Wednesday, September 19, 2018

1618 DOWNTOWN

Click images to enlarge


We dined at 1618 Downtown at 312 S. Elm St, in Greensboro.  It was not 1618 Midtown or 1618 Seafood Grille.  It was 1618 Downtown.

I called 1618 Downtown a little after noon to make a reservation for 7 PM.  No one answered the phone, but after a dozen rings an answering machine picked up.  I was directed to leave a message if I wanted to make a reservation with time and date, table size, and my phone number.  I erroneously assumed I would be called back to confirm my reservation.  I was never called back.

We decided to go without a confirmation of our reservation.  It didn't matter.  They had no record of our reservation unless my name was Bill.  There were plenty of tables available.

It was a Tuesday night because 1618 Downtown is closed Sunday and Monday and Debbie has only Tuesdays available for dinner dates.

A Tuesday night in downtown Greensboro is nothing like a Tuesday night in downtown Reidsville.  The sidewalks were packed with people, cars lined the streets, lights flashed, businesses were open.  You had to look both directions to cross the street.  Elm Street is a hopping place.  

Comparatively speaking, Downtown Reidsville more resembles an abandoned morgue even during the day.  Mayor Jay Donecker's $60,000 alien monument has not helped.


Debbie looks over what I would call a very limited menu.  About half of the menu is devoted to wine, beer, and liquors.  If you want an alcoholic drink, 1618 Downtown is recommended.  If you are more interested in food, not so much.

The restaurant is small and narrow.  It might have been half full for the duration of our visit.

Someone has thoughtfully lined one wall with sound absorbing material.  The piped-in music played softly in the background.  Conversation with Debbie was easy even though I am currently plagued by a plugged-up left ear.  Anyone have a solution for excessive wax that I've had for 40 years?

Open Table, the online restaurant review guide, listed 1618 Downtown as having a "lengthy menu". "casual dining", and a "formal attire" dress code.  Aside from "casual dining", none of these descriptors could be further from the truth.

The menu was short and shorts and blue jeans with untucked shirts were the attire.


This is our waiter.  I won't say his name or show his face because he reacted shocked and offended when I snapped this photo.  He was polite and served us well, but he must have been in the federal witness protection program or feared his soul would be captured by my magic camera box.

Our waiter's reaction was even more surprising when you consider all the cell phones clicking everywhere, including at the table beside us.  Surely our waiter has been photographed before.

This is the first and only time I have had a bad reaction from a waiter being photographed.


This is our appetizer or at least half of it.  The other half went on Debbie's plate.  It's Korean BBQ Pork Belly with Peach Fries. Kimchi Aioli, and Cilantro.  It sounds a bit strange, but it was damned good.  The Peach Fries and Aioli were outstanding.  The Pork Belly (really thick bacon) was very tasty.


This is Debbie's Crab Cake Benedict.  It was only one crab cake.  It was perched on a pie crust sort of base.  There was some sort of undefined vegetable sauce with bacon bits and corn gravy.  The crab was topped with a fried egg and hollandaise sauceThere were a few sprigs of asparagus on the side.

Debbie shared a few bites with me.  It was very good.


On the menu was a Parmesan Crusted Scallops dish.  It sounded delicious.  Too bad for me.  I was told the hurricane knocked out the scallops.  Scallops were not available, so I went with the Mahi.

Mahi was served with corn nage, pan spiced fried potatoes, and n'djua cream.  I have no idea what nage or n-djua are and Wikipedia has never heard of them either. 

I knew what potatoes were.  That's the potatoes on the right of the photo.  There were plenty of potatoes. All of the potatoes were undercooked. The pan spicing of the potatoes was a mystery.  I could not taste anything but near-raw potato.

I can only assume Mahi is the same as Mahi-Mahi.   I can't be sure because there was no Mahi available.  There wasn't even an explanation for why the Mahi was not available.

I was told the same dish was available but with Black Drum.  I ordered the Black Drum.


I show you this photo to give you an idea of the size of the Black Drum.  That's a tiny dessert spoon resting between the fish and the pile of raw potatoes.  The fish was about the size of a silver dollar, but it cost $25.00 plus tax.  At 1618 Downtown's price, a whole Black Drum fish would run about $12,000.00


Debbie felt sorry for my small plate of food and decided to share her Crab Cake Benedict with me.

Notice the vase of water with DOWNTOWN on the side.  1618 Downtown was very generous with their water.  We were not able to finish the entire vase.

Debbie did finish her 6 oz. of wine.  Many of 1618 Downtown's wines are served by the ounce.  There's a 1.5 oz. serving, a 3 oz. serving, and a 6 oz. serving.  Debbie was convinced her African sauvignon blanc was not 6 oz.

I have a hard time imaging what a 1.5 oz. serving looks like.  The most expensive 1.5 oz. serving was $3.75.


This is a partial view of the 1618 Downtown bar.  If sold by the ounce, there must be a $1,000,000 in alcohol on the shelves.

The cost of dinner was about $85 with tax and tip.

Unless you only want a burger with a 6 oz. glass of wine,  1618 Downtown is not recommended.

DESSERT

Debbie was not impressed with the dessert selection at 1618 Downtown.  She suggested we look elsewhere for dessert.  Maxie B's was the choice.


Debbie smiles at the mind-boggling selection of desserts at Maxie B's on Battleground.  Maxie B's sells nothing but desserts. 

The staff is always helpful and the place is very clean, but sometimes can get very crowded.


This is Maxie B's cupcake case. 

If you have never been to Maxie B's, shame on you.  You must go.


Here's what we selected and brought home.  On the left is German Chocolate Cake for Debbie and Pecan Pie for me on the right.  We decided to save the desserts for another night.  I was too stuffed with $25 worth of Black Drum.

Maxie B's cost about $12.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

EAT LIKE A KING


EAT LIKE A KING FOR A WEEK

Click images to enlarge

SUNDAY


I'd like to tell you BIG OAK DRIVE-IN (in Salter Path) is the first place we went while on vacation at Atlantic Beach. Actually, it's the second place we went.  

Our first stop was the FOOD LION where Reidsville Mayor James Festerman was thrown out and the police had to be called to tell him to never again return to FOOD LION.

We don't know this for a fact, but we've heard beer and steaks were involved. To get the straight of it, you might want to ask Mayor Festerman about it.  I'm sure he will be happy to talk about it.

I just discovered the Atlantic Beach Police Station is just a stone's throw from the FOOD LION.  It was very easy for the police to answer FOOD LION's call for help when Festerman returned and was not welcome.  Anyway, we always like to pay homage to one of Festerman's former hangouts.

By the way, if you decide to pay homage at the Atlantic Beach Food Lion, be sure to notice the EXPRESS LANE sign.  It says "About 12 Items".  Not more, not less, but "about 12 items" are allowed in the EXPRESS LANE.


Debbie enjoyed the traditional tailgate event at BIG OAK.  There are no tables and chairs unless you bring your own.  Debbie sat on the tailgate and I sat in a new beach chair she had purchased for me.  Our food was seated on the tailgate beside her.


Debbie had the standard shrimpburger (pictured on the right).  BIG OAK is world famous for its shrimpburger. I decided to go a bit more exotic.  I had wanted a scallop burger, but they were all sold out of scallops.


I ordered a softshell crab burger.  I've never had a softshell crab burger.  I decided to give it a whirl.

Here you can see my burger stuffing trying to crawl out of the bun.  The little legs are just hanging over the edge of BIG OAK's softshell crab burger.

I love softshell crab, but I can't recommend BIG OAK's softshell crab burger.  The taste was a bit off.  Maybe it was the ketchup.  All of BIG OAK's burgers come with tartar sauce, ketchup and slaw standard unless you tell them otherwise.  I didn't and I regretted it.  Ketchup doesn't belong on crab. The softshell crab burger cost $9.95 and it was damned tiny little crab.  Ouch!


Debbie took the safe way out and ordered the onion rings.  We both agreed the rings were very good.


Again I went the more exotic route and ordered fried pickles.  Debbie liked them, I didn't.  She preferred the pickle sticks and I like the pickle chips.  That's bleu cheese dressing she's dipping her fried pickle into.

Notice the Roland's Barbecue cup in the third photograph.  That's what my Pepsi was served in.  Roland's is a BBQ place in Beaufort.  I have no idea why BIG OAK put's its Pepsi in a Roland's cup.

NOTE:  Many hours later I turned my Pepsi cup around.  On the reverse side, it said BIG OAK Drive-In and Bar-B-Q.  Apparently, there is a business connection between BIG OAK and ROLAND's.  Doh!

MONDAY



A smiling Debbie salutes the camera on the porch at our Atlantic Beach place.  Notice the cup in her hand.  The smile may be caused by the cup.  She knows something that I didn't.



For many weeks, I had paid almost no attention to what I thought was an ordinary cup from which Debbie had been drinking.  I learned today it was a cup she had brought back from her recent visit to Texas.  Moreover, I also learned it is a sippy cup.  Debbie has been drinking her wine from a sippy cup.  Notice the clear lid has a hole on the upper right side.  You can ignore the blue cozy into which her sippy cup has been inserted in the salute photo.

I tried out her sippy cup.  I was not impressed with the experience.

So much for the 50+ wine glasses stored in our upstairs and the dozen or so glasses in the kitchen cabinet at the beach.  Put your wine into a sippy cup and you won't ever have to worry about staining your top.



These are some of the biggest shrimp that I've ever seen.  Debbie bought 5 lbs from a man selling them from a beat-up blue Jeep parked on the left side of Highway 70.

I was assigned the task of peeling and beheading about a pound of them for dinner.  I suppose we're going to be eating a lot of shrimp during our vacation.  It's a good thing that we like shrimp.

Debbie deveined the shrimp and declared she had found roe in a couple of them.  I'm not sure what shrimp roe look like, so I'll just take her word for it.  We'll just have to live with the fear that she aborted a couple of shrimp for our dinner.  The mothers were obviously already dead, but there's still that lingering controversy.



This is what became of the pound of shrimp that I cleaned. They looked and tasted delicious.

The shrimp were pan cooked with sauvignon blanc wine, red and white onion, garlic, lemon, and spinach.  The shrimp were served over a high-protein pasta and sprinkled with real Parmesan cheese, not the cheap plastic cheese that you buy in a green shaker can.

Debbie has made this dish before with the addition of cream.  She left the cream out of the dish this time.  If you decide to make this dish, DO NOT leave out the cream.   You will regret it if you do not include the cream.



I know you've been plagued with the notion that shrimp is to be served with a white wine.  Nonsense!  Try your shrimp with a petite syrah.  It's a wonderful combination.


Dessert was Chocolate Kahlua Pecan pie.  Debbie liked it.  I didn't. The pie can be found at Friendly Market at 205 Friendly Road.

I did not mention what we had for breakfast and lunch.  There two reasons for the omission: 1) I forgot to put "film" into my camera when breakfast was served.  I did not realize this until the meal had been eaten and all the pictures had been made, or so I thought; and 2) I ate lunch and forgot to take any photos even though the camera was fully loaded.

TUESDAY


Here are yesterday and today's breakfasts.  This time I had "film" in the camera.

Demonstrating how well-conditioned we are by advertising, Debbie called it an Egg McMuffin which means it's an English muffin with egg and Canadian bacon, which wasn't actually made in Canada and it certainly didn't come from McDonald's.  It came from Debbie's fry pan  McMuffin just seems like an easy and natural name to call it.

The McCantaloupe on the side were some of the sweetest I've ever tasted. The McCantaloupe was really McGood.


This is what we ate tonight.  You have little choice when you've made a large investment of your life savings in 5 pounds of super-large shrimp bought from a beat-up blue Jeep on the side of Highway 70.

The dish contained shrimp, potatoes, corn, beef sausage, onions, lemon. crushed red pepper, and a generous serving of Old Bay.  It is often referred as a shrimp boil, but Debbie didn't boil the dish.  She roasted it in a 350-degree oven for about hour.  The shrimp were naturally added last to avoid overcooking them.

It was delicious.  I highly recommend doing your "shrimp boils" this way.  Debbie is a clever chef.  She is really good to have along on a vacation.



Here's the dish laid out on a plate with the red wine again.  I added more Old Bay to the shrimp because that's just the way I am.  There was a delicious brown gravy in the bottom of the serving platter.  Some of it was poured over my shrimp and the rest I sopped up with a lightly browned Asiago Cheese Bread that is not shown in the photo.


This is dessert.  It's crustless coconut pie.  Debbie liked it, I didn't.  A pie without a crust is not even a pie.  I'm not sure what it is.  It's gluten-free.  There's probably a French name for a crustless pie.  I don't speak French, so I can't say for sure.  It came from Mindy's Bakery in Friendly Market.  That's all I can say.


Is there really treasure at the end of a rainbow?  This one formed over the ocean and bent over to the water on the sound side.  A second rainbow formed a little further out in the ocean and ran over to the sound.  Obviously, I did not catch the second rainbow with my camera, but it was there.  Honest, it was.

WEDNESDAY



Nothing starts the day like a large cup of steaming black coffee.  There's no doubt Debbie's coffee comes from Sumatra.  It's good stuff!


Breakfast was pretty standard - McCantaloupe, whole wheat muffin, eggs over easy, and some country sausage kicked up with crushed red pepper.


Here's what you do when you're faced with shitty beach cable TV.  You bring your Amazon FireTV stick from home and hook it to the TV.  The whole works fit into your hand, but it opens a world of viewing possibilities.

On NETFLIX I watched the Ken Burns CIVIL WAR series.  That was a 10-hour, 10-part series.  I also watched the 10-hour  MAKING A MURDERER series.  

You might wonder how I had time to enjoy the sun and surf.  The answer is I didn't.  Like a vampire, I am sensitive to sunlight.   This condition is caused by medication.  Debbie frolicked in the surf and I watched TV and napped.

While avoiding a nasty sunburn, I learned the CIVIL WAR was a terribly horrible event in our country's history.  My great-grandfather fought and was wounded for a lost and foolish cause.  More than 600,000 of our citizens killed each other over the course of four years.  The number killed was more than the combined deaths in all wars in our history.  And make no mistake, 600,000+ people died over slavery, not states' rights.

MAKING A MURDERER was a study of how very wrong our justice system can go.

And, yes, I watched a lot of softcore porn.  Pray for me, please.  Thank you.

I also listened to a lot of music - my Joe Bonamassa station and my Jr. Walker station whenever Debbie was around.  The music was provided by Pandora.


Scallops pan-seared in butter and olive oil were tonight's main course.  Oven baked corn, potatoes, and Asiago cheese bread made a second appearance.  A salad with bleu cheese dressing rounded out the plate.


Tiramisu was served for dessert.  Debbie and I both agreed this was excellent.

THURSDAY



There was nothing exciting for breakfast today.  It was eggs over-easy with a whole wheat English muffin and plastic bacon.


This was a typical lunch.  Lunch was often a piece of fried chicken and a sandwich.  In this case, it was a leftover scallop sandwich.  Old Bay seasoned the fried chicken.  I love Old Bay.  I believe I could eat it on ice cream.

You can tell Debbie was not involved in the preparation of lunch.


A very nicely browned Debbie toasts herself for making another grand dinner.  She had good reason to smile.


This is the reason Debbie was smiling.  It's our dinner.  A ribeye steak was smothered in a sauce made of butter, garlic, sauvignon blanc, cream, Parmesan cheese, and shrimp.  A substantial portion of our life savings went into this dish, but there's some more shrimp still in the freezer.

I wonder how the shrimp remains will be used.  I'm hoping the shrimp finds its way into a breakfast egg dish.  I doubt Debbie will go there - too kinky for her.

Debbie didn't much care for the ribeye.  She thought it not as good as the steaks she's been buying at Chuck's in Danville.  I disagreed - the steak was fine and the sauce and shrimp were excellent.

Here's where I should mention something Debbie did while I had my back turned.  She purchased another week's vacation in September at the same location.  That week went for $1000 - one time, one shot.  She then met someone on the elevator and permanently bought his week in mid-March for $1.  Look for her book, Art of the Deal, by Debbie Todd Moore to learn how you can become fabulously wealthy by speculating in timeshares. 

FRIDAY



My wish was granted.  Debbie made scrambled eggs with shrimp for Friday's breakfast.  The combination was pretty tasty.  Of course, I had to add Old Bay.

I read on the Old Bay tin that it's been made with the "Same great taste for over 75 years".  This makes me wonder why no one has attempted to imitate Old Bay, at least I don't know of an Old Bay knockoff.  There's plenty of boils out there, but nothing that tastes like Old Bay.  The recipe seems simple enough.  I smell another opportunity for financial bliss.  When these timeshares pay off, I'm going to look at investing in an Old Bay substitute.

Debbie has gone shopping to buy a case of wine and get lawyered up for the March timeshare.  She is, of course, also going to the grocery store.

The plan tonight is to eat at AMOS MOSQUITOS.  We're considering the Baked Oysters appetizer and I'm looking at a repeat of last year's Lump Crabcakes with Corn and Scallions.  I'm guessing Debbie will repeat Shrimp and Grits because she's been talking about shrimp and grits all week.


This is the line at 5 PM at Amos Mosquitos.  The restaurant opens at 5 PM.  Actually, it's a few minutes before 5 PM and people are already waiting at "SKEETERS" front door.  There was a line behind me, too.


This is Amos Mosquito's owner.  He is logging in customer requests for a table.  He recorded your name and number of guests and issued you an electronic blinker to let you know when your table was ready.

We had to wait in line for about 10 minutes and then another 15 minutes with a blinker on standby.  About half of the blinker waiting was done standing up.  Finally, some folks were blinked in and we took their seats to wait some more.

Considering the crowd of people, I thought the 25-minute wait was pretty short.  Very soon after taking our seats for the second wait period we heard the owner telling customers the wait would be up to 1-1/2 hours.

When we left the restaurant, Debbie learned the owner's mother is from Stoneville.


This is Sassy.  You may remember we had Sweetie for a waitress last year.  Like Sweetie, Sassy was bubbly and full of personality.  Debbie thought she recognized a Virginia accent when Sassy introduced herself.  It turns out Debbie was right.  Sassy was from Ahoskie which is in North Carolina, but very near the Virginia border.  Move Reidsville four hours east and you're in Ahoskie.    Sassy has lived at Atlantic Beach for 10 years and loves the place.  She couldn't say enough about how much she likes the people in Atlantic Beach.  Apparently, she's never met James Festerman.

Notice the pens in Sassy's shirt pocket.  This woman was prepared for anything.


Debbie digs in the bread bucket for a sampling.  She found slices of French bread, cornbread, and a spicy cracker.  The spicy cracker gave me pause.  It had quite a punch for a cracker.


This is the cornbread with butter on the top.  It contained bits of scallions.  Debbie liked it so much she ordered a second serving of the cornbread.  It was good cornbread - something I've never really liked.


Now things are getting serious.  This is our baked oyster appetizer.  It was six oysters topped with bacon, spinach, and Parmesan and cream cheeses.  These were quite good for a month without an "r" in the date.  Debbie's been telling me you can't buy oysters unless there's an "r" in the month.  Well, Amos Mosquitos somehow figured a place to buy its oysters.  These were so good Debbie said she could have made an entire meal of just the oyster platter.  Too bad she didn't because it would have saved me about $10.


Here's the big boy.  Penne pasta with crab cakes and spinach, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, scallions and a chipotle aioli.  Debbie and I ordered the same dish.  The same dish I had last year.  She decided not to order Shrimp and Grits.

We also were seated at the same table as last year.

There seemed to be a lot more spinach in this year's crab pasta, but otherwise, it was the same dish.  Debbie said last year's spinach was more wilted which meant the spinach was not so obvious to the casual observer.  I disagree.  There was just more spinach this year.

At one time in my life, I believed I could never stand to eat spinach.  I guess I was remembering my mother's cooking.  She could make anything taste horrible.

I have now learned to eat two green things - spinach and zucchini.

I finished my crab pasta, Debbie had to bring her remains home in a box.

Dinner cost about $73, including a nice tip for Sassy.

Amos Mosquitos was another good experience.  I promise I will try a new dish when we return in September.

Note:  The gentle chirp of frogs and mosquitos played through the sound system in the men's and women's restrooms.  Cute.



We visited Crystal Coast Brewing in Atlantic Beach after dinner.  It's kinda like what the brewery in downtown Reidsville wants to be, but Crytal Coast is privately owned and operated.

Last year Crystal Coast Brewing did not exist in Atlantic Beach.  Now it's all new and shiny.  There's a second location in Morehead City.  Things can really happen fast when you don't depend on government handouts.

Crystal Coast serves beer and nothing else.  Well, maybe some snacks and soft drinks for designated drivers, but that's it - no food.  Such a business would not be allowed in Reidsville, at least that's what the Reidsville Police Department and the Planning Department repeatedly told me.

If you serve beer, then you must serve food if you're in the Reidsville downtown area.  The state ABC people told me that was bullshit, According to the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Reidsville has never even discussed alcohol since prohibition was repealed in 1933.  But, that didn't stop the Reidsville cops from harassing the hell out of me.

I hope the new Lucky City brewery if it ever opens, doesn't have to put up with that kind of Reidsville bullshit.

SATURDAY


First, you put water in the pot.  Then you bring the water to a boil.  Then you pour in the grits.  Then you turn down the heat and stir it all around for a bit.


Then you put the peppers, onions, and garlic in the pan and stir them all around.  When the mixture looks cooked, you add the shrimp until they turn pink.


Then you mix it all together in a bowl and add a piece of bread.

Presto, change-o - you've got shrimp and grits.  And you celebrate that Debbie didn't order Shrimp and Grits at Amos Mosquitos last night because her shrimp and grits were the most excellent meal we've had on our vacation.

Bravo for your shrimp and grits, Chef Debbie!

SUNDAY



We're preparing to say goodbye to Atlantic Beach.  There's one final breakfast before we hit the road.

If you decide to go to Atlantic Beach because of what you've read here, don't eat at the Oceanana Pier House Restaurant.  Turn away.  Go somewhere else.  We warned you.  You're much better off taking Debbie with you.

At the Oceanana the eggs were cold, the country ham rubbery, and the grits were flavorless.  What was supposed to be whole wheat toast was actually soggy white semi-toast.  It was the worst meal of our entire trip.

That's all I've got to say about that.


Goodbye until September to the white sands of Atlantic Beach.