Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dinner for Two, and Other Related Events

Yesterday was no ordinary day.  It was another cold, windy day in the sunny South.  What made it different from any other day?  It was my birthday, a milestone birthday no less.  Let the celebration begin.  

The first birthday-related event was a trip to the New Balance store at Thruway.  I had clipped a coupon (ah, here we go again with the coupons) from Friday's paper for 20% off any one item.  Wow, just in time for my birthday.  I can't pass that up, so we make a surgical strike for the shoes.  I walk in and the guy asked how he could help me.  "I'd like a pair of 855s in size 7 1/2 please."  I tried them on and they fit perfectly, no waffling or struggling with a decision.  I'll take 'em.  That doesn't happen every day!

The main event was dinner at Century Kitchen.  For anyone not familiar with the place, Century Kitchen is located at Flint Hill Vineyards in East Bend.  It's out in the country, off the beaten path, and we usually make a wrong turn or miss a turn somewhere along the way.  In our defense, it's usually dark when we start out, and this place is way out there.

The effort in getting there is worth it, however, and we arrived right on time for our 6:00 reservation - no mistakes.   We were immediately seated at a table for two by a floor-to-ceiling window which was original to the house.  Pause to explain that the restaurant is in the old family homestead, and though it has been restored, much of it is original, and therefore drafty.  I asked if there was another table available, but it was Saturday night, and they were booked.  Our waitress, (or do they prefer to be called servers these days?) adjusted our table so that it was at an angle to the window, which moved us somewhat away from the cold air emanating from outside.

Whew, now I could concentrate on the task at  We settled on Duck Confit over Braised Red Cabbage with Chambourcin Beurre Rouge as our appetizer and two glasses of Viognier .  Delicious!  Yes, the duck and the wine.  For my entree, I chose one of the specials of the night, seared Mahi with diced potatoes and thinly sliced Brussels sprouts in a white cream sauce.  Hubby got the Pan Seared Jumbo Shrimp and Sea Scallops Crawfish Gumbo and Rice Pilaf.  Both dishes were excellently prepared.  The chef does not over salt, and shakers are on the tables if you want more.  My fish was mildly seasoned and very good.  The shrimp and scallops were delicious.  The sauce bordered on Étouffée-style, which we don't usually  like so much, but this was good, and spicy but not fiery.  

We were full as usual, so we ordered some dessert to go.  It was called a chocolate torte, and described as a flourless chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache.  It was a round chocolate cake about 3/4 inch high, covered in ganache and garnished with fresh strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.  It was fine, but next time I'd try something different.

On a wine note, since they've been open I've had the opportunity to try all of their wines several times.  For such a young vineyard (open since October of 2005), their wines are among my favorite North Carolina wines.  My personal favorites are their Viognier, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.  You can read more about their other varieties, as well as the restaurant, on their website.

The house is lovely and the setting is picturesque with an old-timey charm.  The food, wine and service are excellent, and reservations are recommended.  If you'd rather not have a chill with your dinner, you can request to be seated away from the windows.  This is another special occasion place that definitely gets a thumbs up rating from me.

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