When you meet Tommy Karole, the owner of Paper Canoe in Duck, it’s obvious he’s not a laid back southerner. He never lost his New Jersey mannerisms, has strong opinions on most topics and he understands how to create an outstanding dining experience.
What might be most remarkable about the Paper Canoe is when Tommy admits that while he was pulling all the restaurant components together he wasn’t sure just what kind of dining experience he was going to create. Over the years he had owned and managed restaurants, and he had consulted with a number of successful Outer Banks restaurant owners, but while he was building the dining room he still wasn’t sure about the direction of his own restaurant. “I knew I had a beautiful location, which I built from the ground up,” he says. “I didn’t think of food until I saw how the restaurant was coming together.”
The view is spectacular, the bar is warm and cozy and the atmosphere is relaxing and casual. None of this would matter, though, if the food prepared by Chef Marc Berruet wasn’t truly memorable.
“I’ve worked with a lot of chefs and some were very good, but once I started working with Marc I knew I’d found the guy. Once I give him an idea, he can immediately run with it,” says Tommy. There is no one signature dish Tommy says. Instead they like to focus on what goes into the perfect meal—fresh ingredients from local suppliers, attention to detail and the perfect sauce for every dish.
It’s the sauces that Tommy feels describes the genius of his chef. “It’s all about the sauces, people,” is what he says. “If you prepare a crab stuffed with shrimp and put the right sauce on it, well it’s like nothing you’ve ever had before,” he goes on to say.
The creativity of Berruet, has allowed Tommy to bring out some very traditional dishes, but give them a singularly different treatment. “They (the diners) want to eat seafood, prepared the old school way” Tommy says. “It’s what people want when they come to the coast. We use the old standards as a building block and go from there.”
He mentions crab stuffed flounder, which he points out, is so traditional that when the suggestion was made his first thought was going out to dinner with his parents in the 1970s. “But you put the right sauce on it and it’s tremendous.”
As one would expect from a classically trained chef and ingredients sourced locally, dinner entrees are typically priced between $25.00 and $35.00. But, for couples or friends heading out for a drink, pizzas are also a part of the offerings and they’re reasonably priced.
The ambiance is definitely Outer Banks casual, meaning in this case, excellent food, very good wine selection, a lot of local beers and whatever you do—do not wear a tie to dinner. This is a place to relax and enjoy life.
It’s a place, according to Tommy, that gets recommended by friends telling friends. “You hear it all the time, ‘Hey, we’re from Pennsylvania or Maryland or Ohio and our friend told us we had to come in here,’ and that is the best level of a good feeling.”
[schema type=”organization” orgtype=”Organization” url=”http://papercanoeobx.com/” name=”The Paper Canoe” description=”The Paper Canoe Restaurant, which opened in 2011, is situated on the Currituck Sound at the northern end of the Town of Duck” street=”1564 Duck Road” city=”Duck” state=”NC” postalcode=”27949″ country=”US” phone=”(252) 715-2220″ ]