Foodies, we just had the best dinner at a place I’d NEVER heard of until the night before I tried it. We were trying to find eats somewhere halfway between Raleigh and Kvegas. Burlington, Mebane? Saxapahaw is not it. I mean, it IS an equal driving distance, but it’s not your typical halfway point…it’s more adventurous…? I did not mind it one bit though after I ate the cuisine and met the awesome chef at The Eddy Pub.
The Eddy is situated in the Rivermill Village, a completely restored Cottonmill and Dye House complex along the Haw River. It is beautiful and the folks in and around Saxapahaw are very proud of this little jewel and also of the Haw. I remember a few years back, in my news reporter days, taking a tour of this gutted mill and hearing officials romanticize about returning the old mill to its former glory and turning it into lofts and businesses. Old beams and pipes and doors and furnaces were cleaned up and still remain to this day as the restoration finally happened and now Saxapahaw is an actual “place to BE.” The view from the The Eddy’s patio is amazing, especially if you arrive near sunset.
Chef Isaiah Allen is the Executive Chef and supreme talent in the kitchen. He came out and introduced himself and, unexpectedly, promised our table a few tastings so that we know what his kitchen is all about. And foodies, you know I love it when the chef is chef-ing and you also know I love it when the chef and the farmer are close knit. And Chef Isaiah (it just feels better using his first name) knows his local food. And when you order your meal, you know you are eating ingredients sourced from very close to The Eddy. And on top of it all, it tastes fresh and completely delicious.
The Eddy has a no-fuss type pub fare for sure, from fish and chips to meat loaf, beef stroganoff, burgers, chops and sandwiches. All local, local, LOCAL. The fruits and veggies? Local! From farms in Alamance and neighboring counties, some from Chef Isaiah’s own Rocky Run Farm in Hillsborough, where he grows tomatoes, peppers, among others and where he’s nurturing the nearly forgotten Pawpaw fruit into becoming a local reality. This is a chef who is certified in Sustainable Agriculture. He calls himself a “Soil Nerd.” He’s also a pretty good kitchen nerd too ;).
We enjoyed jazz by Mahalo Arts while the culinary crew did their magic.
Chef Isaiah’s team brought for us to try a NC flounder dusted with cornmeal from Lindley Mill and served atop local succotash with truffled popcorn for some fun and crunch. Wonderful and fresh. And…have you ever truffled your popcorn? Put that on your thing-to-do list.
Next he let us try a sampling of one of the night’s specials, a cashew crusted chicken on spaetzle in a sauce that was deeply soy and sweet with fresh crispy local veg and cilantro. This, foodies, was fabulous. And the boy kidlet ate it and the rest of his sister’s. Well, he ate the chicken and the sauce and that’s saying a lot!
Finally, the chef brought out a wonderfully seared local pork belly on a crispy green and white pole bean and apple salad. With some beautiful sweet figs from basically across the street. I love figs. Eye-rolling good. I love pork belly too.
And here’s where I should’ve stopped eating and I hadn’t even received my entree yet so I knew tonight I’d get full and happy :).
I ordered the NC flounder special with a roasted poblano pepper and peach yogurt sauce. It was served on a bed of seasoned rice.
Ha! I instagram’d that one. Better, huh?
Mr. foodie ordered the highly recommended meatloaf which is made with Braeburn beef, house sausage and ricotta on garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli. It was like a homemade blue plate special…you know, in the BEST way. Our friend, Dennis, got the meatloaf too.
My friend Sally, his wife, ordered the local Beef Stroganoff, which was interestingly served on a longer noodle but not the traditional egg noodle. Also yummy. With parmesan.
And the kids, well they WISH they’d ordered the chicken but they got the kids grilled cheese which was a white cheddar on a beautifully grilled thick bread and the lil boy even ate the crust. The crust!
The kitchen split it for them to share.
And even though we were pretty full at this point, we promised the kidlets chocolate cake (which they got) and we dove right in there and got the signature dessert, the Tres Leches. I LOVE Tres Leches cake. So creamy and sweet. And The Eddy’s was no exception.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the coffee, which is roasted in Carrboro and they bring it to you in your own personal French press. They give you a timer so you know how long to let it dwell. We like to flip our timer a couple of times for boldness.
On this night, Chef Isaiah cooked a chicken in celebration of the first successful chicken harvest for Liz Coore and Katie Nunn of Bushy Tail Farm, which is now raising Poulet Rouge chickens. This is a lovely, succulent chicken, a smaller, heritage breed that is so tasty and juicy. Doesn’t it look it? Chef says he de-boned it, stuffed it with roasted eggplant, squash and peppers and roasted it with fresh herbs and garlic. Gorgeous. And he served to them on a silver platter. The ladies at the celebration pretty much ate the entire chicken in about 5 minutes flat.
And just so you know how The Eddy gets its seafood…Phil Campbell of Core Banks will call Chef Isaiah as he’s on the docks or boat of the NC coast. The chef will order from Phil what is fresh right then and then tailors the menu around what’s available, which keeps him motivated and thinking outside of the box, rather than creating the menu and finding the seafood to fill it. He uses every bit of the fish, for instance, Grouper CHEEKS because they are so fab. And he uses it in different ways to make interesting options for the diners who come to the pub.
Check out the list of The Eddy’s local farms.
Potatoes, Blueberries – Peaceful River
Squash, Pole Beans – Bushy Tail
Beef- Braeburn Farm
Chicken- T5 Farms
Eggs- Latta’s Farm
Pork- Cane Creek
Flour- Lindley Mill
Potato, Onions – Sunset
Tomatoes, basil, peppers- Rocky Run
Chef Isaiah says The Eddy is striving to eat, breath and sleep the food movement. Their food waste goes to supplement the food source for hog farms. The fish bones are used to create a fish emulsion for the soil on Chef Isaiah’s farm. Things are really happening in Saxapahaw with a community that is proud of their land and they know how to make the most of it. And The Eddy is certainly a spot that utilizes the amazing local resources that we have right here in our own backyard. And it’s the absolute best reason to un-chain yourself and try more places like this wonderful local pub. And if you have a free Saturday afternoon, take the 1/2 hour to hour’s drive to Saxapahaw and dive into the local goodness of the farmer’s market and other businesses in the area. It’s completely charming with a hip industrial feel.
For more information about The Eddy Pub click here.
1715 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd, Saxapahaw, NC
Open Tues-Sat 4-until