Quick bites: Seascape Bar & Grill
In the days when I was a commercial lender, I enjoyed the personal company of many of my clients. One of my favorite things was to be invited to any party hosted by Jim and Fran Geraghty.
Jim is a builder by trade, and he has toiled in that field for many years. But the construction industry has led Jim, like many other “Bankers,” to reinvent himself.
In Jim’s case, the transition seems almost natural. One of the highlights of his get-togethers was the food and wine. He shares my interest in both, but he takes it one step further than I, for he is as accomplished in the kitchen as he is on a construction site.
So I was only slightly surprised when daily menus began to arrive in my e-mail box from the Seascape Bar and Grill, located in the golf course’s club house — and I discovered Jim and Fran had taken over the operation of the golf course’s restaurant. Like those at many other golf courses, Seascape’s grill had been open to non-members for a long time, yet few people seemed to know.
So here is an insider’s tip to our out-of-town readers: Go there and enjoy breakfast, lunch or a weekend brunch, even if you aren’t playing golf!
Locals have always known many of our best foodie destinations are not in the usual locations along the Bypass, the Beach Road and downtown Manteo. The Colington Café, Outer Banks Epicurean, and the now-defunct Queen Anne’s Revenge in Wanchese are but a few examples.
To find the Seascape Bar & Grill is not hard. At Milepost 2.5, where RBC and the new OBX Bank sit in Kitty Hawk is a traffic light. Turn west onto Eckner Street and in a few hundred feet you will see the Seascape Golf Links clubhouse. Tucked inside is the Seascape Bar and Grill.
If you think this is your typical bland clubhouse fare, you’d be wrong. For example, on most Thursday’s the lunch special is baby back ribs. And the soups? Amazing. On the day of my visit, it was shrimp bisque ($2.95 a cup, $3.95 a bowl).
This bisque had thinner roux than many creamier styles, but it exploded in shrimp flavors. I chalked it up to the fact there was a bite of real shrimp in every spoonful, a rarity these days in any seafood-based soup.
Not so, said Geraghty. He explained that he saves all of his shrimp shells in the freezer, and when he makes bisque, the shells become his stock– a reduction stock. This is what concentrates the shrimp flavor, and the shrimp pieces actually add little flavor to the dish.
For the main lunch course, I decided to order a usual and customary sandwich — the reliable French dip. It is a sandwich like this that can set a restaurant apart. Many serve up their meat-centered sandwiches with pre-portioned product from wholesale purveyors. The hot pastrami at restaurant A tastes exactly like the one at restaurant B. Eventually, no one remembers what a real deli-style sandwich is supposed to taste like.
At first bite, I knew this French dip was special. It wasn’t gristly, and I could bite through it without mimicking the tearing method of a pack of wolves. It tasted real — like it had actually been cooked in its own juices. The au jus not only matched the flavor of the meat, it even had some kick. Somewhere in there was a hint of cayenne.
Jim caught a break in the crowd and sat down. I asked about the French dip. “I slow cooked it myself”, he said, “the au jus came from the roasting, with some additions. As to where the gristle went, Jim said, “We sliced it ourselves, as thin as we can,” making the beef easy to navigate.
If they take this much care with standard fare, then Seascape is on to something. Not to mention, I was unable to polish off the huge sandwich. The chips served on the side were also homemade by Jim. The closest approximations I can muster are the chips served at Baker’s Crust in Hampton Roads.
For the soup groupie, Jim makes a wild mushroom soup (shitake, portabella) and once again, uses the mushroom stems as a base for his reduction stock. The she-crab soup gets rave reviews and is on my list of future orders.
The everyday soups are New England clam chowder and a home-style chili.
The chemistry of this husband-and-wife team creates the best of both worlds. Jim hails from Long Island and Fran is a Rocky Mount girl. If Jim does Southern fare, I am sure Fran can tell him if its “right.”
Another item to try is their shrimp and cheese grits, their regular grits or normal breakfast offerings like sausage, eggs or pancakes. And on weekends, Jim adds some flair to the breakfast menu with brunch enticements such as Bananas Foster Croissant French Toast ($8.95), Eggs Benedict with Canadian Bacon and Hollandaise sauce on an English muffin with home fries or grits ($7.95), or French Toast with sweet dried fruit compote and powdered sugar ($6.95).
There are numerous salads available for lunch. Five varieties of burgers also grace the menu, as well as kid-friendly hot dogs and chicken wings. A three-cheese omelet has a home on the breakfast menu. There are also pizzas after 3 p.m. and build-your-own deli sandwiches.
For the most part, lunches range from $5.95 to around $8, and even the most expensive brunch item is about $8.95.
Food like this could change the perception of golf course clubhouses forever. So much the better for the rest of us.
Coming in summer 2011 — dinners-although the format has not been determined.
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