Contemporary Southern dining in Morganton, North Carolina.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Their claim is big: “We offer exciting interpretations of traditional southern cuisine using locally sourced and naturally grown ingredients.”
Darn if it isn’t proven true the first taste.
Having heard me talk up Morganton for months after my initial visit, when my husband and I drove home to Atlanta from Beech Mountain and read “Morganton 29 miles” on a signpost, he spontaneously decided we should detour for lunch there. (We were reminded that 29 miles on mountain roads is not the half-hour drive you might expect.)
I suggested Wisteria, since it wasn’t on my previous itinerary but I’d heard from various sources that it was fantastic. They weren’t wrong.
While we contemplated the food menu we ordered a pint of the Wisteria Chocolate Porter, which the server explained was brewed for the restaurant by the folks at the new Fonta Flora Brewery down the road. She said that it took three men three days to crack the quantity of hazelnuts needed for the recipe. Their efforts weren’t in vain: The beer is a delicious balance of sweet and nutty flavors with a hearty malt backbone.
It set anticipation for the meal high.
Dean opted for a chicken salad sandwich and a cup of soup of the day, a potato leek bisque. I had to ask for a second spoon, the soup was too good to miss out on grabbing a few tastes.
I ordered the hoppin’ john veggie burger, which arrived topped with lettuce, tomato and what Wisteria refers to as ‘comeback sauce’ (which seems to be a mix of mayo and spicy barbecue). “Everything is made in house,” said the server, noting that even the buns are baked daily. The burger would persuade any meat lover to go vegetarian at least once in awhile.
Next time we see Morganton on a road sign, we’ll be taking the detour.
Wisteria Southern Gastropub
108 East Meeting Street
Morganton, NC 28655
— Photos © HSP Media LLC