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Bless Wellcome Middle School's heart. They are the best kept secret in the county. Great things are happening there and...

The Seahorse: Home of daddy's steaks and mama's cakes

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Four-layer, old-fashioned chocolate cake.

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Christina Ruotolo

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The smell and taste of food can catapult us back to our childhood, to a time when trips to family restaurants were weekly affairs, everyone knew our name, what our favorite drink was and how we liked our steak. The best part was the gleaming, rotating dessert wheel that was filled with every flavor of cake, pie and cobbler. It was overflowing with sugar and sweetness just like Grandma made. If you are looking for this same nostalgia, then head over to the Seahorse Restaurant, 2301 Stantonsburg Road.

It’s no surprise that the Seahorse Restaurant has built quite a following since opening almost eight years ago. The nostalgic breakfast menu features homemade sausage and cheese biscuits, and a daily lunch buffet includes some of the best comfort food around. But both are exceeded by the incredible nightly made-to-order steak and seafood offerings, complemented by the delicious, homemade cakes.

Owner Danny Smith is proud that his restaurant has a loyal group of patrons and is known for its courteous staff. He is committed to his customers’ overall experience from beginning to end.

“We invest in our employees and customers,” he said, “and have a commitment to quality, a desire to build relationships with our customers, thus giving them a rewarding experience.”

This is evident in the steaks. Seahorse is known for “Daddy’s Steak,” and Smith is a type of steak whisperer. So it was no surprise that, for my food tasting, I started with the main attraction, the beef!

The Seahorse serves USDA prime Black Angus rib eyes. Smith has a dedicated aging system that allows him to dry age thenbeef (on average 45 days). This process yields steaks that are more tender and flavorful. The Seahorse also offers filet mignon and a flat-iron steak for those who prefer leaner meat.

Every Saturday night, the Seahorse features “One-of-a-Kind Prime Rib Roast.” The loins are coated with Smith’s secret rub, which is more of a flavorful paste, a cross between a wet marinade and dry rub made with lots of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and some additional secret ingredients. The steak is seasoned, rested for days, then slow-cooked for 24 hours, never getting above 135 degrees. The result is prime rib that is truly fork tender. You can get two 8-ounce cuts for $34.99. Bigger cuts also are available.

The Friday Night Feature is Chateaubriand (beef tenderloin cooked just like prime rib). It’s an item usually offered at big-city, high-end steak houses. But at the Seahorse, it’s definitely a bargain. A 6-ounce cut is $19.99, and the 8-ounce cut is $25.99.

My 12-ounce rib eye came out on a sizzling iron skillet with a little pool of juices on top and steam rising from its medium-cooked belly. The aroma itself was incredible. It was juicy and tender with a deep flavor profile. The 8-ounce rib eye is $18.49, and the 12-ounce is $22.49.

Now that your mouth is watering for steak, let’s move onto to delectable desserts that will make your tongue swoon. Kathy Smith has been baking mile-high cakes and desserts for many years and cooks the way Grandma does with a dash of sugar, spice and everything nice. The cakes come in either two-layer or four-layer in a multitude of flavors including strawberry, lemon, HoHo, Hershey bar, pineapple, coconut, old-fashioned chocolate and butter pecan. They are so popular that the restaurant goes through an average of 140 cakes per week.

I sampled the four-layer, old-fashioned chocolate cake. The buttery, yellow cake was moist and dense at the same time. The thick, decadent frosting that was cooked on the stove using butter, cream, cocoa, powdered sugar and pecans, so it had that thick, fudge-like consistency and melted on my tongue. With a dedicated baker in-house, cakes are baked daily, so you will always get a fresh, moist slice or full cake for your next party or event. Full two-layer cakes are $18.99, and four-layer cakes (10-12 slices each) are $36.99. Single slices cost $4.49. No matter how you slice the cake, it’s delicious.

The Seahorse also offers a lunch buffet Tuesday-Sunday. The menu changes a little each day, but always features items such as fried chicken, hamburger steak and home-cooked vegetables. Thursday features chicken pastry and country-style fried squash. Sunday is the grand buffet: shrimp, oysters, flounder, fried chicken, hamburger steak, baby-back ribs, chicken pastry and lots of vegetables. On Sundays, the cake comes with the buffet. You can view the daily buffet menus on the Seahorse website. The price for one trip to the buffet is $9.49 Tuesday-Saturday, or enjoy the all-you-can-eat-buffet for $12.49. Buffet prices include beverages. The lunch buffet is served from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. The buffet on Sunday is all you can eat for $13.99.

Seahorse offers a breakfast buffet from 8-10 a.m. Saturdays. Enjoy breakfast favorites like scrambled eggs, homemade cheese biscuits, homemade hash browns, high-end breads, homemade sausage gravy, sausage and thick-cut bacon. Price is $8.99 for adults, $5.99 for kids 5-10 or $2.99 for kids 4 and younger.

The Seahorse is open from 7:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays. Catering is available. For more information or to place an order for cakes or catering, call 758-6958 or visit www.the seahorserestaurant.com.

Ice Cream Festival

Simply Natural Creamery, 1265 Carson Edwards Road, Ayden, will host an Ice Cream Festival from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday.

The event will include wagon ride tours, food vendors, pony rides, mini train rides, face painting, crafts and a classic car ride in. The event will include a food drive being held in partnership with Hope of Glory Ministries. People donating selected items for Hope of Glory’s food co-op program will receive a discount on their ice cream purchase. Call 746-3334 or visit simplynaturalcreamery.com. Visit hope-of-glory.org for a list of food items needed.

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