The Edge Outer Banks 2000.2001 Home

A GREAT ESCAPE
Text by a plate from New Jersey
Photos by Gayle T. Tiller

Nothin’ could be finer
Than escapin’ from this diner
I’m goin’ to Carolina
With a waitress name of Dinah.

There I was, slavin’ away in this diner off Route 17 in northern Jersey. Greek omelettes, Western omelettes, cheese omelettes, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, fried eggs (“cook ’em long,” says the health department), even hard-boiled eggs in egg salad…I’ve seen it all. Not to mention the hash browns, strips of bacon, sausage patties, pancakes and French toast. And that was just breakfast. Seen enough tuna melts in my day to make me swear off canned fish in a permanent way.
Waitresses snappin’ gum, kids bangin’ their forks on me, guys with stubbled chins yellin’ fer more coffee. Whatta life. I don’t even want to tell you ’bout the brutes who washed dishes. You know, it wasn’t all bad though. There was this real nice waitress, name of Dinah, who wore a different name tag every day. One day she was Sally, the next she was Belle. Every once in a while, she’d get all sassy and come in as Sparkles or So-phi-a. That’s how she said it: “So-fee-ah.” I liked her just fine. But so did this guy who would come in every mornin’ right at 7:15. He’d always sit in Dinah’s section and say, “So, who’s waitin’ on me today?” He’d drink his cup of coffee and just smile away at Dinah.
One day he came in and told Dinah that he wanted her to run away with him. To the Outer Banks of North Carolina, he said. Dinah, who was traipsing around as Cleo that day, said, “Uh-huh.” Well, I somehow talked that woman into sneaking me outta that place, so I could have a little adventure myself. A retirement, you might say.
I tried a day or two on the beach. Didn’t cut it. I’m a plate – all I know is restaurants. So I went on a little tour of the local eateries. One thing I found about the Outer Banks: these people know all about good food.

First place I stopped was Miriam’s, at Monteray Plaza in Corolla. Chef-owner Ann Runnels plated up her famous brown sugar and mustard-marinated sliced pork tenderloin with braised red cabbage slaw and major comfort food: cheddar-scallion mashed potatoes.

Moving on south, here I am at Carolina Blue at The Marketplace in Southern Shores, owned by Chip Smith and Tina Vaughan.
Chip’s creation is pan-seared, oven-roasted breast and thigh of duck, served with a duck jus reduction and five different purees. These remarkable accompaniments are made of rutabaga, sweet potato, pear, prune and celery root.


Next stop was Ocean Boulevard, on the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk. Chef Chuck Arnold plied me with his sashimi appeti-zer (below): seared tuna with a soy-honey glaze on a bed of wasabi slaw. The chopsticks were a nice exotic touch, I think.

Movin’ on down the Beach Road, I popped in at Awful Arthur’s in Kill Devil Hills, where Chef Kenny McLean offered me “surf and turf and tea for two.” Pictured below is Kenny’s black peppered chateaubriand, stuffed with lobster tail and served with baked potato puree and a lobster cream.
Since I was celebrating the good life, I next went to The Good Life in the Dare Center in Kill Devil Hills. Co-owner Kris Mullins made sure that I got good and settled in with a selection of house-made breads,
a mound of spicy soy sesame noodles, some outrageous desserts and, of course, a cappuccino (below). You know, the same guys who own Blue Point and Ocean Boulevard own The Good Life. I think they’re really trying to broaden my horizons with these chopsticks. (I checked, and they have good ol’ flat-ware too.)

Bad Barracudas’ executive chef, Don Morrisette, may have grumbled a bit about my appearance, but he came through in a big way with his culinary skills. Here I am with smoked mozzarella in a basil cream sauce, with sauteed jumbo shrimp and lump blue crabmeat. Don even brought out a piece of his famous key lime pie — his original recipe from his years as chef at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Café in Key West, Florida.


My last stop on this little escapade was 1587, in The Tranquil House Inn on Manteo’s waterfront. General Manager Donnie Just made sure that I had a window table, and Susan Holton-Rogers, executive sous chef, prepared my meal. Pictured on the right is cornmeal-encrusted rockfish over caramelized onion mashed potatoes with a caper-tomato cream. This marvelous creation is topped with a salad of garlic-enhanced prawns, portobella mushrooms and mixed baby greens.
And Dinah, you wonder?
Well, she and her coffee-consuming friend had a wonderful vacation on the Outer Banks. Seems the area was a little too small for her to go by several different names, so she took off for a place with a larger year-round population. As for me, well don’t be surprised if you see me out at one of your favorite Outer Banks establishments.



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