Being from Texas, there a certain types of cuisine that are near and dear to my heart. TexMex, of course, barbeque (all about the dry rub…sorry North Carolina), and Southern fare. I’m hypercritical of these types of food – I can’t help it!
Belle Shoals, in Williamsburg, NAILS Southern cookin’. I took another Texan with me to try dinner there last week, and we were excited right from the get go. It’s not a large place, but it’s darling. Wooden walls, wooden bar, a long wooden table in the middle of the room, with a couple of tables surrounded by red curtains. There’s an old fashioned jukebox in the wall, and an absolutely gorgeous outside area. (Large and pretty enough that our first thought was “oh you could hold a wedding reception here.)
The menu is made up of burgers, sandwiches, and snacky foods that seem a touch mundane on paper, but are absolutely incredible to eat. We grudgingly forewent the Jalapeño Hush Puppies and the Hot Biscuits with Bourbon Butter, and instead chose to try the Raw Vegetables and Dip. The veggies were various carrots (purple carrots! What?!?) and celery but the DIP. Y’all. A creamy garlicky bleu cheese thing….it’s hard to describe. Do yourself a favor and go try it. We also tried the Kale and Quinoa Salad. Dressed with a pink peppercorn yogurt, and served with sliced almonds, grilled pears, and dried apricots, this salad is not to be missed.
We then tried two of their sandwiches – the Grilled Chicken BLT, and the “Red Hot” Chicken Sandwich. We demolished these pretty quickly. (It was a little embarrassing.) The BLT was exactly what you want from a BLT, with the added bonus of the avocado mayo. (Avocado anything makes everything better, in my book.) The “Red Hot” Chicken Sandwich was like biting into a bleu cheese buffalo chicken wing on a bun. The spiciness is mixed into the meat, as opposed to thinnly spread on the bread. The bleu cheese sauce perfectly balances how spicy it is. (It was my favorite of the dishes we tried.)
Until we got to the dessert. A house made Biscuit Ice Cream Sandwich with pecans and cherries, it was FAR too easy to clean that plate. The biscuit was sweet and fluffy, and amazing with the tartness of the cherries and angostura honey. It’s the only dessert on the menu, and there’s a reason for it. There’s no way this dish could have been improved upon. Southern cuisine is all about simplicity, comfort, and flavor, and I was so so pleased with our dinner.
Now that we’ve covered the food, lets get to my favorite part of dining out — the cocktails. We tried the Five & Dime – a tart, raspberry brandy cocktail with apricot jam and tonic – and the Sunday Tea – a sweet, bourbon and peach moonshine cocktail that went down WAY too easily. The cocktail list isn’t huge and expansive, but the best part is right at the top of it “Today’s Experiment”. The bartender is given free reign to make the perfect drink based on flavors. We tried a smokey tequila drink that had Laphroaig and an IPA float – when he dropped it in the table, we were both pretty scared of it, but it’s the one that disappeared the fastest. We tried a creation called Speed is the Key, which was a coconutty aquavit cocktail that tasted like a delicious beach drink. And we finished with an awesome autumn drink called Falling Up, a black barrel rum and apple brandy concoction that was perfectly named, because it really did taste like fall.
Williamsburg is quite a trek for me, since I live in Washington Heights, but I will definitely be going back to Belle Shoals when I feel homesick and need some southern food in my life.
For more information on Belle Shoals, check out their official website.