Archived Story

Art of Food: the culinary art of Spoon River

Published 7:04pm Wednesday, January 9, 2013

They call them the dueling soups. One is crafted by the chef, a rich corn-and-crab chowder with a hint of smoke from freshly roasted peppers; the other, created by his sous chef, a zuppa toscano of roasted potatoes and onions with crisp kale and the lingering, warm spice of Italian sausage.

The two colorful soups appear on a cloth-covered table in small, lidded tureens. The tureens are a crimson red, the tablecloth, white, but it’s the delightful scents wafting up from the table that make lunch a work of art — culinary art.

That’s the aim of this new restaurant and market on Pamlico Street in Belhaven: for customers to immerse themselves in all the arts — visual, musical and culinary.

“I love food. I love art. I want people to sit down for an experience here,” said Teresa Van Staalduinen, owner of Spoon River Artworks and Market.

To sit down at a Spoon River table, that experience may include North Carolina-raised lamb with a blueberry/jalapeno demi glace or a “Juicy Lucy,” a white cheddar-stuffed burger served on a pretzel roll. It may involve picking a nice bottle of Tempranillo from the displays of wine from across the world. Lunch or dinner also may
conclude with the purchase of a framed print (made by one of the waitstaff) or a piece of sculpture (created by Spoon River’s dishwasher).

Spoon River is all about the art — and the artists.

Chef Jeremy Ebert is one of them. Armed with a culinary-arts degree from Johnson & Wales University in Charleston and a passion for fresh ingredients, his and Van Staalduinen’s goal is to have 60 percent of their menu come straight from local farms to their tables.

“We live in the heartland of where things are grown,” said Van Staalduinen. “What we want to do is have different farmers, different things we can showcase on the menu.”

“Basically, we don’t open too many cans around here,” added Ebert. “I like to work fresh.”

Fresh translates to Ebert’s style of modern American, and letting the food speak for itself.

“I love simplicity. You don’t have to have a thousand ingredients,” Ebert explained. “I want people to really know what food is about. This is what I do — this is my life,” he laughed.

While the space offers regular lunch and dinner hours during the week and is available for special events, Van Staalduinen plans to create a thriving food and arts market, with a case of North Carolina artisanal cheeses, local home-baked goods and jellies, along with the local art and North Carolina brewed craft beers she already has in stock.

Spoon River Artworks and Market is open for lunch and dinner Wednesdays through Fridays, for breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturdays and Sunday brunch. For more information, visit its Facebook page or call 252-945-3899.



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