August 17, 2010

Traveling Foodie Fail: The George in Wilmington

Two things crossed my mind when I saw the entrance to The George, a restaurant on the riverfront in Wilmington, NC. First: come October 2nd, my last name is going to be George, so that's cool. Second: I love eating on the waterfront, so that's cool, too.

The George may have seemed like a good choice because I was already giddy and drunk on the beauty of Wilmington by that point. It feels like a true southern town, with tall trees shading all the main roads, Spanish Moss dripping from their branches. It's small but charming, and it's definitely a refreshing alternative to all that is Jacksonville.

(All that is Jacksonville.)

Anyway, I checked out the menu and decided that, even though the dishes were a little pricier than I wanted for lunch, I would do my best to channel Calvin Trillin and, wedding shape be damned, take advantage of the opportunity to try some good local food.

We sat out on the porch, which was lovely. And that was the end of our good luck when it came to The George.

In the spirit of exploration and good blog fodder, I decided that we needed to go fried or go home, and so we ordered the Fried Pickle Platter and the Fried Green Tomatoes for appetizers. I chose the Soft-shell Crab Po'boy sandwich for lunch, confident that this was fixin' to be one of the most authentically southern meals I'd ever eaten.

I should have known something was wrong when, in his best Don LaFontaine voice, our server responded to our order with "faaaaab-u-LOUS."

See the pickles? Delicious. Now, see all the other stuff? Atrocious. The pickles were legitimately tasty, with an amazing balance of salty, crunchy, and tart that made the starving bride inside my head beg for more. Everything else was just kind of...there. The sauce had no flavor, the banana peppers were tough and bizarre, and the mozzarella sticks had clearly been sitting out all day and had turned to solid chunks of rubbery grease that felt more like pencil erasers than food.

Next came the Fried Green Tomatoes. I've tried these before on other journeys south and absolutely adored them, so I figured they'd be a safe bet. Unfortunately, not even the fresh mozzarella (an almost foolproof way to make me happy) had any flavor to speak of. The tomatoes themselves were too big, too mushy, and completely bland.

Finally, Mr. Moviefone delivered my Soft-shell Crab Po'boy. I was so busy being horrified by the fact that it was literally a whole deep-fried crab carcass slapped on a bun that I actually forgot to take a picture. Just imagine a crab, trying to scuttle its way off the bun, and being frozen in place by the thickest batter you've ever seen. I think I heard my arteries cry out in terror when I finally managed to work my knife and fork through the cement-like layer of batter, and I know I heard my heart cry out in terror when I took my first and only bite. 

Just like the tomatoes, the sandwich was completely flavorless. Given all the grease I had already ingested by that point, I just couldn't bring myself to "get my money's worth" from a bland sandwich that threatened to make my hips expand and my heart stop.

Mine wasn't the only disappointing meal. M ordered a sad little grilled shrimp appetizer that came absolutely drowning in barbecue sauce, and C ordered a grilled veggie wrap that was soggy and flavorless and that she could have made better herself. The side of white cheddar grits she ordered was crying out for salt, and might have been put to better use as paste in a kindergarten classroom. Save for our fried pickles, none of the food was satisfying, and all of it was overpriced. In short, The George is a rip-off. We left feeling depressed by our complete Fail, and went to get some ice cream*.

*Did I mention I'm trying to look good for a wedding? Ha.

1 comment:

  1. Where did you go for ice cream--Kilwin's I hope!

    I've never been to The George but looks like you got a Cisco meal, not local food. Yuck

    If you want a good meal with actual local ingredients, try The Basics next time you're in Wilmington. The macaroni and cheese has nutmeg in it and is to die for, I had some of the best snap peas of my life there, and the local wild mushroom risotto relies on actual flavors, not just tons of dairy. Minimal fried options and they don't put out a bread basket, which I know you'll appreciate :)

    If you want to sit on the waterfront, try oysters at Elijah's--they've got great happy hour/raw bar deals and NC beers on tap.