We've been ignoring Captain Ratty's. Several years ago, we ate there and were underwhelmed with the food. But neighbors and friends have been saying how much they like the restaurant, giving us reason to reconsider when an old, dear friend from New Jersey came into town last week. Captain Charlie was hired to pilot a boat from Hatteras back to its New Jersey owner. It had been over ten years since his last visit, and we were excited to see him and meet his new wife, Mary Ann.
Persimmons, our first choice for dinner, was closed (it was Tuesday). That's when we remembered Captain Ratty's. When I called for reservations, I was told they had a party of 36 on the roof and reservations were not being accepted downstairs. "Come on in," the spokesperson continued, "there won't be any problem getting you a table." This made me more than a little nervous, and I envisioned either long lines or poor service, or both, because of the large party upstairs. But Guy insisted we should try.
We arrived about 6:30 PM. The place was bustling with activity, but they had a table for us with no wait. Service was excellent -- and friendly -- and we each raved over our food choices.
First comes Captain Ratty's special corn muffins, hot, moist and yummy, with the house salad and choice of dressing. No iceberg lettuce here. It was a lovely mixture of tender young greens, shredded red cabbage and carrots.
Maryann and I decided on the shrimp and grits. Shrimp and grits is one of my most favorite entrees ever. Captain Ratty's shrimp and grits has a unique presentation and has a little more meat than I wanted, but I have to say it was wicked good. The bacon was fried perfectly and had a sweetness to it. The kielbasi was very nice, and the shrimp was succulent and huge. The grits were extra creamy and cheesy.
Captain Charlie got fried shrimp. They were fried perfectly, nicely crisp and not a bit greasy. He chose sauteed summer squash for his side.
Guy got grilled shrimp and baked potato.
Several nights later, Guy and I returned to Captain Ratty's to try their shrimp burger, which, surprisingly, isn't made with popcorn shrimp. Good-sized shrimp (lots of them) are crisp-fried and not greasy. For $5.95, you also get your choice of side. Guy got French fries, and I got black bean salsa. The black bean salsa was delicious, and there was so much, I took the leftovers home along with the corn muffins that we couldn't eat. We'll be returning to try their fish tacos, crab cakes, fresh catch of the day, and maybe even their burgers or certified Angus beef steaks.
Captain Ratty's, 202 Middle Street, New Bern, NC, 252-633-2088. Open Lunch and Dinner, 7 days a week. Private dining available for rehearsal dinners, special events, and company functions. Lunch catering available for parties of 10 or more.