Driving back from Florida, we stopped for a couple of nights in Wilmington, NC. We really liked the city. A dearth of diverse restaurants, extremely pleasant citizens, a Riverwalk, and horse and carriage rides where for Easter the horses wear bunny ears. A great place to relax and if you need the beach, it's just a few miles away. Here are some places we recommend...
To stay: Blue Heaven Bed & Breakfast www.bbonline.com/nc/blueheaven
Only a few picturesque blocks away from the river front. Affordable accomodations, high ceilings, great Victorian front porch. Say "Hi" to Jay!
To imbibe: Wilmington Wine Shoppe wilmingtonwineshoppe.com
Great wine tasting every Thursday evening. Sells wine by the glass and is open late, especially on weekends! The shop also makes deliveries to Blue Heaven.
For seafood: The Pilot House www.pilothouserest.com
Located along the Riverwalk. The hostess offered to seat us at the window; we didn't even have to request it. The seafood platter and crab cakes made for scrumptious eating. The Leaping Lizard Merlot was good, too. As a side dish, Hoppin' John was served - rice and black eyed peas with just enough cayenne to tingle the tongue. Blue Heaven can give you a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert, too!
For outdoor cafe dining: Le Catalan www.lecatalan.com
A small restaurant that has set up French-style tables and chairs on the Riverwalk dock. A petit reminder of Paris and great for people- or dog-watching. Try the sausage and cheese plates with baguettes. Wash the meal down with a glass of Stephen Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon. Magnifique!
Walk around, window shop, visit a historic house, and stroll along the river.
For dinner: Caprice Bistro www.capricebistro.com
Once again, French. The second floor houses a Sofa Bar - comtemporary couches with the obligatory Martini list. The first floor contains the bistro. Bustling, attentive waitstaff and the owner/hostess greeting and conversing with diners. The Burgundy we selcted to drink was sold out, much to our waiter's chagrin. When he handed us the wine list he had told us everything but a Pouilly-Fuisse was available. (We understand that further discussions would be taking place during the Monday staff meeting to prevent this from happening again!) With a little trepidation on our part and our waiter's, we ordered the 2003 Chateuaneuf du Pape Domaine du Lazaret (we had the same wine at Disney, but this was a much better price). Sigh of relief; it was in stock. And even better than the last time because the price was very reasonable. For the first course I had the Butternut Squash Soup - very lovely. My husband ordered the Chilled Cucumber Soup - very refreshing. For dinner I had a duck duo - pan seared breast, medium and leg confit, well-done. The duck breast was sublime. Very tender. The confit lacked salt and was not as tender, which is odd; generally, restaurants will excel better at the confit than the breast. Steak frites was the meal for my spouse. He had been craving it ever since he read the menu earlier in the afternoon. He was not dissappointed. The frites were as good as CanCan in Richmond (or in Paris).
For after dinner coffee: Port City Java www.portcityjava.com
Port City Java has numerous locations, but we were not familiar with the franchise. The Mochaccino was perfect after dinner!
Wilmington still has a lot to offer as far as eating - Tapas, Fondue, Thai, Upscale, other French, other Seafood, more Coffee Shops, etc. We are trying to figure out when to return for a long weekend (just not in the hot Summertime).