Ever since I was little girl, my mom was always cooking up new things in the kitchen. Not just new recipes but new and different cuisines as well. She made chinese stir-fry, homemade egg rolls, gratins, quiches, Italian, Greek, the list goes on and on. By the time she was my age she had four kids to contend with and I don’t understand how she had the energy to be so creative every night in the kitchen. Not to mention all of our (mine and my siblings) freak outs over food. There was the time we almost vomited while gagging over the split pea and ham soup she made. Not to be forgotten, my brothers sly and ingenious way of disposing of his cauliflower and broccoli; he would allow it to fall off his fork or plate onto his lap and then with the other hand chuck it under the hutch that was placed in the corner of the dining room. After one of my mothers thorough cleaning efforts, alas old cauliflower and broccoli on a plate in the refrigerator, the jig was up! She had one rule at the dinner table. You may not like it but you had to try it. Just a few bites were all that she asked. I thought this was terrible, until we stayed at a friends house over the weekend while my parents had a little getaway. I remember it was just me and my brother. Compared with this mom, my mom seemed a lot more reasonable. She served up the portions of our food and we had to eat it ALL. I do not remember what it was but I just remember the dread I felt and how she made my brother sit at the table all by himself until he finished his plate.
My grandma never really cooked much when my mom was growing up, she in the 1960s was a career women. My mom says she got her love of cooking and trying new things from my grandpa. He had served in World War II and Korea. I think that all the traveling he did gave him an appreciation for variety. Maybe he just had military rations in Korea or the South Pacific but in my mind I conjure up images of him eating exotic fare for a guy from Struthers, Ohio. When I was little we called him the pancake man. We would visit once a week usually on Wednesdays and he would make the best “silver dollar pancakes” as he called them; small, fluffy, light, wonderful little cakes served with softened butter (my grandmas contribution) and Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup.
This may have been some of the motive behind my mom’s creative culinary skills and unique love of food. It continued into dining out as well and even though I may have taken a detour to get here, it is the theme behind this story. As a family we also love to travel and when we did as children with our parents they always tried to take us out to a nice place to eat. I mean an upscale fine dining establishment, a fine china, classy dress up kind of place. This was no easy feat with the four of us but my parents did it anyway, and now I really appreciate the effort they put forth.
Back in the early 90’s on one of our many trips to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, my mom found a house she fell in love with. She was always dreaming of moving to the beach. It was a unique property, the house was nestled into the land with old gnarly oak trees, so sculpture-like around the home. Little did we know at that time another mom was doing the same thing, and dreaming of it being her family’s restaurant. I still remember the day my mom saw that someone had bought “her” house, by the next time we made it back to OBX it was a restaurant. My mom and dad were the first to dine there, testing the waters so to speak to see if it was family friendly. After their first dining experience at The Colington Café, my mom as she relates the story today, “Wishes they would have taken the kids”. With the modest prices, gourmet cuisine and family oriented ambience it was a slam dunk. Every year since when at the Outer Banks they did take us there.
|Our whole family’s first Colington Cafe experience|
|The Colington Café circa 1997. Just 3 months after our wedding. My parents, cousin, two brothers, sister and that is Eric and I on front right.|
The food is fabulous, and the service is unsurpassed. The staff and owners are very accommodating to family groups. This is a wonderful blessing especially so to my family for two reasons. We sometimes arrive with a large group, one year we had 16 at the tables. The second is this: the southern hospitality that is offered here. One year my grandpa wanted something off menu, a steak with sauteed mushrooms. The waitress told the owner who came to the table and in a southern accent spoke to him in the most remarkable way, letting him know that she would make him whatever he wanted. (The fact that he was in his late 70’s to early 80’s may have been the persuading factor, or it may have been that what he requested was not so difficult. Whatever her reason it impressed us all.) In a voice dripping with kindness she reassured him it would be the best steak he ever had. It was. He cleaned his plate and raved about the experience for months.
So we continue to go here not only because of the family tradition, but because the wonderful food and service keeps drawing us back. My mouth waters when I think of the scallops rumaki, the she crab bisque, or the mixed grille. As their website states, all entrees are served with the chef’s choice of accompaniments which is usually a starch, such as garlic mashed redskins, and the vegetable du jour. They have nightly seasonal specials that are as creative as they are appealing to the palate. The Cafe takes advantage of the local products. They serve the freshest fish, scallops, and other seafood with a French flair. For the carnivores in the group they have lovely filets, steaks, pork and chicken dishes. The wine list will impress any oenophile and the prices are exceptional. We may go here every year when we vacation but I never tire of it. As is family tradition we always take a picture of our group at The Colington Café. It is usually outdoors in the lovely oaks or around the dinner table. Try it if you ever vacation in the area. It is never surpassed and you will not be disappointed. Thank you Colington Café for the memories and the meals. Bon appetit!
Check out The Colington Café’s website to learn more about their unique history, view menus, wine lists, pictures of their dishes and much more. http://www.thecolingtoncafe.com/outer-banks-restaurant.html
|Left to right: My Aunt and Uncle, Sister, Me, Eric, Mom, Dad, My Bro around the oaks June 2005|