Groupers Grille & Wine Bar
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TimBuck II Shopping Village
Corolla, NC 27927www.groupers.com
Tucked between handmade hammocks and quaint gift shops at this upscale shopping village, Grouper's opened in 1996 and visitors have been singing its praises ever since. This restaurant provides an array of enticing offerings in an atmosphere of understated elegance. Angus beef, free-range chicken, fresh local seafood, and vegetarian entrees are made all the more mouthwatering with unusual spices and sauces. The menu changes seasonally so that only the freshest available ingredients are used. Local seafood is served with an international twist. Pasta, chicken, lean-generation pork, and beef are all prepared with flair.
Each meal begins with freshly baked bread. Huge appetizers include such temptations as Grouper's crab cakes, with mounds of jumbo lump crabmeat; seared tuna loin sashimi; Chardonnay-steamed littleneck clams; homemade ravioli; goat cheese and smoked chicken-stuffed empanadas; and fresh mozzarella and vineripened tomatoes drizzled with a roasted red pepper puree. Organic salad greens are mixed with an assortment of delicious inhouse dressings. Grouper's extensive wine list boasts more than 100 varieties by the bottle and a large by-the-glass selection. A generous number of domestic, imported, and microbrewed beers round out the drink choices. Desserts are made on the premises, and the selections are beyond sinful.
The atmosphere here is as delightful as the dinners, with open post-and-beam wooden ceilings, butter-colored tablecloths set with flickering candles, and large windows surrounding the dining room. Upscale but casual, the eatery makes diners comfortable in suit and tie or in blue jeans. Grouper's is open for dinner from March through October. Reservations are recommended.