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“Not 'fine dining' but best of the lot”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Cafe Pamlico

Cafe Pamlico
Ranked #2 of 21 Restaurants in Buxton
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$35 - US$50
Cuisines: American, Seafood, International, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special Occasion Dining, Local cuisine, Business meetings, Child-friendly, View
Dining options: Breakfast, Dinner, Brunch, Accepts American Express, Accepts Discover, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Off-Street Parking, Free Wifi, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Television, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Wine and Beer
Description: Cafe Pamlico provides a world class casual fine dining experience through exceptional food, outstanding detail oriented service, an inspired wine and cocktail program, and gracious attentive Southern hospitality. Our contemporary coastal cuisine is driven by locally sourced seafood, meats, and produce. Our menu changes frequently in accordance with the fresh ingredients our chefs discover on the island, most notably the fresh local seafood we feature. We are committed to supporting local farmers and artisan food producers first, sustainable resources second, and organic third. Reservations are highly recommended.
Kandahar
Level Contributor
53 reviews
35 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Not 'fine dining' but best of the lot”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 July 2014

Agree with an earlier review: not fine dining, but still great food and a nice location. We called in a reservation, as suggested on the website, which they forgot to record. We got a table no problem, and then were ignored for twenty minutes. When our server arrived - a guy better suited to a surf shack than a 'fine dining' restaurant - we had to ask for all the specials. When he poured the taster wine, he essentially put the half filled glass in front of my nose for a taste, then poured me and my buddy before the ladies at the table. So, service is an issue, that could be addressed easily with a little training. The kitchen, on the other hand, was excellent: tuna ceviche, blueberry and pecan salad, scallops with a reduced balsamic sauce, mahi mahi, sesame tuna...food was excellent. Wine selection was okay - decent prices, limited selection, almost all American. So, check it out, but check your expectations for 'find dining' at the door.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank BladeKandahar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
OBX_Innkeeper, Owner at Cafe Pamlico, responded to this review, 24 July 2014
Repeating the Previous Reviewer's Error

We appreciate the reviewer taking time to comment on the excellence of our food. We must, however, point out that this reviewer repeats the error of the previous reviewer in maintaining that we make claim to be a fine dining restaurant.

Their claim would have validity had we ever identified ourselves as fine dining, a class of restaurant associated with white glove team service, napkins refolded on every server visit to the table, a staff sommelier, a maitre d', patrons dressed formally, and menu pricing materially higher than ours. Contrary to the reviewers statement, we do not identify or market ourselves as fine dining.

There are pictures of our street sign and logo on our this very review page, as well as our website and social media pages. Like all Cafe Pamlico material, they clearly identify us "casual fine dining", a bona fide and formal category of restaurant below fine dining.

The reviewer also mistakenly states that they had to ask their server for our specials. Cafe Pamlico does not have specials, but instead uses a regularly changing menu featuring the best available local produce and fresh catches. All dishes available on any evening are shown on that evening's menu. There are no specials to list.

We understand that mistakes happen. When we err, we strive to apologize and correct our error. We trust this reviewer, once they verify that they have repeated the basic error in premise on which their review and the prior review with which they state their agreement is based, will likewise correct theirs.
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Level Contributor
52 reviews
47 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Beware how you market yourselves”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 July 2014

Let me start by saying that we had a very pleasant evening on Sunday at Cafe Pamlico.The food was generally great, the location is gorgeous and the staff are attentive BUT.

When you advertise yourself as 'Fine Dining', you are holding yourselves to a higher standard than being just a great restaurant, so although my points may seem picky, they are general expectations from me when 'fine dining'.

We made a reservation for 8pm and arrived slightly early. There was a group of 12 ahead of us and the waitress came out to tell them that they couldn't accommodate them without a reservation - this is fair enough for a really bust restaurant, but I have to say there did seem plenty of room for them - the dining room certainly didn't fill over the course of the evening. I would imagine the owner had a tingling sensation wherever he or she was at that time :-)

We were greeted warmly and showed to a great table with views over the sound. The hostess said that our server would be over shortly, but 5 mins later the hostess came back and said she would be serving us.

I ordered the cream of asparagus soup for my appetizer, my dining companions had various other items. When the appetizers came, my soup was tepid, so I asked for it to be 'zapped' for 30 seconds. It was indeed zapped as the soup then had the tell-tale sign of the microwave tidemark around the rim. When it was returned, our hostess stayed until I had tasted it and to be sure that 'it was the right temperature for me' - suggesting that I was difficult and most other people enjoy luke-warm soup.

The soup tasted great and my dining companions were all pleased with their selections.

I am a smoker, so after the appetizer I popped out for a cigarette (I know - disgusting), and here is one thing that elevates restaurants to fine dining, upon my return, my napkin was not folded. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't the end of the world, but that is something I have come to expect when you are paying top dollar.

All of the entrees were timely delivered, I had selected the Petit Fillet and this was cooked to perfection, but alas I found the jus a little bitter and the mashed potatoes had lumps - 4 out of 5 for that. My companions were more than happy with their selections.

We didn't feel the need for dessert, but it certainly wasn't pushed by the staff - again, our server did't describe the desserts to tempt us into submission - it was a simple question.

So, in a nutshell, you will enjoy your experience here, it is a little pricey, our bill was $360 (for 4), but this did include two bottles of wine.

I would say to the owner, that he/she needs to decide whether to go the extra mile to earn the title of fine dining and open yourself up to criticism, or to just settle with being the best restaurant on Hatteras.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Mike P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
OBX_Innkeeper, Owner at Cafe Pamlico, responded to this review, 23 July 2014
Marketed Exactly as We Are

We appreciate the reviewer taking time to comment on how pleasant their evening was, their food great, our location gorgeous, our staff attentive, and their group all pleased with their selections. We are grateful that they labels us the best restaurant on Hatteras Island.

We differ enormously with the reviewer, however, in their claim that we incorrectly market ourselves. Their claim would have validity had we ever identified ourselves as fine dining, a class of restaurant associated with white glove team service, napkins refolded on every server visit to the table, a staff sommelier, patrons dressed formally, and menu pricing materially higher than ours. Contrary to the reviewers statement, we do not identify or market ourselves as fine dining.

All Cafe Pamlico material, from website to business cards, clearly identifies us "casual fine dining", a bona fide and formal category of restaurant one deliberate notch below fine dining. We invite the reviewer to visit our website, take a business card or brochure, or to see any and all material prepared by our management to confirm this easily verifiable factual statement.

We understand that mistakes happen, such as serving a soup below temperature. When we err, we strive to apologize and correct our error, as did our server. We trust this reviewer, once they verify the basic error in premise on which their review is based, will likewise correct their error.

Steve Nelson
CEO and General Manager
The Inn on Pamlico Sound
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Harbeson, Delaware
Level Contributor
67 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“The best dining on the island”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 July 2014

It is all good. The menu entrees are all $30 and the appetizers are $10 & 12. I wanted the honey glazed duck but because we were seated late it was gone. (I like a restaurant that does not get something from the freezer for you) Our drinks were served in an original old fashion glass, Not one of the reduced ones we see so often now. When it rains in Hatteras there is no plan "B" so dinner at Cafe Pamlico makes up for it. If it is fine dinning you enjoy, this is the only place in the area to go.

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank furbeach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
26 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Nice but overpriced”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 July 2014

What do you call plates of food that are super small portions but attractively arranged? Nouveau Cuisine? We ate and the food was good but small. The service was very slow. I mean 20 minutes between server sightings. I don't mind paying these prices if we are waited on hand and foot, but that is not the case here.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank bbqbilly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
OBX_Innkeeper, Owner at Cafe Pamlico, responded to this review, 20 July 2014
Thank you for taking the time to post your review. We are grateful that you found the food beautifully prepared and tasty, though you felt the portions a bit small. We accept your feedback with gratitude.

Our Executive Chef Will Canny joined us this spring. Will trained at Le Cordon Bleu (London) and spent most of his career in the top ranked hotels and restaurants of France and Switzerland. He is occasionally still working towards better understanding the portions expected in American eateries.

Your feedback on the slowness of service is our primary cause of concern. No patron in our establishment should ever feel less than well cared for without regard for how busy the restaurant is. Please accept our apology if service was not up to our standards during your dining experience with us.

Our customer satisfaction policy states that it is right, we will make it right, or it is with our compliments. Please contact me so that we may make amends for any aspect of our service that was not to your satisfaction.

Steve Nelson
CEO and General Manager
The Inn on Pamlico Sound and Cafe Pamlico
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Princeton, NJ
Level Contributor
54 reviews
42 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Beautiful view of the Sunset”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 July 2014

I know everyone loves this place. Sorry. I was just not impressed. The view is nice, the setting is nice, but the service and food are just amateurish. Very few non-seafood selections on the menu - no vegetarian selections at all. Pretty expensive. Also the deck - while scenic - is very flimsy - and the wait staff clunks around so the tables are constantly shaking. We ate their two nights and had breakfast daily during our stay. A note about the breakfast - it's included but they want you to leave a tip. I have stayed in dozens of B&B's and NOBODY has ever demanded a tip for an included breakfast. They also want you to tip the staff in general for just doing their jobs. They say it is the "industry standard" to leave 5-10% of the total bill as a tip for staff (presumably this includes the owners). I really don't like that kind of panhandling. So charge 5-10% more if you feel the place, service, etc, can support it. I will put this in my review of the hotel as well. I hate that feeling of people demanding money - more money - from me when I am on vacation!

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
Thank TGV3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
OBX_Innkeeper, Owner at Cafe Pamlico, responded to this review, 17 July 2014
We understand we are not the destination for every traveler, and that each traveler is entitled to an opinion. Expressing those opinions publicly, however, requires a basis in fact. When statements clearly not based in fact are made, we are obligated to respond.

The reviewer states that there are very few non-seafood selections on the menu, and that there are no vegetarian selections at all. The following are, in fact, the non-seafood items on our menu the night she dined with us:

Asian Beef Skewer
A Simple Salad of Organic Mixed Greens
Blueberry and Pecan Salad
Honey Pepper Glazed Duck
Char Grilled Petite Fillet of Angus Beef
Inn Style Bulgogi Sliders
Caesar Salad

Each night's menu includes text stating:

For vegetarians, vegans, young children, and those with specific dietary requirements, our chefs have always ready options specific to dietary requirements. Please let your server know your requirements and our chefs will provide tonight's choices.

The reviewer states that our buildings are flimsy. There is good reason this has never been stated or implied by any prior party, as our buildings are in fact professionally engineered to both exceed commercial code and to withstand a Category 4 hurricane. The very deck she references was observed by our building inspector as able to bear the weight of a locomotive. There is no basis in reality for the reviewers statement.

The reviewer rails that she was incessantly asked to tip, references panhandling, and states that gratuities collected are presumably taken by the owners. She further states that she has stayed in dozens of B&B's and has never been asked for a gratuity.

We are at a loss to explain her reference to B&B's, as we are not a bed & breakfast, but a boutique hotel. It is possible the reviewer does not understand the difference between a B&B and a hotel. Our website and all comunication clearly identifies us as The Inn on Pamlico Sound, a Boutique Hotel on the Water. While breakfast is provided with our compliments for hotel guests, our restaurant, like all hotel restaurants, is open to the public. Tipping in a restaurant is a generally accepted principal. The only suggestion for gratuity outside of the restaurant is an envelope in each room which says:

The Inn does not have a service charge. Instead, we provide this envelope so that your gratuity
for Housekeeping can be made on a “voluntary basis.” Please drop the envelope off at the Front Desk. If you prefer, The Inn is glad to add a gratuity for Housekeeping to your room. Please see the Innkeeper.

The reviewer states her assumption that gratuities collected are shared in by the owner. Our management employees share in no way, shape, or form, in any restaurant or hotel housekeeping gratuity. Any implication that the owner shares any staff gratuity is both fabricated and offensive. We challenge the reader to find a single review in the thousands for our hotel and restaurant that vaguely makes a similar claim.

We question her observation that she thought our restaurant pricing somewhat expensive. Our menu pricing is comparable to the handful of restaurants on the Outer Banks and on Hatteras Island that are in our peer group in terms of rankings and quality.

A prime waterfront location, first class facilities, the best ingredients, and exceptional service, come at a higher real estate and staffing cost than lesser locations, facilities, and service. Our menu pricing is a function of the costs of our prime waterfront location, first class facility, and trained, experienced, expensive staff combined with a short season.

Regular readers of our reviews know that on the rare occasion we fall short of the standards we set for ourselves, we accept accountability and meet our obligation under our published customer satisfaction policy; it is right, we will make it right, or it is with our compliments. We are fortunate to attract a wonderful and eclectic clientele who come for the remote beauty of our location and the high standards of service we provide. We do get the fortunately rare patron who arrives unhappy, remains so throughout their stay, and is compelled to share their unhappiness with those around them. While that is the prerogative of every traveler, it is not their prerogative to make statements which are empirically demonstrable as untrue. We ask the reader to test this reviewer's statements against both demonstrable fact and overwhelming opinion to the contrary, and from there to draw their own conclusions on the reviewer's statements.

Steve Nelson
CEO and General Manager
Café Pamlico at The Inn on Pamlico Sound
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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