Issue 30

Carolina on My Mind

Carolina on My Mind

Second Empire is truly one of North Carolina’s finest dining experiences. The restaurants setting takes place in an beautiful old Southern Mansion that was most likely built around the turn of the 20th century.The wood floors, chandeliers, and decorations of the restaurant really set the tone for the type of experience the Second Empire offers. In addition to the restaurant there is also a tavern in the basement that allow for a great before/after dinner drink.

The food, service, and sprits at the restaurant did not disappoint. The two favorite entrees of the table were the roasted five spice Pennsylvania duck breast and the North Carolina costal grouper. The restaurant put a huge emphasis on buying local organic produce and serving meat products off of locally grown farms. In addition to the entrees, the four appetizers that table sampled were truly spectacular.

The wine list at the restaurant put a major emphasis on Spanish, Italian, and French. For our first bottle, we chose a versatile Spanish Rioja in the $50 price range. The table found this wine to go extremely well with the four different appetizer pairings. For the main entree, we had decanted an Italian Barolo in the $100 price range. Again, we found the Barolo to go very well with everyone main entree at the table.

Overall, this was a memorable dining experience in terms of atmosphere, food, and spirits that our table enjoyed. Second Empire is located in the heart of Raleigh that conveniently located close to downtown and the NC State Campus.

Oceanic restaurant is located on Wrightsville Beach just outside of Wilmington, NC. The highlight of the restaurant was the outdoor seating available on the pier which overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. As expected the restaurant had a wide selection of fresh seafood, along with steak and chops. The calamari we enjoyed for an appetizer was average/above average. Our group of three ordered Salmon, Mahi Mahi, and fresh Ahi Tuna. All three were acceptable dishes, however it was nothing that truly stood out. The wine selection was fairly limited to your basic California Cabs and Chardonnay’s.

In conclusion, Oceanic is a place you want to dine simply for the atmosphere. The views of the Atlantic Ocean are superior whether you are dining outside on the pier or inside on one of the restaurants three stories. Many restaurants on Wrightsville Beach could easily be considered a tourist trap. However, Oceanic seemed to have the right mix of locals to tourists. Its obvious the restaurants managements does not put as much emphasis on the food and spirits as they do the experience and the views.

Anytime I have flown into Raleigh, Rey’s is always the first restaurant that we dine at. Formerly a Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Rey’s has transformed the building into a Southern, French Quarter type of feel. The walls and the decorations reflect the old Southern charm of the restaurant. In addition the walls have fantastic pictures of sports memorable primarily the Carolina Hurricanes NHL team that has supposedly made Rey’s their restaurant of choice.

The menu continues to back up the Southern charm of the restaurant. The appetizer menu is full of shrimp, craw dad’s, oysters and other New Orleans type seafood. For the soup and salad course, the choice was rather obvious to go with the New Orleans Turtle Soup. Even when dining in the south the Turtle Soup remains a rarity. For the main entrees Rey’s offered a wide selection of prime cuts of meat including French Quarter classics as Osso Bucco, Decatur Street Pork Tenderloin, and Bourbon Street Pork Chops. The four of us each decided to go with either the Prime New York Strip or the Filet Mignon’s. While the steaks were excellent, the southern flare spices seemed to make the cuts of meat stand out. In addition to the steaks, our table enjoyed two bottles of full bodies Napa Valley Cab. At a place like Rey’s there’s little debate that the Cabernet is the only way to go.

The wait staff at Rey’s was knowledgeable, professional, and prompt with their service. The few times we have dined their, the owner Rey is always walking around the restaurant making sure everyone’s needs are fully attended to. The signature desert is the Banana’s Foster for two. Usually, the presentation is done by a chef or the waiter. However, the owner (Rey) comes out to each table and puts on the presentation himself. You can truly tell that ownership takes a great deal of service and pride in owning and operating the restaurant.

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