Wilmington, NC Mason's Haunt
Joined a friend for dinner last Friday at the recently opened Mason's Haunt and both of us were very pleased. It's a nice space -plain but attractive. THe wait staff is attentive and efficient and friendly, without being too informal. We got there about 6:30 and the place was about 1/3 full. The wine list is good, and there is a good selection of beer available. The menu has a large variety of fresh fish dishes, several pastas, and a few other main course items. Nothing on the menu was super-creative, but I don't really think that's what they're shooting for anyway. The items were all familiar, but without being dull and boring. Our dishes were perfectly seasoned, excellently prepared and presented, and the quality of the ingredients really shone. I ordered the beef tenderloin filet with a tarragon butter, and my dinner companion ordered the chicken piccata. The filet was one of the best I have had all year. Exceptionally tender and flavorful. It came with a side of very good garlic mashed potatoes and some perfectly done asparagus. My friend said her piccata was some of the best she'd ever had.
The chef/owner used to be the chef/owner of Sweet and Savory at Wrightsville, and I am not sure if he's still associated with that and is also branching out here, or if he's out of Sweet and Savory. Someone told me, but I forgot. He was visiting with the patrons and he came by our table and asked if we'd enjoyed our meal. He seems very serious about doing a good job there. My friend had been there a week earlier and he had asked her and her group if they had any suggestions, and she had requested a specific beer. It was on the menu when we ate that night. So apparently he's keen to try to please his customers. He's found an excellent niche market there. There are not many other restaurants servicing this growing area of Wilmington. By the time we left around 9:00, the place was completely full.
I enjoyed it enough that I took my husband back there for lunch today. There were a nice number of lunch specials available. Again, the wait staff was personable and efficient, without being too casual. My husband ordered a cup of the seafood chowder and the jerk mahi sandwich and I ordered a quiche that was had chicken and broccoli and swiss cheese. He said that all of the seafood tasted very fresh. He loved the chowder - said it was very light and tasty. The sandwich came topped with a mango salsa and a nice pile of homemade chips that were delicious and perfectly done. I've had lots of homemade chips that wound up greasy and unpleasant. These were nice and thick and perfectly cooked and seasoned and not the least bit oily. My quiche was a little on the dry side, but still very good. We both ordered dessert, and I was happy that the chef has apparently not lost the touch he had at Sweet and Savory. The pastries there were wonderful. I ordered the coconut cake and it was perfect. Buttery and fresh tasting, and not cloylingly sweet. It came with a meraingue cookie that was really good. Tasted like a crisp toasted marshmallow. My husband had the kahlua chocolate cake and almost wouldn't let me have a bite. It was wonderful, without being too rich.
We were very satisfied and hope that the place continues to do well. One more good restaurant with solid menu items that are fresh and well-prepared is always welcome.
I didn't find the service lacking at all, and thought the pricing was on the low side - very reasonable for the quality of the food. Main courses ranged from $15 - 20, I think.
The address is 3317 Masonboro Loop Road - it's in the new shopping center on the corner there where Masonboro Loop and Masonboro Sound split. They are not open on Sundays, I think.