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The Rickhouse American Provisions and Spirits boasts bourbon and great food

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The Rickhouse's Charcuterie Board.

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Christina Ruotolo

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Rickhouse American Provisions and Spirits has been open for a little over two years and offers customers a warm and inviting atmosphere with top-notch food and beverages. Front House Manager Steffan Paz, Head Chef Tim Green, Bartender Jeremy Shelton and a talented group of staff are serving up inventive menu items to tantalize your taste buds. The restaurant, named after a large structure that houses bourbon barrels, serves both traditional comfort foods and non-traditional foods.

Chef Green enjoys combining different ingredients and serving up unique flavor pairings. “Our main goal is to make great comfort foods that bring people together. We want customers to grab a drink, relax and let us do the rest,” Green says.

The Rickhouse uses many North Carolina-based ingredients in its dishes, including local cheeses, vegetables, fruits and meats. It also uses only certified Angus beef. The menu, with prices ranging from $6-$37, includes some items that you won’t find at other restaurants. A few crowd-pleasers include a Sweet Tea Brined Chicken and Bourbon Pecan Salmon.

Green is no stranger in the kitchen, with more 18 years of experience working in restaurants, so he is not afraid to take a risk. “Our food does not come in a box. We go beyond the box and the basics. We have a variety of foods to delight and tempt your taste buds,” he says.

To start my tasting, I sampled the Charcuterie Board, which feeds your savory, sweet, and sour needs. The large wooden board contains a selection of North Carolina cheeses, meats, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, sliced green apples and pickled shallots. I was able to sample salty, chewy prosciutto, crisp, sweet apples, savory smoked andouille sausage, toasted bread and a variety of cheeses. This week’s cheese selections were Snow Camp gooey Brie, Goat Lady goat cheese, sliced Muenster, cheddar and Rocket’s Robiola ash-ripened soft cheese made by Boxcarr. Grab a handful of your best friends and order this plate for $22.

Let’s move on to dinner. On Saturdays, The Rickhouse offers a fried seafood special. Six jumbo shrimp, three large scallops and two pieces of flounder are dredged in seasoned breading, fried crispy golden brown and placed atop a Cajun spiced crinkle fries. The meal comes with apple coleslaw, a house-made cocktail sauce and tartar sauce. The seafood was crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. The breading was not too heavy, so the true flavor of the mild fish, shrimp and scallops comes through. The tartar sauce was cool and citrusy, and the cocktail sauce was unique with roasted red pepper with a great horseradish heat. The crinkle fries had a great snap to them. The apple slaw brought it all home with its flavorful, tangy and vibrant vinegar and brown sugar-based sauce. This dish costs $32.

The Rickhouse offers 63 kinds of bourbon, with prices ranging from $7-$20. Most have a rich, amber color and a sweet heat finish. Popular brands offered include Buffalo Trace, Elijah Craig, Evan Williams Single Barrel and or Bulleit 10 year. All bourbons have to pass the five-point test: They must be made in America, contain at least 50 percent corn mash, must be aged in charred, white-oak barrels and contain no additives. As Shelton says, “Bourbon makes the world go round.”

I sampled two delicious drinks that both use bourbon. The first was a Smoky-O Old Fashioned. The bartender starts with a large handmade glossy ice ball that he makes right in front of you. Watch as a large chunk of ice is added to a machine that simultaneously melts, molds and rounds it. The bartender then takes a blow torch and burns a small bowl of wood chips, capturing the swirling smoke in a glass. He then makes a simple syrup with sugar cubes and adds the swirling smoke to 2 ounces of Japanese whiskey. He shakes it to blend the woody smoke with the warm bourbon. Add some aromatic bitters and top it with a dark black cherry soaked in brandy and amaretto and a twist of orange. This one packed a punch with its deep flavor and kick. You can smell the woody, earthy smoke, taste the warm, belly-burning bourbon, the zest from the orange and the slight bitter mixed with the densely drunk cherry. This was a delicious and intense take on a classic for $10.

My last drink to sample was the Rickhouse Sangria. It is made with a Portuguese deep-red blend wine, Wild Turkey American Honey bourbon, a splash of orange juice and Sierra Mist. Add cinnamon sticks, a sliced lime, cherries, cranberries and garnish the glass with a sliced orange. This drink was almost too pretty to drink. You can smell the red wine and fragrant cinnamon, and it was garnet in color. The wine was mellow and warm, and you can taste the slight orange back-note and cinnamon, so it was not as fruity as most sangrias. Cost is $9.

The Rickhouse also offers weekly specials. Monday is Cajun shrimp and grits; Tuesday is old-fashioned meatloaf; Wednesday is freestyle (changes weekly); Thursday is prime rib; Friday is smokehouse night with pulled pork, ribs and smoked meats; and Saturday is the seafood special. Sunday you can have brunch with all menu items cooked to order. Enjoy the Ginger Bourbon Chicken and Waffles or choose a made-to-order omelet with your favorite fixings.

The Rickhouse is at 710 Red Banks Road. Hours are from 4-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, from 4-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-10 p.m. Sundays. Catering services are available. For more information, call 689-6377 or 916-7890 or visit www.therickhousenc.com.

‘Foodscape Revolution’

Brie Arthur, correspondent on the PBS show “Growing a Greener World,” will speak on “The Foodscape Revolution: Ecology And Sustainable Management” at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Pitt County Agricultural Center Auditorium. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $15 for Friends of the Pitt County Arboretum and $30 at the door. They are available at the Pitt County Extension Office, 403 Government Circle, or Wild Birds Unlimited, 518 S.E. Greenville Blvd. Call 902-1709.

‘Brewconomy’

The N.C. Craft Brewers Guild and Pitt Street Brewing Company, 630 S. Pitt St., will host a special screening of “Brewconomy,” the 2015 independent documentary film about the craft beer movement in N.C., at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The film explores the industry’s positive impact on the state’s agriculture, economy and community. Tickets are $15 and will be available via the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild website, ncbeer.org. Tickets include the screening of the film, an update on the industry following the film with a guild representative, #ncbeer swag, and a pint to enjoy while watching the film. For more information, contact Jasmine Bamlet at jasmine@ncbeer.org.

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