Saturday, August 11, 2012

18 Seaboard: Worth a visit

Sarah and Ben weren't due to go on until 9:00 last night, so we had time eat at a local restaurant beforehand.  We made the decision late in the week, however, so reservations were scarce on the ground.  On a whim, I consulted the 2011 best restaurants list of local food critic Greg Cox, and one of his silver medalists was a place we'd never been.  OpenTable and the restaurant were kind, and a few minutes later we were set for dinner at 18 Seaboard

18 Seaboard opened in 2006, so it is obviously not a new establishment, but because it was new to me, I did the usual basic research.  The chef-proprietor, Jason Smith, has an interesting and varied background that includes stints in two serious New York restaurants.  He took the time to credit his executive chef, Ty Parker, and pastry chef, Billy Apperson, which I always like to see.  The menu sported an appealing mix of tarted-up versions of southern classics and some dishes that sounded more experimental. 

I was happy with my choice.

After finishing last night's dinner, I'm glad to be able to report that I'm still happy, though not without reservations. 

The restaurant is in an industrial-looking building with high ceilings and brick exterior walls. Inside, though, it's pure big city, with open ceilings, an active bar, and a lot of conversations filling the spaces.  I liked it. 

The food ranged from good to very good, though no dish stood out as exceptional the way almost every dish at a truly top-drawer place like Panciuto typically does.  Two of us shared two starters, the wood-fire grilled fresh bacon and the cheese board.  The cheeses were tasty, and the bacon was the highlight of the whole meal, more pork belly than standard bacon.  My main was a pork shank with bleu cheese grits, and it was both delicious and enormous; I ate only half the meat and a third of the grits.  (Scott was happy to polish off the take-out box for me at home.)  The desserts were all good as well, though a day later none stands out in my mind as wonderful.

The service was uneven, with every server who helped us trying too hard but not listening or observing well.  I appreciate their intentions, but less effort at speaking and more at paying attention would have helped.

All in all, dinner at 18 Seaboard was a good enough meal that I can recommend the place and will try it again. 

No comments:


Blog Archive