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!