This five-star restaurant is worth a trip to the coast. Port Land Grille knows the art of fine dining. The ambiance, indoors and out, offers an appealing sense of style with oversized tables draped with white tablecloths, black and white photographs of Old Wrightsville Beach, comfortable rooms with a view, exquisite service and, weather permitting, picturesque dining on the patio overlooking a landscaped pond at Lumina Station. Though the restaurant is reminiscent of the classy supper clubs of bygone eras, the food is its key to success. Chef Shawn Wellersdick is renowned for his ability to transform quality ingredients into a meal of layered flavors. His side dishes rival entrees in taste and creativity. An excellent example is his version of mashed sweet potatoes: the secret involves scented vanilla beans.
The menu includes meal-sized appetizers, especially when coupled with one of Port Land Grille's salads. A favorite is the crab cake nestled on a bed of buttered baby lima beans and served with an applewood-smoked bacon vinaigrette. A popular salad choice is characterized as a simple Southern salad — a chilled iceberg lettuce wedge with crisp bacon and bleu cheese dressing. Entrees feature fresh seafood and organically raised meats such as lamb, duck and bison. Dessert is memorable, especially Port Land Grille's signature coconut cake. This wonderful confection is seven layers of cake with a lemony filling, topped with a pistachio anglaise. The restaurant's award-winning wine list is almost exclusively American selections, especially small-production boutique wines.
A popular spot for drinks and dining is the beautiful, well-stocked granite bar. Seating here overlooks the action in the open theater-style kitchen. The restaurant offers two private dining areas that seat 20 and 65 people, either of which is perfect for parties and corporate events. Open year-round, Port Land Grille serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations are recommended, particularly on weekends, but walk-in guests are graciously accommodated.
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