The towering Sky Wheel spins fantastically beside the Grand Strand coast in downtown Myrtle Beach, anchoring a 60-mile swath of sun-bleached excess. Bikers take advantage of the lack of helmet laws, bikini clad teenagers play video games and eat hot dogs in smoky arcades, and whole families roast like chickens on the white sand. Myrtle Beach might not be for nature-lovers, but with enormous outlet malls and innumerable mini-golf courses, water parks, daiquiri bars and T-shirt shops, it’s a rowdy good time. No matter which you slice it, Myrtle Beach means summer vacation, American-style.
North Myrtle Beach, actually a separate town entirely, is slightly lower-key with quieter streets, a less busy beach and a more discerning selection of bars and restaurants. Of those restaurants, perhaps none are as renowned as the sophisticated and luxurious SeaBlue Wine Bar. Inconspicuously located (like most great restaurants) in a shopping plaza in downtown North Myrtle Beach, SeaBlue has been racking up the accolades since 2008, when current owners Kenneth Norcutt and Tracy Smith purchased the establishment off their good friends who were looking to get out of the business. “We are now recognized as not only one of the best restaurants on the Grand Strand coast, but in the United States as well,” Norcutt says proudly.
And he’s not exaggerating. SeaBlue has been listed as the number one restaurant on OpenTable’s “2014 Top 100 Best Restaurants in America” list and their carefully considered wine list has garnered them a spot on OpenTable’s “Top 100 Best Wine Lists in America” three years in a row. Wine Spectator has bestowed upon SeaBlue their Award of Excellence on four occasions (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) and The World of Fine Wine Magazine put SeaBlue’s wine list among the world’s best in both 2014 and 2015. “We have developed our wine list to reflect modern and traditional wine philosophies,” Norcutt explains, “and building relationships with several boutique importers and a few main stream distributors has enabled us to represent many wine producing nations around the world.”
WE NOW HAVE OVER 200 RARE BOTTLES AND ARE ALWAYS EXPANDING. OUR WHISKIES ARE SOME OF THE MOST RARE AND SOUGHT AFTER ON THE PLANET.
With over 500 temperature-controlled wines by the bottle to choose from, and over 100 by the glass, it’s clear how serious the SeaBlue team is when it comes to wine—their wine list, though daunting to the untrained eye, is packed with amazing options ranging in price from $26 to $11,000 (the latter, a 2009 burgundy from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, a La Tâche, France winery widely considered to be among the greatest wine producers in the world). And SeaBlue doesn’t stop with just wine either. They offer a wide selection of bubblies including a Beau Joie Brut from Épernay, France, the self-proclaimed capitale du Champagne where beneath the streets in 110 kilometers of subterranean cellars, more than 200 million bottles of Champagne, just waiting to be popped open on some sparkling occasion, are being aged. “We have also been collecting rare bourbons, whiskies, ryes and scotches since before we even opened for business,” says Norcutt.
But of course, SeaBlue is far more than just libations. Norcutt, who isn’t just a co-owner but the chef as well, along with executive sous chef Robert Wray and sous chef Deanna Benton, have put together an award-winning menu of contemporary American cuisine that is constantly evolving. At the heart of SeaBlue’s culinary success, Norcutt says, is the finest ultra high-quality ingredients and organic, locally produced foods. The kitchen uses hand-cut USDA Prime beef (a standard so high only two percent of beef qualifies) as well as Wagyu Beef, Perigord truffles, exotic imported mushrooms, Hudson Valley foie gras, aged balsamic vinegars, specialty sea salts, luxury imported olive oil and acorn-fed jamón ibérico de bellota; possibly the finest cured ham in the world prized both for its smooth texture and rich, savory taste.