Raleigh >Gifts & Novelties > Second Empire Restaurant
330 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC | Directions 27603-172635.780739 -78.644824
Open for Dinner Tuesday - Saturday 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Tavern opens at 4:30pm
Just what you expect – Great food, romantic, and staff is eager to please. If you are in town for business then head here or Frazier's, but skip Magnolia. (Magnolia is just a big, snobby fish in a little pond.)
Awesome! – We went here for my birthday 11/08. The service was fabulous. They asked me when making reservations whether or not we were celebrating an event, and I told them it was my birthday. When we arrived, my menu had a happy birthday message printed on it as well as being signed by the owner and head chef. This little attention to detail was continous throughout our experience. It is, however a bit pricey. Expect to be paying top dollar, however I feel that you have to pay to get a real fine dining experience. We usually go to steak houses in the area for events like birthdays and anniversaries, but we have now found our new special event restaurant. The only drawback I saw was that the chef seemed to be into the "new thing" of doing some purees with the entrees, so if you are not into purees or sauces, you probably won't like everything going on in some of the dishes. Expect to get a real sort of "top chef" kind of dinner where everything in the dishes complements each other, but if you are the kind of person who likes to be able to change things around in your entrees, this may not be the place for you. Each dish is obvously clearly thought out and executed superbly, but it's not the kind of place where you can pick your sides. We absolutely loved our experience and will be coming back for more soon!
The Best Fine Dining Experience Ever! – I have always been attracted by Second Empire's curb appeal and vintage ambiance. Due to a tight purse, I always would sigh in passing and say to myself that one day Im going to dine there. Well, a year or two passed and I couldnt stand it anymore. One of my dear friends came in from out of town to visit. She had to go to dialysis and still remained her chipper and high spirited self. I came to grips that everyday can be a special occassion. Just because.We splurged and laughed like old times. Staff was very courteous and attentive. Food was just wonderful. I cant even recal everything that we ordered, but I know I dined sufficiently and savored every morsel. I think I'll take my sister there when she comes to visit. We were seated in the dining room by the bay window wich was quite nice.
You better stop here bub – My wife and I were flying into Raleigh this January and wanted a good meal for lunch. I read that Second Empire was a Wine Spectator awarded establishment and that it was set in a old mansion. We dined in the tavern. We were were very impressed with the setting, which was converted from an old root cellar, with exposed brickwork all around. There were I believe three dining area; one close to the street with windows, the other by the bar, and another used for the main upstairs dining room as overflow. The wine cellar also located off to the side. My wife had the trout (she always tries to get the local specialty) while I had a risotto with duck comfit.. I asked the water for a wine recommendation for this meal and I think we settled for the Malbec for South America. There was a corn muffin server lady (???) and she brought us each a small warm muffin with 'nice' butter. Got my taste buds flowing. This was a good start. Our meals arrived not long afterwards and both were very good, especially the trout. Full of flavor and well prepared. My risotto had peas and nice chunks of duck. fish was served with beans and other veggies and I was sorry when it was gone, ( I eat other peoples meals, no one can stop me.) Dessert was great also, something called Chess Pie, another special. I recommend this place and will go back given the opportunity, perhaps for dinner upstairs. Oh, and our waiter, who resembled Michael McDonald (Stewart' from MadTV) gave us a tour upstairs in the mansion and a history lesson at the end of the meal. We felt we got good quality and service for the price, which was around $50.
Great food and service – My husband took me to Second Empire for my birthday. We enjoyed the food and were pleasantly surprised at the prices. It wasn't cheap, but we were expecting $50+ entrees, based on what we had heard, rather than $20-$35 entrees. The dishes were complex and well prepared and our server was knowledgeable and attentive. He was able to guide us in making choices that we ultimately enjoyed, based on our preferences. (Rock Shrimp Risotto appetizer per his suggestion was divine!) The only downside for us was that there was a loud large party in the dining room, so a little of the romantic ambience was lost.
Great Food – It takes a lot of work and pots to make a single great dish. I think it is important for people to pay respect to the hard working chefs and staffs in the kitchen. A restaurant business is something I do not want to go into because it is extremely hard to survive without being mean. It will be an ideal work place if everybody is nice to everybody but the reality is far from it. I read the comment below and I understand the stress and tough time he had while working as a server. I usually leave a lot of tip for servers regardless of the quality of service because it is a special occasion for me when I dine here so why not share the occasion with my server too. Anyways, I hope the story about the owner is not true. If it is true then it is sad.
Reserved but Not Pretentious – My boyfriend took me here as a surprise! He had made reservations at 7pm, but due to the storms and failed traffic light at Crabtree, we were 30 minutes late. Unfortunately, he did not have the number to the restaurant to inform them about our delay. The maitre'd had already removed us from the list, but without hesitation or much discussion, forgave our lateness and immediately took us to our seats. Our waiter, Ryan, was excellent. As a worldly traveler, I find that most upscale restaurants often have snotty, pretentious waiters, but Ryan was not. He did not hover and gave formidable suggestions on entrees and wine pairings. My Foie gras appetizer was excellent and my boyfriend's sea scallops were cook to perfection. Excellent choice on the wine, I must say for our entree of bison! One negative and not at all the fault of the Second Empire, but there was a table near us where 4 individuals were rather loud and boisterous for this environment. My Southern upbringing has taught me to use my inside voice and not encroach on other's dining experience while at a nice restaurant. I guess not everyone has manners or has the luxury of being raised not jerked up as a child!
Great Food – I have eaten here twice and enjoyed the food both times. Very nice menu with a good variety of options. We've gotten there early enough where we parked in the small lot behind the restaurant. The wait staff is not as organized as they should be for a fine dining restaurant. They seem to be frantically running around. When the entrees came out, they didn't know who ordered what. I received my wife's meal both times and she, mine. After a couple of glasses of wine, it didn't bother me too much. The wait staff did come over a number of times to check on us. Filled the water and wine glasses frequently and replaced silverware as needed. Food is top notch, just wish the wait staff was a little better trained. I would definately recommend this restaurant with the caveat of the wait staff.
A Extraordinary Dining experience !!!!! WILL NEVER FORGET IT – I went here a few year ago and i want to say this is the BEST BEST restaurant i have ever been to i love the Victorain home When we walked in the host was VERY Professional we had a set by the window the waiter was very Knowledgeable he knew everything about the food and wine i felt so Special the server had 3 peolpe helping him so he can Focus more on our Dining experience - the food words can't express it maybe words like Fantastic wonderful marvelous come to mind The bathroom was the nicest i have ever seen for a Restaurant - you can really judge a restaurant by its bathroom - This place is not big but that what makes it better the only thing i would have added was a harpist that what kinda theme there going for anyways - the place is not cheap but let me tell you this is the best RESTAURANT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you must try it for yourself
Average restaurant – Average food. Ignoring customers' request and mixing up the orders. People should not spend their money for something it's not important. It's a vanity. I told my friend about it and he just laughed. Not going back.
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