Let’s face it. There are restaurants that we may never go to because of how we perceive them. Sure, sometimes we are right. But, sometimes, just sometimes, there is that one that we misjudged. See, that’s how I was with Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill. When you’re young, you don’t think about going to the place your Mom had her first drink at when she turned 21. You don’t think about going to a restaurant that has been around for many years. At least I don’t, and I’m ashamed to admit that because that’s where all the love is. It’s all about that new, fresh, hip place now, and we become focused on small singular restaurants. We tend to forget that chain restaurants are owned by people that have a dream as well, and are filling their restaurants with blood, sweat, and tears every single day. I’m here to tell you though, that old dogs can do new tricks….
As soon as you walk in, it’s a world away from many restaurants out there right now. As one person said to me recently… “I just didn’t understand the shackles on the wall when we went recently”. Since going there though…I can now explain why they are there to my friend, and will explain it to you towards the end. The décor is warm and inviting with little surprises around every bend. There are two stories with a vast bar at the heart of it. But, you will be quickly reminded that this isn’t a bar so to speak, it’s certainly geared toward family, and quiet hiding places for romantic date nights as well. There were random booths cantilevered above the bar area, and hidden booths tucked away a ½ floor above the 2nd floor. There’s wrought iron, and wood…stained glass and stainless steel. There is even a perfectly secluded room that seats 60, so one could have a meeting or gathering in. (Makes me wish I knew of an event to have!) Oh…did I mention the HUGE firepits outside for those perfect North Carolina nights???
From an extremely pleasant server, Kaitlyn (who was fabulous and beautiful), to Chef Larry (who was intelligent and talented), Jim – COO (who was kind and polite with a delightfully charming smile), and certainly not least…Jeff – Chief Culinary Officer (who was our main contact that walked us through the Darryl’s concept and was amazingly informative, educated with the food, and incredibly nice), it was a wonderful customer service experience. I have no doubt that the other servers are just as kind. There was one woman we spoke with at the beginning and ending of our adventure…I wish I had gotten her name, because she was absolutely friendly and kind…truly genuine.
But you know as well as I know that I was certainly interested in the food. There has to be something special about food to bring you back to a restaurant. This is where the whole teaching old dogs new tricks comes in to play.
There are a lot of things I can say, by myself, about the food, but I was lucky enough to have Mom with me, so she is going to contribute some bits as well so that we present you with a multi-generational outlook. Can you imagine if Maw-Maw had been with us??? Hers will be listed right behind mine after the word “Mom:” in italics. *smiles*
In a nutshell though….we honestly can say there wasn’t a single thing that hit our table that we wouldn’t order again. It was all amazing and drool-worthy.
Let’s start with beverages…
They have a huge selection of beers, with a good portion of local brews…good local brews, not the crappy ones. You can order a “flight” of beers, which is a sampling of 4 beers. They do the same with their wine. They didn’t have as large a selection of local vineyards, but what they did have, were good choices. From an amazing selection of high end to low end, the wine selector did a great job! Mom: Hummin’ Bird, Red Oak, Battlefield Bach, and Black Oak. I loved the Black Oak. I am a fan of dark beers. Give me a good stout and I am happy. I thought Red Oak’s new Black Oak was good. It was not as complex as some double bocks, but the chocolatey cream of the Black Oak is satisfying.
· There was a drink they just started for New Year’s Eve called the Nitro Royale. You can see a video of them experimenting with it by clicking here (on their Facebook page, which you can find here). Oh yeah, that experimenting part…they infuse the drink – that is Chambord on the bottom, champagne on top, garnished with a strawberry – with Liquid Nitrogen. It comes to the table “smoking” so to speak, and it tasted wonderful! Mom: The presentation of this drink was a show stopper. The liquid nitrogen chilling the Chambord and Champagne to a tongue tingling chill was only topped by the luscious strawberry happily floating in this concoction of merriment. (I love how she words things!…Did I mention she was the best person I could have shared this experience with???)
Now to the food…(I’ll try to keep this short, but we were fed a lot and Weight Watchers went out the window as soon as we walked in the door) *smiles* The dishes are listed in the order they were presented to us. ..
· Homemade Crackers – I heard these used to be very popular, and they had stopped making them. Well folks, they’re back and amazing! Mom: Loved them. They were salted and crispy – perfect.
· Salad Dressings – I asked Kaitlyn if they had any house-made dressings. She brought us four…Creamy Garlic Ranch, Oriental Peanut Dressing, Cilantro Citrus, and my favorite was the Red Wine Vinaigrette (there was just something special about it, like none other I had tasted).
· Shrimp and Grits – They use Old Mill of Guilford grits, so you know I was sold! The yellow grits and Tasso ham gravy was something that I will be ordering many times in the future. Perfect seasonings, perfect creaminess to the grits to compliment the gravy, and perfectly plump (not rubbery) shrimp! A favorite of the leftover’s according to the hub. Mom: Very good. The grits were creamy and well seasoned. I am a shrimp lover and these were cooked to perfection – not rubbery like some people think a shrimp should be cooked. The Tasso Gravy topping the dish was flavor intensified.
· Braised Certified Angus Beef Tips – WOW! I think that says it all….tender, juicy, flavorful gravy, creamy mashed potatoes in the middle accompanied by soft, warm parmesan garlic cheese bread on the side. This was also a favorite leftover of the hub’s. Mom: The potatoes were a good base to the beef tips. The beef tips were finished with wonderful gravy that was slightly peppery to me. The mildness of the potatoes offset the heat of the pepper.
· 8 ounce Filet Mignon – Ummmm…. I think I’ll let Mom have this one all to herself (like I did the dish…she loves steak, and I was going to get the Salmon to myself – it was only fair)… Mom: This has to have been the best Filet Mignon I have ever eaten. I am a steak lover and have eaten in some very exclusive and world renowned places in my life. You could cut this Filet with your fork. The Certified Angus Beef is top grade and well worth finding a restaurant that does it well. Darryl’s does it well.
· 3 sauces served with the Filet Mignon – Green Peppercorn Sauce, Burgundy Sauce, and Blue Cheese Fondue. The Blue Cheese Fondue wasn’t for me (just because I don’t care too much for blue cheese), the Burgundy Sauce had just the right amount of Rosemary in it, and the Green Peppercorn Sauce would have been my perfect sauce pairing with the steak. Very good! Mom: I loved the Blue Cheese Fondue Sauce. If you are looking for a place to get a good steak, go to Darryl’s and order the Filet Mignon. It is reasonably priced and you will NOT be sorry.
· Grilled Salmon and Harvest Rice Pilaf– 7 ounces of perfection. I would have enjoyed a bit more seasonings on it and the pilaf, but that’s what their great selection of sauces is for. The salmon was fresh, perfectly flaky, and nice and buttery. It had a crisp sear on the bottom, and it was a great piece of fish. Mom: I saw the Salmon. It was pretty. I don’t eat Salmon. End of review. *wink smile wink* Husband liked the leftover Harvest Rice.
· Smithfield Baby Back Pork Ribs and BBQ Beef Ribs – These were both finger-licking good. The beef ribs were in a tangy slightly-peppery sauce that suited the beef wonderfully. The pork ribs were in a slightly sweeter and smokier sauce. Amazing, and so happy that they use a local company for their pork ribs…Smithfield. Mom: I remember these as Darryl’s specialty from years ago. They were famous for them and for good reason. The pork ribs were delicious. Just enough spice and sweetness to make the pork shine and they were melt in your mouth tender. The beef ribs were not to my liking – I am a pork barbeque lover. It’s a regional thing! *wink* Love me some barbeque – just make it pork! My husband thought the leftover pork ribs were delicious! The sauce combined the right elements of sweet and spicy. The meat was tender and he said it made him wish he had a full portion.
· Pub Burger – If you didn’t know already, you might should…this redhead enjoys a good meaty burger and a tall glass of beer. If you put a burger in front of me that’s wimpy, I’m most likely going to be disappointed. But, if you put this burger in front of me…I’m going to be grinning from ear to ear. From the aged cheddar cheese, crispy fried shallots, and signature Pub Sauce…this burger had my name written all over it! Did I mention they use Certified Angus Beef for almost every single beef item on the menu??? Yum! Mom: Oh My Goodness, what a burger! Certified Angus Beef formed into the perfect thickness, cooked over the wood fired grill, topped with fried shallots and a sauce worthy of drinking from a glass. This is the king of burgers for pub food. Excellent.
· Fish & Chips – These little cod filets were in a delightful beer batter and fried just perfectly. I just don’t think these could have gotten any better. Mom: This fish was dead on right for fish and chips. The fish was fork tender with a nice crispy coating. It was not greasy and the coating was not too thick. My husband was the recipient of the leftover fish. He thought it was like what you would expect to get in England. He has been to England and had fish and chips there. The breading was authentic and not like the typical fried coating at chain seafood restaurants.
Almost done….By this time…Mom and I were super full, but knew the best was yet to come…
· Beignets – If you’re not familiar with what a beignet is, allow their menu to explain… “Straight from New Orleans, this Café Du Monde style pastry will melt in your mouth! Warm, puffy doughnut-like pastries covered in powdered sugar.” They came with a sampling of dipping sauces…Strawberries (nice and chunky pieces), Fudge Sauce (Chef Larry says they cut the fudge sauce with coffee since it’s so thick…genius), and an amazing house-made Toffee Sauce…my favorite! Mom: What is there to say about a puffy piece of pastry coated in powdered sugar and dipped in homemade toffee, luscious chocolate, or strawberries? The only word that comes to mind is sinful! Yes, they were sinful. One word of caution though: don’t inhale when you have all that powdered sugar goodness near your mouth! Can we say sugar choke? Hahahaha! Loved these!
· Turtle Cheesecake – I mean seriously, do you really need to know how this was? Another one word explanation….DECADENT! Mom: The flavor of the cheesecake was not lost in the creaminess. Sometimes in order to get a nice, thick cheesecake, flavor is sacrificed. That is not the case here. You could still get that wonderful taste of cream cheese. The crust was amazing and the topping of caramel with Heath Bar pieces (I think) were over the top. I would definitely order this – even if I had to take it home. Cheesecake done right.
Last but far from least…
· Cappuccino Cake – This cake came with Edy’s Chocolate ice cream on the side and the most wonderful and delicious mocha icing….I must figure out the recipe to that icing for you guys! Another favorite leftover of the hub’s. Mom: This was a nice chocolate cake with a mocha icing. I will say the icing was exceptional. The cake was served with Edy’s chocolate ice cream. A nice finish to any meal.
I will never be able to express the appreciation for the hospitality that Mom and I were shown at Darryl’s today. It warmed my heart and soul to meet everyone, and rejuvenated my Foodie juices to the point of reminding me that this is the year things are going to happen!
***To Marty…the man behind the magic…thank you for inviting me and letting me be a part of your family today. You could feel the warmth and love your team has put into this restaurant and it’s fresh start. To the two new restaurants you will be opening…I can’t wait for the Caribbean Cuisine and English Pub Food!!! I’m sure they will be just as wonderful as Darryl’s.***
Mom’s Closing: I would like to thank Jennifer for inviting me to come with her on this adventure. I would also like to mention our wonderful server, Kaitlyn. She represented the restaurant well. Jeff, Jim, and Larry were wonderful hosts. Each of them seemed to truly care about Darryl’s and it’s future. With their knowledgeable service, concern, and excellent attitude, Darryl’s will continue to be a place of outstanding food, good atmosphere and warm memories. I will definitely be going back in the near future.
Don’t worry folks, I didn’t forget the shackles…Jeff told us that they have a fabulous service they offer for you parents out there. They have specialized agents working on their team that are trained in child development to come to your table after your children have ordered. They scoop them up and then transport them into the wonderful kid’s side of Darryl’s. They have a fireman area where the kids can dress up, fun mirrors, a few other cool areas, and a “jail” area…equipped with shackles on the wall. *wink* The Kid Concierge takes great care of your child, taking pictures of them along their journey of Darryl’s, and delivers them safely back to you for the meal, all the while allowing you a little break. The pictures are then uploaded to Flickr where you can find them from home and share them with your friends and family. Can you truly get better than that for personalized Customer Service???
To all of you…why not try Darryl’s? If you have before, then why not again? It’s back, and it’s learned a few wonderful new tricks while keeping the tradition of the good ol’ tricks…
Visit their website here, and check them out on Urbanspoon below!