“When you’re here it feels like you’re there” is Sea Level’s premise, the “there” being the N.C. coast and the “here” being at uptown’s Hearst Tower where LaVecchia’s once was, long ago. Think Connolly’s for placement: In fact, you’ll need to use that ramp in off 5th Street for a bit longer, says co-owner Paul Manley, until Sea Level’s “front porch” is done.
The place comes from the Crepe Cellar and Growler’s folks, and focuses on fresh. Oysters range from the eponymous ones Manley helped develop to Sweet Jesuses and Beausoleils and Rappahannock Rivers. Daily catch might be salmon (grilled with arugula and shaved fennel), striped bass (pan-seared with citrus beurre blanc) or drum (butter-poached with roasted beets). Menu regulars will include corn fritters and mussels with white wine sauce; squid chow chow and steamed buns with shrimp or pork belly; po’ boys and lobster rolls and catfish Reubens. Burgers, a filet and chicken will take care of the seafood-resistant, and there’s a cocktail list with some heft (Corpse Reviver #2, y’all!) and diversity, plus a handful of craft beers, including a couple of Charlotte entries.
Figure about $5-$12 for appetizers, with entrees in the mid-$20s (except for that filet, at $35) and sandwiches $11-$18. 129 W. 5th St.; 704-412-2616; http://sealevelnc.com/