Katie, Bar the Door
With the Covid19 warnings crumbling faster than a sand castle at the water’s edge, and with apparently arbitrary restrictions being lifted by those in the halls of power, citizens of southeastern Brunswick County were ready to explode.
And at 5:00 PM on May 22, explode they did. Like schoolchildren waiting at the schoolhouse door for summer to start, they sprinted to eateries with indoor and outdoor seating, remembering a time when it was a favorite part of daily life—and not prohibited.
I took a ride over the Odell Williamson bridge in OIB to see the Tiki Bar at the Ocean Isle Fish Company brimming with the pent-up presence of those who have been incarcerated for far too long. Same deal at Pelican’s Perch. It was just so good to be “out.”
As for my family, we opted to try—for the first time— a “new” place called The Talk of the Town at the end of a strip mall in Sunset Beach. I use the term “new” advisedly, as it had been open for a while, but like other restaurant businesses, had to shut down and relegate itself to “Take Out” because those in the halls of power got the “fantods” after listening too intently to the boogeymen of gloom, doom and the apocalypse.
That The Talk of The Town was sired by the very popular and successful The Butcher of Brunswick, joined at the hip to Makai Brewing on Rt. 17 in OIB also made it attractive. Having stopped in often after 100 or so miles on two wheels for a “sangwidge” of the quality and size I was used to in NYC and its environs, and then washing it down with a Fire Knife IPA from Makai, my expectations for the new place were high.
And I was not disappointed. Lots of restaurants are “wannabee” Italian restaurants, and many come close. But Talk of the Town nails Italian like Nonna Josefina and Nonno Giuseppe. The menu offered us a wide variety of great Italian dishes, all of them outstanding. My tender, perfectly done Veal Marsala was in the top three I have ever had anywhere—including in Rome. The other three in my family all opted for varieties of parmigiana dishes—Chicken, Eggplant and Veal.
All three raved about the quality—and the quantity. Though you may think you can finish the outsized portions, you WILL bring some home. Gorging on the delicious bread served with pesto and olive oil before the meal came out, along with a scrumptious Mussels in Garlic Sauce appetizer may have had something to do with our capacities, however.
Jimmy and Kevin (who made their bones at the Butcher of Brunswick) pay homage to great Italian cooking in their kitchen, and the staff could not have been more pleasant and efficient.
Faithfully observing the “social distancing” requirements (put in place by folks who obviously have no idea what the word “social” means), the interior was clean and comfortable if minimalist; though, in time, I suspect more appropriate wall art and accoutrements will be present. That will add a homey feel to the place, which will accompany the “homey” meals. We were unsure as to where the entrance was, but it’s the middle mirrored door that leads to the dining room.
Dawn, the affable owner whose brother owns a few Manhattan restaurants, showed me the hand-built bar where, as restrictions ease, you will likely spend some time after putting your name in for a table if you fail to make reservations. Decent wine and a very respectable beer list will make that wait less onerous, however.
Because a restaurant with food like this will not stay at 50% capacity for long.
In fact, I fully expect it to be The Talk of The Town.
PS: Since this column mentions Makai Brewing, it’s worth noting that that business adjacent to the Butcher of Brunswick has now been cleared to operate its taproom as a restaurant would. It (and other breweries) had originally (and unfairly, in my opinion) been sentenced to five more weeks of “Takeout.”
My recent column appearing on May 21( https://lifeinbrunswickcounty.com/phase-2-is-2-confusing/ ) argued against such restrictions. The next day, Governor Cooper relaxed those restrictions for breweries.
But you never know.
That’s why reading the PubScout may be more important than your face mask…