Monday, June 2, 2014

There's A New Pearl On The Beach.

My column in the June issue of Albemarle Tradewinds
has been published.

Here it is in its entirety with all the pictures.

Darrell’s 2 Comes To Nags Head
A New Pearl On The Beach

The Hawthornes are happy campers.  One of our favorite restaurants, the iconic Darrell’s Restaurant in Manteo, has opened a second establishment on the beach in the Outer Banks Mall, Darrell’s 2.  Whenever I need my “fried fix,” I go to Darrell’s.  I go to Darrell’s for their fried oysters.  Period.  When it comes to fried oysters, I don’t think Darrell’s has been outdone.  I’m happy to say I won’t need to travel as far as Manteo any more.  I can now get my fix on the beach!

Darrell’s 2, like its predecessor, is a family restaurant with family prices featuring terrific seafood at its freshest, Carolina-style BBQ, and southern country favorites.  The original Darrell’s in Manteo opened in 1960 as the Polar Bear Drive In, founded by Darrell and Dora Daniels.  In 1972, son Allen Daniels and wife Lorna joined the business, expanding the restaurant, and renaming it Darrell’s Seafood Restaurant. Now, a third generation Daniels, Tanner, who has managed D #1 for the past ten years, has opened Darrell’s 2 in the Outer Banks Mall on the north side, across from the new Fresh Market.  Darrell’s 2 seats 60 and is open from 11am – 9pm, seven days a week.

Rosie, Mr. Hawthorne, and Middle Hawthorne checked out Darrell’s 2 recently.  Whenever I’ve been to Darrells 1 in Manteo, the service has always been friendly, efficient, and quick.  It doesn’t matter if the restaurant is packed.  The service is always spot on.  I noticed Darrell’s 2 had some of the same waitresses I recognized from D #1.  Service at D #2 was superb also. 

Some cases in point:

 #1  I ordered my usual unsweetened iced tea with fivepiecesoflemonplease and the waitress stopped, looked at me, and said, “I know you.  I’ve waited on you before.”  It’s so nice to be greeted and acknowledged, even if it is a dubious recognition at best. When our waitress brought our drinks, along with my fivepiecesoflemon, she also brought a little container with more lemon. She knows I’ll want a refill.   Smart gal.  She’s thinking ahead!

#2  I ordered the fried oyster appetizer, not the lunch dish, along with fries and cole slaw.  Our attentive, friendly, and accommodating waitress, Heather, came back to suggest I order the lunch dish, which comes with two sides…  because it cost less. It was a better deal. Thank you, Heather.

It’s little details like these which make me really like a restaurant, appreciate their service, and recommend it to others -  details besides terrific food.  

When I ordered my oysters, I asked for lightly fried.  Heather politely informed me that all their seafood is lightly battered and lightly fried.

When I ordered my fries, I asked for extra crispy.  I received some of the best fries one could wish for – thin and skinny, brown and crisp.  Two slightly sweet little hush puppies and a light, refreshing coleslaw rounded out the dish.  I asked for their cocktail and tartar sauces and was rewarded with a cocktail sauce that actually boasted horseradish.  Too many places go slack on the horseradish.  I like cocktail sauce with a kick.

Middle Hawthorne ordered the chicken strips with hickory smoked BBQ, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans.  I was barely able to shoot off a picture of it and when I asked him how everything was (since I am not allowed to touch, taste, breathe, or hover over any of his food), he grunted and gave it a thumbs up.  This is a good sign.

On our way out, I noticed a chalkboard with the dessert specials on it – key lime pie, coconut cake, 14-layer chocolate cake, among other items, enticed.  There is also a large party carryout menu, family dinners, and party packages to go. 

I have several criteria for judging a restaurant – taste being number one, of course.  And both Darrells hit the mark on that.

But bottom line?  If I can get a pearl, it’s a winner.

Welcome to the beach, Darrell’s 2!

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