While it wasn’t that busy when we first arrived (at 6:30 on a Thursday night), it was hopping by the time we left. I would definitely come here again for another drink and to try the Tandoor Chicken.

Garland
14 W. Martin St.,
Raleigh, NC 27601
Dinner: Tuesday-Thursday 5:30 PM-10:00 PM,
Friday/Saturday 5:30 PM-11:00 PM
Lunch: Wednesday-Friday 11:30 AM-2:30 PM