Are Your Zucchini Feeling Blue?
Throughout Thanksgiving weekend, the name “Blue Zucchini” kept coming up in conversation. A new restaurant in town, where The Grateful Bread (a bread shop masquerading as a lunch spot that I have only been to once in the past 7 years and was randomly closed on every other attempted occasion) used to stand, Blue Zucchini & Co. is a newly opened restaurant on Main Street in High Point, North Carolina.
Because I can’t hear the words “new restaurant” without my curiosity being heightened to the max,* when Brother Smart suggested spending our last lunch in town there, I obviously had to go with them. [Also, they ended up paying...so that was a nice perk.]
*another restaurant I would love to visit…with Zack and Slater waiting for me in the red vinyl booth
So new it doesn’t have a website (and therefore no online menu), we were sort of heading off into the dark. Being the kind of person I am, I almost didn’t go, as I like to have an idea of what sort of place where I’m going to be eating before I eat there, I decided the lure of the new was too hard to resist.
We did know that Blue Zucchini had a collection of independent craft beers for sale (a neighborhood friend insisted upon going there for his birthday dinner because of this), a fact that is hard to miss immediately upon entering.
The restaurant is unassuming on the outside…
…and quirky cute on the inside.
I was charmed (of course) by the mismatched napkins, graphic prints, and flowers on the tables.
It’s a quirky atmosphere–the doors to the restrooms are handpainted with thesaurus-inspired names for ‘women’ and ‘men’–is inviting, to be sure, and the staff was incredibly accommodating.
Me: “I’m a food blogger, actually!”
Waitress: [Blank stare.]
Me: “Here’s my card!”
Waitress: [Blank stare.]
I’m a bit fearful that should Robert Irvine and Restaurant:Impossible enter Blue Zucchini, his first attack would be on a rather unfocused menu with items ranging from Greek and Mediterranean olive-and-artichoke laden fare, to the house salad called “La Casa” and a black bean soup featured daily. There is pimento cheese and pulled pork tucked in with Asian salad, pot stickers, and naan. (Are we in Mexico? or Asia? or the Deep South?)
That being said, I found the sandwiches to sound incredibly creative, and with playfully endearing names that were fun to read.
[Two 'Lil' Pigs had ham, bacon, AND pimiento cheese...]
Brother Smart, Sister-in-Law Smart, and I were all drawn to the Pot Stickers, one of the only vegetarian items on the menu (and one of the only items without cheese), so we put in an order for those while we perused the rest of our options.
For some reason I thought they would be steamed, not fried, so I limited myself to one…and of course, ate the lettuce underneath.
The sesame-ginger sauce was just so good…and who says you can’t use a “dipping sauce” to dip the garnish? [Or that you can't save it for the next course...'just in case you want it later.']
Brother Smart ordered the Big Texas, a sandwich featuring Texas brisket and slaw. I was quick to point out that serving slaw on a brisket sandwich in Texas would probably result in swift exile the way of those who try to put beans in chili…but this is North Carolina, after all, and perhaps we can call this Texa-linian fusion?
Sadly for Brother Smart, this was not a newly discovered Lexington BBQ-style vinegar slaw, but a mayo-based concoction that Brother Smart quickly asked to be left off of his sandwich. [The highlight was, for him, the Whiskey Jalapeno BBQ sauce.]
Sister-in-Law Smart ordered the Cubano with a side of fries, which ended up being Brother Smart’s weakness, as his hand kept heading straight for her plate. They were lightly seasoned with a salty, herb blend that was, I must admit, quite yummy.
The Cubano seemed pretty standard, and Sister-in-Law Smart was satisfied, although not blown away. [I do have to say that using pickled green tomatoes instead of traditional pickles is quite inventive.]
I went with Confusion, a sandwich featuring hummus, marinated tomatoes, ‘fancy greens,’* and cucumbers, with a lemon-oregano vinaigrette, served on warm naan.
*Apparently, Blue Zucchini code for spring mix?
There was also supposed to be some feta cheese involved, but I of course requested that to be left in the kitchen.
Waiter: “They were a little confused in the kitchen, so they put some of the vinaigrette directly on the sandwich…but I promise there is no cheese or other animal product involved!”
For my choice of side, I went with a little house (“La Casa”) salad, featuring raw zucchini (!!!!), and the surprising addition of picholone olives.
Overall, it was a yummy sandwich, but nothing mind (or mouth?) blowing. I sometimes feel let down when I think I could make something more enjoyable at home…and I think I could have made this sandwich better. [Granted, if you have never paired naan with hummus, you MUST do it. The pairing is so much better than with traditional pita bread, and would be revolutionary....had I not seen it before.]
I’m an out-of-towner, coming from (and going to) cities where the creative cusine is a hallmark of the city’s charm and appeal. So, in saying that Blue Zucchini wasn’t the greatest dining experience of my life, but one that left me satisfied and content, I do mean that as positive praise. Not being familiar with too many other restaurants in High Point, I cannot compare. [Although I do know the okra alone at Southern Roots in Jamestown is the stuff of Southern foodie dreams...] I would say it is probably a quite nice, affordable, and crowd-pleasing addition to the community.
And the flowers were really pretty.