The Catch

Walked into The Catch Saturday evening and standing at the bar was a familiar face. After exchanging greetings I recognized that it was Chef Keith Rhodes, formerly Chef at my former and now closed favorite restaurant DeLuxe. Keith now owns and operates The Catch and will soon open a vegetarian restaurant to be called “Voyce.” After gushing on over the splendid meal I had that day Chef Keith smiles and says “I do that same grouper meal here!” A handshake and a fist bump later, I’m at the bar, enjoying fresh baked bread and pesto and nearly worshipping the best Old Fashioned that ever bathed my tongue, made by the bartender, Jessica.

Minutes later, after some terrific conversation with Jessica, I was presented with a photo worthy plating of grouper resting atop a square of sweet potato and crab meat hash. Some no doubt secret sauce was smeared along side of the stack for some wonderful Southern “sopping.” I was actually giddy while enjoying my way through this marvelous dish. The grouper was NOT tough or rubbery, as I have experienced elsewhere, but was firm and tasty with just a hint of browning. Sandwiched between the grouper aand hash was a thin layer of nearly crispy fried greens. The three textures were perfectly balanced, and the flavors were amazing.

I am not a professiona food critic, but I had a wonderful evening, a perfect meal, met a terrific Chef, an awesome bartender, … what more could I want?

My recommendation? Drop what you’re doing and GO to The Catch! 6623 Market Street. And check out :

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Uncategorized



I have been waiting on this place to open and today I found the lights on and food was ready!

First, the reclaimed and remodeled structure is beautiful; hardwood floors, brick walls, well appointed, and a large gorgeous bar. Owner Jeff greeted us and let us choose a window seat, got our drink order, and told us a bit about the place.

The chef is a specialist in low country cuisine and there is a baker/pastry chef as well. Bread is prepared daily and yes, you can tell the difference!

I chose the smoked catfish. Awesome! Brined, smoked, lightly breaded in cornmeal, and resting on a savory bed of grits and porcini mushrooms. Atop the fish was a delicious green tomato and citrus glazed slaw.

This meal was so good it was actually fun to eat! My guest had a NC shrimp sandwich on a just out of the oven brioche. Yum!

I will be back. It’s just that simple.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Uncategorized


Fat Tony’s

Lunch at fat Tony’s. Had to be downtown on a Monday and having my grown sons with me I could think of no better place to get some good quality pizza at a great price than Tony’s.

I really need to come some evening and try the pastas and sandwiches, but this was a pizza day. We love the atmosphere, the good service, and the great food. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by the bartender and offered a seat. Our server arrived quickly with menus, suggestions, and a smile. We finally settled on the Deluxe (everything) pizza.

We talked, watched some ESPN and some CNN and had a great time catching up. When the pizza came it was perfect. The crust is flexible but toothsome–not wet or floppy–with a dusting of (I think) cornmeal on the bottom. The toppings were so fresh you could smell the ingredients! Oh yes, green peppers, black olives, various meats, and a great sauce.

A great pizza doesn’t call for much more than the chef’s attention and fresh ingredients and you get both at Fat Tony’s. You’ve been to places where it seems like the pizza was just “assembled” or thrown together, not “prepared” for the restaurant’s guests? Not here. Everything here looks good, smells good, tastes good, and is served well by a competent staff in unique surroundings.

I love this place!

The good: fresh, hot, tasty, clean, fun.

The could be better: nothing!

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Italian


Tags: , , , ,

Sweet and Savory

I thought I would never find this place. It is on a side street off of Wrightsville Ave at 1611 Pavilion Place. This place is going to have to be visited more than once. First of all, I didn’t really “get it.” Later, I realized it’s not simply a cafe, but a bakery as well. That doesn’t quite tell it all either, though. It also has that “local gather here” feel. The decor is a bit eclectic, almost a “small-place-on-a-deserted-highway” look. Think of the boys on an episode of Route 66 stopping for a fish dinner and you’re about there.

Once again, I had a steak, a really good one, with a smear of red peppercorn/white truffle butter on top. It was juicy, well plated and served efficiently. The salad was a Caesar, I don’t know if the dressing was homemade (like the soups are!!) or not but I could taste the garlic and anchovies in it–really tasty. The slices of toasted baguette were authentic and spot-on.

I have to go back to this place, and here’s why. The restaurant offers nightly specials and each one of them (and I mean ALL of them) are worth a return trip to try out. If you don’t quite get it all, don’t worry, I think after a few trips you’ll be hooked like me.

Finally–Go to their website. It is awesome. All the great nightly deals are there, along with a downloadable menu, wine list, prices,– this place deserves your business if for nothing else but being creative and clever with their website.


The Good: service, salad, Caesar dressing!, steak, good veggies, all around good american fare.

The Could be Better: Don’t know yet–must go back!

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 27, 2012 in American, Seafood, Steak


Tags: , , , ,

Rucker Johns

I love this place. When you tire of the gimmicky flash-in-the-pan kind of place, Rucker Johns is the place to go. It is always well staffed, clean-looking, delicious smelling, with a relaxed yet civilized atmosphere.

This place offers clearly American fare, with great menu items ranging from fish to fowl, steaks to chops, and veggies both steamed and raw (salads), the latter always arriving on a wonderfully COLD plate. (I hate room-temperature salads, and Rucker Johns are always cold and crispy.)

My favorite dish is their slow-roasted prime rib. The thickness is just right, cooked just right, but best of all, a quality cut of beef. No cheap grainy, chewy, second-rate cuts here. The cut is always firm, slightly marbled, and always juicy. The au jus adds just the right finish.

One of my quick favorites (if I don’t have time so sit and savor) is the Bucky’s Bites–a small skewer or two of steak bites with a side of veggies when the prime rib or the Jack Daniel’s marinated steak is a bit too much. I also like the wraps (shrimp, chicken salad, etc.)

I have eaten at two of the locations, Emerald Isle and Wilmington, and they both are staffed by courteous wait staff and attentive chefs, as well as managers cruising the floor making sure all is well with your experience.


The Good: prime rib, cold salads, service, ambiance.

The Could Be Better: Hmmm…not much!

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 27, 2012 in American, Fine Dining, Steak


Tags: , , , ,


Remarkable…simply remarkable. I’ll get to the food shortly, but the Indochine restaurant itself is just amazing. As you enter, the bar is directly in front of you. The main dining area is to your left. This place is busy, both physically and visually. The walls are decorated with unusual bits of Asian art, statues, reliefs, framed art of ancient misty mountains and twisted trees, as well as–food. Yes, there are actually large showcase frames of mushrooms, peppers,– lots of food as art.

The dining room looks as if it were at some time a church or synagogue which has been reclaimed as a business.The ceiling is sort of–rippled? Many smaller arches allowing daylight to enter the dining room add so much to the atmosphere. BUT-the OUTSIDE dining area is amazing. Tiny table sized huts, if you will, made to look like Pacific Rim structures, are arranged along the path of an outdoor garden, splendidly landscaped, with just the right balance of “well-kept” and “wild.” A “tiki” type bar centers the area and is worth a visit if for nothing more than to sip a drink and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

The food, likewise, is wonderful. Most entrees are large and meant for two. The menu is extensive and can fill the tummy of those looking for delights from familiar Asian style dishes to more exotic Thai and Vietnamese fare. Service is quick, efficient, and so reasonably priced it will surprise you!

This is one of Wilmington’s busiest places, so come early, or call ahead. You won’t be disappointed.

The Good: Decor, ambiance, service, great food, great value.

The Could be Better: Hmmm…can’t think of anything.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Asain


Tags: , , ,

Fat Tony’s

I don’t know Tony. I don’t know if he’s really fat. But the pub which bears his name is serving up some of the best bar-pub-good-times food I’ve had.

Tony’s is in another of Wilmington’s reclaimed warehouse-type buildings on Front Street. The approach is friendly and inviting and is filled with tables and chairs for outdoor dining. Folks are usually out here talking, laughing, eating, sipping, and generally enjoying the balmy summer evenings. Inside is a cavernous room with a high arched ceiling, lots of old wood, and even what I assume are the original structural steel roof supports. Beyond this is another room with several dining tables and chairs, lit with small globe lights strung from side to side for an almost outdoor feel. The music was just at background level so conversation was easy.

Since this was a spur-of-the-moment trip, we settled on The Special, (Pizza with everything) but became keenly aware of the terrific looking burgers being carried out of the kitchen. Burgers, fries, rings, soups, — everything looked and smelled great.

Our server was fast but friendly–no needless small talk. Drinks were brought, none went dry, and when the pizza came it was awesome. Great ingredients on a perfect crust made this thing a pleasure to eat. It was hot, aromatic, and full of flavor–just what we wanted after walking around downtown Wilmington.

And value? Four of us ate for LESS than $30.00–drinks and all. And I mean value–not cheap or cheap looking! Tony’s is top-notch, clean, well run, well staffed, and one of the most impressive bars I’ve seen, with lots top shelf spirits.

I will be returning to try out the great looking salads, soups, breads, sandwiches and sides. Try it yourself and let me know how you liked it!

In Summary:

The Good: great service, real value, de-licious food, ambiance/decor

The Could be Better: This trip was perfect.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Italian


Tags: , , , , , ,