Cape Fear Foodie: Castle Street Kitchen

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - I’m constantly on the prowl for new place to try, not that there is any lack of options, but I tend to lean more towards a good review from a friend than going somewhere on a whim. So when a coworker said a recent trip to Castle Street Kitchen (CSK) was fantastic, I knew I had to give it a try. The only issue was, what is Castle Street Kitchen?

If you’re asking yourself that as well, you’re probably not alone, the restaurant has only been open a few months but has nestled in perfectly in the ever-changing Castle Street District. A beautiful mural adorns the outside, with tables along the street (a nice spot for brunch or a sunset). Inside is a clean, welcoming interior complete with various plants and a retro bar top that has been in the building for years.

But I didn’t come here for the mid-century modern décor, I came here for the food. And I was in for an unsuspecting lunch time treat. CSK has an eclectic menu with an international flair, ranging from Ahi Nachos, inventive Loaded Fries (with melted goat cheese, toasted pistachios and chile spiced honey), and even a changing selection of meatballs. I went with the Street Corn Dip, a bowl of melted cheese, roasted corn, and peppers. Each bite packed the punch of gnawing on elotes, it was a solid appetizer.

Of course that’s just the beginning, with a number of unique salads and soups on hand for some lighter fare. If you’re going for something heftier, CSK has a number of sandwiches and burgers, from the popular Heirloom Tomato Pie, to the Chile Crunch Burger (boasting an ancho chile glaze, corn relish, avocado and tortilla chips).

Usually I can look over a menu and immediately point to something I want and forget about the rest, but this one was tough. The coin-flip decision settled on the “Havana, Ooh Na-Na,” a take on a classic Cuban sandwich with a side of mac & cheese. The sandwich was perfect, with a grilled French baguette supporting a cast of ham, pork carnitas, spicy pickle chips, pepper jack cheese and house mustard.

Although the star of the plate may have been the mac, which is more of an alfredo & parmesan style than your typical cheddar mac. Even then, the long, stringy melted cheese was definitely picture worthy (look at the cheese!) and had I not feared sleeping at work after lunch I could have devoured it all in one sitting.

I also had to give the “South in Your Mouth,” burger and tater tots a try. It’s essentially a bacon cheeseburger with house spicy tomato jam, and it’s the jam that takes this burger to a different level. The tanginess makes a great sauce for any burger and worth the purchase alone. Of course it’s not often that tots are available, and these were cooked just right, not overdone where it’s just a shell of potato, not undercooked where it’s soggy and soft, but the perfect crunch.

As for the rest of the menu, CSK has nearly 10 different items for brunch, along with a vegan and vegetarian menu. It also has the cheapest craft cocktails that I have seen in the city, with most drinks less than $8 (wine and local craft beers are available as well). Not to mention the food is very reasonably priced with large portions, with only one item over $15.

With a cute location in an increasingly hip area of town, a tasty menu that covers a range of influences, and an affordable drink program, I can see Castle Street Kitchen quickly becoming a favorite this summer and for years to come. I know that I will be back very soon.

IF YOU GO:

Castle Street Kitchen is located at: 509 Castle St, Wilmington, NC 28401

Do you recommend a restaurant? Or know of a best kept secret that you want the rest of the Cape Fear to know about? Shoot me an email at corey.preece@gray.tv and I would love to feature your selection. Cheers!

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