Restaurants & Bars 4

18 Seaboard (Raleigh)

rockycat | Feb 15, 2008 06:26 AM

It seems to have been a while since this restaurant has come up so I thought I'd bring it to the top of the list again.

I went yesterday for lunch so my comments relate only to the lunch service. I'm looking forward to getting back for dinner.

Nice "urban-smart" decor. They've made an effort to baffle the noise level through the use of fabrics and ceiling art. It's not entirely succesful given the amount of exposed brick wall and open ductwork, but I appreciate the effort. Noisy restaurants are a real pet peeve of mine.

The lunch menu is short, sweet, and well executed. Mostly entree sized salads, pastas, and sandwiches with a few other items tossed in. The style is New Southern. Think a simplified Magnolia Grill at a lower price point.

We ordered:
Mandarin Mojito - Boy, I really hate the current fad of calling any cocktail that uses mint a Mojito. This wasn't close to a traditional Mojito but it was an excellent drink, nonetheless. An infusion of orange (regular, not the blood orange as described) and mint, mixed with Absolut Mandarin. It's light and refreshing, the kind of drink you have way too much of before you realized you've had way too much.

She-crab soup - Sorry, no report by my companion. No complaints either, though.

Iceberg Wedge Salad - I should have known better. The sweet fire roasted tomatoes and thick-cut bacon were just the right accompaniments to the house-made thin buttermilk blue cheese dressing but, after all, it's still just a wedge of iceberg. A nice version but it's time send this old warhorse back to the stables.

Garlic chips - Freshly fried warm potato chips infused with heady amounts of garlic. They're served with the same dressing as the iceberg wedge and have just moved near the top of my list of "Things No One Should Have to Live Without."

Grilled Meatloaf - Nice take on the diner classic. The creative idea of grilling the finished meatloaf slice imparts a beautiful, smoky flavor that elevates the dish from the ordinary. Served with goat cheese mashed potatoes, green beans, and a house-made Worcestershire sauce. The sauce is thinner and sweeter than the Lea & Perrins standby but compliments the dish nicely.

Cornmeal crusted Catfish (special of the day) - Served over Cheddar grits and spinach with a chunky tomato relish. The grits were the standout, proving that there is no such thing as too much cheese in Cheddar grits. The were rich and creamy and, above all, supremely cheesey. The sauteed spinach was plain, as was the catfish. The relish was fresh tasting and a little sweet. It cut the richness of the grits nicely. On the whole, the sum of this dish far exceeded its parts.

We skipped dessert as we both needed to stay awake for the rest of the workday but many other diners were enjoying very appealing looking sweets. I almost caved in to the black-bottom peanut butter pie but held out. The chocolate cake in a mug with marshmallow fluff topping seemed clever without being too cutesy. Stylistically, the desserts reminded me very much of Karen Barker's, only with fewer components.

Another great plus was the final tab. The apps run between $4 - $6 and the mains run about $7 - $10, mostly $8. My special was $9. Desserts are $6. Three apps, two mains, and a drink came to about $42 with tax. If you don't overorder like we did lunch at 18 Seaboard costs no more than a greasy indifferent meal at your local sports bar. There's no comparison in value.

A really solid, satisfying dining experience. Worth many repeat visits.

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