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Cape Fear Foodie: True Blue

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 12:47 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Summer is here and there is a lot going on in the food scene across the area right now. A number of new restaurants are gearing up for openings, along with some hip new beer joints, cocktail bars and bottle shops.

One new restaurant that has been taking Wilmington by storm over the past few months is True Blue Butcher and Barrel. The brainchild of owner Bobby Zimmerman and his team at True Blue, the new steakhouse location on Greenfield Street in the bustling South Front District has truly transformed the block. And that’s saying something given the other well-known dining choices nearby.

A fun and inviting interior with plenty of outdoor seating offers a prime spot for brunch, lunch or dinner. I’ve already stopped by for all three, so this write-up will encompass each of those visits.

If you know True Blue from its original location at The Forum, you know what you are getting into. Quality food, great drinks and wine, and an experience that keeps you coming back for more. A recent brunch trip included a group of guy friends (we had to escape a baby shower) and no one batted an eye when we ordered pour-your-own mimosas for the table. Two options of freshly squeezed watermelon and mint juice or an orange coconut concoction paired nicely with an exceptional bottle of champagne from France.

Fresh oysters, with house made hot sauce and mignonette, a perfect coastal appetizer as you...
Fresh oysters, with house made hot sauce and mignonette, a perfect coastal appetizer as you await your main course.(WECT)

Then came the food, a selection of fresh oysters with all the fixings, plus an order of “Popcorn Chicken & Waffles.” A sourdough waffle, with fried chicken, bourbon maple syrup and bacon. The South has been crazy about this particular dish for a while, and this offering stacks up with the handful of other chicken & waffle plates I have tried.

A nod to one the South's favorite dishes, this version boasts a sourdough waffle, fried...
A nod to one the South's favorite dishes, this version boasts a sourdough waffle, fried chicken, bourbon maple syrup, and some added bacon for extra measure.(WECT)

Brunch options also include everything from “Blue Crab & Asparagus Omelette” to “Pork Belly, Shrimp, & Eggs.” It’s an eclectic menu and each dish that comes through the window is Instagram worthy.

For lunch, the menu has a load of shareables, like Kebabs, fish tacos, seafood cocktail and even Kai Yang (a Thai grilled chicken dish).

However I cannot express how good the burgers are here. The company has been famous for offering $5 burger specials on Wednesday nights (before 7 p.m.) but my favorite is the “Butcher and Table” burger. It’s cooked to perfection, with Comte cheese, a porcini mushroom butter and a Calabrian pepper aioli (pro tip: ask for more aioli). The entire burger simply melts in your mouth and is served with a plate of freshly cut fries (mayo and ketchup a must).

Not your typical burger, the "Butcher and Table" comes with a special meat blend, a unique...
Not your typical burger, the "Butcher and Table" comes with a special meat blend, a unique French cheese, a mushroom butter, and a pepper aioli. (WECT)

Of course ,if you are looking for something a little more beefy, you can go with True Blue’s calling card, their varied selection of steaks. Ribeyes, Strips (New York and Kansas City), Tenderloins, and Filets...it’s all here. I went with the “Streak and Frites,” option and subbed the fries for the Mac and Cheese. First off, I will boldly proclaim this is the best mac and cheese I have ever ate. Served in a massive crock, it’s so rich, so gooey, so addicting. It is worth the trip alone.

It's tough to beat out a perfectly cooked filet, but the accompanying macaroni and cheese is...
It's tough to beat out a perfectly cooked filet, but the accompanying macaroni and cheese is the best I have ever tried and well worth a place on your plate.(WECT)

The filet, like the burger, was cooked perfectly to order (and if it’s not, they will take care of it for you). Served with a mouthwatering demi-glace sauce, it was a mini-masterpiece. Rounded out with a nice side salad, and I felt I had gotten a truly complete meal, cooked at an expert level, all for under $30.

Butcher and Barrel holds true to its name with its wide selection of bourbons and liquors. The menu boasts a number of craft cocktails as well, and if something isn’t on the menu (like a Mai Tai) you can walk the bartender through exactly what you want. Like its sister restaurant, there is also a hefty wine menu on hand if that’s your drink of choice.

Weekend evenings boast live music, from saxophone players to DJs, and help give a fun vibe to the location if you swing by for a drink or bite to eat. Given the popularity of the new location, a reservation is probably a smart idea for the evenings, but if you’re headed over for brunch or lunch you should have no problem getting seated. Then again if you have to wait, at least you know you are in for a treat.

IF YOU GO:

True Blue Butcher and Barrel is located at 110 Greenfield St Suite 114, 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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