$20 plus tip: Two sides of Joe's Beach Road Bar & Grille
By LAURIE HIGGINS
February 11, 2010
A romantic dinner doesn’t have to bust your budget. For the month of February, Joe’s Beach Road Bar & Grille at the Barley Neck Inn is featuring a three-course prix fixe promotion for $18.99. Executive chef Christian Schultz changes the menu daily. If you want a peek before you go, simply visit the restaurant’s Web site to check out the specials page that is posted after 4 p.m. each day.
While those looking for a more lively dining experience usually prefer the bar dining room, with its barn-wood walls, beamed ceilings and enormous stone fireplace filled with candles, there are also several smaller and elegantly appointed dining rooms that are perfect for those seeking quiet conversation.
A friendly hostess gave us a mini tour. The vibrant red Doane Room was appealing, but the comfort of the denim overstuffed chairs with cushy pillows in the Gundry Room beckoned. We chose a private table there, where the chocolate colored walls are nicely offset by cream-colored wainscoting and trim. Tables are topped with denim cloths and white paper, and colorful bandanas serve as napkins.
We already had decided to try the prix fixe promotion, but the regular menu also offered several choices for $14.99 that we could have combined with one of the $5 wine or cocktail specials and still kept to my $20 budget. Good to know for future visits.
On the Saturday night we dined there the promotion had four appetizer choices, two entrées and two desserts. For starters, the steamed vegetable pot stickers were beautiful and delicious. Filled with a mixture of tender cabbage and carrots and artistically drizzled with a soy sauce reduction, they also came with a dot of wasabi on each and a piquant chili garlic sauce for dipping that we loved.
The BNI mixed-green salad was simple but delightful. A large mound of crisp mixed greens and two endive spears were tossed with the perfect amount of balsamic vinaigrette and topped with shoestring carrots. For $1 extra you can add crumbled Roquefort cheese, which I highly recommend.
Catfish isn’t something I would normally order, but Schultz’s preparation of the farm-raised organic catfish has forever changed my opinion of that lowly fish. The large fillet was encrusted in seasoned panko crumbs and pan-fried to a golden buttery perfection. Even the scent was otherworldly. The accompanying sweet pepper remoulade, made with green and yellow peppers and whole-grain mustard, offered a spot-on flavor boost to the mild fish.
Accompanying the catfish was a side of rather plain jasmine rice and steamed broccoli that had a perfect tender crunch, but the sauce drizzled on top had an off-putting chemical aftertaste I did not enjoy.
My husband ordered the fettuccine carbonara, which came topped with a grilled chicken breast that was seared nicely on the outside and tender on the inside. The pasta was a tad undercooked, but the bacon and prosciutto gave the creamy Parmesan sauce a deep smoky flavor that was quite pleasing.
For dessert, the baked chocolate pudding was stunning. Deep rich chocolate infused every bite of this smooth confection topped with real whipped cream and a strawberry. The other choice, a premium-quality cappuccino ice cream and one small but tasty piece of biscotti, was good but not as impressive.
If you want to extend your evening, head into the bar, where there’s a live band every Friday and Saturday night and you are welcome to kick up your heels and dance the night away. It’s the perfect end to a romantic dinner.