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The Pilot House Restaurant 2 Ann Street , Chandler’s Wharf Wilmington, NC


Whenever we head to Topsail Island we become as giddy as chil- dren. From the moment we get into the car and start driving, we can literally feel the stress melting away, our spirits becoming lighter and lighter as we draw nearer to the coast. We visualize the lovely long beaches and hours of relax- ation to come. However, as we near Wilmington, all thoughts of beach- es get pushed to the side as we start planning our meal at the Pilot House restaurant.


Located on Chandler’s Wharf, the Pilot House embodies the invi- tation to enter the world of Southern beach cuisine. It is always the first stop we make en route, and usually the last stop on the way back to reality, with plenty of visits in between. The restaurant is sprawling, featur- ing an indoor dining room, a covered patio, a lively bar and the pièce de résistance: waterside deck dining. As we sit under the umbrellas and sigh at the aquatic vista, sipping cocktails, we know we have reached vacation nirvana.- Our favorite days in Wilmington include arriv- ing in town in the early afternoon, wandering about and taking pictures of the lovely houses and waterfront sites. Then we head to the Pilot House and feast. To be perfectly honest, we have almost never made it past the appetizers on the menu. So varied, interesting and tantalizing with delicious flavors, we contemplate ordering one of each, and usually only leave out one or two when all is said and done.


The standout favorite is the Shrimp and Grits … period. ($9.95) It is the number one item on everyone’s wish list and one order is never enough. The shrimp are savory, tossed with kiel- basa, and the grits are cooked like polenta, fash- ioned into a cake and deep fried. They are sub- lime: crisped on the outside and creamy on the


Our Pilot House Favorite. Shrimp and Grits. The shrimp are tossed with kielbasa, and the grits are cooked like polenta, fashioned into a cake and deep fried.


inside. Whenever we speak of this dish, it is with reverence!


Other must haves on our list are the traditional Fried Green Tomatoes ($7.95), the Crab Dip ($9.95), and the Scallops Rockefeller ($10.95), which just melt in your mouth with bacon and hollandaise goodness. My own personal favorite, after the Shrimp and Grits, is the Almond Crusted Brie ($10.95). Of course we’ve all had brie, but what makes this dish unique is the port wine fig sauce, which is wickedly delectable. If the Pilot House sold this sauce by the jar, I would be taking home several of them.


When the weather is just too hot to enjoy out- side, our favorite indoor area is the bar. Soaring ceilings and windows affording a water view lend an airy elegance to the ambiance. The menu offers substantial wine and beer choices, as well as a specialty cocktail list. One of our favorites is the Key Lime Martini, made with whipped cream flavored vodka, pineapple and lime juices. It’s the quintessential “big kid” dessert that epitomizes the flavor of the south. We consider our first visit to the Pilot House


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