Chef and the Farmer (Kinston, NC)

I said that my next post would be special, and I don’t think this one will disappoint. After a three month wait for a reservation, my wife and I finally made the trip to Kinston, NC to legendary Chef Vivian Howard’s renowned restaurant, Chef and the Farmer. A little backstory on Vivian Howard for those unfamiliar with her, she started off as a successful Chef in NYC and moved back to her hometown of Deep Run, NC a couple miles from the small town of Kinston, NC to open her own restaurant. Her book Deep Run Roots is a New York Times bestseller and she has a popular show on PBS entitled A Chef’s Life. Vivian Howard has been nominated for many James Beard Awards for her restaurant, show, and book. Now on to the meal!

Starting off my wife and I shared the Guilford Mill Grits, consisting of creamed collards, Tabasco pickled stems, and pork rinds. The distinctive component of this dish is the Tabasco pickled stems. They combine a vinegary taste from being pickled with a spicy taste from the Tabasco sauce. This was an incredible dish to start the evening. My cocktail of choice to start out with was titled Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Death’s Door. The cocktail combined gin, salerno, lemon, lime, and grapefruit bitters to make a refreshing summer cocktail.

Next I ordered a small plate of Charred Carrots. The Charred Carrots were accompanied with orange yogurt, spicy raisins, salt and butter pecans, and capers. The freshness of the carrots were undeniable and basically melted in your mouth like a nice steak. The dish itself had a very Mediterranean, specifically Greek or Turkish taste to it with the yogurt. My wine of choice tonight was an Indaba Merlot from South Africa.

My “large plate” was the Blueberry BBQ Glazed Brittany Ridge Chicken with onion and squash casserole, country green beans, watercress, pickled jalapeño and squash. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the blueberry BBQ glaze was a unique and flavorful glaze for the chicken. The onion and squash casserole provided a good base for the chicken and the pickled jalapeño and squash added a vinegary and spicy topping to the chicken.

For dessert my wife and I shared the strawberry and blueberry cobble. The fruit in the cobbler was fresh as explected and the dessert was served with a honey vanilla ice cream with hints of basil. I greatly enjoyed the cobbler not only because of its flavors, but because it was not heavy and made a good portion size.

All in all, the trip to Chef and the Farmer was well worth the 3 hour drive and the there month wait. This restaurant easily falls into the top five best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at in my life and will be tough to top with future culinary adventures.

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