The new seafood establishment seats more than 300 guests and has been nominated "the number one waterfront restaurant" for the past three of the 34 years it has been on Shem Creek, the original 35-seat eatery opened in 1979. The RB stands for Ronnie Boals, the owner and operator.
The front entrance walkway was flanked on both sides with navigation buoys and a large anchor adorned the landscaping. A sign hung above the door bearing the words, "We appreciate all who pass through our door." Stepping into the restaurant was like entering the lavish corridors of the old Titanic with its teak and mahogany accented decor. A long bar stood to the right, to the left, near the seating desk, was a ship's wheel. Sea pictures framed in ship portholes lined the walls above the dining booths and strategically placed oars, paddles, lanterns and sextants supported its nautical theme.
The day I visited the restaurant it was hot, humid, and overcast. I had been to RB's previously, but only for a cocktail with friends. The upper eating area was closed that late night, so we sat in the open-air porch on the lower level overlooking the boat dock and Shem Creek.
I requested a table on the upper section. The hostess directed me to the stairs located on an open porch lined with adirondack chairs of various bright colors.
At the top of the stairs, I was greeted by a life-like green alligator dressed in chef's attire holding a plate of napkins in one hand and a chalkboard in the other with the words "Welcome to Tiki" written on it.
It had an island feel. A colorful wrap-around bar with a bamboo-trimmed top dominated the space, above it was a grass-thatched canopy. I was greeted by another hostess. She directed me to my table. The whole table arrangement, unlike anything I had seen before, was a wooden swing with a grass-thatched top that you stepped onto, which I did.
I ordered a Palmetto Amber and from the extensive lunch menu selected the Mahi Mahi Sandwich for $13.50 with one side of Creek Fries. I sipped on my beer, watched the Thriller pull out from its covered dock by Vickory's with a boat-load of passengers, took pictures of the life-like pirate hanging from a rope, and enjoyed the gentle back and forth tidal motion of the table-swing while savoring the delicious fish sandwich.
My main objective that hot and rainy afternoon day was to enjoy a cooling beer and a relaxing lunch by the water. There is no better place than Shem Creek to do that and no better restaurant than RB's Seafood Restaurant according to public opinion and the critics. It is known for its complete package-fresh seafood, friendly service, and fair prices.
The true test of integrity is when it appears to matter the least. Even though it was just a simple lunch consisting of a simple fish sandwich, I can confirm the truthfulness of that opinion. The whole staff was friendly and engaging from greet to receipt. The food was fresh. The server was attentive. The price was fair if you pair it with the posh material surroundings and the superb waterfront view.