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Apr 29, 2009 08:52 PM

Outstanding B'day Dinner at 18 Seaboard in Raleigh

Our family celebrated my husband's birthday at 18 Seaboard in Raleigh tonight. First, we had not been back here as a group since over a year ago, although we'd always enjoyed dinner and lunches in the past. It was wonderful to see the venue lively and full of people, despite the recent downturns in the economy.

Chef Jason Smith has made the cuisine and presentation a labor of love for patrons. The fish is particularly excellent. My daughter had the most tender swordfish imaginable (a horrible past experience with tought swordfish on the Italian Riviera at a place we'd returned to specifically made me wonder if the fish itself was cursed) which, of course, has taught me that the best catches, prepared with care, yield perfect results.

I opted for one of the most popular dishes (having noticed several plates en route to others and reading a positive review of this one in _North Carolina Signature_ magazine ) -- the cornmeal crusted catfish. Again, my misconceptions about catfish were proven wrong as there were neither spines nor catty flavor to this delicious morsel.

The Pamlico Crispy Shrimp with Horseradish Slaw and Texas Pete Aioli appetizer reminds me that this chef has an ability to prepare a variety of accompaniments (in the form of sauces and sides) that enhance any major choice. My daughter adored the She-Crab Soup.
Homemade Lamb Ravioli features a cherry reduction that even my previously fruit-hating daughter acclaimed.

Husband adored the Filet Mignon, and he and daughter were in chocolate heaven over the mug of dense chocolate cake (warm) with chocolate ganache interior and homemade marshmallow fluff. The peanut butter mousse tart I ordered defied reality itself. I had expected mere "peanut butter with suger" but the light and delicate tart with homemade peanut brittle and grape jelly infused ice cream has convinced me that birthday cake and ice cream had best be permanently left off the table!

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  1. I'm a big fan of 18 Seaboard and am always looking forward to my next meal there, but I've always thought that desserts were the restaurant's major weak point. In fact, I remember saying the last time I was there (last month) that I wish they would get a new pastry chef. I've had the warm chocolate mug at least twice because the description sounds so good and each time I've had it I've found the flavor to be somewhat flat and one-dimensional. The level of the desserts has always seemed to me to be far below the quality of the rest of the meal. We've come to the conclusion that we need to save our dessert calories for Krispy Kreme.

    Did you try any of the cocktails? The Mandarin Mojito is addictive and is an excellent summer drink. The bartender has also been accomodating in coming up with creative non-alcoholic drinks for me when requested.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rockycat

      Hi, Rockycat. I actually agree with you about the desserts. I am not a big fan of chocolate nor of banana bread pudding. Strangely, I would never have ordered the Peanut Butter Tart but I took a chance and would have it again. My daughter ordered her standard Peach Bellini and hubby his Manhattans. I just stuck to two glasses of Riesling, which was refreshing.

      I don't know if you've tried Poole's Diner yet, but two weeks ago I had a wonderful Carrot Cake there. The portion was big enough for more than two people which probably is waaay too tempting for me.

      I would have to say that 18 Seaboard was able to stand neck and neck with Poole's on the entree and maybe outdid the latter on this particular dessert. Both of these places are on my repeat list.

      1. re: rockycat

        Just visited 18 Seaboard last night for the first time. We liked the food fine (great field greens salad and terrific she-crab soup; I enjoyed the catfish and mom liked the grilled scallops; dad found the grilled salmon a little boring even with accompanying sauce). That said -- it was the cocktails that stood out for us. I had the blackberry sangria - quite possibly one of my favorite sangrias ever. It is on the sweeter side, and you can't really taste the alcohol -- but I think those may be the reasons I liked it. Mom had the Strawberry Delight - couldn't taste the vodka at all and I believe it was made with pureed fresh strawberries. Dad had the mandarin mojito. All were beautifully fresh and perfectly appropriate for the season.

        1. re: bluepig1

          I'm also a big fan of 18 Seaboard. Jason is a wonderful host and chef - he makes you feel like you are more a valued friend than just a customer and that is hard to come by in today's restaurant world.

          We celebrated Valentine's Day at 18 Seaboard and I was so impressed. I am not one to usually want to go out on V-Day as it can be such a nightmare. But, we had a truly enjoyable meal complete with little treats from the kitchen. And, we had a fantastic dessert - the chef had prepared a special tart with a lite butter crust, a layer of chocolate ganache and then fresh strawberries grown locally in a greenhouse. This was a great treat in February.

          We're heading there in June to celebrate my husband's 40th with friends and have also celebrated another friend's campaign victory there. Jason offers a fantastic private room that seats I'd guess 12 very nicely. It is perfect for small parties.

          One other great thing is that the bar offers Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka - amazing stuff and a great way to start your meal. Ask the bartender to mix it with some water and a little sour mix - it is the PERFECT southern cocktail!