We try to see our niece and her boyfriend every couple of months. They are both in college so it can sometimes be difficult to work schedules in our favor to see them, but we definitely try!
Christmas was so hectic that we didn’t get a chance to see them, so we decided to have Christmas late. Nothing like celebrating Christmas in the middle of January, huh?! Gives us something to look forward to. AND…y’all know me. Any excuse to eat out and show off our beautiful city!
Grayson and I really like to take out-of-towners to places downtown so they can get a taste of the Wilmington, NC historic experience. With the beautiful cobblestone streets and located right on the waterfront, we just adore that we have it so close and convenient to us!
Located closer to the waterfront of downtown ILM is a super cool shopping area called The Cotton Exchange. It is made up of eight historic buildings that feature original brick walkways and large open courtyards. Each building is interconnected and you can literally get lost in there for hours moseying through the 30 specialty shops! Rich in Wilmington history, the Cotton Exchange is a great spot downtown for visitors. Especially if you are a huge history buff like Grayson and myself!
What also makes it so appealing is that it houses one of my most favorite restaurants in town! The Basics is a small restaurant that features southern soul food with a new age twist. Their daily specials NEVER…EVER disappoint! The menu changes occasionally but that is one of the things we like about it.
We opted for the fried green tomato appetizer. Fried up nice and crispy, they are topped with honey dijon mustard and a vidalia onion relish. The sweetness of the onion paired with the tartness of the mustard and tomato are the absolute perfect combination. Also, there was nothing soggy about these tomatoes which can sometimes happen with appetizers. They came out fresh, hot, and crisp! Highly recommended! Grayson and I also love their fried oyster appetizer. They are corn meal breaded and have a jalapeno aioli drizzled on top. The perfect amount of spice! Also highly recommended!
I ordered…..the filet mignon. Surprise, surprise huh? I know you’re thinking that all I eat is filet. It isn’t true! I eat LOTS of other things. However, you have to hear me out. This is one of my favorite places to get steak! This dish in particular is crazy good because they top the filet with house-made herb goat cheese. OH MY WORD! Can I just get a bowl of the goat cheese, please!?!?! It takes this steak to the next level! They also cook mine perfectly rare, just the way I like it. It is typically served with mashed potatoes, but I ordered collard greens instead to accompany the green beans. The green beans were lightly sauteed with sweet onion and were still very crispy. The collard greens were definitely the best of the two side dishes though! They have a hint of soy sauce flavor to them that I just go crazy over! Lastly, but certainly not least, it was on top of a sauteed mushroom and onion mix. I was so happy with my meal!
Grayson ordered the Hook special. His was amazingly good…you know I had to try it! This dish was really delicious too! I cannot for the life of me remember what the sauce on top was, but it was amazing. Black drum served with asparagus on top of their special bacon grits. He does a great job of ordering really yummy meals!
Although I chose a different option this go around, I wanted to also draw attention to my favorite dish on the menu. They have a pesto encrusted salmon atop tomato basil risotto and served with asparagus that is quite literally to die for! 90% of the time we eat here, this is my go to dish. I crave it all the time!
Our dinner guests were both quite happy with their meals too! If you haven’t given this place a try, PLEASE do! They never disappoint us!