For our grandmothers seventy-second birthday my sister and I wanted to present her with a drink she had not seen or consumed in over a decade, the ever classy Champale (quite frankly I am shocked my spell check is trying to tell me Champale is not in the dictionary, the audacity). As I have stated before, it was the drink of choice for Fred Sanford and my relatives during cookouts in the 1980s and early 90s (sure my sister and I snuck a few when no one was looking). For some reason they are very hard to find these days but after some research my sister found out that there was one last place in North Carolina that is still a purveyor of this fine beverage, Greenfields in Wilmington. The two and a half hour trip east to Wilmington would not only yield the champagne and beer flavored drink that is reaching Yeti status but landed us at the impressive Riverboat Landing Restaurant.
After finding Greenfields in the heart of the Wilmington ghetto, we made our way to the downtown area on the Cape Fear River across from the Battleship North Carolina and settled on the Riverboat Landing for lunch. This was my first time in Wilmington but I would be surprised if there is anywhere else in the city that can top the Riverboat Landing’s location. Sitting on the corner adjacent to the river in a building that dates back to 1856, it boasts unmatched views of the river and the USS North Carolina from one of its nine, two person balconies.
In the spirit of being in a new city and eating at a restaurant that was new to me, I decided to take a chance and try a beer I had never heard of from the selection of micro-brews on the menu. I locked in on the Orange Blossom Pilsner, which is a Florida brewed beer and has 2 teaspoons of orange blossom honey in each bottle. The beer was cold and the honey gave a slight sweetness to this beer that was crisp and light. This is a definitely a beer I would keep in my fridge and looking into where I can buy it.
WHAT WE ATE (lunch menu):
Gazpacho Shrimp ($7.00) – Chunky gazpacho salsa, avocado, and chopped cilantro-lime marinated shrimp. Served with flash fried blue corn chips. This was a great cold appetizer what had plenty of shrimp. There was no question the shrimp were left to bathe in the marinade because when you bite one it exploded with lime.
Mushroom Flatbread Pizza ($7.50 served as entrée with dressed greens) – sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella, truffle oil. For something that sounds so simple this thing had a lot of flavor. We felt the truffle oil brought it to another level. That weekend we both found ourselves buying truffle oil and experimenting with the expensive oil.
Italian Beef Sandwich ($8.50 / $9.50 w/fries, otherwise comes w/ lightly dressed baby greens) – slow cooked, thin sliced, Italian spiced sirloin with peppers, onion, garlic and melted provolone on toasted baguette. The beef of the sandwich was melt in your mouth tender and the bread tasted like it was toasted with garlic butter….EXCELLENT. The fries were stellar too and nicely seasoned with a hint of lemon in there somewhere.
NEXT TIME I GO:
Arancini ($6.00) – mushroom risotto fritters stuffed with fresh mozzarella cheese rolled in crispy bread crumbs
Pappardelle, Chicken and Mushrooms ($11.00) – in tarragon cream sauce with asparagus and sun dried tomatoes
Turkey Cranberry Sandwich ($7.50) – thin sliced breast of turkey with melted brie and cranberry chutney on toasted hearty white bread.
Every step of the way the River Landing raised bar, starting with the location, then the beer, to the appetizers and followed by the pizza and sandwich knocked it right out of the park. The only thing I can say about this place is although the service was very friendly, it was also very slow. Reading online reviews, we were prepared for the slow service but with the view and perfect weather we were content in taking out time. Since the Riverboat Landing could do no wrong with everything they sent out, I look forward to trying more dishes on the lunch menu and I haven’t even begun to talk about the salivating the dinner menu caused when I looked at it online.