Grandstaff & Stein Book Sellers | OBX Restaurant Reviews
Something Old, Something New
It is no secret that I enjoy culinary science and have a passion for food the way that others do for fine arts, so when the opportunity comes for new “foodie” experiences with family and friends I am more than up to the task!
Over the past few weeks there has been much hullabaloo and local chatter regarding the fate of the old Flying Fish Café in Kill Devil Hills. Word on the street was varied, but without a doubt something was changing. The signs were coming down, face lifts were taking place on the building exterior, and a harmonious mix of anticipation and curiosity struck you anytime driving by.
Social media put the rumors to rest and announced an opening for another location of Grandstaff & Stein Book Sellers, a “speakeasy” with an existing location in Richmond, VA. I was instantly captivated and fixated on the idea of a modern speakeasy. Both my wife and I are fascinated with the romance and other beautiful aspects that modern society has extracted from the 1920s… and the thought of a prohibition era watering hole seemed so much unlike any existing business we have in town that we wagered it would be an instant hit. After some social media stalking, I learned of the grand opening date and the corresponding password for entry (as should be expected of any reputable purveyor of fine “books!”).
From the moment my wife and I woke on Friday morning we were beaming with excitement. Not only was this the start of our first two-day weekend together in over seven months, but we were both making mental preparations and predictions about the experience to come that evening.
The First Time
I’m not sure there is anything quite as exciting as trying something for the first time. I haven’t let this bias my opinion or influence my thoughts. Rather, I’ve carefully mulled it over, the idea that a first encounter is often times more extreme to the senses, and factored it into my collective account of our experience. Given that, I can still tell you that I’ve never experienced anything like our visit to Grandstaff & Stein Book Sellers. From the moment you walk through the doors you will know something entirely different than anything you’ve come to know about dining out is about to happen. No spoilers from this guy, but you’re going to have a smile on your face.
After sharing the password for the evening and our reservation, we were escorted through (think about that) into the main seating area. Talk about a scene out of a movie. Picture walking through a wide, darkened doorway… then your view changes as time simultaneously rolls back nearly 100 years… and you find yourself surrounded by whiskey barrel dining tables, decorative incandescent lighting, jazzy piano music, and staff adorning bow ties and flapper headpieces. Not to be cliché, but this is where Jay Gatsby would come to unwind. He’d sit in the corner we did. (That’s our spot now, sorry)
After being seated we were promptly greeted and presented with drink and dinner menus. While I was very eager to begin perusing the food selection, cocktails were a must for toasting our first night out at this new establishment. I ordered a glass of the finest bourbon on the shelves, and my wife a fantastic concoction of whiskey, fruit, and sour mix. Both came quickly and presented with an oversized ice cube for an ideal sipping experience. Chalk one up in the presentation book already.
It was now time to satisfy our hunger. The dinner and appetizer menus offered a wide range to choose from, without drowning you in options. There were a variety of proteins, vegetarian plates, and intriguing appetizers. It was clear there was a conscious focus on their specialties and we appreciated it. After perusing all of the possibilities, we decided to order the house ribeye cut and a plate of Italian Gnocchi.
As we waited for our food to arrive, my wife and I both agreed that the experience was going so splendidly that it felt too good to be true thus far… something had to interrupt the harmonious state of Zen… and the only remaining mystery was the quality and presentation of the food. Fingers crossed, hoping this new restaurant could successfully jump through all the hoops necessary to land squarely in “new favorite” status… our food was delivered to the table, and did not disappoint.
You eat with your eyes first, and it was fantastic! My ribeye was a very generous size and came atop a bed of sliced potatoes and seasoned greens. It was cooked a perfect medium-rare, extremely tender with a nice chargrilled finish, and had the most brilliant color that I’ve ever seen in a steak. My wife’s gnocchi was tossed in a rich cream sauce and accompanied with two toasted garlic bread slices. It was a perfect portion and the dumplings were cooked just right.
Although we had no room left for dessert we were sold on the idea of exploring another cocktail. Our waiter, Alex, did a phenomenal job that evening welcoming us to the establishment as well as guiding us on a tour of the menu. So much so, that we could not escape the lure of one of their signature Old Fashioned recipes. We opted for the “Smoked” Old Fashioned, that not only contained smoky bitters, but was built on a foundation of fresh cedar smoke. You heard right, a torch-charred cedar plank set the stage for the cocktail, whose swirling plume left a notable smoky bouquet before each sip. It complimented the flavors of the drink remarkably, and was the perfect indulgence to cap off the evening.
A True Escape & Experience
I think by now you should have a grasp that I like this place. From the moment we opened the front door until we stepped out, we were enchanted by a true and complete experience. Perhaps this is the quality we enjoyed most in our visit, and what sets Grandstaff & Stein Book Sellers into a totally different classification of restaurant. You leave more than your worries at the door. Once inside, you’ll notice the curtains are completely shut and you’ll feel happily isolated in your own special existence. Beyond that, every contact point between the restaurant and guest was top notch and most importantly, thoughtful. You weren’t just at a restaurant; you had cleverly hidden yourself away from the world around you… all the while being catered to. This is where I applaud them the most, on effectively creating a fully captivating atmosphere and delivering at the such high quality with their menu.
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Thanks for stopping by for the read, I hope you get the chance to experience Grandstaff & Stein Book Sellers soon on your next visit to the Outer Banks! Until next time, stay hungry my friends!