Two Roads: Melding tastes of Nashville and the OBX

By on November 16, 2016

Manager Kyle Forbes and a specialty Mac n Cheese Burger.

Story and Photos by Jim Trotman

Two roads. Two avenues. Two ways to go. Two big choices. Burgers or oysters? Or both. Why not?

In larger cities, particularly in Nashville, you’ll find the culture of burger bars. It revolves around the appreciation for comfy, informal establishments where a beer and a burger bring delight and satisfaction when only a burger will do.

Such a place was on the minds of Kyle Forbes, B.J. Austin and Mark Ballog. The three worked together at Lucky 12 Tavern in Nags Head, and on a visit to Ballog’s Nashville place, fell in love with the idea. The three felt a burger-concentrated tavern approach would be viable here, but they needed another element.

“Out here, you can’t have just a burger bar,” Forbes said.

As the plans grew, they settled on a concept that would tackle not only inventive burgers but expand on a selection of oyster dishes as well. This two-prong attack came to fruition as Two Roads Tavern, finding its home in the Sea Gate North Shopping Center in Kill Devil Hills.

Oysters Kitty Hawk.

Forbes smiled as he recalled their opening, hitting the ground running this year on Memorial Day weekend. Following a mid-week soft open, the weekend crowd was a hungry hoard. “We weren’t expecting that many people to come in. It was packed!”

The concept was a hit, but finding the pace proved difficult at first. “It was a rough weekend. I definitely went outside for the first time, shed some tears,and stressed, I was like, ‘do I really want to do this?’ And then we got our stuff together and it got comfortable.”

While the menu hews to the burger and oyster regime, it is rounded out here and there with other niceties. Eight appetizers are offered as well as a spate of salads. Oysters can be had raw, or as four different baked presentations and fried.

The burger selections feature 100 percent Hereford ground chuck. They are inventive, stacked high and include bison and turkey options. The burgers can be done to your preference, the house standard being medium. For vegetarians, Quinoa and black bean and corn burgers also make the list with vegan buns available on request.

Nashville -style hot wings bring the heat.

There almost always is a daily burger on the chalkboard, allowing for interesting flights of fancy from the mind of Forbes or chef Jonathan Wood.

“We went a little bit funky but not too crazy,” said Forbes. Indeed, on the day we talked, the special was a burger base topped with a cross of bacon and a macaroni and cheese ‘cake.’ “You want to be a little funky but not so funky that people don’t want to try them.”

A half dozen other sandwiches, including brined and fried chicken, portabella and tuna and seafood Po’boys round out the menu.

We arrived for dinner on a weeknight, took a second to glance around the D-shaped bar and were taken to a table in the dining room, flanked on either side with immense gas company signs. Lit gas station pumps punctuate the scene, evoking old roadhouses in an abstract way.

Caprese Burger.

We were intrigued by the Nashville-style hot chicken wings and the Oysters Nags Head, these being along the lines of oysters Rockefeller. Both delivered as promised, the wings bringing good heat and the oysters broiled to perfection, done just enough and still supple and juicy.

This was followed by the main attraction, a pair of burgers. One, the Caprese, is built on a foundation of house-made basil pesto, sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella. The other, the Blue Bison, 100 percent ground bison topped with a buffalo blue cheese. The burgers were both quite good, the buns soft and buttery.

Hous- cut fries are an item that carried over from Lucky 12, or the burger plate can be outfitted with Asian slaw. Upcharge sides are offered as well, and we chose the fried green beans, done in nearly a tempura style, a hint of pickle brine lifting the flavor profile.

Two Roads Tavern is open Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., is closed on Sundays, and will remain open through the year, closing only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Two Roads Tavern
Fine Burgers and Oysters
Sea Gate North Shopping Center
3105 N Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
(252) 255-1980

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