The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced winners in its first-ever “Dig into Local” Best Menu NC contest. The event recognized local restaurants and food businesses for their use of locally sourced ingredients.
Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte placed first in the contest. The restaurant features a seasonal menu using North Carolina ingredients. Dishes like N.C. wild-caught shrimp, with Burton Farm tomato, Westhill Farm Romanesco broccoli, Middle Ground Farm living amaranth and gremolata sauce stood out to judges.
Menus were judged on several criteria, including: clearly identifying N.C. agricultural products, farms and manufacturers; highlighting seasonal produce; identifying items with unique regional connections; offering N.C. wine, beer and spirits on the menu; including multiple courses featuring N.C. ingredients; and offering a good balance of N.C. products across protein, grain and produce categories.
Another Charlotte restaurant, Bonterra Dining & Wine Room, placed third. Two Raleigh restaurants were in the top five: Gravy and Sitti placed second and fourth, respectively. Harvest Moon Grille in Lincolnton placed fifth. All five received prize packs.
“Restaurants clearly see the impact of featuring local products on their menus,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Our intent with this promotion was to seek out restaurants that reflect our state’s agricultural diversity and excel at highlighting North Carolina products on their menus.”
Local seafood and spirits options were so impressive that winners were designated for those categories. Basnight’s Lone Cedar Café in Nags Head was honored for best menu of N.C. seafood. Over Yonder in Valle Crucis was recognized as having the best menu of N.C. spirits and cocktails.
“The component that truly separated the best of the best were those restaurants that utilized local ingredients in multiple courses and food categories,” said Tim Parrish, foodservice marketing specialist with the department. “These restaurants truly demonstrated the depth of their commitment to North Carolina products.”
The “Dig into Local” Best Menu NC contest is a part of an array of foodservice programs offered by the department through its Got to Be NC and Savor NC marketing programs. It serves to showcase the use of N.C. products on restaurant menus, and encourages the dining public to patronize these restaurants for their commitment to North Carolina agriculture.
More information about the “Dig into Local” Best Menu NC contest is available at www.gottobenc.com/DigIntoLocal.