Written by Kelly Johnson | Photography by Will Hair
I sometimes find myself caught in a daydream of what it would be like to socialize and dine in the fashion of movie stars like Cary Grant or Audrey Hepburn, as I stepped through the double doors of 1900 Restaurant and Lounge I knew it was something similar to this.
With a bar to my right, lined with white, oval back, cushioned chairs, chic lounge seating to my left, and traditional dining straight ahead, owner, Ken Oliver has created a high-end establishment which will give anyone who comes in the charm of Cary and the air of Ms. Hepburn. Having moved from California 20 years ago for the slower pace that Wilmington offers, Ken decided to open a casual, yet upscale dining lounge.
Located in Lumina Station, 1900 is modeled after the “big city dining styles of New York and California,” and his vision is brought to life through traditional lounge dining, with a casual appeal. Offering a unique dining experience, 1900 allows customers to come and stay as they please. Rather than the typical dine and dash customs of modern day restaurants, Ken and his staff provide a space for the cocktail connoisseurs and dilettantes of hors d’oeuvres to unwind with a sense of glamour.
In fact, it’s no wonder that as the film industry once panned its way through town, 1900 was the preferred establishment, in which big-name stars would stop in for a drink or large wrap parties. With the film industry less prevalent in our community today, there are fewer Robert Downey Juniors walking through, but still a well-established crowd of individuals. Ken says his lounge draws in “a mature crowd of people,” but of all ages ranging from 25 and up. From well-known names of our community to those who simply have a taste for high class, 1900 Restaurant and Lounge is the scene in which they prefer.
This charming spot at 1900 Lumina Station offers a great taste from sips and eats to pictorial style. Small plates and entrees are created with a “New American” flavor, along with hints of Caribbean and Pan-Asian influences, each being prepared by Executive Chef William Quetel. Chef Quetel, who goes by Billy, has thirty years of experience under his belt and is the previous owner and chef of San Juan Café. He loves to keep things fresh by shopping local from Motts Channel Seafood and Saigon Market.
From the classic peppercorn Prime Filet, and Poké Bowl, to the Togarashi Fries, served with sweet chili ketchup, Chef Quetel provides a flavor for both comfort and adventure. 1900 Restaurant and Lounge serves small plates, which are perfect for sharing and pairing and complementary to a drink on the side. The man behind the bar you may ask is Jimmy Smith. According to Ken Oliver, Jimmy is “loved by all” and seems to be a genuine asset to Mr. Oliver’s business. Jimmy has been mixing and serving drinks for four of the five years at the lounge. Between staff and atmosphere 1900 is “more than a meal,” but an experience in which customers will step out of Wilmington, North Carolina for the evening, and into the glamour and charm of big city dining.
1900’s Thai Flank Steak Marinade
1/3 C Soy
1/3 C Brown Sugar
2 Tbs. Minced Ginger
2 Tbs. Minced Garlic
2 Tbs. Sesame Oil
Bunch of Cilantro
Juice of 1 Lime
Blend ingredients and marinate meat for at least 2 hours— no more than 6 hours. Pat dry and sear or grill as is your want.