For us vacation is a time to spend time with our immediate and extended family. We enjoy the beach, a variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, sailing, and kayaking, but most of all we enjoy cooking and eating together. My Aunt usually plans a menu for the week we are at the beach after a variety of suggestions and conversations about menu options. We also always have one free night for eating out. Being creatures of habit my family likes going to the same restaurant while on vacation. This year however we planned for two free nights which gave us an opportunity to eat at our old mainstay but also try something new. On the drive back to our beach house one night we drove past a sign for The Paper Canoe. I was attracted to the sign announcing the restaurant. Since Eric and I both enjoy sailing the sound, the sign with the unique little boat sporting a couple sails and the gray weathered building close to the sound’s edge intrigued me. What drew us in further was the short description listed below the name, “Wood-fired oven, Ale house & Wine Bar.”
For those that are regular readers there is no doubt that Eric and I enjoy a good craft beer. A quick search on the net led me to discover that The Paper Canoe offers 10 craft beers on draft. That fact combined with the wood fired pizzas had us convinced it would be a great place for a low key and relaxed date night for the two of us. Since it is off season we just walked in without a reservation. We were seated almost immediately. They keep one table open for walk ins like us and while it isn’t a prime spot it was very cozy. I would suggest reservations for those that want to have a better view of the sound. They offer a row of tables in the dining area that overlooks the sound with amazing sunset views but to score these reservations are key. There is also a nice deck just outside these windows where anyone can walk out and take in the glorious sunset and snap a keeper as we did.
As expected they did have 10 craft beers on draft. The selection was a good mix and I liked that they offered some local North Carolina brews. Out of the 10 craft beers on draft three were from the great state of NC. I chose the Highland Mocha Stout, a robust beer with a malty body and roasted chocolate flavor from Asheville, NC. I love darker beers with lots of character and this one was just to my liking plus it was very smooth. I enjoyed it immensely. Eric chose the Black Radish, a medium bodied dark German lager style beer from Weeping Radish Farm Brewery which is actually located on the Outer Banks. He enjoyed it as well, it was slightly hoppy and had a roasted quality in the background.
|Enjoying my Highland Mocha Stout|
We already had our minds made up to have the wood fired pizzas before we even looked at the menu but desired to peruse the menu for a little while to see what else was offered, perhaps for a future visit. The server was really knowledgeable about all the off menu offerings for the evening. We both listened intently and were rethinking our resolve to order pizza as she listed such specials as bourbon bacon wrapped filet with a cognac cream sauce and sautéed sheepshead (a local fish she explained) with saffron beurre blanc and risotto. Mediterranean roasted red pepper and tomato soup sounded delectable and I just had to try it. It was served with a drizzling of olive oil and chopped chives. It was exceptionally fresh with the taste of tomatoes that I swear could have been picked fresh out of the garden that morning. It was thick and rich yet still light tasting and was not too heavy before the pizza. It was so good. Bread was served before our meal, warm, along with olive oil with balsamic vinegar drizzled on the plate for dipping. The bread also was wonderful dipped in the soup.
We both ordered the wood fired pizzas, which were not overly large, yet more than adequate size for one person as a main entree. Eric ordered the clam pizza which was exceptional. It was garlicky, buttery and included a good amount of tender baby clams. I ordered the sausage pizza which had a lovely tomato sauce, Italian sausage, soppressata, prosciutto, and imported provolone. We ended up swapping slices and having the best of both worlds. The crust was also exceptional, crisp on the bottom and soft on the inside. We should have stopped there but we decided to try dessert. Eric makes a pretty mean creme brulee and we were intrigued by both the coconut and coffee creme brulee offerings on the menu. Both were very tasty and Eric was impressed by the large portion that was served.
We learned from our server that The Paper Canoe is in its third season. For those that love history the name makes reference to The Voyage of the Paper Canoe, a book by Nathaniel H. Bishop. We also learned from the knowledgeable staff that Nathaniel Bishop was a boating enthusiast and topographic mapmaker. He journeyed from Quebec to Mexico in an 18 foot boot with the help of one assistant in the years 1874-1875. Part of his journey from Norfolk to Cape Hatteras took him past the very Currituck sound that the restaurant today overlooks. For me that was a very interesting little factoid and made me enjoy my dining experience and the splendid views that much more. Over all we were very satisfied with our dining experience at The Paper Canoe. Craft beers, tasty pizza, a menu offering fresh local seafood, and fabulous desserts served up with a bit of history, it’s a place we plan on trying out again. The service was first rate. I hope The Paper Canoe has many more seasons to come. I can’t wait to go back again. Try it the next time you vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.