Cape Fear Foodie: The Vine
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Southeastern North Carolina has no shortage of great spots to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat, though in the peak of tourist season, it can be difficult to find a spot that isn’t swarming with people. While I enjoy being at a busy rooftop bar or rubbing elbows at a beachside watering hole, sometimes you want a place that feels a little more private.
One place that offers you a great selection of drinks, food and that special intimacy is The Vine in downtown Wilmington. Located at the corner of Third and Princess Street, The Vine is a cozy wine bar that boasts tapas, entrees and charcuterie. Situated inside an old lawyer’s office that has been transformed into a sophisticated setting, the dimmed lights and music invite conversation over a bottle of wine and some exceptional food.
During a recent visit, my friend and I started off with a glass of wine (most options are under $10 a glass, which is a great deal in this town) and nabbed a couple small plates (if you stop by on Thursdays, it’s half-priced tapas).
We tried the “Date Night,” which is roasted dates stuffed with a maple balsamic goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with a fig balsamic reduction. Sweet, savory, creamy, and acidic, this plate is well rounded and an excellent way to start your visit.
Of course I’m a sucker for anything that includes bacon, so when I saw “Bacon Pops” on the menu that was a must-try as well. Skewered slices of thick cut bacon, dry rubbed and coated with maple balsamic vinegar. I could have devoured all of them, but polishing off four strips of bacon outside of breakfast isn’t the classiest look (though I did take home the leftovers and they made for a killer BLT).
The Vine also has items like “Truffle Mac-n-Cheese,” “Tune Poke Tostadas,” “Potstickers,” flatbreads and a handful of various cheese boards to choose from (you can even create your own). Plus my friend has dietary restrictions and liked the fact gluten free and vegetarian options are noted on the menu.
As for some more substantial fare, entrees range from mussels over pasta, to a “Sesame Tuna Poke Bowl,” and “Garlic Tomato-Basil Chicken.” Though owner Randy Hall mentioned their most popular entrée is the “Filet Au Poivre.” The classic French dish boasts a peppercorn crusted filet, with a peppercorn sauce, yucca-mash potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts with butternut squash. It didn’t take long to see why the dish is such a hit, the filet was cooked to perfection, the sauce was delicious and the side items added flavor and texture to the plate. It’s one of those meals you want to savor, and truly enjoy every bite.
With another glass of wine, we were treated to a simple yet complex dessert. A bowl of creamy vanilla ice cream, with Persian lime infused olive oil and key lime infused olive oil drizzled on top and some powdered sugar shortbread cookies. Personally I would have never thought to top a bowl of ice cream with olive oil, but the flavor profile was mind-opening.
You will notice that most options on the menu are made with a particular olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette, that’s because the Halls also own their craft oil emporium right next door, Taste the Olive and Vine. Inside is a collection of infused olive oils and vinaigrettes that you can sample before you buy. It’s worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for that certain something to take a dish over-the-top.
Overall my first visit to The Vine won’t be my last. The food is tasty, the wine list is expansive and well priced, and the setting allows you to both enjoy your meal and the company you’re with. It works well for a date night or if you’re looking to get away from the typical hustle and bustle, and that’s something we can all use this time of year.
IF YOU GO:
The Vine is located at 25 N 3rd 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to feature your selection. Cheers!
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