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

LulusMom Mar 1, 2010 01:19 PM

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. d
    dinersaurus RE: LulusMom Mar 1, 2010 01:36 PM

    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
      LulusMom RE: dinersaurus Mar 1, 2010 02:48 PM

      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
        d
        dinersaurus RE: LulusMom Mar 1, 2010 03:31 PM

        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
          LulusMom RE: dinersaurus Mar 1, 2010 03:40 PM

          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. r
      rockycat RE: LulusMom Mar 1, 2010 04:39 PM

      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
        LulusMom RE: rockycat Mar 2, 2010 08:42 AM

        "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.

      2. romansperson RE: LulusMom Mar 2, 2010 05:43 AM

        So glad you liked Coquette!

        1 Reply
        1. re: romansperson
          LulusMom RE: romansperson Mar 2, 2010 08:42 AM

          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. b
          burgeoningfoodie RE: LulusMom Mar 2, 2010 06:55 AM

          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
            romansperson RE: burgeoningfoodie Mar 2, 2010 07:23 AM

            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
              b
              burgeoningfoodie RE: romansperson Mar 2, 2010 10:37 AM

              "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
              LulusMom RE: burgeoningfoodie Mar 2, 2010 08:02 AM

              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
                b
                burgeoningfoodie RE: LulusMom Mar 2, 2010 10:41 AM

                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
                  LulusMom RE: burgeoningfoodie Mar 2, 2010 12:41 PM

                  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
                    b
                    burgeoningfoodie RE: LulusMom Mar 2, 2010 01:11 PM

                    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
                    http://www.newsobserver.com/2008/07/1...

                    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
                      LulusMom RE: burgeoningfoodie Mar 2, 2010 02:28 PM

                      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
                        r
                        rockycat RE: LulusMom Mar 2, 2010 04:09 PM

                        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
                          b
                          burgeoningfoodie RE: LulusMom Mar 3, 2010 05:12 AM

                          Haru Mentionings
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/535649

                          See first few exchanges here
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/678004

                          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
                            LulusMom RE: burgeoningfoodie Mar 3, 2010 05:38 AM

                            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
                        d
                        dinersaurus RE: LulusMom Mar 2, 2010 01:19 PM

                        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
                          LulusMom RE: dinersaurus Mar 2, 2010 02:29 PM

                          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
                            d
                            dinersaurus RE: LulusMom Mar 2, 2010 04:18 PM

                            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
                              LulusMom RE: dinersaurus Mar 3, 2010 03:07 AM

                              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
                            b
                            burgeoningfoodie RE: dinersaurus Mar 3, 2010 05:12 AM

                            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
                      v
                      veganhater RE: burgeoningfoodie Mar 3, 2010 02:22 PM

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

                      1. re: veganhater
                        c
                        cackalackie RE: veganhater Mar 3, 2010 04:35 PM

                        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
                          LulusMom RE: veganhater Mar 4, 2010 12:54 AM

                          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. l
                        luna9 RE: LulusMom Mar 3, 2010 02:29 PM

                        Definitely 18 Seaboard!!!!!

                        1. LulusMom RE: LulusMom Mar 11, 2010 04:36 AM

                          Thought I'd report back on our little trip to Raleigh. It was fun to get away (even if only 20 miles away), and Lulu always loves staying in hotels. We went to the Science Museum and the state Capitol building, then to our hotel. Dinner the first night was at 18 Seaboard. Boy, what a great looking room. That and the welcome were good signs. No one blinked an eye at bringing in a 3 year old (that could have been because it was only 5:30). All the food was wonderful, and the service was so good that the next day Lulu named her new stuffed bunny after our waitress (great job Sarah!). Husband started with cornmeal dusted oysters which he liked very much, I started with the fried green tomatoes. May well be the best version I've had. We each got grilled tuna with the champagne tarragon butter. Here is my only complaint about the place - I think they may have forgotten the tarragon. Not a problem, still delicious. My sides were sauted spinach and the cheese grits. Both fantastic. Husband got roasted cauliflower with fried capers, and goat cheese mashers. I think the mashers weren't as creamy as he'd have liked them, but still good. Lulu had the chopped salad with roasted asparagus and a side of the roasted cauliflower. The waitress brought her out a small bowl of the fried capers on the side, and Lulu was in heaven. Husband and Lulu shared some sort of molten chocolate desssert that came with spoons of crusty roasted marshmellow on them. Swoons. We had a great bottle of California chardonnay (sorry I don't remember the name right now, but it had a nice attic-y type smell to it). This was definitely a hit.

                          Next night we walked down to Coquette from our hotel. I'd made the mistake of letting my husband take us for a light lunch, but even that had taken the edge off my appetite, so I ended up with 3 appetizers; still, I was happy with all 3. A roasted potato and fennel soup, snails, and a simple green salad. Lulu shared the snails and salad, along with some chicken and fries. Husband got steak frites and was very pleased. My only problem with this place is I don't think the bread is up to snuff for a french place. Very heavy, thick bread. But it was a very good meal, and we agreed we'd do the whole thing again. And Lulu said next time she wants her own plate of snails.

                          Thanks again to everyone for your help. We'll be sure to re-read this thread next time we do a Raleigh overnight.

                          1. tryityoulllikeit RE: LulusMom Jun 19, 2010 12:14 PM

                            I hope you'll be able to visit Tasca Brava next time. We were there last night. It's a relaxed, cozy atmosphere that would still be family friendly. The menu is diverse and the owner is passionate about an authenic Spanish food experience. Even though it's on Glenwood, there is parking in the back and also easily found on the side streets. Last night I especially enjoyed trying two new flans, ginger or clove--fortunately, my husband prefered his ginger and I prefered my clove. Last time, it was a wonderfully unique bread just out of the oven.

                            -----
                            Tasca Brava
                            607 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tryityoulllikeit
                              LulusMom RE: tryityoulllikeit Jun 19, 2010 01:49 PM

                              I'd love to try it - I so miss Spanish food.

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