By David Coulson
July 30, 2014. One of the landmark food trends in recent years has been the move to rely on local sources to supply the freshest and tastiest ingredients to the kitchens of restaurants and, ultimately, to the plates of patrons.
The result is a dining experience that is not only environmentally friendly, but also gastronomically satisfying. And it is an occurrence that is commonplace at Twigs of Blowing Rock.
Since its inception some 25 years ago, Twigs has built its reputation on establishing a deep, relaxed and friendly connection with its customers, something that has only been enhanced since brothers Doug and David Beach bought the restaurant in August, 2000.
They will be celebrating their 14th anniversary of owning a venue which originally was called Coffey’s, next month.
“We try to take recipes from around the world and put a southern twist on them,” said Phillip Bruch, who has taken the restaurant to a new level in his two years as general manager.
Bruch, who grew up in the restaurant business when his father owned Picadeli’s of Boone, describes the cuisine of Twigs as “Southern Americana” and there are pleasing menu selections in both the bar and the main dining room that will cater to both the adventuresome patron and the customer who likes to order the same items time and time again.
“We want to present fine dining that concentrates on local food,” said co-owner Doug Beach. “We didn’t want the restaurant to change when we bought it. We wanted people to feel that there wouldn’t be a change.”
Consistency is at the heart of the Twigs dining experience, which opens each evening at 5:30 p.m. and serves dinner in the dining room until 9:30 p.m. most nights (10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday), a consistency that leads to repeat business from an extremely loyal cliental.
Customers in the bar share a relaxed, friendly environment with a more casual selection of food, where they can converse, enjoy fine food from a broad selection of menu items and, ultimately, have fun.
There are different specials every night and Friday and Saturday nights bring the added appeal of live music from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., with classic rock and dancing making for a lively atmosphere. And there is never a cover charge.
Considering that the locale of Twigs is within shouting distance of what was once P.B. Scott’s, which drew legendary musicians to Blowing Rock for some historic concerts in 1970s and 80s, the regular appearances of local bands like the Harris Brothers seems like a natural component.
On nights where Twigs doesn’t feature live bands, a pleasant stream of classic rock music enhances the dining experience in the bar area.
The bar and dining room menu changes seasonally to reflect the availability of the freshest local ingredients,
“Whatever we can get local, we do,” said Doug Beach. “You get better quality food when you get your food locally.”
Besides drawing from local distributers such as the Goodnight Brothers, Ashley Farms, Ashe County Cheese, Hanging Garden Farms, Ensley Farm, Carolina Bison and Watauga County Farmers Market, Twigs has also begun getting ingredients from a newly-planted garden on site.
The bar menu features such favorites as Peach Barbecued Duck Tenders and Oyster Orleanaise among the popular appetizers, with pan-fried Crab Cakes in Nantua Mirror Sauce, Southern Chicken Cordon Bleu, Seared Salmon and Fried Green BLT tomatoes among the sandwich offerings.
The Bison and Bleu Burger and the Ashe County Chedder Burger are also tasty choices.
Other popular entrees on the bar menu are the delectably seasoned and sauced Bar Fillet, the Sweet and Spicy Tuna Bowl (with the tuna seared to a perfect doneness and the Mango Salsa-flavored Thai Noodles infused with just enough subtle spiciness), Low Country Shrimp and Andouille Sausage with Guilford Stone Ground Grits, Beef Tips and Creole-Spiced Fish Tacos.
Monday is half-off Bar Filet night, Tuesday is a burger and Budweiser special for $10, Wednesday is half-off wine night, Thursday is $1 PBR night, Friday is craft beer night and Sunday has $1 specials on all varieties of oysters (raw, fried, or Rockefeller).
Doug and David Beach like to refer to the dinner experience in the dining room as casual mountain elegance and this motto is served by a well-designed summer menu that features a variety of tasty selections.
In addition to some of the same appetizers from the bar menu, there are Apricot Brandy Shrimp and Tuscan Shrimp Bruschetta, along with several salad choices, the popular Tomato Bisque soup and an outstanding soup of the day.
There are some spectacular choices among the entrees and chef’s selections.
Mountain Trout, cooked with capers and amaretto butter and served with either citrus beurre blank, or pecan encrusted, is always a crowd pleaser, but you can also choose from Crispy Duck Confit, New Zealand Lamb Chops, Veal Liver, or Filet Mignon.
Pasta lovers will enjoy the Chicken Scaperelli Penne, with san giuseppe andouille, sweet red peppers, fresh herbs and garlic butter sauce.
But those are just a start to the possibilities. Some of the best choices are among the chef’s selections from Matt Franklin, who moved to Twigs about a year ago after 10 years at Beech Mountain.
You can choose from the seared Wild Salmon in cucumber-saffron sauce, the Heritage Farms Pork Ribeye with brandy peach jus and candied pecans, the roasted Ashley Farms Chicken Breast, or the black-garlic-seared Yellowfin Tuna with Thai noodles, peppered cucumbers an sweet sriracha broth.
But maybe the most unique item on the menu is the grilled Broken Arrow Ranch Antelope, which features bacon and bleu cheese potato croquettes, grilled asparagus and blackberry cabernet reduction sauce.
There are nightly specials in both the bar and dining room and also a fine selection of desserts for those wanting to finish off dinner in style, or just wanting to indulge with some tasty treats at the end of an evening.
Twigs can seat about 140 patrons altogether at one time, including the bar and an 80-seat dining room There is also a banquet room that can seat up to 18 guests for larger parties.
Reservations are suggested for the dining and banquet rooms.
Doug Beach said the Twigs experience is “a unique blend” and added that he and is brother David get their “enjoyment out of serving people great food.”