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Sidney’s Cafe & Bistro | Elizabeth City, NC

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Sidney’s Cafe & Bistro (Facebook)
507 E. Main St. (map it!)
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
(252) 331-1944
Open Mon-Wed, 7a-5p; Thurs & Fri, 7a-9p; Sat, 7a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 8 a.m.

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Every June we’re fortunate to make a family trip down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We look forward to it all year, and enjoy a step away from major civilization onto the barrier islands for a couple weeks of reading, playing on the beach, and eating our way around. But the eating starts well before we hit the bridges crossing Pamlico Sound. We typically drive the longest leg of the trip in one day, stopping over in Elizabeth City. We reward the long day’s drive with fresh fried seafood at Quality Seafood. But we also fuel up the next morning, and this year we did our research and discovered Sidney’s Cafe & Bistro on Main Street.

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I got the sense early on that they were a small cafe, and we were coming with a big group, so we called ahead to make a reservation. They were able to accommodate us, although we got the sense that we were pushing the limits of their small kitchen. To their credit, though, the coffee kept flowing and the food rolled out pretty quickly.

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The menu is not extensive but it covers all the bases, and it includes diverse offerings like eggs benedicts, pancakes, frittatas, and burritos.

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A big group means we get to sample nearly everything on the menu. I personally went for the eggs benedict (hint: if it’s on the menu, chances are I’ll order it). All the components were very well done, including the freshly shredded cheddar cheese. Light hollandaise but still very good; I’d be happy if I could make a hollandaise like that. The portion sizes didn’t feel huge, but they were appropriate for the price point, and certainly flavorful enough to keep everyone satisfied.

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From the kid’s menu: a nice-sized pancake and a well-seasoned sausage patty, which seemed to be made in-house.

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vegetable omelet with potatoes and toast. Loaded with veggies.

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And because we’re in the south, someone had to order grits, so there were multiple bowls of the soft, buttery goodness, topped with shredded cheddar.

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Even with a small kitchen, the two-person crew did everything well, including a la carte orders of eggs.

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Solid biscuits and gravy. Soft and warm biscuits, fairly chunky gravy, although everyone quickly noticed the presence of anise in the gravy. We’ve never had that before, and while it certainly wasn’t bad, it was enough to make everyone pause a moment after tasting it.

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An order of blueberry buttermilk pancakes. As good as you could ask for. Thin but fluffy, dusted with powdered sugar, and with a side of nicely done bacon.

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A spicy breakfast burrito loaded with sausage, eggs, cheese, and veggies. Held together perfectly; packed a big punch.

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And the French toast with a side of sausage. Soft but not mushy.

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Our entire crew left Sidney’s satisfied and impressed. Even with their small kitchen they handled the big round of orders, and there wasn’t a single complaint amongst the group. The bonus is the beautiful little cafe space, with a side entrance along an indoor arcade. The cafe itself is situated in the little downtown of Elizabeth City, which has a lot of potential to be sweet tourist spot.

Bonus connection to Ohio: the owner is from Sidney, Ohio originally, thus the cafe’s name!

Sidney's Cafe & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Beyond Breakfast With Nick: Quality Seafood | Elizabeth City, NC

Every year, I travel with my wife’s family to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We look forward to the vacation all year long: it involves days of sitting on the beach of a narrow strip of barrier islands. We do a bulk of the driving in one day, but we stay overnight in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, a couple hours away from our destination. That’s usually about twelve hours of driving, including stops, all the way from Columbus through the Virginias and into North Carolina. And at the end of that trip, like a shining, golden promise, a symbol that we’ve arrived on vacation, is Quality Seafood.

When you ask the people at the hotel desk where to get good seafood, they all and always say Quality Seafood. It’s one of those places that looks completely nondescript from the outside. You might ignore it entirely if it wasn’t for the parking lot jammed with cars. Inside is crowded with a diverse mix of locals – and almost only locals, we always feel secretly in-the-know and a little bit out of place. Quality Seafood is about a simple as  you can get: an unchanging menu above the counter, plastic silverware, styrofoam plates, pre-packaged condiments. You could almost mistake it for a generic fast food restaurant… if it wasn’t for the seafood counter in the next room, loaded with fresh-caught goods.

All throughout the twelve-hour drive, we dream and drool over a plate like this. Fries, a dollop of cole slaw, hush puppies, and a pile of fried seafood. Complemented by a big, styrofoam cup of sweet tea.

Sure, you can include some peel-and-eat shrimp steamed with Old Bay.

But what you really want is the fried seafood. I love the the mixed platter: shrimp, scallops, oysters, and the fish of the day. It’s really a superb dish of food. Everything’s breaded and fried just right – not greasy at all. The seasoning is rich without being salty. The seafood is tender and flavorful. If you like seafood at all, this place is a dream. Obviously, we love this place partly because it signifies we’ve arrived on vacation. But even without that, it’s one of those treasures that features the regional specialty and is populated by locals.

If you want to visit:
Quality Seafood
309 E. Ehringhaus St.
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
(252) 335-7648

Quality Seafood Market on Urbanspoon

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