It was a good year to have a restaurant in a historic house named after a Bartlett. Four Square Restaurant, a 10-year-old restaurant located in the Victorian-era Bartlett-Mangum House in Durham, and The Yancey House Restaurant, located in the Historic Bartlett Yancey House in Yanceyville, both walked away with first place honors in the Best Dish in North Carolina restaurant contest. Four Square Restaurant won in the Fine Dining category, and The Yancey House took home the honors in the Casual Dining Category.
Six judges dined anonymously at 19 restaurants to select the winners. Restaurants were judged on presentation, creativity, use of N.C. food products and marketing efforts. Judges for fine dining were Lynn Seldon, freelance travel food writer/photographer; Kathleen Purvis, food editor at The Charlotte Observer; and Paul Malcolm, culinary instructor at Johnson & Wales University. The casual dining judges were Fred Thompson, editor of Edible Piedmont magazine; John Batchelor, food critic at the Greensboro News & Record; and Marilyn Markel, cooking school manager at A Southern Season.
Four Square Restaurant featured a four-course meal by Chef Shane Ingram that consisted of Pope Farm Lamb Carpaccio, Flat River Nursery Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho Trio, Brinkley Farms Prosciutto-wrapped Trout and Maple View Farms Buttermilk Cupcakes with Blueberry Mousse.
Chef Lucindy Willis and The Yancey House Restaurant earned the casual dining title with its signature Crab Cakes, Bloody Mary Gazpacho, Chicken Paillard in Buerre Blanc sauce and Peach Trio of Peach Upside-down Cake, Peach Ice Cream and Peaches in Wine.
The first runner-up in the fine dining category was Surf City’s Indigo Marsh. The three-year Best Dish veteran offered Littleneck Clams in Savory Smoked Tomato and Clam Broth topped with Smoked Goat Cheese and Fresh Herbs. The second runner-up in fine dining was The Table at Crestwood in Boone for its menu of Sweet Potato Spring Rolls, Sweet Potato Tasso Soup, Chocolate Ginger Duck Breast and Cheerwine Ice Cream Napolean.
First runner-up in the casual dining category was the Inn on Church in Hendersonville. Its entry was Turkey Croquettes, Spinach and Melon Salad, Berry and Vanilla Yogurt drizzled with Sourwood Honey, Pan-fried Flounder with Roasted Corn and Sweet Red Pepper Tamales, and Butternut Squash Ice Cream in a homemade pecan waffle cone. Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse in Durham was the second runner-up in casual dining. The 2008 casual dining winner featured Red Potato and Tasso Croquettes, Shrimp and Butterbean Chowder, Pan-fried Softshell Crab and Blueberry Pan Dowdie with Mapleview Vanilla Ice Cream.
This is the fourth year of the Best Dish competition, and contest administrator Matt Tunnell said the contest is growing each year, with the top chefs from every region participating in the contest. [Watch Matt explain the Best Dish contest] “The aim of the contest is to get people to recognize the incredibly talented chefs we have in locally owned restaurants across the state,” Matt said. “Not only do they have incredible talent in the kitchen, but we have some of the most sustainable chefs in the country right here in our state. They know the value of local meats, seafood and produce and using these products in their restaurants.”
Matt says the program has done a lot to increase awareness of the quality and diversity of products that are grown or raised in North Carolina.
After all, if you want the best, it’s Got to Be N.C.