We've just returned from our short stay in Outer Banks, NC. My mother-in-law rented the place for the week with an open invitation to the family to come down and stay. During our stay it was only the four of us... It was too much house for four people but the place was much nicer than I had expected. Unfortunately the weather was horrid. We literally saw about 15 minutes of sunlight in the four days we were there. But enough talk, time for the food!
It was roughly a six hour trip from our house to Corolla, NC where our place was. I decided we would stop off at Ben's Chili Bowl for lunch on the way down. It was quite an experience.
The line wasn't long at all but the smells wafting from the grill made the short wait almost unbearable.
MMmmmm if only you could smell that. Now unfortunately Nikki doesn't care for chili, so there wasn't much for her to choose from, but I already had my order in mind: the standard chili half smoke which includes mustard and onions and a side of chips. Nikki ordered the turkey burger with a side of fries.
My half smoke was terrific. I loved the combination of chili and mustard on the half-beef half-pork smoked sausage. The outter casing had a great snap. I contemplated ordering a bowl of chili after I finished... topped with mustard. Another thing I liked about the meal was it wasn't super-huge. I didn't feel horrible and bloated afterwards. I'm not a huge chip fan so I didn't touch those but Nikki's fries were nicely cooked with a molten potato interior. Deceptively hot. I walked out with a burned tongue. Here's a half-shot:
Nikki said her turkey burger could've been a bit more flavorful but I pointed out that she ordered a turkey burger from a place that specializes in chili and smoked sausages. Her reply was simply "Good point". We relished our seats at the bar and watched them work their magic all the while chatting it up with the locals sitting around us.
We arrived many hours later to find a very large and well-kept house:
It had a huge foyer,...
...pool, gazebo, and jacuzzi and backed up right to the beach looking out over the Atlantic.
It was pretty amazing. Immediately after unpacking it was time for drinks so I was handed a huge Grolsch. When Dave (my mother-in-law's boyfriend) learned I had never tried potato vodka he immediately poured me a glass of that too. After finishing both I was thoroughly buzzed and starving. Nikki felt the similarly famished so they recommended a place called Mike Dianne's Grill Room.
The complimentary bread and oil was good.
The oil was exceptionally garlicky which I loved. I had a glass of the Leese-Fitch cab (pictured above) which was so-so. I ordered the Grill Room salad and the 8 oz. filet with a shiitake mushroom demi glace which came with green beans and garlic mashed potatoes.
This salad was good. I had never had a green salad served over cous cous. The textures were fantastic and I love me some toasted pine nuts. My only complaint about this dish was the horribly bitter pepperocini. I've eaten these peppers by the jar so I know what they should taste like, and this wasn't it. It took all I had not to spit it out on the table. Ugh, disgustingly bitter.
Unfortunately I forgot to snap a shot of my dish before I dove into it. I was warned by my mother-in-law that the green beans are al dente but that was an understatement. They were a step above raw. Speaking of raw, here's a shot of my medium rare filet:
Yes, it was most certainly undercooked. After that much alcohol I barely noticed. Fortunately I would much rather have an undercooked filet than an overcooked one so I didn't really mind. The sauce was good but honestly I barely remember what it tasted like. I don't think it really added too much. What I was really craving was some sort of wine reduction sauce but sadly that was not one of the options.
After the main course we couldn't decide on a dessert to share so we ordered three, the flourless chocolate cake, the "house favorite" key lime pie, and the peanut butter pie. Again, by this time I had a lot to drink. I ordered whichever glass of port wine would pair best with the chocolate cake and by that time I was pretty sauced so I forgot to snap a shot of the desserts when they hit the table. But here is one shortly after we started inhaling them:
In my opinion the best of the three was the chocolate cake. I have no idea why the key lime pie is their signature dessert because it was decidedly average. The peanut butter pie was good but not great. The molten core of the flourless chocolate cake stuck to the roof of my mouth and was ever so much fun to suck off of my fork. This is fast becoming one of my go-to dessert choices.
We went home and hung out and passed out. Next up day 2.
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