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Cape Fear Foodie: Southern Goes Global

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 10:50 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - I wasn’t even able to make it a whole week with my resolution to get out of Wilmington and try something new. To be fair, I tried to get into three different restaurants in Carolina Beach and whether due to COVID or seasonal reasons, all were closed. But I will be back!

However that didn’t overshadow my buoyant mood to this new year (I have other resolutions that are going strong), so I opted for a spot in downtown Wilmington that I have wanted to visit for a while.

I’ve often tried to get a seat at Rumcow. on weekend evenings, but it can be difficult. The inviting atmosphere, cool drinks and fun eats are popular with locals and tourists alike. So it was with great pleasure that a Thursday night trip allowed me to walk right in.

For starters I went with a creation from the bar. With “rum” in the name, Rumcow. offers a wide range of rum-based drinks. From Mai Tais, to Painkillers, and even Caipirinhas (the national cocktail of Brazil that’s made with cachaça). It’s a refreshing cocktail list and there’s something for everyone. Here I settled with a Rum Swizzle, a perfect exotic escape in the dead of winter.

Can a restaurant with "rum" in the name really not have rum drinks? I guess they can, but it...
Can a restaurant with "rum" in the name really not have rum drinks? I guess they can, but it wouldn't make much sense. This Rum Swizzle on the other hand, made perfect sense. A tropical escape in the middle of winter.(WECT)

After a few sips, my friend and I examined the menu. Rumcow. prides itself on offering classic American and Southern dishes with an international flair. Asian Tots, Cajun Fried Gator Bites, Shrimp and Grit Tacos all spoke to the wide breadth of appetizers.

Thin sliced steak fries are the foundation of this culinary creation boasting fried spinach and...
Thin sliced steak fries are the foundation of this culinary creation boasting fried spinach and basil, with gruyere cheese, crispy prosciutto, and a bacon aioli.(WECT)

We settled on “Cordon Bleu Fries,” with fried spinach and basil, prosciutto, gruyere cheese and a side of bacon aioli. We both loved the fries, which were house-cut skinny steak fries. As a whole the contents worked, though I think a little more cheese and the aioli on top would have really taken the dish to the next level.

Savory, sweet, crispy and fluffy, these pork belly pockets have it all.
Savory, sweet, crispy and fluffy, these pork belly pockets have it all.(WECT)

Next were “Crispy Pork Belly Pockets.” Bacon, housemade peach chutney, fig goat cheese and arugula enveloped by a warm and fluffy mini naan-style bun. These really hit the spot and I think we could have just had a platter of these.

For the main course, Rumcow. has various burgers, chicken and seafood plates. I chose the Southern Fried Chicken Cornbread Sliders, which were slices of buttery and sweet cornbread, housing fried-to-perfection chicken, fried green tomatoes, pepper jelly, and a dollop of pimento cheese. The sweet and salty mixed with the creamy spice of the cheese surprisingly gave this seemingly straight-forward dish multiple layers of flavor.

A different take on the chicken sandwich wars, the sweet cornbread supports a crispy and salty...
A different take on the chicken sandwich wars, the sweet cornbread supports a crispy and salty chicken tender and fried green tomato, with pepper jelly and pimento cheese to add an extra kick.(WECT)

We also had the “Blackened Chicken Breast,” a creole take on this Southern staple. The hoppin’ john was perfect, and worked as more of a bed of jambalaya for the blackened chicken. The chipotle tomato cream sauce gave the dish a wet component that helped bring it all together. (excuse my sauce cup in the picture, it did not come like that)

Blackened chicken breast, over a wonderful base of hoppin' John that eats more of like a...
Blackened chicken breast, over a wonderful base of hoppin' John that eats more of like a jambalaya. This dish delivers on the spice with a not to Cajun cooking.(WECT)

Given it’s goal to offer southern dishes with a global reinvention, the dishes certainly spoke of fresh takes on soul food. I think the best part of the menu is the varied amount of options. You could presumably have an Asian-forward meal, or a craft burger, or a freshly caught fish. It’s enough to make me want to return soon, whether I have to wait or not.

IF YOU GO:

Rumcow. is located at 121 Grace St, Wilmington, NC 28401

Do you recommend a restaurant? Or know of a best kept secret that you want the rest of the Cape Fear to know about? Shoot me an email at corey.preece@gray.tv and I would love to feature your selection. Cheers!

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