When a hungry patron can walk through the front door of a 30-year-old waterside restaurant, take a purposeful, deep breath and exhale into instant bliss, the visit is already notable.

Opportunely, this exact luxury occurs daily at The Blue Point on the edge of the Currituck Sound in the northern Outer Banks town of Duck. We were fortunate to share a dining experience there recently with my visiting father. While we ate our meal in the afternoon and ordered from the lunch menu, the experience undeniably qualified as dining.

The understated, thoughtful restaurant design enveloped us in immediate comfort. Our eyes relaxed in the gentle ambience as we were warmly greeted by longtime manager Nancy Stanford, who then led us beyond the reception area to a spacious booth with a view of the sound. Along the way we caught a glimpse of the shiny red vinyl bar stools that have long been an icon for the eatery.

We knew we were in for a treat when our server, Kat, shared the off-the-menu selections for the day. Her generous smile and authentic enthusiasm were welcome additions to our day as she helped us navigate the menu and make final decisions.

Sous Chef Matt Estrada was leading the charge in the kitchen, and his menu addition of chilled catfish salad on a bed of mixed greens with radishes, tiny tomatoes and cucumbers raised my father’s eyebrows. He loves catfish, and we knew it was guaranteed to be fresh because that is the mission of The Blue Point — a practiced and disciplined commitment to the freshest, local, seasonal ingredients available. We knew that would be one of our selections.

Kat’s mention of shishito peppers immediately caught my attention, and we knew we needed an order to help us start the meal. When they arrived, we were rewarded with a basket of warm, blistered, slightly salty peppers served with a creamy, smoky dipping sauce. We ate them like candy. Not normally known as a spicy-hot type of pepper, these tiny green bites were full flavored, slightly crunchy and absolutely addictive.

Our first course also included deep-fried, house-made bread-and-butter pickles with a dill buttermilk dipping sauce as well as a composed salad. The piping hot and tasty, sweet and sour pickles were a big hit with Dad.

The salad garnered murmurs of quiet appreciation from all of us. A chilled plate of baby arugula tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette was artfully topped with Pink Lady apples, thinly shaved Surry ham, crumbled bits of feta, and woodsy, toasted hazelnuts. Perfectly balanced, this salad was a sublime example of the art and influence of Chef/Co-Owner Sam McGann. Notable for its balance of flavors, integrity of ingredients, variation of texture and nod to Southern roots, this plate is a reminder that a salad at The Blue Point is never just a salad.

When we focused on the printed menu, we also knew a taste of oyster stew was in our immediate future. The description ‘”a la minute” was perfectly executed and the gently poached oysters presented just the tiniest ruffle as they floated in the delicate-yet-robust, slightly smoky and briny poaching liquid. Generous bits of smoked bacon, a dash of cream, a pinch of herbs and a side biscuit, along with the plump salty oysters, left us all comfortably moaning.

“Now that is real bacon,” exclaimed Dad with a huge smile after tasting the tiny sweet potato biscuit with a bite of smoky bacon from the stew. Of course, that made us smile, too. We all agreed that this dish could be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

For our third course, we ordered that delicious, eyebrow-raising catfish salad and also feasted on a tea-brined chicken sandwich with blue cheese slaw, sriracha mayo and thinly sliced country ham nestled inside a pickle-topped batard that was hearty and delicious.

Because this was a special occasion for us, we also shared the shrimp lo mein. Oh. My. Goodness. Order this dish. Many attempt to create a red curry seafood dish on the Outer Banks, but few can execute the balance. The Blue Point makes it appear effortless. The medium heat and expansive flavors pleasingly lingered and developed long after each bite. Coconut, lime, peanuts, North Carolina greentail shrimp and delicate lo mein noodles were sautéed then presented in red curry coconut broth with a light handful of seasonal vegetables, Thai basil and cilantro. A phenomenal dish.

We almost stopped there, but Nancy reminded us that we needed to continue our celebration with a piece of their decadent chocolate torte with port wine–soaked cherries, homemade pistachio ice cream and white chocolate crunch. After sighing our way through a shared plate, we are still giving thanks for her advice.

As we all sometimes need to be reminded, there is no need to wait for a special occasion in your life; take a pal to lunch and create one just because. The team at The Blue Point would love to help.

Want to go?

1240 Duck Road, Duck

252-261-8090

thebluepoint.com

Vibe: Uptown casual to coastal formal

Specialty: Cocktails, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, outside bar, live music

Vegetarian: Yes

Children’s Menu: No

Price: Lunch, $5.95 to $16.95; dinner, $9.50 to $39.00

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.

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