Pinpoint Restaurant

New American | Seafood
legendary
Worth driving from anywhere!
Michael Stern | December 01, 2018
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When the first edition of Roadfood was published some 40 years ago, one requirement for a restaurant to be listed was that a meal had to cost $5 or less. Needless to say, that prerequisite has changed with the times, but when I paid my bill at Pinpoint, I did have second thoughts about listing it as a Roadfood favorite. Dinner for one — appetizer, entree, dessert, and one drink — cost over $80.

No, it’s not a bargain; and while it isn’t snooty or hifalutin, it is a chef-driven place (as opposed to one run by a cook) — the sort of restaurant that trend-seeking journalists like to discover and make into foodie magnets.

Nevertheless, I would be remiss in my own duty of pinpointing the best truly regional meals — whatever the cost — to not say that this downtown Wilmington storefront is a magnificent taste of coastal North Carolina.

Catfish, for example, is a dish served in 1000s of restaurants in this part of the world; and usually, it’s pretty good. The catfish served here is in a league of its own. Brined and smoked to a point of unspeakable tenderness and elegant flavor, encased in a shattering-crisp crust, it arrives on a bed of leek-creamed heritage grits populated by roasted mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, topped with green tomato slaw and floating in a pool of lemon brown butter. I swooned with every mouthful; and while my goal was to eat only some of it, thus preserving appetite for meals to follow, I cleaned the plate.

A few other inventive variants of Dixie favorites that make me hungry to return: pan-seared grouper with local snap beans and smoked cream, a seasonal roasted vegetable plate, cornbread soup with crisped country ham, North Carolina butterbean hummus, and a grilled pork chop with corn pudding and braised collard greens.

As for dessert, I cannot justify the gluten-free flourless brownie sundae as a regional taste, unless the roasted dandelion root ice cream that tops it is made from local dandelions. But I will say that the ice cream, sprinkled with smoked salt, is a deliriously good companion for the essence-of chocolate brownie it tops, and the whole shebang, surrounded by caramel sauce and candied pecans, generated nothing short of sweet-tooth ecstasy.

What to Eat
Pinpoint Restaurant, NC Catfish
NC Catfish
Must-Try
Brined & smoked catfish is a Wilmington Best Dish
Pinpoint Restaurant, Baked Oysters
Baked Oysters
Must-Try
Bits of shrimp & toasted panko crumbs top baked oysters.
Pinpoint Restaurant, Brownie Sundae
Brownie Sundae
Must-Try
That's roasted dandelion root ice cream (!) atop a flourless brownie.
Pinpoint Restaurant, Focaccia
Focaccia
Must-Try
Benne-seed focaccia begins the meal
Pinpoint Restaurant, Fall Classic
Fall Classic
Bourbon, Calvados, apple, ginger, thyme & cinnamon = Fall Classic cocktail
Directions and Hours
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
Yes
Website

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