by Donna Byrd
If you’re a local to the Sneads Ferry/Topsail Island area, I don’t have to tell you about the Riverview Cafe. I’m sure you eat there regularly and have sampled many of their seafood and American comfort food dishes. Also, it’s the first place that probably pops into your mind when someone who has recently moved here or is visiting asks, “Where’s a good place to eat around here?”
Before I moved to Sneads Ferry, I had visited the Riverview many times for family gatherings or intimate dinners with family and friends who lived in the area. It was our “go to” restaurant because it had wonderful food and beautiful water views of the New River that made us all feel that we were eating at a special place. The minute you walked up the planked sidewalk and into the door, you’d glance over by the wall of windows, hoping there was an empty table in which one of the friendly waitresses would seat us. The view was eye candy to those of us who were landlocked and lived far from the sea.
I must admit, when my husband and I moved to Sneads Ferry, I had a moment of special joy when I realized that I would be able to go to the Riverview as often as I liked. It was one of life’s good things that I’m grateful for even now; five years later!
Yesterday, my aunt Eleanor treated me to a birthday lunch at the Riverview Cafe. “Let’s go on Wednesday, because they have collards on Wednesday, and you know how I love collards!” If you know my aunt, you’d know that a restaurant is judged based on whether or not they serve collards and how great they taste.
We were to meet at noon. I couldn’t believe that the parking lot was almost filled and it wasn’t even the “summer season.” The locals knew where to find a great meal for a good price.
We weren’t seated by a window but I didn’t mind. I knew that soon, a basket of the best tasting hushpuppies in “the Ferry” would be placed in front of us and a big glass of sweet tea would follow. Ahhh, we were at the Riverview and all was well with the world!
The lunch menu (the evening menu is a bit scaled back and mainly seafood and steaks ) was written on a large, white grease board on the far wall. Every day the lunch menu’s entrees and side dishes are subject to change but don’t worry! There’s always a big selection of Southern styled comfort foods, along with fresh seafood (fried, broiled, grilled or steamed) that are there to choose from. I’ve never had anything there that wasn’t good. If you get the lunch specials on the board (an entree and two sides) you get a dessert too! The waitresses walk around the dining room with trays of a special cake, cobbler or pudding of the day to tempt their customers. It’s easy to say, “Yes, I’ll have one!
I chose the fried flounder, baked potato and slaw. I had to go “old school” southern fried because there were gulls flying over the water, a shrimp boat docked by the wholesale fish market out back and a brown pelican sitting on top of wooden piling a few feet out in the water. To me, with these views in sight, I had to eat the fish of my childhood; flounder, fried to a golden brown and tasty!
Aunt Eleanor had grilled salmon, collards and slaw. She even ordered an extra side of collards “to go.” She said that would be her supper. I put in a carry out order of the fried chicken fingers for my husband, Bill. They are his favorite. I must say, they have the best fried chicken in town. I’ve even ordered the chicken fingers to serve in my home to dinner guests. They were a hit, but I gave the Riverview credit for them, as much as I would have loved to claim that I had cooked them!
Our waitress came to the table with the dessert of the day: chocolate cake with white icing. A simple cake can be elegant when it’s good and moist. It was all of the above and didn’t disappoint! Every forkful was delicious!
As we were paying our bill at the counter on the way out, I had to stop and look at the display of the Riverview’s pies. They are homemade meringue pies; chocolate, coconut, lemon and Key lime. The meringue is piled high and slightly browned on the peaks. Ahhh…heaven on a fork! I must admit, I’ve bought a few of these whole pies home to serve for special dinner parties and my guests “oohed” and “aahed” as they ate up the slice of mile-high pie on their plates. The waitress took a pie out so that I could take a picture of it for you. See what I mean?
If you’re wondering where to eat in the ‘Ferry and you want to eat at an iconic, established restaurant, (established in 1946,) you must follow your nose down toward the New River to the Riverview Cafe. You’ll be glad you did!
The Riverview Cafe is located at: 119 Hall Point Road,Sneads Ferry, NC 28460
Telephone 910-327-2011 Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.