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The First Day of Small Plate Crawl a Heaping Helping of Success; Check Out Photos and Crawl Tips Here

By Madison Fisler Lewis

Jan. 22, 2015. Yesterday, the High Country Small Plate Crawl kicked off its first day of tasty temptations. Even though it was only the first day of the event, founder John Pepper noticed that the turnout was already much higher than in previous years.

“This year’s first day was definitely better than last time,” Pepper said. “I was a little surprised, but we were expecting a much larger crowd this year. I think a big part of it was partnering with Blowing Rock’s WinterFest this year. We definitely kind of spun off their hype.”

The most popular item on the Small Plate Crawl menu for Pepper’s Restaurant so far were the okra fries.

“Our okra fries were most popular today,” Pepper said. “We knew that they would be popular, but I was surprised that they were our most popular item of the day.”

Danny Mauney of Red Onion Cafe echoes those sentiments.

“It has been about a year and a half since our last Small Plate Crawl and we are excited to be back on it,” Mauney said. “We are looking forward to this leading on into the weekend.”

With such a good crowd on a Wednesday, it can only be expected that the attendance for Small Plate Crawl events at all participating restaurants will be even bigger through WinterFest weekend.

“I think with the weekend coming, more people will definitely be coming out,” Pepper said. “More people have been talking about it and I think more people will be coming in every day through the weekend.”

For the folks who haven’t been yet, the organizers at the High Country Small Plate Crawl have a few tips for winning prizes during the crawl:

  • The more restaurants you crawl, checking in by scanning QR codes, the better your chances of winning.
  • One winner will be drawn from everyone who scans at least one QR code.
  • Scan five or more QR codes and you are eligible for most prize drawings.
  • Scan 10-14 QR does and you are eligible for all but the two grand prize drawings.
  • Scan 15 or more QR codes and you’re eligible for the two Grand Prize drawings.
  • Each scan at a restaurant outside downtown Boone or Blowing Rock will enter you into the prize drawing twice! There are six qualifying restaurants on the passport.

To see the menus and locations of other restaurants participating in the High Country Small Plate Crawl, click here.

Check out photos of dishes from Pepper’s Restaurant and Red Onion Cafe.

Photos by Ken Ketchie

Pepper’s Tacos: Banh mi inspired tacos with sliced lemongrass and ginger pork on a soft masa tortilla topped with pickled daikon radish and carrot and garnished with fresh jalepeño and cilantro


Pepper’s Tomato Salad: stacked heirloom tomatos, crumbled bacon, micro greens, goat cheese, drizzled with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.


Pepper’s Shrimp and Grits: a polenta cake fried with and topped with two fresh shrimp, local pan-fried proscuitto, and drizzled with a creole cream sauce.


Josh Pepper, Claude Lowder and John Pepper.


Red Onion Cafe’s Shrimp and Grits: N.C. White shrimp, pan-seared polenta, cajun andouille cream sauce.


Red Onion Cafe’s Vegetable Tian: a roasted stack of herb-marinated vegetables, red pepper cream sauce, balsamic reduction, micro green and watercress salad.


Red Onion Cafe’s stuffed winter squash with a “new year salad”


Red Onion Cafe’s flatbread with tangy barbeque, sharp cheddar, marinated chicken, bacon, crispy onions and fresh scallions.


Red Onion Cafe’s Red Velvet Cheesecake


Red Onion Cafe’s flatbread with veggie tapenade, hummus, tomato, goat cheese, basil, arugula and balsamic reduction.


Bret Gemberling and Danny Mauney of Red Onion Cafe.