Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Beaufort Grocery Co. - Beaufort, NC

I visited Beaufort, North Carolina, recently to help out with my school's ethics retreat for students in the biomedical sciences. I had to go last year as a student, but this year I was a TA, so I had some more free time to go explore Beaufort proper. I was tired of our boxed lunches, so I set out to find a decent restaurant for my midday meal.

Beaufort Grocery Co.

I chose to eat at Beaufort Grocery Co. The front of the restaurant looks a little small. I was expecting only a handful of tables, but the building itself is deceptively large on the inside. And with the lunchtime crowd that was present, they can use all the tables they can get. I was greeted by the hostess is poised next to a refrigerated display case containing deli meats (they claim to be a local deli in addition to a restaurant) and 4-5 high-crusted pies and delectable-looking cakes. The inside looked like a dressed up version of the usual seafood town eatery - fish art on the walls, wood paneling on the walls and sails hanging on the ceiling. But they did not try to make it too modern. There was an inherent coziness to the place with table cloths showing vines bearing many fruits and kitchen towels as napkins.

The menu had awesome choices. A few salads, but the main options were sandwiches and at least 5 of them looked very good. I had to enlist the help of the waitress to decide, and I ended up ordering one of the specials instead of anything on the menu.

Tuna Sandwich with Sweet Potato Chips

I ordered the ahi tuna sandwich special. At first, I was admittedly underwhelmed by the size of the sandwich. I think living in the South has skewed the way I look at portions, though, because the sandwich was plenty of food to satisfy. The fish was cooked through but it was just done, leaving the meat perfectly succulent. It was topped with a Moroccan spice blend (warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, etc.) and dried apricots, figs and raisins, all showing off their powerful flavors with just a hint of spiciness. A touch of feta was added to add a note of saltiness amongst all the sweet toppings. The bread was ciabatta with a soft center and crunchy edges. Everything united into a positively wonderful experience. On the side was a kosher dill pickle and some sweet potato chips. The chips were fried until they had some crispiness to them, but they still retained some soft texture. Seasoned with sugar and cinnamon, they were the perfect pairing for the sandwich.

PB Mousse Cake

While I could have easily stopped eating after the sandwich, the desserts in the showcase by the front door looked too sumptuous to not try. I chose the peanut butter mousse cake which was a multi-layer extravaganza of peanut butter and chocolate: the bottom was moist, dense chocolate cake (decent but not an over chocolate flavor); a crunchy layer, possibly of mini chocolate chips; a chocolate mousse layer and a peanut butter mousse layer, both of which were light, creamy and packed with flavor; next was a thicker milk chocolate ganache as an outer layer to unify everything (not to mention adding architectural stability); to top it all off were some peanuts for a garnish. This cake was absolutely heavenly and, like a good glutton, I finished off almost the entire thing by myself.

After seeing how sparse the rest of Beaufort was on attractions, the Beaufort Grocery Co. is a shining lighthouse attracting visitors from all over to try their simply great seafood. So if you happen to be passing by Beaufort at some point, definitely stop in for a bite.

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