Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Spring Break, Part VIII: Begin the Grand Finale

Hell's Kitchen
118 Princess Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 763-4133

Circa 1922
8 N. Front Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 762-1922

THE PROBLEM WITH being "on vacation" is the part where you start eating every meal like you can afford to eat every meal like you're on vacation. Arrived with my mother in Wilmington to stay at my brother's place for a few days, we immediately began this with lunch at Hell's Kitchen. Of course, Adam, my brother, works at Hell's Kitchen, which makes it a easy choice.

I've eaten at Hell's now a handful of times, and not once have I been disappointed. Not only is the food excellent as bar fare, it would be excellent by any standard at any other restaurant. It's that good. And the kitchen is vegetarian friendly (which is not always the case at bars) in that they can actually tell you what's in the food (which is not always the case at a bars).

My ma and I had the grilled tuna sandwich and black bean burger, respectively, both with the sweet potato fries that are a signature item at Hell's (NOTE: ask them to go light on the brown sugar if you don't want yours to be too sweet.) And while the menu is solid, the kitchen is good enough that you would do as well just to try the daily specials, whatever they happen to be.

For dinner, we dropped in on Circa for tapas and wine--a "happy hour" special of sorts that offers any item on the tapas menu for $3.

Now, I'm perpetually annoyed by restaurants that have taken to calling appetizers "tapas" simply because they are small portions of food. The "tapas spirit" is a poor excuse to use a singular Spanish culture as a way to sell more appetizers, and there are only three things on the "tapas tradicional" menu at Circa that you would ever find at a bar Spain: Serrano ham, olives, and cheese.

That said, Circa is one of the more enjoyable restaurants I've ever been in. The places looks incredible, the food is great, and while the "tapas" menu is laughable, the bruchettas and grilled shrimp are excellent deals for $3 each.

MIKE EATS NEXT TIME: Yes on both counts.