The Village Diner: Home-Cookin’ in Hillsborough

There are so many things I love about Hillsborough, NC – the eclectic small-town vibe, the impressive creative community, the riverwalk along the Eno River, and, of course, the food.

Where do I go for gluten-free Southern-style comfort food in my hometown? Where would I take out-of-town guests for a meal with a distinctly regional vibe? The Village Diner.

Where: The Village Diner, 600 W. King St, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: On separate visits, I have enjoyed the braised beef, a pork chop on pureed sweet potatoes, and a bun-less bacon and pimento cheese burger with home fries (which was the daily special, and I was so enamored of it, I forgot to photograph it).

I would have loved to have ordered a homemade dessert here. I have a hunch they would do it exceedingly well, but unfortunately for me, the restaurant has not offered any GF dessert options.

No worries, though. You can travel a few blocks to visit Matthew’s Chocolates or Whit’s Frozen Custard for an after-dinner GF treat.

How to order it: The specials on the chalkboard change daily, and the paper menu is likely to change seasonally. Ask your server to help you identify which options are gluten-free or can be modified.

What it looks like:

BeefbrisketmashedpotatoesBraised beef in veal sauce with carrots, celery, and chives on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. The meat was so tender, I was able to enjoy this entire dish with a spoon.

PorkchopsweetpotatoesPan-seared to perfection, this thick bone-in pork chop had a glaze that was both sweet and salty. It was savory enough to compliment the impossibly fluffy sweet potatoes heaped underneath. The server gave me a good steak knife for the sake of decorum, but I still picked this chop up and chewed it right off the bone. I couldn’t help it. The texture and flavor brought out the barbarian in me.

CollardsandchowchowAmong the options for side dishes was collard greens with chow-chow. Never having tasted these ingredients together before, I naturally wanted to try it. The result was delicious! Lots of folks add vinegar to their collards, so this combination tasted familiar, but with a refreshing twist. Now, I make sure to order this every time I visit.

Green Note: When you walk in The Village Diner, you may notice the pared-down, bare-bones interior. Their focus is on the food. It’s comfortable, favoring simplicity. The light fixtures are made from recycled glass mason jars. The tables look as if they were made of re-purposed wood.

The to-go box (pictured below) is made from compostable/recyclable material rather than styrofoam. Also, there are no napkin dispensers on the tables, reducing the amount of paper waste the restaurant and its customers may produce.

The Village Diner is connecting with local farmers to help source their ingredients. When I visited, the collards came from Cane Creek Farm in Saxapahaw, NC, and the eggs came from Latta’s Egg Ranch, located in Hillsborough, just a few miles from the restaurant.

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Published in: on March 14, 2018 at 8:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Posana Restaurant: Hyperlocal. Sustainable. Dedicated Gluten-Free Kitchen.

Where: Posana Restaurant. 1 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801

GF Menu: YES! No “GF” markings are necessary; the entire food menu is Gluten-Free.

From the bar, they also offer several bottled “Gluten-Reduced Beer” options. (For a good explanation on the distinction between labeling beers Gluten-Free vs. Gluten-Reduced, visit this page from Craft Brewing Business.)

What I ate: We enjoyed appetizers of fried green tomatoes and mussels, and shared entrees of seared scallops and NC trout.

How to order it: Posana Restaurant makes ordering GF dishes a breeze. The menu asks you to inform your server of any food allergies so they can clarify if and when the menu does not list all of the ingredients in a menu item.

Posana has gone the extra mile to dedicate their kitchen “Gluten-Free”. (If you don’t know, getting this kind of certification is an extremely rigorous process and requires a high level of commitment from the owners and staff.) From the “Gluten-Free” page on their website:

At Posana, we work very hard to provide our guests who must avoid gluten with the same exceptional dining experience as all our other guests.  We want you to be able to eat the exact same dishes as those around you, and at Posana, you can.  Awarded the Gluten-Free Food Service Accreditation – Posana Restaurant earned an Excellent rating for our commitment to Best Practices in safe gluten-free food service through the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America’s (GIG) accreditation program.  Posana features a dedicated gluten free kitchen.

What it looks like:

FriedGreenTomatoes Fried green tomatoes were battered and crispy-fried, and then topped with pimento cheese, smoked tomatoes, and thin slices of pickled okra for garnish. These refreshingly crisp tomatoes were a perfect salty treat to warm up the taste buds before a meal. I enjoyed the surprising tang of the pickled okra on top, which echoed the fresh green tomato underneath.

MusselsPEI mussels served in lemongrass curry with charred scallions and kimchi. This was a gorgeous combination of flavors. I was tempted to treat the curry like a soup and slurp it all up with a spoon. However, this is a nice restaurant and I needed to maintain some decorum…

ScallopsSea scallops were seared and set atop grilled asparagus, charred eggplant puree, smoked salsify and tomato jam.

NCTroutBBQ spiced trout from Sunburst Farms was gently placed atop cheese grits from Crooked Creek Mills. Shaved fennel and jalapeno-tomato butter rounded out the flavors and completed the dish.

Green Note: Prior to visiting Posana, I was not familiar with the term “hyperlocal“, but this is what they are: the co-owners of the restaurant have created urban gardens in order to grow additional ingredients they need nearby.

Here is their philosophy from the About Us page on their website:

We are fortunate to have strong relationships with local growers and producers that enable us to offer the freshest ingredients available in every season. In addition, we went hyper-local in 2015 by introducing to our own urban gardens in West Asheville to supplement some of what we are serving.  Moreover, we continue our support of the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project (ASAP) and the wider WNC growing and food producing industry to emphasize the importance of operating in an ecologically-conscious manner.

Posana also makes a point of featuring their Local Partners on their menu and on their website, increasing visibility for these farms and local suppliers of fine ingredients.
Posana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato