When freshness matters...
BY GARRETT HILL ON MARCH 21, 2014
When looking for good seafood around this area, there seems to be two choices that instantly come to mind: Bonefish of Greenville or Wimpy’s of Winterville. However, there is one restaurant that is relatively new to the scene and deserves the attention of any and all Greenville seafood lovers: Dingbatter’s.
Dingbatter’s is the creation of an Eastern North Carolina native, who also owns a fresh seafood market immediately next door. His name is Ashley Bleau, and he has been an avid fisherman since he was a young boy. He got his start selling seafood out of his truck bed at the Pitt County farmer’s market, and now owns Shore to Door Seafood as well as Dingbatter’s; but what exactly is a dingbatter? Doni Peterson, the co-owner of the restaurant, explained that a dingbatter is someone who is not native to the Down East area, or someone who is simply not familiar with the local waters.
“When you see a young guy with a brand new thirty foot boat, and he takes it out for the first time and runs aground on the first shoal he comes across, that’s a dingbatter,” Peterson said.
Although originally from the Lake Michigan area, Peterson has lived in North Carolina for nearly thirty years and loves the state he now calls home.
“My heart is in Carolina,” Peterson said.
Since the owners are local guys who truly care about the quality of the food they serve, and the restaurant is uniquely named, I already had two reasons to like Dingbatter’s before I even tasted the food. The restaurant is very clean and well decorated, the prices are fair, and the menu has numerous choices. They even have a chalkboard behind the counter that tells you several variations of oysters you can choose from, which types of seafood are in season and precisely where these choices were caught or collected. That might not seem like a big deal to some people, but it’s refreshing to me that a restaurant is open and honest about their sources of food; that way I know I’m not eating some sort of processed junk fish that was shipped here from Thailand over a month ago. Also the fact that they serve seafood in season guarantees the quality of the catch, and that quality is reflected in the taste. I browsed the menu for a short time and ended up going with a classic fried shrimp basket, with sides of coleslaw and French fries. Shortly after I ordered, I was given a plate of hushpuppies the size of small apples, a welcome edition to any dining experience. Then my meal arrived, and I was in heaven. The coleslaw was sweet, just the way I like it; the fries were thin and crispy, also delicious; and the shrimp ranks among the best shrimp I’ve ever tasted. The breading was on point, not too light, not too heavy. I don’t know what exact word I should use to describe why they were so good, other than fresh. The freshness of the catch simply makes a significant difference in taste, and at Dingbatter’s, fresh is all they do. The cost of my quarter pound basket of shrimp, coleslaw, french fries, and hushpuppies was only eleven dollars, which is outstanding for a fresh and filling seafood meal. So kudos to you both, Ashley Bleau and Doni Peterson, for running what I think is the best seafood restaurant in Eastern North Carolina.