I spent the morning in the salon washing my grays away, under the skillful hands of the best stylist in Fayetteville, Nichole Jenkins. Believe me, I am as shocked as anyone with the amount of grays I seem to be getting. Sigh. A visit to Nichole is energizing. We laugh like crazy while she works her magic and when I leave the salon my hair looks as good as any model’s hair in a Pantene commercial. At least I’ve got that.
My mid-morning appointment ended in time for lunch. Each growl of my stomach reminded me of the time-time to eat. But where? Sure Fayetteville has the standard chain restaurants spread across town, but if I can help it, I’ll eat in a locally owned restaurant instead. A quick google search pointed out several restaurants right around the Market House on Hay Street.
I chose the Circa 1800 Restaurant in Downtown Fayetteville. It is not a large place, but they have a good selection of food and the staff is friendly. It’s right in the heart of the historic section of downtown Fayetteville. I sat at the little table tucked into the window box, which offered a perfect view for people watching while waiting on my food.
Shrimp and grits are a mouthwatering Southern dish. Not all shrimp and grits are created equal. In my opinion yellow grits are always more flavorful than those bland white grits you see in some restaurants. So there. Circa 1800 uses yellow grits, so they were already off to a good start. The shrimp were a good size: not the teeny ones and not giants ones, but somewhere in the middle and they weren’t overcooked, so they were tender.
Here’s what it looked like: a grit patty, covered with tender shrimp, bacon, and smothered in a spicy cream sauce topped with cheddar cheese. It was good, I’m not gonna lie. The lunch portion was a perfect size. I was full but not stuffed so badly that I couldn’t walk when I was finished. Oh yeah – I also had tender buttered green beans to accompany the shrimp and grits. My friend tried their signature filet tips over rice with butter green beans. All in all, it was a good lunch for a reasonable price.
Flash forward to the next afternoon. Juston was in town for the weekend and asked if I wanted to go to a movie. Ummm, yes! He’s been working in Wilmington since we got back from Italy and I haven’t seen him much, so a “date” day with my kiddo is always a resounding “yes.” The movie of choice, oddly enough, was Finding Dory because according to Juston, “Finding Nemo was one of the best movies ever when I was little.” All that Pixar animated anxiety worked up an appetite, so when the movie was over we went to Circa 1800.
There was a festival going on and the restaurant was hoppin.’ We waited about 20 minutes for a seat. Again we were seated near the window. The stage was several feet away from the restaurant and several funky bands played and people danced in the street while we ate.
I knew he would like the food. Was I right? Of course. He’s a growing boy. Try finding a food he doesn’t like. We tried the crab dip, a bubbling, gooey crab and cream cheese concoction served with a breaded crostini. It was so good you could eat it with a spoon. Always a seafood guy, Juston had the Mahi. I tried the shrimp and grits (again) to compare it to the lunch I had the day prior.
The shrimp and grits were almost the same as the day before, with one exception. The grits, while still good, were missing something: salt, pepper, cream – I’m not sure exactly. Otherwise the shrimp, bacon and cream sauce were exactly the same: tender shrimp and bacon with a creamy, spicy sauce. This time I ate the collards as my side instead of buttered green beans. Collards are something you don’t eat in PA but they are Southern comfort food through and through. These greens are cooked down for hours with some kind of salty meat until they are tender and absorb the meaty flavor. The Circa 1800 version was enveloped with maple bacon sweetness and probably one of the best versions I’ve ever eaten since I moved here almost 20 years ago.
If you’re in Fayetteville and you want to try something that’s not your usual chain restaurant, Circa 1800 is a good choice. The menu offers good variety and is reasonably priced. It’s better than any of the restaurant chains we’ve got. You’ll be glad you tried something new!