Virginia transplant Sonya Garris has opened Seven Cities Seafood and Southern Cuisine in North Raleigh, and is billing the menu at her counter service eatery and takeout shop as “a taste of Tidewater.” The restaurant is named for the municipalities around the Chesapeake Bay, including Norfolk, where Garris grew up and learned to cook in what she describes as “a family of great scratch cooks.”
Better get a move on, though, if you want to get some of the steamed blue crabs that are the region’s most famous specialty. They’re seasonal, and according to Garris, “they’ll be gone come October.”
Once they’re gone, you can tide yourself over with an order of fried blue crabs - shelled, lightly battered, and served with Garris’ signature Seven Cities sauce. Or choose from the entree selection, where dishes are named for the Seven Cities - the Hampton, say, which serves up your choice of shrimp, tilapia or salmon pan-seared in olive oil with Bay spices, and served with crispy, garlicky green beans on a half baked potato. Or the Chesapeake (fried trout, flounder or bone-in croaker), Portsmouth (fried chicken) or Newport News (grilled or fried pork chop), all served with your choice of two sides and cornbread or dinner roll. Sandwiches and a rotating selection of cakes and pies baked by Garris’ friends round out the offering.
Seven Cities Seafood and Southern Cuisine (3611-114 Spring Forest Road; 919-307-4297) is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. - and, beginning September 21, on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The restaurant (which is not affiliated with Seven Cities Southern Cuisine in Virginia Beach), doesn’t have a website yet, but you can find them on Facebook.