So, I was on a training course at UNC this week. Although most of our meals were served at the conference center where I was staying, I did have a chance to try a few places in the greater Chapel Hill area. As is usual for me, beer takes precedence over food when I am traveling, so stopped at the two brewpubs in town, Top of The Hill and the Carolina Brewery. Both had a mixed bag in terms of food – fine for what it was but nothing worth traveling to. Top of The Hill seemed obsessed with fusion type things, serving what they called a sirloin bruschetta, basically slices of top sirloin steak over brioche covered in gravy. A strange idea but really tasty.
In my opinion, Carolina Brewery had the superior beer – with an Oktoberfest that was exceptional – malty, sweet and not noticeably strong. A white beer was also available that was pretty nicely balanced, but they served a British-style summer beer called Golden Ale that was amazingly drinkable and a nice
alternative to the tired old ‘Blonde Ale’ served as the light option in most
Top of The Hill had a workable IPA that I drank a large amount of over my week there as well as a pretty tasty Imperial Stout named after Tar Heel Lewis Black. They also served a Pilsner that was really well put together, nicely balanced, easy drinking, and with the interesting ‘bite’ of the namesake malt that characterizes those beers.
I had dinner at a local comfort kitchen called Mama Dips. Apparently a famous place, I had chicken and dumplings that were OK, if not a little salty. My companion’s smothered pork chops were the highlight at our table. My favorite item was the special pie that evening – chocolate pecan. I normally don’t like this, finding the chocolate an afterthought to an otherwise great pie. I got it anyway on the reco of the waitress, and it was the best chocolate pecan pie I have ever tasted. The chocolate flavor was blended into the filling. It was perfect. I could have eaten 2 or 3 whole pies that night.
Finally, if in town and looking for a small pub serving local and hard to find
east coast micros, Tylers Tap House is a good option. I had a number of hard to find beers there on a visit late in my week, including a fun ‘imperial’ pumpkin/spice beer from Weyerbacher brewing in PA. I also had a number of beers from Duck Rabbit brewing, as well as Carolina Brewing Company (not to be confused with the Carolina Brewery …)
Unfortunately, I missed out on the best of central Carolina BBQ – was not able
to get to Allen and Sons just north of Chapel Hill, as they close at 5PM on
weeknights, and also did not get to the famous ‘Pit’ in Raleigh since I did not
have a car of my own, and since I wasn’t traveling with chowhounds I couldn’t
convince anyone to drive there 😦
A return trip is in the works, so I can get to Asheville, Raleigh, Wilmington
and other places around the state.
Thought I’d share! Thanks to the hounds that pointed me in the right directions – @viva_victoria, @hedrives, @msdclark, everyone else!