Morehead City: Bistro-by-the-Sea
When it comes to creative coastal cuisine, Morehead City’s Bistro-by-the-Sea has been pleasing the palates of new and veteran visitors since 1997. With a sea- and farm-to-table approach that utilizes lots of local ingredients, the husband-and-wife team of chef Tim Coyne and general manager Libby Eaton has developed a loyal following.
Situated just steps from the Intracoastal Waterway, Bistro-by-the-Sea is truly a flavorful labor of love. The restaurant is only open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, which ensures that Tim is cooking in the kitchen and Libby is working the front of the house every night they’re open.
Often being greeted personally by Libby, many guests choose to start their evening at the popular Piano & Vodka Bar (where there’s also occasional live music). This is the place where both staff and locals will likely tell first-time visitors about favorite dishes currently on the menu.
That menu makes for difficult decisions. It’s easy to go for a cup or bowl of the Bistro’s Famous She Crab Bisque while pondering the menu, but the choices then get tough (although tasty). Tim’s Japanese Bento Box with Chilled Peppercorn-Sesame Seed-Encrusted Fresh Seafood is seared rare and comes with wasabi, teriyaki, and Chablis dipping sauces. Tuna can be added for a few more bucks. Other “app” possibilities include Baked Oysters topped with Crabmeat, Spinach, and Chablis Dill Sauce, a Chilled Shrimp & Crabmeat Cocktail, and Roasted Peppers & Sweet Italian Sausage (Tim grew up in a relative’s Italian restaurant).
There are also typically several starter specials, like a Flour Tortilla with Carteret County Shrimp served with corn salsa, toasted pine nuts, artichokes, spinach, Munster, and provolone. The Carteret County connection is strong throughout the menu and Tim and Libby are very active in the “Carteret Catch” program that promotes the use of fresh seasonal seafood “straight from the docks”– look for the Carteret Catch logo at local restaurants and retailers!
Bistro-by-the-Sea has allowed Tim to utilize nearby ingredients as often as possible. This is particularly evident with so many “Carteret Catch” items on his ever-changing menu. “When using and featuring local products, we support our community,” says Tim, who is in the kitchen and on the line every night the restaurant is open. “By knowing commercial fisher, dealers, and farmers, I can trace the food chain and know how it is handled. In addition to this, our guests expect to eat fresh local seafood at our restaurant since we are on the coast of North Carolina.”
For entrees, Tim serves up possibilities like: Bistro-Style Shrimp & Grits; a variety of fresh meats (the Prime Rib of Beef in varying sizes is a perennial favorite); a juicy Sautéed Almond-Encrusted Chicken Breast; and a nightly choice of fresh seafood entrees that might include local snapper, grouper, flounder, trigger fish, shrimp, jumbo crabmeat, crab cakes, and more. Tim’s creativity really shines when it comes to his seafood specials.
Most entrees come with warm and soft garlic bread and a choice of starch or vegetable. Additional accompaniments might include creamy grits, delicious mushrooms, and a Marsala Wine Mushroom Sauce that’s especially nice on meats.
That history makes for a great natural customer base in the region but doesn’t necessarily do much for transplanted Northerners and Southerners who feel they’ve “graduated” to vinifera’s dry fermented edge.
For smart diners who saved room, all of the desserts are also house-made daily. It’s a fitting end to a meal that’s all about freshness from land and sea.
The restaurant’s wine list is bistro-like, with a range of choices by both the glass and bottle. It’s easy to find reds and whites that pair well with Tim’s creations.
Libby and Tim also have a private banquet facility at the front of their building. It’s a great place for groups ranging from ten to 100 to enjoy creatively prepared coastal cuisine!
4031 Arendell Street
Morehead City, NC 28557
Breakfast & Lunch: Tuesday - Sunday 9am - 3pm
5:00pm-9:30pm, Tuesday through Thursday evenings and 5:00pm-10:00pm, Friday and Saturday
By Lynn Seldon
added: December 12, 2008
updated: December 24, 2008
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