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Starlight Cafe – Greenville


For my last dinner in Greenville, I finally got a chance to go to Starlight Cafe in downtown Greenville. It had gotten fairly good reviews everywhere I had checked and my server at Plum Tree had recommended it. I had high hopes. Boy, was I disappointed. It probably also did not help that I had dined at Chef & The Farmer the night before. That’s a tough act to follow. But even if I had eaten at, oh, let’s say, Applebee’s, I would have probably still been disappointed with this place. The place is interesting on the inside. They have two main dining areas and one area was sectioned off for a private party on the night I was there.

I sat at the bar. This was probably my first mistake. There was a baby of an employee yakking next to me. I mean there’s nothing wrong with babies, but I don’t need to have to be forced to hear them when I’m eating at some place nice. If I’m ordering a $29 entree, and sitting at the bar, I shouldn’t have to listen to random baby yelling, should I?


Their menu has a combination of southern, seafood, and european, particularly belgian, dishes. I wanted to get the soup of the day, the corn chowder, but after deciding on my entree, I decided on a house salad instead. Boy, did this salad suck it. It was a pile of mediocre greens, with a few strips of carrots, a few slivers of red onions, some cucumbers, and 3 teeny tiny croutons. The apple cider vinaigrette was rather blah, and this entire salad was extremely blah. There was nothing interesting about it. In fact, the best part was the cucumbers. I worked really hard getting every bit of carrot because I was desperately searching for flavor. The complimentary bread was just ok, but the olive oil that came with it was actually quite good.


My gut told me not to get this scallop dish, but the server recommended it. She said everyone who orders it loves it and wants to drink the broth. I decided to go with it anyway because I just love scallops so damn much. This was a belgian style scallops dish, with the scallops being simmered with potato, leeks, celery, and littleneck clams. This wasn’t bad, but it was so bland! It was like a watery clam chowder broth with some scallops, potatoes, and clams thrown in. I tasted no leeks at all. Now there were a lot of scallops in here, and a few clams, but it was also seriously overpriced. This was much more expensive than my entree at Chef & The Farmer and that just doesn’t seem right. The quality of the food, the presentation, the ingredients, the service… none of that compared to what I experienced at Chef & The Farmer. Greenville, you are being robbed!

The service… oh the service… where to start? So I sat at the bar, and was waited on by two people. But I don’t think they were aware of each other. One would ask me if I was ready to order, I would order, and then the other would come by and ask me what I wanted to order. Same with the drinks. Then one would ask if I wanted my check, and then the other would come by and ask me if I wanted my check. It was super annoying. And the guy who was waiting on me, he came by, and while dropping off a pepper grinder asked me how my salad was. But he wasn’t really asking me. He didn’t even stop in front of me or look at me as he asked, it was just more of temporary slowdown as he dropped off the pepper grinder, and he had no interest in if I would have an answer. It was so distasteful. It’s obviously you don’t give a crap what I think of my salad, so don’t bother asking! Overall, I was very disappointed with my meal. I had read some good reviews, so I had some decent expectations going in. I was disappointed in both the overpriced and blah food and the service. I do not consider this place fine dining in any way. They might consider themselves this way due to the pricing, but boy, have they go it wrong! They need to take a look at Plum Tree and Chef & The Farmer and take some lessons!

Starlight Cafe on Urbanspoon

Chef & The Farmer Progressive Eatery – In The Middle Of Nowhere, NC

cheffarmerNever in my wildest imagination did I foresee coming to the middle of North Carolina and having one of the best meals, EVER. I mean seriously, I’m in Greenville, where chain restaurants rule the world! In my initial research of Greenville restaurants, I didn’t find out about¬†Chef & The Farmer. While I was in Greenville and doing some additional research on urbanspoon, I found out about it. It was tricky though, as it is in the teeny¬†town of Kinston, 30 miles from Greenville. But man, if I hadn’t discovered this place while I was here I would have been kicking myself in the ass, HARD. Chef & The Farmer is a world-class restaurant… literally in the middle of nowhere. Who’d have though? Certainly not this girl.


The executive chef and co-owner is a veteran of NYC restaurants, and you can tell. Folks, she learned her chops from Wylie Dufresne and Jean George Vongerichten. Now I don’t really know much about famous chefs of this world, but even I’ve heard of Wylie Dufresne and Jean George Vongerichten. They’re like seriously famous and world renowned. If she learned from them, then you know she knows her stuff. And damn, does she know it. The chef and the other co-owner transformed what used to be a mule stable into an amazing restaurant space. It’s even decorated with paintings by the other co-owner. It’s truly an inspirational spot.


I sat at the food bar, which is beautiful in and of itself, but which is even more amazing because it’s at the kitchen. And you get to watch the free show. I absolutely love watching the action. And there’s nothing better than literally watching your food being cooked. It’s an art form people, and every time I watch this stuff happen, it still boggles my mind. And I absolutely loved the wheat grass decorations.


Really, it was like a free dinner show. And man, is it warm! I’ve never seen so many big hunks of ribeye being cooked in my life. Just look at the size of those suckers! And I also heard them sawing more ribeyes. Yes, I said saw.


Oh the menu. Everything looked amazing. I was torn between many items. But I worked with the server and made some excellent choices. While I was eating, I was thinking about coming back the next night to try some other dishes. It almost happened. And well, it really should have. No matter how obvious it would have been that I was just there the night before.


Some complimentary bread. All of this bread is made in-house. The focaccia is baked with lavender and sprinkled with sea salt. The other bread is sourdough. The butter was dreamy and creamy. See those hunks of butter behind the wheat grass? I was that close to the ingredients!


I started with the carrot soup with citrus lump crab and crouton. Now I’m weird about carrots. I like raw carrots, I like carrot juice, but I dislike cooked carrots. During the discussion with the server, she told me it was made with cooked carrots and carrot juice. But she encouraged me to go for it. So I did. And I liked it! It definitely did have a somewhat cooked carrot taste, but I still liked it. And the crab? Amazing. And the crouton? Amazing as well!Everything about this worked. It was a perfect starter.


I was torn between ordering the fish or the scallops. The server agreed that it was a tough decision. But she said I should go with the scallops, and am I glad I did! There were three large fresh seared scallops. These just melted in my mouth! See the brown drizzle on the plate? That was bacon jus. Yeah, it was baconrrific! The orange drizzle was a pomegranate xyz. Also quite amazing. The veggies included thin strips of carrot and daikon and adorable half turnips, perfectly pan-fried. I just can’t even describe how perfectly everything went together. Everything just worked! And I savored every perfect bite.


Onto dessert! I’m usually a creme brulee nut, and they did have it on the menu. But I decided to go outside of the norm, and get this upside down apple cake. The server recommended it and said it’s definitely the most out there dessert on the menu. There was an apple cake, along with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream. The ice cream is homemade! Garnished with a slice of dried apple and edible pulled sugar. Unbelievable! As was the entire meal and experience. It is really hard to believe that I had a meal of such caliber here, in the middle of nowhere. This is an amazing restaurant. It would be amazing in a big city, like NYC or San Francisco. Kinston, NC is one lucky small town!
Chef & The Farmer on Urbanspoon

Parker’s Barbecue – A Whole New BBQ


When in NC, you have to try the local bbq. The last time I was in NC, it was Winston-Salem, and it was really different from what I ended up having in Greenville. We stopped by a local favorite, Parker’s Barbecue. The place was pretty big, and the parking lot was filled up. It’s a no-nonsense place, you just order and wait and then pick up your food. When you order bbq here, you don’t get to choose what kind. There’s no choice. There’s only one kind of bbq they sell here. It’s whole hog, slow roasted every day and infused with their signature sauce. It’s hand chopped, and basically shredded. It’s really quite different than any other bbq I’ve ever had in my life. That’s what I love about bbq, the geographic differences. Here, it’s just a very light vinegar based sauce, which makes it super mild. And there was also some crushed red pepper in there, along with something else mysterious. Not sure what it was, but it may have been crumbs of corn bread or crumbs of some kind of batter… honestly I have no idea. It was so different, unlike any other bbq I’ve ever had before, and so tasty!

So, um, this was a small platter. Yes, I said small. You get a heaping of meat and 3 sides. And the sides are also heaping. And the hush puppies just come with every platter. Man, their portion sizes are nuts. All of the sides were good, especially the mac & cheese and the slaw. The slaw was especially vinegary and zesty. I loved it. The mac & cheese is like what my mom would make, if she was a lovely southern mom instead of a little korean lady. The hush puppies here are shaped like that, instead of the round balls I’m used to seeing.


One thing that was really interesting was that there were livers and gizzards on the menu. And what a menu it was… look how old school it is! It’s adorable. But what was more interesting than livers and gizzards was that they were also on the kid’s menu! What kid wants to eat livers and gizzards?
Parkers Barbecue Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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