The concept of a pop-up restaurant is relatively new to me. In the simplest way I know how to explain, a pop-up is a temporary restaurant.
You can imagine my excitement when I learned of a local chef in town that hosts these events! Through a friend, I heard about an upcoming event. Conveniently, my friend’s brother is the Chef! Chef Jeffrey Porter is the executive chef and founder of Port City Pop-Ups. We agreed it would be a fun adventure so we bought tickets right away!
The location for this pop-up was at 1900 Restaurant & Lounge located in the Lumina Station shops. The sophisticated yet intimate ambiance of the lounge set a perfect backdrop for the evening. There are few things that get my adrenaline pumping more than getting dressed up and walking into an unfamiliar restaurant and being greeted by such a refined and mellow vibe. When not hosting a pop-up, 1900 has its own signature menu and cocktails and transitions into a “first-class lounge” after dinner (as described by their own website). I’ll be going back to this place!
As it turns out, Chef Porter is also the executive chef at 1900 during normal business hours. However, this night, he was showcasing his own personal dishes instead of those normally found on the menu.
Upon arrival, my friend and I exchanged typical girl hugs and squeals of excitement while our husbands shook hands and nonchalantly ignored our on-goings of elation. Poor Grayson, I ONLY know how to be loud and he is so quiet and reserved. Maybe that is why we work so well together? 😛
We sat at the bar and ordered a round of drinks to start the night off right. I ordered a cucumber martini made with gin, fresh muddled cucumber, elderflower liquer, and lime juice made this cocktail light and palate cleansing and set my meal off on the right foot!
After a few sips, we were seated in the front room of the lounge. It was stunning! The walls were covered from floor to ceiling in a beautiful black and white damask-like pattern. The tables were black and accented by red and white dining chairs. What stood out the most though was a huge, red chandelier hanging in the center of the room. It literally took my breath away with its sleek beauty.
The menu was pre-fixed other than two options of entrees. Grayson and I did the smart thing and ordered one of each of the entrees so we could try both!
The appetizer arrived in prompt fashion and did not disappoint! A super creamy smoked tomato basil and artichoke Boursin dip served with red corn chips. The Boursin cheese is what made it so thick and creamy. Literally wanted to swim in this. The balsamic glaze gave it the perfect amount of acidity. The appetizer was followed by a blue fin tuna nicoise salad complete with real anchovies. I’m happy to say I was the only one at the table that ate them and was most happy to do so 😛
Another round of drinks (time to switch to red wine) and I found myself being served what is likely the most delicious and savory french onion soup I’ve ever put in my mouth. Made with caramelized shallots and onions, I could not quite get over how savory this dish was! It was slightly sweet too from the sweetness of the onions, but not so much that it was overpowering. The most perfect comfort food…too bad I can’t have it whenever I want it!
The food had been so good so far, so the entrees had a lot to live up to. Let me tell you…they did NOT disappoint! I immediately became a victim of food envy when the waitress placed the short rib dish in front of Grayson. This dish though. NC grass fed short ribs served over a cauliflower and potato croquette and topped with a savory Bordelaise sauce, accompanied by asparagus and carrots. If the croquette confused you, imagine a mashed potato and mashed cauliflower formed into a patty then lightly coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried. O. M. G. The meat fell apart, no knife needed. Wait…who am I kidding? It could have been eaten with a spoon y’all! AND as cliche as this sounds, it literally melted in my mouth. No chewing needed. It was by far the Star Dish of the night!
…and it was in front of Grayson… haha! Lucky dog 😉
Not to fret my fellow foodies, my entree was an extremely close second. NC Outer Banks swordfish pan seared and served with a red lentil puree and julienne veggies then topped with a semi-sweet saffron bernaise sauce. The fish was cooked very lightly and the veggies were still crisp and full of flavor. It was truly amazing, too!
Last, and certainly not least, dessert! An apple cinnamon crumble topped with whipped cream. The crumble on top was perfectly sweet and made for a perfect crunch paired with the softness of the apples.
A couple rounds of drinks, tons of delicious food, and lots of giggles later, I would say my first Port City Pop-Up event was a huge success! Absolutely cannot wait for the next one! Keep a look out on their website for an updated event calendar! Maybe I’ll see you there 😉