It’s no secret that eastern North Carolina is home to some of the best restaurants and breweries in the state. With the coast and its culinary bounty at our doorstep and the ease of farm-to-table produce and products, we are spoiled with amazing regional food and can support the local economy at the same time. In doing so, our dining experience is more meaningful. The Mulberry House Brewery, 189 W. Main St., Washington, N.C., is one of these local jewels of the east. It has been open since July 26 and already has a large following of guests excited to share in the restaurant’s culinary vision.
The talented team behind this restaurant are Mohamed and Reem Darar and Justin and Sunny Fejfar. Mohamed first saw the building seven years ago. Justin, a structural engineer and the principal and co-founder of FDR Engineers, developed the plans for the re-construction of the building. Reem, the general contractor for MHB and owner of Titan Contractor Services, specializes in historic restoration and renovations. Sunny, the designer responsible for the building’s industrial modern interior, drew inspiration from the rich trade history of North Carolina.
In her research of Washington, she was inspired specifically by the historic Mulberry Tavern, one of the first buildings in this city. For more than half a century the tavern provided food, drink, trade and lodging for locals and travelers alike. Much like its namesake, The Mulberry House Brewery functions as a social center and a hospitality and culinary destination. Velvet wrapped banquettes run the length of the main first-floor dining room, which features soaring ceilings and a casual and comfortable feel. There also is a tap room, full bar, covered patio and sexy rooftop dining area where you can watch the stunning sunsets while sipping your favorite cocktail.
The menu is unique and immersive featuring international and coastal flavors. Chef Andrew Wigger has been in the culinary world for over 15 years and lived and cooked in Paris for over six years, so many dishes have a French or European feel to them. He spends hours cultivating relationships with local farmers and purveyors. They focus on sustainable practices, heritage grains and seeds, small farms, and co-ops. For example, all water in the building is purified by reverse osmosis, which means, the water you drink, the water used in cooking, your coffee, your beer, is the best quality. They make their own pasta and bread from organic flour. Sauces, dressings, and all components are baked, pickled, seared, roasted and otherwise made in-house.
For breakfast enjoy a full coffee and tea bar with assorted handcrafted pastries and breakfast dishes, along with a full lunch and dinner menu. For lunch enjoy pickled vegetables, marinated olives, parsnip and apple soup, sandwiches and desserts. Dinner features unique and tasty options from roast sun chokes, handmade kimchi, duck and pan roasted strip steak to name a few. They also always feature specials and menu items change seasonally.
I started with tuna tartar which is made with turmeric marinated cherry tomatoes, Carolina rice, wasabi cream fraiche, fried shallots and watermelon radish. It was beautifully presented in a glazed dish. The first bite woke up my palate with tang and vibrancy, and when you eat the tuna, it melts in your mouth. It was fragrant, clean and the cool wasabi cream with a hint of heat cools the palate.
Next, I tried the mushroom pasta made with homemade bucatini pasta, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, arugula gremolata, leek confit and Boxcarr “nimble” cheese. This dish was a true European work of art. The pasta was al dente and the sauce was luxe and creamy with deep earthy mushrooms, mellow soft roasted leeks and an organic, body-warming feel. You can taste the beauty of the land in this dish in every delightful bite.
To end my food tour, I tried one of the desserts, the smoked chocolate that has been infused with pine needle tea and topped with a crumble made with pastry. It comes in an earthenware dish with a top, so when you open it up, it smells woodsy and rich. Dip your spoon into the crumble to unveil an airy and velvety deep chocolate mousse. The first bite tastes of winter walking in a deep forest of pine trees; the second bite, you are sitting at a campfire and the spicy woods beckon you in. How magical that a dessert can take you from inside to outside by a roaring fire with just one bite. Make sure to grab a warm cup of tea, coffee or cordial to end your destination dining experience at The Mulberry House.
Looking to the new year, The Mulberry House has exciting things in store. They will be launching their own brew in early 2022 with a diverse selection of 15 craft beers in their tap room. Scaling, canning and distribution will happen late next year, and the hotel portion will open in later spring/early summer. This addition will enable large events to take place.
The Mulberry House Brewery is open daily, from 6:30 a.m. to midnight in the summer and in the off season from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Full-service catering is available on and off site and with tailored menus for any occasion. Call 252-833-0451, email @themulberryhousebrewery.com or visit www.themulberryhousebrewery.com.