Last Friday was such a night. Earlier that week Dan, Melinda and I were looking for someplace to go out to dinner and Dan found the website for Second Empire. One look at the menu and I was sold. (www.second-empire.com) I really advise you to check it out, its a beautiful thing.
The restaurant itself is beyond fancy - old school style. Built in a historic house in downtown Raleigh, it really reminded me of places I used to go when we lived in Macon, very southern. The staff was attentive and proper without making me feel like I didn't belong there, which can happen at the wrong kind of fancy place. It's a rare thing for me to find a comfortably elegant place devoid of the kind of snobbery that is designed to elevate the status of a place when the food alone won't cut it.
Second Empire doesn't need faux snobbery. They could serve their food on sheets of bark underneath a tree and it would still be fine dining. I ordered truffle risotto as a first course, it was the special, and found it to be so earthy and rich, I had to stop myself from licking the bowl. For an entree I ordered grouper. Now I love grouper and order it whenever I can so I was expecting a lot out of less than 6 ounces of fish.
It was perfect.
Not sort of perfect, not perfect for that meal on that day, this was a meal I would eat anytime, anywhere any day.
Now Second Empire is not an every day kind of place. It's expensive. It's close to a three hour meal. It's heaven. Go as soon as you can. Spoil yourself.