Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Front Street Brewery, Wilmington NC

On Front Street in Wilmington, North Carolina, you can find a really nice place called The Front Street Brewery. When you find it, go in and eat and drink. You will not be disappointed. We were there with seven adults and three children on a Tuesday evening and had a very enjoyable experience.

First, check out the appetizers because on weekdays from four to seven PM they have a great selection for half price. I tried (not just me, but the whole party) the fried Buffalo blue cheese strips, the fried green tomatoes, the onion rings, and the jumbo soft pretzel. All were good.
For dinner I recommend the Black and Blue burger, bacon, blue cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and a half-pound of good beef on a Kaiser roll for only $7.99. The only drawback is that the rarest they’ll make it is medium well, but it was okay. I like mine medium. My son-in-law had a Horseradish burger, and he had a grin on his face as he ate it. The rest in my party had the Baja salad, Blackened Chicken Breast, Bratwurst, and Fried Shrimp. Everyone said his or her meal was good.
I liked their IPA, they are after all a microbrewery. I also tried the Oatmeal Stout, but was slightly disappointed. Not that it was bad, but I’ve had better. I tasted the Scottish Ale, and that was good too. I think I need to go back and try a few more.
Like I said, it was a good dining experience. Maggie took good care of us and made sure all of our needs were met. We also tasted some nice wines, because on Tuesdays they have a free wine sampling.
Check out their website for more information.
Update- Aug 22, 09
When I find a restaurant I like, I go back often. In my travels I’ve come across a few that I’d like to visit more often, but I can’t. Such is the case with Front Street Brewery in Wilmington, NC. We paid our second visit there the other day and all I can say is that I’m even more impressed. The food was excellent, the service great, and the atmosphere fun.
You see, Front Street Brewery is one of those places that just isn’t pretentious, and if you’ve been following this blog at all, you know that I hate pretentious. I like simple food for regular people, and that’s what Front Street is all about. They aren’t trying to impress you with anything but the food and the beer, and even that’s understated.
We had a party of eleven, eight adults and three children. Five of us got there first and sat at the bar for a beer while waiting for the rest of our party. I met a nice man named Sam eating at the bar and we struck up a conversation, turns out he works there and we were discussing beer and Philadelphia where he was from. I also had a nice conversation with Maddie (I think that’s her name) the bartender. The people who work there are nice, friendly, and interesting.
When we were seated, Christy took care of us, after the first server left (I hope we didn’t scare him off) and she quickly corrected a mistake in the order. Food was great! Please note the picture above of my delightful Black and Blue Burger. I ordered it with sweet potato fries and that was the error that Christy corrected for me; I even got to keep the regular fries when she brought the sweet potato fries, probably the best I’ve had by the way.
We had a few appetizers; the fried green tomatoes, Buffalo Blue Sticks, and Buttermilk Breaded Onions, all half-price between four and six by the way.
I had a few beers. The Scottish Ale was delicious. The Vanilla Porter, the special that day, was interesting with a nice taste. I liked the California Common as well. It has a nice taste that starts off like a wheat beer and finished like an IPA, with a slight fruit flavor. They were out of my favorite, the Port City IPA.
Definitely stop by Front Street Brewery if you’re in Wilmington and tell them I sent you.
Update- April, 2. I stopped by today for a quick Port City IPA ( I didn't have time to order food) and I remembered why I love this place. Great beer and nice people, even without the great food. I'll be back a few times this Summer.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crescent City Brew House

After a very filling lunch we walked around town for a few hours hoping to make room for dinner. The problem of course is too many choices to eat, and not enough time to try them all. One place that looked interesting was the Crescent City Brew House on Decatur. After we found a ‘buy one entrée, get one free’ coupon at the hotel, the decision was made. This turned out to be another great decision.

The restaurant reminded Teresa of the Blue Bayou in Chicago, maybe because that bar was patterned after a New Orleans restaurant, lots of wood, and open.

The menu was extensive and we decided to have the seafood. I ordered the shrimp Pappardelle, which is jumbo shrimp over noodles with bacon, peas and mushrooms in a creamy sauce of fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Teresa had the crabmeat stuffed shrimp. Both were delicious, but mine was probably the best seafood dish I’ve ever had. There was so much on the plate I couldn’t finish it all so I took a doggy bag and gave it to a homeless guy we saw later.

I had two beers. The first was a Red Stallion, a Vienna style copper beer that was pretty good. The second was one of the specialty beers, a dark Weise beer that had a nice flavor. The beers are a bit pricey at $6.50 each, but worth a try.

For more info check out their website.

Chartes House Cafe, New Orleans

We’d checked in at the hotel and asked at the desk about a nice place to eat, that wasn’t too expensive. We were told about a place around the corner and headed off. Well, we didn’t like that place, so we walked a bit further and an interesting gentleman (his picture is shown here) showed us a menu from the Chartes House Café, on Chartes Street, and it looked interesting. A few blocks down the road, and we decided that was the best place we’d seen and got a table. Well, we were certainly right. It was great.

I had the Muffaletta, an amazing sandwich that cost only $8.95. What’s a Muffaletta? Why it’s only one of the best sandwiches in the world, and a specialty of this region. It’s salami and ham, topped with melted provolone cheese topped with an olive salad (much like an olive tapenade) on a large round roll. Teresa had the Taste of New Orleans, which is a sampler of red beans and rice, Jambalaya, and chicken & andouille sausage gumbo for $14.95. That was delicious also. Both came with fries too. I had two beers, both from Abita, and they were only $3.50 each, more on that in a later review.

So if you’re in the Big Easy and want a nice place to get some great food, stop in at the Chartes House Café at 601 Chartes Street and enjoy yourself. For more info check out their website.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Appetites on Main, Exton PA

Okay, we’re on the first leg of our 5,000-mile road trip. We had lunch at Appetites on Main in Exton Pennsylvania, at the mall. The Exton Mall is a nice place that has the feel of a main street in a village. Funny how the malls killed the downtowns, then try to look like downtown.

Anyway, this is a nice casual place where you can eat indoors, or out on the sidewalk. We’ve been there twice before and had a good experience each time. This visit was no exception. I had the bacon cheeseburger and it was good, my wife had a buffalo chicken wrap that was also good. She had the mild sauce, with hot on the side. I tasted the hot and it does sneak up on you. Last time we were there I had the buffalo chicken sandwich, and the time before the chicken cheese steak sandwich. Both were quite satisfying and Liz took good care of us.

Sandwiches come with chips (American style chips, not the British style, although they are kettle-fried and good) but you can get an upgrade to shoestring sweet potato fries for a small charge.

Food is good, service is good, and they have a nice selection of beers. I recommend the Hop Devil by Victory, a local brew, which is on tap. Give them a try when you’re passing through Exton and you won’t be disappointed. Check out their website for more info.