Being Bruce -: Shrimp & Grits at Front Street Brewery

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shrimp & Grits at Front Street Brewery

When you visit or move to the Wilmington, North Carolina area (and you will, if you're not already here . . . . because why wouldn't you?), well anyway, when you're here you'll quickly discover a local comestible delight called Shrimp & Grits. Grits is (or are -your choice, it's a living language) a favored Southern carb used like rice in many regions in the world as a base for or accompaniment to other foods. It's also often eaten by itself, with any meal.

If you're of Native American heritage, as am I (shout out for the Passamaquoddy!), think hominy - it's the same thing.

If you like to cook (that would be me, too) and eat (well, yeah), grits provides substance, framing, and base without an intrusive flavor. Whaaa?? OK, it takes on the flavor of the food and sauces you serve on it.

So, that dragging intro aside, here's this blog piece about Shrimp & Grits at Front Street Brewery in Wilmington, NC.

Parking in downtown Wilmington isn't generally too bad, especially off season, and Front Street Brewery patrons can park for free in the public parking deck across the street (parking is free for the first hour, then you gotta pay), but I kept cruising the unusually busy streets for a spot. The street were busy because yet another movie or TV show was filming right on Market Street so we had to work around that and the usual crowds of onlookers. I think it was filming for an episode of One Tree Hill, which is made here and just got renewed for a 7th season (I'm sure that was headline news on your newspaper, too, right? Anyway, it's cool for us, even if we have to drive around a bit sometimes to find a parking spot). We did find a great spot after one loop around the center almost directly across from where they were filming, so it's not like it's all THAT hard.

We walked around the corner to 9 North Front Street and quickly got a table upstairs. Here's the door.

Manager Patrick Gaynor stopped by to say hello and we learned a lot about him. He's been running restaurants in Southport and Wilmington for years, moving here from the Binghamton, NY area I think he said when he was 17. Since he was from around Binghamton I asked if he knew about Spiedie Sauce (a regional sauce in that area with multitudes of rapid fans) and he said they stock it at Front Street Brewery for folks from upstate NY who visit or live in our area and for Marines from Camp Lejeune from Binghamton. Anyway, Patrick is a friendly guy.

We were there to try the Shrimp & Grits but started with appetizers. I meant to take a picture but they disappeared too fast. We had a large soft warm pretzel with mustard and tasty fried green tomatos.
We both ordered Shrimp & Grits. Here's what the plate looks like.
The menu says, "The Brewery brings this tasty Charleston style version of Shrimp and Grits to Wilmington. Sauteed shrimp in a Cajun Creole sauce served over a warm Polenta cake with sauteed roma tomatos, taso ham, and green onions."

And yeah, it was very very good. Marge isn't big on spicy sauces so just in case had hers served with the sauce on the side. I'm the opposite so I asked for a bottle of Tobasco so I could overheat mine. That way we were both very pleased. Here's a photo of my lovely wife Marge very happy after consuming Shrimp & Grits at FSB.

We're not really into the bar scene and wanted to get home to watch the eliminations on American Idol, so we left after the meal. I took the shot below on the way out, however, and as you can see, even at the early hour (around 7) the party was starting to get going.

We'll be back. If you see us there, say "Hey".