Monday, May 24, 2010

Crook's Corner and honeysuckle sorbet

A few nights ago, we drove to Chapel Hill for dinner at Crook's Corner. Bill Neal and Gene Hamer made this place famous among foodies, particularly southern foodies. Its signature dish was shrimp and grits, a combination that Neal made popular and that you can now find in many fine restaurants. Hamer and Chef Bill Smith have kept the place rolling since Neal's death. I hadn't been there in a long time, so a trip was overdue, but what pushed us into going was the availability of another of their unusual dishes, this time a dessert: honeysuckle sorbet.

The quality of the food we tasted was highly variable. The shrimp and grits was wonderful and everything I remembered it to be. Many restaurants present shrimp and grits as if it's a small sculpture: four or five shrimp carefully placed atop some grits laced with cheese. Not here. Here, they saute shrimp with bacon and mushrooms, then pour the resulting concoction over some very fine but plain grits. It was a hunter's stew of a meal, rich and full of local flavors. The salads and vegetarian pasta, by contrast, were simple and uninspiring.

I would have made the trip for the shrimp and grits, but the real star of the evening was the honeysuckle sorbet. With a consistency barely creamier than an Italian ice, the dish was deliciously and amazingly evocative of the season; it was May in every spoon. Each of us savored every single taste of it. We all loved it.

The honeysuckle sorbet is available only for a short time, so if you live around here, head to Crook's Corner at your first opportunity and try this amazing treat. I'm already planning to return next year.


Laura said...

Shrimp dishes generally hold no appeal for me, though like any good Southerner I adore grits. But the honeysuckle sorbet sounds downright divine.

Mark said...

It was wonderful and well worth the drive.


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