It was time to hit the road for a short trip to Eastern North Carolina. We wanted to revisit New Bern, N.C. where we had been just a year ago. But this time we went purposely to see and visit
Tryon Palace
and its gardens. Yes, it was a little early in the season to see many blooms in the gardens, but the buildings and grounds were worth the time. And, as it turned out, the weather was perfect: sunny and 75°.

When the tulips come up I am sure this is spectacular!


These are images from the stables: loved the light and the beautiful dark wood.

Our ultimate destination was the small town of Kinston and this restaurant:
The Chef & The Farmer 

Raise your hand if you know about this famous, fabulous, Southern-with-a-twist restaurant and its owners Vivian Howard and Ben Knight!

Vivian wanted nothing more than to leave the small country town where she grew up…and she did. For a while.
And then she came “home” to open this restaurant and make her life, with her husband, Ben, in Kinston.

Read the story on the website:
Vivian Howard

and settle down to watch the series,
A Chef’s Life on PBS

The food? Well, it was wonderful. I have some specific suggestions.. have the “Flash Fried Collards” to begin (and share..). You thought collard greens were boring? These are out of this world crisp and salty. I had the Speckled Trout (local N.C., of course) and then….for dessert the Rice Pudding. We love rice puddding in almost any form at all, but this was just plain outrageous. Served with paper thin cinnamon apple slices and bit of oranges and crispy nuts. I think it’s worth a return trip JUST for this dessert!

On the black walls are paintings…large color-in-your-face canvases. And, as it turns out, they are all the work of Ben, Vivian’s husband. We happened to have a chance to meet and talk to him. Take a look at some of his paintings as represented by City Art Gallery in Greenville, N.C.  and
Art Source Gallery in Raleigh, N.C.

If you do go to the restaurant, you will want to spend the night nearby. As it happens, just down the block is
The O’Neil Hotel

The hotel had been a bank, and yes, you can walk right into the main vault and make yourself some coffee or tea!

The ceiling in the lobby.


The former tellers’ windows in the main lobby.



This, from the hotel’s website, says it all!

We requested a corner room on the third floor; I highly recommend you ask for this one too! It was superb. Really, it may be one of the nicest hotel rooms we have ever stayed in: spacious, quiet, very tastefully furnished, perfect, comfortable bed, and oh so light and bright.

Yes! Windows that open!!

It was the perfect one night getaway. We will be returning to Kinston for sure!