Beach, cocktails, Dining

Kitsey’s guide to the Crystal Coast

People are always asking me for my recommendations on things to do, and in particular, places to eat on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, so here’s the quick and dirty!

About the Crystal Coast:
I love its tourism slogan “North Carolina’s Gem.” It’s so fitting for this lovely area that includes Atlantic Beach, Morehead City and Beaufort.

Where to stay:
Formerly known as the Clamdigger, it now goes by the more upscale sounding moniker of The Inn at Pine Knoll Shores. It’s a great hotel for a quick weekend trip. For longer trips we book a condo through Cannon and Gruber.

Where to eat: (The most frequently asked question!)

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Amos Mosquitos in Atlantic Beach. My number one choice though it’s really a tie between here and Floyds. Fun, casual atmosphere and great food. The pork chop with tasso ham gravy is what I’d want as my last meal if I’m ever on death row. It’s only open for dinner and always packed in the summer. Get there early and be prepared for a wait, but it’s worth it. Have a mojito in the bar while you wait. And order the s’mores for dessert cause it’s fun!

 

Floyds 1921 in Morehead City. My other number one. In a beautiful old home it’s casual but still has a fine dining flair to it. The entire menu is wonderful. The crab bisque, mac and cheese appetizer and meatloaf are all good. I usually order mahi mahi when I’m here. And I ALWAYS (well except for last year when I was pregnant) order a Big Daddy Dirty Martini! Amazing desserts too!

Ruddy Ducks in Morehead City. This is my dad’s favorite place and we usually end up eating here at least twice if not three times while we are visiting in the summer. The shrimp basket is the best deal at the beach! Sitting on the deck makes for an even more enjoyable experience. The painkiller cocktail is another yummy choice. The fish tacos are good as are all the burgers. Great place for the seafood and non-seafood lovers.

acs_0246Channel Marker in Atlantic Beach. This place has a bit of an old-school feel to it. They put out the cracker basket and cheese on the table when you arrive. The deck is great if you like to sit outdoors with a view, it’s right on the waterway. The mahi is good and just the plain ol’ fried flounder is another of our favorites. I always upgrade to the stuffed baked potato.

 

 

 

acs_0245Spouter Inn in Beaufort. Great spot for lunch. The flounder sandwich is good as is the egg salad. Another great place to dine al fresco right on the water!

 

 

 

What to do: 

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. I just love this place. I go nearly every summer. Be sure to pet the stingrays and say hi to the otters, Neuse, Pungo and Eno. If the otters are asleep on your first trip around, swing back by again before you go. It’s worth it to see them playing!

Shackleford Banks. Take the ferry from Beaufort over to this little island to see the wild ponies and collect some shells. It’s wonderful at low tide as there is a big sandbar you can walk way out on.

Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach. If you like history this place is definitely worth a visit.

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Dining

Shatley Springs: A step back in time

img_6239Growing up, one of my favorite summer treats was a trip to Shatley Springs. In today’s world of farm to table restaurants with fancy upscale versions of Southern fare, it fascinates me that this little place in the absolute middle of nowhere is still around. But I am certainly glad it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good upscale Southern dining experience, but sometimes the tradition of a place outweighs the fancy table cloths.

I had a few days off recently and my Dad and I decided to take a little trip up to Crumpler, North Carolina to eat lunch at Shatley Springs.

While I greatly enjoy the food, it’s really about the overall experience. It’s not just lunch, it’s an adventure. It’s a little vacation and a good meal that is close enough to home to do in a day, but still feels like a sweet little get-away.

Shatley Springs is something of a ramshackle little red building set on a property in the mountains of North Carolina with a spring said to have healing properties. There’s a little duck pond, gift shop, and cabins on the property as well.

The restaurant serves up plain ol’ country fare like fried chicken and mashed potatoes. They have a menu, but the only way to do it, in my opinion, is to order the family style. They bring out a great big platter of fried chicken and country ham and bowls full of pinto beans, mashed potatoes, cabbage, apples, corn, macaroni and cheese, oh and biscuits. Be sure to ask for some red eye gravy too! I can’t explain it but it just brings me joy to watch them bring out all those dishes of food and set them right in front of you. Oh, and there’s cobbler for dessert. I usually leave feeling so miserable I can hardly walk, but it’s worth it.


The entire place feels like a little step back in time. The story about the spring is quite fascinating also. It was discovered in 1890 by one Martin Shatley. Shatley was said to suffer from a variety of health problems including a very severe skin disorder. According to his testimony, written down in 1925, Shatley had seen numerous doctors and tried many different treatments, none of which worked. He was so ill that he contemplated taking his own life just to get out of the misery he was in. Shatley had suffered from his ailments for seven years when he moved his family to the area where he discovered the spring.

“Then I moved away from town and went to this farm,” Shatley said in a written testimony. “A few months after I had been on this farm one day I walked out on my farm. My face was so inflamed and swollen I had to hold my eyelids up with my hands to see my way to walk. I passed a spring and dipped up some water with my hands and bathed my face to cool the fever down in my face as I had often done when I passed where there was cold water and in less than one hour I realized that my face was better and so much better that I became excited about it.

“Then late that evening I went back to that spring and bathed my face and other parts of my body, and by the next morning the fever had left where the water was put on the skin. I was so glad I felt like shouting, I was glad with all my heart. I told everybody I saw about it. I gained strength every day and in three weeks I was out on the farm at work and could do about as much work as any man I could hire, and in six weeks my lung was well and I was about as stout as I ever was.”

Since the spring was discovered, many have come to seek healing for various ailments. The spring runs to this day, right under the restaurant. Visitors are able to collect water to take home while there.

Thankfully, I have no ailments in need of curing, but I can say the water is quite refreshing and I certainly feel glad with all my heart when they bring out all that food!

Dining

Kitchen Roselli

Dining out with my love is one of my all time favorite things! This weekend we enjoyed a meal at one
of our favorite local restaurants, Kitchen Roselli. I love going here to eat not only because the food is excellent, but I love the atmosphere.

A few years ago, a lovely couple renovated one of our last remaining historical buildings and turned it into a restaurant. I was thrilled because I used to work in this building when it was a “General Store” that sold everything from bib overalls to  Christmas knick knacks. The building was also featured once in a short film called Two Soldiers that won an Academy award!

Their menu is flavorful and hearty Italian fare. When we dined there this week they were featuring a steak special. I do adore a filet mignon! I devoured every delicious bite
of this little beauty that was cooked to perfection in a red wine and mushroom sauce.

Morgan enjoyed a hearty pasta dish, which unfortunately I did not take a picture of because I was too intent on eating my own meal.

My steak was also accompanied by a side of spaghetti, which was also delightful.

 

To compliment our meal, we enjoyed a bottle of wine  (as we often do!) Morgan discovered this wine when we dined at Roselli’s back in April and it is now one of our favorites. We are big supporters, and by supporters I mean drinkers, of Yadkin Valley wine, but we try not to be snobbish about wines not made in our own appellation. This lovely wine is made in Sicily and sipping it makes you feel like you are there. It is so smooth and the flavors of blackberry and fig give it the barest hint of sweetness although it is a dry wine. After taking a bite of our antipasti salad with salty olives and salami the wine tasted even sweeter. We plan to find out where we can buy this wine and have at home because we love it that much!

Of course, no good dinner out is complete without dessert. At Kitchen Roselli, getting dessert can be a little cut throat. The restaurant’s most popular dessert is a cream puff and there are not always enough for everyone. Sadly, we were told all the cream puffs were gone when it came time for us to order dessert. We do enjoy a cannoli so we were going to settle for that. And then, a most wonderful thing occurred. A cream puff was liberated and delivered to our table! We were beyond thrilled.

And then something even more amazing happened, the server offered us an after-dinner drink! Why is this amazing? My whole life, our town and county has been dry. The fact that we can even enjoy wine and now liquor at a meal out is quite amazing. I enjoyed a very soothing glass of Amaretto. Yum!

Cheers!