It’s no secret that eastern North Carolina is home to some of the best restaurants and breweries in the state. With the coast and its culinary richness on our doorstep and the ease of farm-to-table produce and produce, we are spoiled with incredible regional cuisine and can support the local economy at the same time. In doing so, our culinary experience is more meaningful. The Mulberry House Brewery, 189 W. Main St., Washington, NC, is one of those local gems of the East. It has been open since July 26 and already has a large number of guests delighted to share the restaurant’s culinary vision.
The talented team behind this restaurant consists of Mohamed and Reem Darar and Justin and Sunny Fejfar. Mohamed saw the building for the first time seven years ago. Justin, structural engineer and director and co-founder of FDR Engineers, drew up the plans for the reconstruction of the building. Reem, MHB’s general contractor and owner of Titan Contractor Services, specializes in historic restoration and renovations. Sunny, the designer responsible for the building’s modern and industrial interior, was inspired by North Carolina’s rich commercial history.
In her research on Washington, she was specifically inspired by the historic Mulberry Tavern, one of the city’s earliest buildings. For more than half a century, the tavern served as food, drink, commerce, and lodging for locals and travelers. Much like its namesake, The Mulberry House Brewery functions as a social hub and a hospitality and culinary destination. Velvet-wrapped banquettes run the length of the first-floor main dining area, which features high ceilings and a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. There’s also a faucet room, full bar, covered patio, and a sexy rooftop dining area where you can watch the gorgeous sunsets while sipping your favorite cocktail.
The menu is unique and immersive with international and coastal flavors. Chef Andrew Wigger has been in the culinary world for over 15 years and has lived and cooked in Paris for over six years, so many dishes have a French or European twist. He spends hours cultivating relationships with local farmers and suppliers. They focus on sustainable practices, heirloom grains and seeds, small farms and cooperatives. For example, all the water in the building is purified by reverse osmosis, which means that the water you drink, the water used for cooking, your coffee, your beer, is of the highest quality. They make their own pasta and bread from organic flour. Sauces, dressings and all components are cooked, marinated, seared, roasted and otherwise made in-house.
For breakfast, enjoy a full coffee and tea bar with an assortment of artisanal pastries and breakfast options, plus a full menu for lunch and dinner. For lunch, enjoy pickled vegetables, pickled olives, parsnip and apple soup, sandwiches and desserts. Dinner offers unique and tasty options such as roasted sun smother, handmade kimchi, duck and pan-roasted strip loin steak, to name a few. They also always have specials and the menu items change seasonally.
I started with the tuna tartare which is made with cherry tomatoes marinated in turmeric, Carolina rice, wasabi crÃ¨me fraÃ®che, fried shallots and watermelon radish. It was nicely presented in an iced dish. The first bite woke my palate with zing and vibrancy, and when you eat the tuna it melts in your mouth. It was fragrant, clean and the wasabi crÃ¨me fraÃ®che with a hint of heat refreshes the palate.
Then I tried the mushroom pasta made with homemade bucatini pasta, oyster mushrooms and shiitakes, arugula gremolata, leek confit and Boxcarr “nimble” cheese. This dish was a true work of European art. The pasta was al dente and the sauce was luxurious and creamy with deep earthy mushrooms, soft and chewy roasted leeks and an organic, warming sensation to the body. You can taste the beauty of the land in this dish in every delicious bite.
To end my food tour, I tried one of the desserts, the smoked chocolate infused with pine needle tea and topped with a pastry-based crumble. It comes in an earthenware dish with a lid, so when you open it it smells of oaky and rich. Dip your spoon in the crumble to reveal a deep, airy and velvety chocolate mousse. The first bite tastes like a winter walk in a deep pine forest; the second bite you are sitting in front of a campfire and the spicy woods invite you in. How magical that a dessert can take you from the inside to the outside by a roaring fire in just one bite. Be sure to grab a hot cup of tea, coffee or cordial to end your dining experience at The Mulberry House.
Heading into the New Year, The Mulberry House has some exciting things in store. They will launch their own beer in early 2022 with a diverse selection of 15 craft beers in their tap room. Scaling, canning and distribution will take place at the end of next year, and the hotel portion will open in late spring / early summer. This addition will allow major events to be held.
Mulberry House Brewery is open daily 6:30 a.m. to midnight in summer and off season 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Full service catering is available on and off site and with menus to suit all occasions. Call 252-833-0451, email @ themulberryhousebrewery.com or visit www.themulberryhousebrewery.com.