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Mar 1, 2010 01:19 PM

Tasca Brava or 18 Seaboard (Raleigh) with 3 year old

Hi Everyone,

I searched for both these places but didn't find much, which makes me a little wary. But we're spending a couple of days in Raleigh, and would like to have a nice meal in town. We'll have Lulu with us. She's very well behaved in restaurants, and eats almost everything, but I don't want a place that is stuffy. We'll definitely be eating at Coquette (thanks to Romansperson for that recommendation - tried it on my own and enjoyed very much) one night, and were trying to figure out what our second choice should be. Right now we're thinking either Tasca Brava or 18 Seaboard. Any thoughts on either of those? Any other suggestions that I might have somehow missed? The only real restriction (aside from the non-stuffy aspect) is that I don't eat pork, so a place that is mostly porky isn't going to work for us.

Thanks very much in advance!

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  1. Tasca Brava seems a little less stuffy to me, not that 18 Seaboard really is, just less so, a bit more casual as a mom n pop operation. But, Tasca Brava is kind of dark inside. Maybe they're going for romantic? Neither should be too porky. I've enjoyed both. 18 Seaboard seemed like the better deal pricewise. But, I love Spanish food, and I thought that Tasca Brava did a pretty good job.

    Not having any offspring, I can't speak for what would be the best for a three year old, even a well behaved one. But, Gravy might fit (a red-sauce Italian joint done well) and Sitti (Eastern Med) next door could work as well. Your little one may enjoy trying their many small plates.

    Other places that I like seem a bit stuffier or wouldn't fit as well with a 3-ster.

    3 Replies
    1. re: dinersaurus

      Thanks dinersaurus. Lulu's eaten tapas in DC and loved it. She definitely eats out a lot and is very game for all new tastes. Like you, I really love Spanish food, and it helps that you thought Tasca Brava did a good job.

      I also love eastern med. so Sitti sounds like it could work. But I really do want a nice and special feeling place - would that fit the bill?

      1. re: LulusMom

        I guess that depends on how you define "nice and special." Sitti has more of a modern, slightly hip vibe. Tasca Brava is more intimite and it's in a converted bungalow. Did you have tapas in DC at Jaleo? (That's always my benchmark.) If so, you won't find anywhere near the selection of tapas at Jaleo, it's a much smaller selection with about the same number of entrees so it's not a tapas-centric place. I feel like the tapas are also more expensive at Tasca Brava. But, they also turn about 150 fewer tables a night than Jaleo too, so I understand the limited selection and price differential. It's no Jaleo, but then, there's also only one Jose Andres for a reason. Still, I enjoyed the food. To me, Tasca Brava is the most interesting option.

        One more thing, they had an olive oil flan that was really terrific. And, I typically don't even care for flan.

        1. re: dinersaurus

          I'm from DC and LOVE Jaleo. That is definitely my benchmark too, and sort of what I was hoping to find. Saying TB is the most interesting option means a lot. Thanks so much for your input.

    2. I can't speak to Tasca Brava at all, never having been there, but we're semi-regulars at 18 Seaboard. We took the Offspring there for the first time as a special treat the day before school started this year. She was about 7 1/2 then. We deliberately did a late lunch so the restaurant wouldn't be crowded - just in case the staff wouldn't appreciate a child patron. We had her dress a little better than usual and thoroughly vetted the menu first. The staff was great. They didn't fawn all over her but they didn't treat her like a child, either. I can say, though, that I have never seen another child there, whether at lunch or dinner. Doesn't mean it's not a good idea, though.

      A few recommendations. Their specialty cocktails are worth checking out. The handkerichief pasts with shortrib is very good and can be split for an appetizer. The garlic chips can be special ordered at dinner and may appeal to Lulu. ANd I'm a sucker for the blue cheese grits. The desserts are something of a weak point, unfortunately.

      I just asked the little Beastie if she would recommend 18 Seaboard to another child and the answer was, "Oh, yeah! My first experience was totally yum. It's the bestest place ever!" We have to work on the grammar some, but you get the point.

      Oh, and she loves Coquette, too, if that helps.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rockycat

        "The bestest place ever" is high praise indeed! And it is good to hear that they're ok with kids. Most places are, but one I've found (when a babysitter cancelled and we had friends in town) that was surprisingly not thrilled was the Lantern. Lulu was only about 1 at the time, and quiet and happy, but they just really were not excited to have her there (no reason they should be, but we were regulars at that point, were bringing in new people, and she *was* well behaved). C'est la vie.

        Anyway, thanks much for the input, both the adult and the kid's side.

        1. re: romansperson

          Yes, thank you so much for the recommendation. Had a glass of wine for you! The house red (a bourdeaux, I think) was wonderful.

        2. Whats limited you to those two restaurants? I've not been to either but why not Poole's Diner? Also, didn't someone say that the stuff at Coquette has taken a turn since Bland left? Just as a side venture, maybe you'd like to check out the candy store with Lulu over there in North Hills. Mo's Diner? Waraji? Haru? Is no pork really the only limitation?

          18 Replies
          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            I haven't heard anything about a chef change at Coquette, where did you read that? I was just there in January and it was as good as always.

            1. re: romansperson

              "Chef Rob Bland has parted ways with Urban Food Group’s Coquette. Bland was instrumental in bringing French brasserie fare to the Triangle. No word on what Bland will be doing next or who will be taking over that kitchen" - Varmintbytes' web site...

              Apparently he was let go by Urban Food Groups and the chef of Vivace is now running things. I don't know I've not been there in awhile, but there have been many grumblings at least about their brunch...

            2. re: burgeoningfoodie

              Just doing a little research, checking out what menus I found online (I had also picked Bloomsbury Bistro, but husband nixed that idea). I would love to go to Poole's, but there is no menu, even a sample one, online, and they don't take reservations. when you have a kid, you kind of need to know you can get in and out fairly quickly. I liked the funky look of 18 Seaboard and I'm a big tapas fan, that is probably why I narrowed it down to those two.

              Yep, no pork is the only limitation. We're all fairly adventurous (sp?).

              I had a very nice meal at Coquette about 2 weeks ago, and we'll be staying at the hotel right near there, so walking distance is a big plus.

              1. re: LulusMom

                I was going to mention Bloomsbury Bistro. Well there are the two sushi suggestions not that you can't find good sushi between Chapel Hill and Durham. Not fancy but what about Hayes Barton if for nothigns more than a slice of cake/pie? What about Jibarra or Savoy or St. Jacques? The first is in a different direction than the other two (in both food type and literally different direction).

                Sorry.. responded before seeing the walking distance.. Savoy I don't think is too far from there but I've not seen much talk about it on these boards.

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  Jibarra was on my short list, not sure why I decided against it, nwo that you mention it! And I got the impression that maybe St. Jacques was a bit more fancy - and I also was hoping not to do French food twice in a row (but maybe I'm wrong - is it not french?). Love sushi, just thought something a little different sounded good, and man do I wish Chapel Hill had a tapas place. I hadn't even heard of Savoy. It is close by North Hills? That would be a definite plus. Going to go look into it. thanks so much bf.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Yes St. Jacques is fancier and French. Mura is also in North Hills along with Vivace but I wouldn't say they are any different than what else is around. You could inquire about an Omakase at Haru.

                    Savoy Rating a la N&O

                    They are between Inner Beltline and 540 off.. Lead Mine Rd. I think, but since Six Forks runs along North Hills I don't think it's far to get to.

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      Yeah, that was why I sort of by-passed the St. Jacques idea. We'll be going to Vin Rouge just days before the trip, and as much as I love french food, I'd rather branch out a bit. I did wonder if anyone had anything interesting to say about Haru, but a search didn't find much. I LOVE the walking aspect. When I lived in DC I either walked or cabbed everywhere and that is something I miss (and why we moved walking distance from Franklin St.!). But we're willing to spend the $$ on a cab one of the nights in Raleigh for something special.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        I know that Haru is mentioned in a few threads. We feel it's probably the best sushi in Raleigh and it's definitely appropriate for Lulu.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Haru Mentionings

                          See first few exchanges here

                          As far as the Lard goes... You could call and tell them what your aversion is or make up a story about health concerns (okay maybe bad to lie). Lard is supposedly healthier for you than butter or margarine, but if it is a matter of vegetarian/vegan matters that is a different issue. Good luck and now you have quite a few selections and so you can split the list into this vacation and the one you described for later :-)

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            Thanks bf. The good thing here is that if you ask, you *normally* get an honest answer about the pork issue. I've been to other parts of the world where they consider a pasta with little bits of beef or pork to be vegetarian, so it gets iffy. The things you most need to watch out for with lard in mexican restaurants is in tamales or flour tortillas. Took me a few months to figure out why I often felt glorpy after a mexican meal. Still and all, one of my favorite foods in the world.

                            I'm still really on a fence about the decision. Luckily I have 5 days to decide. Leaning toward 18 Seaboard but want to give the menu another look, just in case.

                      2. re: LulusMom

                        I'm a big Jibarra fan and think that it's a good pick too. Since you're from DC LulusMom, it's Mexican more in the mode of Oyamel, without the small plates focus.

                        Burgeoningfoodie, thanks for mentioning Savoy. I had no idea it existed and it's only about a par 5 from my residence. It looks good, and I look forward to checking it out.

                        1. re: dinersaurus

                          Ach! Confusing issues further by making me want to add Jibarra back into the mix. How is the pork situation there? I love mexican food, but sometimes you have to be very careful about lard, etc. Sorry - there is absolutely no reason you should know the answer to this question, but I figured I'd throw it out there, just in case. And thanks for the info everyone.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            I have no clue on the lard situation. But, if I recall correctly, most dishes do not have pork. Not to knock Haru, but I go the impression that you're looking for something a little nicer, atmosphere-wise than Haru may offer. It's kind of an average looking space in a strip mall (granted, it's a decent looking little strip mall). I'm not sure it would be worth cabbing it though. On the plus side, you could hit Hereghty's (sic?) next door for dessert after your meal. It's also a short trip from North Hills.

                            Man, I'm not helping to narrow this down. On the plus side, I don't think that you'll be disappointed with any of the options.

                            1. re: dinersaurus

                              Honestly, consider it a good thing that you're not helping narrow it down. It just shows how many options there are. And even if I don't take the family along, I'll be making another "mom needs a night off" trip to Raleigh in the next few months, I'm sure, and all these suggestions will come in very handy. Thanks to everyone.

                          2. re: dinersaurus

                            Well I remember seeing it in the N&O a while back and thought that this restaurant would have some buzz on here, but it never really did. I'd love to hear about it when you go both as it stands on its own and compared to other options.

                    2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      Check out Poole's web-site for their ammusing take on children in the restaurant.

                      1. re: veganhater

                        Yeah - I don't think that Poole's is the best place to take a 3-year-old. I kind of agree with their comments on the site. It's not stuffy - but everyone will probably agree it has a different vibe.

                        1. re: veganhater

                          And believe me, I totally get it. I spent a lot of time as a non-parent, and I know certain places just aren't really right for kids - no matter how well behaved they are.

                      2. Definitely 18 Seaboard!!!!!