Category Archives: Dining and Entertainment

News: Best Menus and Restaurants for Triangle Restaurant Week 2018, January 22 to 28

As the calendar turns a page and moves into 2018, we head into Triangle Restaurant Week. If you’re not familiar with Triangle Restaurant Week, the offering is usually a 3-course prix fixe lunch menu ($10 or $15) and/or 3-course prix fixe dinner menu ($20 – $35). With 98 restaurants on the list, I’ve pored through the menus to find the best, most delicious deals for your dining dollar.

It took a bit of time to review the menus but here are the choices that caught my eye. One of the keys to Triangle Restaurant Week menus is dessert since for the most part, the deals are usually priced pretty close to what you would pay for an appetizer and entree. So the real benefit in my mind, is the dessert!  If I’ve got a review for the restaurant, click on the restaurant link to get the full details. And there’s a handful of menus still missing. Other than that, get out there, eat and enjoy…

 

Best 2018 Triangle Restaurant Week menus

January 22 to 28

 

41Hundred, Raleigh$25 Dinner

Choice of Starter

Chili Verde – Smoked Cumin Crema and Cilantro

Watercress Salad – Pecorino, Fennel, Fig, Pine Nuts, and Orange

Chickpea Salad – Arugula, Radish, Mint, and Tahini Dressing

Pork Belly – Cucumber, Cilantro, and Korean BBQ Sauce

 

Choice of Entrée

Wild Boar Spare Rib – Grits, Broccoli Rabe, and Cherries

Mahi Mahi – Quinoa, Lentils, Smoked Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Yogurt

NY Strip – Coffee, Fingerling Potatoes, Mushroom Ragu, and Bourbon Cream

 

Choice of Dessert

White Chocolate Cheesecake – Peanuts, Bananas, and Caramel

Carrot Cake – Honey, Orange Blossom, and Rosemary Gelato

Chef’s Hot Cheesecake

 

Basan, Durham$15 lunch

1st

Lava Shrimp – Crispy fried jumbo shrimp, broccoli, green onion, and spicy honey mayo.

Edamame – Shichimi, truffle oil, and salt

Tuna Poke – Bigeye tuna, seaweed, macadamia, avocado, and wonton chips.

 

2nd

Steam Bun – Unagi, avocado, fresh jalapeño, tempura crunch, Sriracha, eel sauce

Kimchi Pork Belly – Kimchi, pork belly, avocado, nori furikake, and green onion.

Seared Toro – Seared bluefin toro, salmon toro, Amberjack toro and Hamachi toro with fresh wasabi.

 

3rd

Green Tea Cheesecake – Green tea cheesecake, chocolate and caramel.

Sweet Bean Jelly – Sweet bean with chestnut.

 

Capital Club 16, Raleigh$30 dinner

First Course

Shaved Brussels Sprout and Frisee Salad with Danish Blue Cheese, honey toasted walnuts, crispy sweet potatoes and blood orange vinaigrette

MaultaschenHousemade beef, pork and spinach dumpling in consommé with side of carrot horseradish and cabbage caraway salads

 

Second Course

Sauteed NC Rainbow Trout with mustard dill cream, potato pancake, heirloom carrots and glazed rutabaga

Kasespatzle Baked handcut German noodles tossed with caramelized onions and emmenthaler cheese. Served with cucumber dill, celery root and granny smith apple salad.

English Style Beef brisket and Stilton Pie with mashed potatoes, peas and carrots and red wine gravy

 

Third Course

White Chocolate Mousse pie with Videri dark chocolate sauce

Warm Apple strudel with vanilla sauce and ice cream

 

Coquette Brasserie, Raleigh – $15 Lunch

FIRST COURSE

SALAD OF SHAVED FENNEL| ARUGULA | PEAR | SLIVERED ALMONDS |ROQUEFORT | OLIVE OIL

CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE TARTINE| PICKLE RADISH | RED ONION |SOFT HERBS

POACHED POTATOES | HARICOT VERT | BITTER GREENS | GARLIC VINAIGRETTE | SOFT-BOILED EGG

 

SECOND COURSE

PAN-SEARED SALMON | PROVENҪAL BEAN STEW | LEMON OIL

GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST SANDWICH | TOMATO JAM | BRÛLÉED ONION | BIBB LETTUCE | FRITES

BLT | RYE | ROSEMARY MAYO | TOMATO JAM | BACON AU POIVRE | BIBB LETTUCE | FRITES

 

THIRD COURSE

CHOCOLATE WINTER SPICED TORTE | CHOCOLATE MOUSSE | CASSIS SORBET | VANILLA BEAN SAUCE

CINNAMON BEIGNETS | FEUILLE de BRICK BASKET |ESPRESSO ICE CREAM | CARAMEL SAUCE

 

Doherty’s Irish Pub, Apex and Cary$15 lunch

Appetizers

Field of Greens – Spring mix with red onion, pralines, cucumber & tomato. Served with your choice of dressing.

Traditional Irish Boxty – Choose from our Killarney (Chicken), Mullingar (Guinness Braised Brisket) or Donegal (Mushroom) boxty.

Potato Leek Soup – Made in house and topped with cheddar cheese, bacon and green onions.

 

Entrées

Fish & Chips – Our specialty! Light & flaky whitefish batter fried & served with hand-cut fries, haricot vert, tartar sauce and malt vinegar.

Shepherd’s Pie – A hearty beef casserole with onions, peas & carrots. Topped with freshly made mashed potatoes and broiled to a crisp finish.

Beef & Guinness Stew – Traditional Irish stew with a hint of Guinness, tender chunks of beef, potato & garden vegetables.

Grilled Reuben – A healthy portion of our corned beef between grilled rye with melted Swiss, sauerkraut & Thousand Island dressing.

Braised Brisket Melt- Our Guinness braised brisket laced with mushrooms & caramelized onions served on grilled sourdough with melted white cheddar and horseradish sauce.

Bangers & Mash – Irish sausages topped with caramelized onions and a savory brown gravy. Served with mashed potatoes & haricot vert.

 

Desserts

Bailey’s Chocolate Mousse – Light & creamy chocolate mousse with a hint of Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Traditional Bread Pudding – A traditional bread pudding drizzled with a homemade Irish whiskey cream sauce.

 

Fairview Dining Room, Durham$15 lunch

STARTER

WINTER SALAD verjus cranberries, boxcarr nimble, toasted hazelnut, tobacco onions, apple kombucha vinaigrette gf v

CLASSIC OR KALE CAESAR parmesan, spanish anchovy, focaccia croutons

WADUKE SHRIMP, CORN & BACON CHOWDER

SOUP OF THE DAY

 

ENTRÉE

FENNEL DUSTED STEELHEAD SALMON* sunchoke terrine, heritage bacon & spinach, goat cheese & hazelnut crumble, citrus soubise gf

DUKE DIP firsthand foods sirloin, caramelized onions, white cheddar, horseradish crème, baguette, au jus

CHICKPEA QUINOA BURGER bibb, tomato, smoked portobello, red pepper aïoli, brioche bun v

CARNITAS, SHRIMP & ANSON MILLS GRITS black bean piperade, felicity farms pork carnitas, guajillo heritage hock jus, cotija, carrot frites gf

GRILLED NY STRIP STEAKHOUSE SALAD* iceberg, pickled red onion, bacon, cherry tomato, sunflower seed, bleu cheese dressing gf

EPIPHANY CRAFT MALTS RISOTTO spinach, roasted mushrooms, cipollini & san marzano ragoût v

CERTIFIED ANGUS PASTRAMI sauerkraut, swiss, thousand island dressing, marble rye

 

DESSERT  cookie sampler

 

Garland, Raleigh$35 dinner

FIRST COURSE (CHOICE OF):

SMOKED FISH CROQUETTES – TIKKI SPICED POTATO, SWEET CHILE SAUCE, GREEN CHUTNEY, PICCALILLI

BEET BHEL PURI – BRAISED BEET CHAAT, PUFFED RICE, POTATOES, CUCUMBER, CILANTRO,  TAMARIND-MINT CHUTNEY, PEANUTS (GF UPON REQUEST)

DUCK RILLETTE – PICKLED CARROTS, APPLES, CROSTINI

 

SECOND COURSE: (CHOICE OF):

CHARRED OCTOPUS – FRENCH LENTILS W/ FARRO, PICKLED WINTER SQUASH, POPPED RICE, PRESERVED LEMON

PORK BELLY RICE BOWL – SPICY PEAR GLAZE, CRISP STICKY BROWN RICE, HOUSE-MADE KIMCHI STYLE PICKLE, BOK CHOY, DAIKON-CARROT-COLLARD-APPLE PICKLED SLAW, CHILI SAUCE, FRIED LOCAL EGG

TOFU RICE BOWL – SAME AS ABOVE W/ BRAISED SESAME TOFU

ROASTED CHICKEN – BONE-IN LEG QUARTER, MASSAMAN GRAVY, ROASTED WINTER ROOTS, TOASTED COCONUT, PEANUTS, STICKY RICE, HERBS

 

FINALE:

CHOCOLATE AND ALMOND COVERED “HONEYCOMB” CANDY

COCONUT MARSHMALLOW COCONUT CARAMEL, CHILE CANDIED PEANUTS

 

Kipos, Chapel Hill – $15 Lunch

First Course

Local Roasted Beets – Salad of beets, arugula, and skordalia

Avgolemono Soup – Chicken, rice, egg lemon broth

Horiatiki salad – Tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, red onions, feta, kalamata olives, capers

 

Second Course

Chicken or Pork Souvlakia – Warm pita, tzatziki, Kipos fries, red onion, shredded lettuce

Yiouvarelakia – Rice meatballs, tomato avgolemono, parsley

Shrimp and orzo – Shrimp and orzo pasta with tomato essence

Baked Eggplant – Eggplant and tomato essence with onions and green peppers

 

Dessert

Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse – Drizzled with EVOO, dusted with Sea Salt

Ravani – Olga’s semolina cake, topped with almonds, soaked in orange syrup

Cookie Plate – A selection of each our in house made Greek cookies

 

Mothers & Sons, Durham$35 Dinner

Antipasti

Farm lettuce, radish, ricotta salata, Romano beans

Bruschetta with tomato conserva, Calabrian chiles, stracciatella

Arancini, porcetta, smoked mozzarella, stracchino, kale, arrabiata sauce

 

Primi

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Bombolotti cacio e pepe

Ricotta cavateli, cime de rape, fennel sausage, calabrian chile

 

Secondi

Rabbit saltimbocca, cauliflower, capers, proscuito, sage

Grilled trout, farro, roasted onion, mushroom trifolati

Pork milanese, crispy potatoes, fennel arugula, pickled frenoes

 

Mura – $15 Lunch

1st Course (Choose One)

GINGER-CARROT SOUP(V, GF) topped with a yogurt drizzle

MURA ASIAN SALAD(V) crispy lo mein noodles, wasabi green peas, on a bed of kale
Served with a ginger-creme dressing

SEARED TUNA TATAKI  grilled fresh Big Eye tuna shichimi, micro-greens ,and a spicy ponzu sauce

 

2nd Course (Choose One)

TEMPEH KATSU (V)  Tempeh katsu, glazed with lemon beurre blanc, served with a miso-sweet potato puree, sauteed baby carrots and a side spread of wasabi aioli

PORK BELLY RAMEN  Braised pork belly, bean sprout, fish cake, green onion, steam egg, lime

SEOUL CRABCAKES  Two crabcakes served with roasted fingerling potatoes, sauteed green beans, and a kimchi-cream sauce

TRADITIONAL HAWAIIAN NIGIRI PLATTER  (4) pieces of Chef’s choice nigiri sushi, tamago, and tuna roll, served with fresh wasabi root

 

3rd Course (Choose One)

BREAD PUDDING (V)  Deep-fried and topped with cinnamon sugar and a creme anglaise

MILK CHOCOLATE CREME BRULEE (V, GF)  Topped with chocolate shavings

 

Plates Neighborhood Kitchen, Raleigh$30 dinner

Starters

Steak Tartare – Chili, coffee, lemon, caper, quail egg, potato chips

Fried Brussels Sprouts – Sweet and sour mustard, cashews

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup – Sourdough, cheddar, pepper jack, roasted tomato

Broccoli & Cheese Beignets – Smoked Gouda sauce

Greek Salad –  Tomato, red onion, feta, Kalamata olives, pepperoncini, herbs, lemon vinaigrette

Radish Carpaccio – Sliced local radish, roast garlic and anchovy butter

Duck-House Salad – Smoked duck, winter greens, radish, quinoa, fennel buttermilk vinaigrette

Cheese Plate – A selection of local and global cheeses, served with toast

 

Mains

Sage Butter Salmon* – Scalloped potato, wilted kale, balsamic reduction

Chicken Pot Pie – Peas, carrots, Provençal herbs, potato, pastry crust

Lamb Shoulder – Roast eggplant, couscous, warm harissa cream

New Mexico Chili Roast Pork * – Smashed sweet potato, collard greens, spicy pineapple jus

Mushroom Tagliatelle – Portobello, mozzarella, dried roma tomato, cream, herbs, garlic, kale

Big Veggie Roast – Marinated Portobello, spaghetti squash, smoked celery root, parsley, brussels sprouts, cannellini sauce

 

Desserts

Sticky Toffee Pudding – Warm date cake, sticky toffee sauce, whipped cream

Warm Apple Crisp – Golden Granny apples, cinnamon crisp topping, vanilla ice cream

Flourless Chocolate Torte – Chocolate Ganache, caramel sauce

 

Taberna Tapas$15 Lunch

(Choose 3 tapas)

Salmorejo (creamy tomato soup) – tomatoes, baguette, onion, olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, hard boiled egg and crispy jamon garnish

Manzana y Calabaza Empanadas (apple butternut empanada) –  apple, butternut squash, sage, empanada pastry

Tortilla Espanola (classic spanish omelette) – eggs, potatoes, shallots, garlic, vermouth sauce

Gambas Ajillo (spicy garlic shrimp) – chili spiced shrimp, shallots, garlic, hot peppers, parsley

Croquettas de Bacalao (salt cod croquettas) – salt cod, capers, piquillo peppers, parsley, lemon aioli

Garbonzos con Remolachas (garbanzo beans with beets) – garbonzo beans, beets, red peppers, dill, pine nuts, onion, arugula, garlic, parsley

The post News: Best Menus and Restaurants for Triangle Restaurant Week 2018, January 22 to 28 appeared first on NC Triangle Dining.

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Friday Fun Food Facts – January 19, 2018

Triangle Restaurant News

Triangle restaurant news…that not everyone knows. Impress your co-workers at the water cooler.

Featured Restaurant News

  • With 65,000 votes cast in his year’s WRAL.COM Voters’ Choice Awards, the winners were announced this past Tuesday at Level 7 at AC Hotels in North Hills. I am humbled to share that yours truly, Triangle Food Guy, was voted Best Blogger – so a huge thank you to the readers for throwing a little kudos my way. Lots of great people, programs and businesses were recognized – including some great restaurants throughout the Triangle. The highlight of the night was Ashley Christensen hauling in the Woman of the Year award! Get a full list of winners here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • Two years after a fire completely destroyed their restaurant, Sushi Nine on Western Blvd. in Raleigh has reopened according to WRAL. Located at 3812 Western Boulevard the building is certainly new, but the menu will be just like their customers will remember – nothing changed there! Check them out here,
  • The North Ridge location of Zoes Kitchen on Falls of the Neuse Road (6004 Falls of the Neuse Road) opened this past week. Apparently this new store will be the prototype for all future locations. Check out Zoes here.
  • And if you were eagerly anticipating a location of Ed Mitchell’s barbecue in Brier Creek, the News & Observer reported this week that that project has stalled. Ed and his son have redirected their focus to online endeavors. He did leave the door open that at some point there would be another Ed Mitchell barbecue joint. The truck concept has been parked as well.

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

  • WRAL’s Sarah Krueger reported that the Liberty Warehouse Apartments will not only have the Durham Food Hall locating in their first floor retail space, as well as Dame’s Chicken & Waffles, but apparently there is also a coffee shop in the works – Foster Street Coffee. Lots of exciting things happening there, just across from Durham Central Park. The Durham Dame’s location is closed in January for the move. Foster Street looks to open in February as well. And the Food Hall will open later in 2018. Check out the Durham Food Hall here. Dame’s Chicken and Waffles here. And Foster Street Coffee here.
  • Also in Durham, WRAL reported this week that Vegan Flava Café recently opened on Guess Road in Durham, near Northgate Mall. The menu has all kinds of comfort food, from curried lentils and rice to red beans and rice. Check them out here.
  • A quick update on Chapel Hill’s Monterrey Mexican Restaurant from reader Cassie Spracklen…she learned a little more about the move from the current restaurant to the Rams Plaza location in the former Bailey’s spot, but this is more to do with the current location. During a recent visit, she learned that the current location will be converted to a more casual “grab and go” concept (similar to Chipotle) which will have a completely different menu and will feature empanadas. Sounds great! Stay tuned and thanks Cassie for the updates! Check out Monterrey here.

Closings

  • Got word from reader Chris Creighton that the Bob Evans on Walnut Street in Cary has closed.
  • Also in Cary, got word from reader Rachel Goer that Uncle Maddio’s in Parkside Town Commons closed in December.

Food Trucks

  •  Two great sites to keep up with your favorite food trucks. Street Food Finder is one – find it here. And another, aptly named, is Roaming Hungerfind it here.

Events

  • Here’s a great time. I mean a really great time. The guys behind the NC Food & Beverage Podcast (Max and Matt) have teamed up with John May over at Piedmont in Durham to offer up their first dinner called “Pork & Rum” on Sunday, January 28th. They will be pairing rums from Lassiter Distilling with a menu by May – think Caribbean-meets-Hawaiian-meets-North Carolina. And for the best part, it’s family-style, i.e. big tables, big plates and flowing cocktails. Tickets are $65. Get your tickets and all the details here.
  • Also, the dates for the Lucy Daniels Center 2018 version of their popular Cooking for a Classic have been set. This year’s event consists of three rounds and eight chefs vying to win a restored ’49 truck. It is gorgeous! The first round kicks off on Monday, January 22 and continues through the week. The semifinals are the following week and the final showdown will be on Wednesday, February 7th. This year’s competing chefs are Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill, Chapel Hill; Matt Hannon of Ironwoods Cafe, Southern Pines; Jonathan Ballard of Dean’s Kitchen and Bar, Cary; James Patterson, McConnell Golf Dining; Troy Stauffer, City Club, Raleigh; Aaron Matyac, Whiskey Kitchen, Raleigh; Dean Thompson, Raleigh Renaissance Hotel; and Nick Fay, Coquette, Raleigh. Get a peek at the truck and all the details here.
  • Mark your calendars for the return of Triangle Restaurant WeekJanuary 22-28, 2018. During TRW, participating restaurants offer special three-course menu options and fixed pricing, a great opportunity to try places you’ve never been before – or to enjoy your old reliables with a new twist. No reservations, tickets or passes required. Get all the details and a list of participating restaurants here.
  • The Cary Rotary Club is hosting its 15th annual Chili Dinner fund-raiser to Stop Hunger on Friday, January 26 at Kirk of Kildare Presbyterian Church (200 High Meadow Drive in Cary) between the hours of 12 and 2 p.m. and 5 and 7 p.m. This year they are working toward providing 94,000+ meals internationally and generating $11,000+ to support local hunger relief efforts. Each $8 ticket purchased will send ~19 meals internationally and $2.40 to relieve hunger in our own neighborhoods.  International meals are typically served in schools. Doing so encourages attendance and supports education/literacy. Delicious meals prepared by Whole Foods Market will be served at lunch and dinner. Get details on their Facebook event page here.
  • Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom and Sam’s Quik Shop will host the 6th Annual Bull City Food and Beer Experience on Sunday, February 25. The event features 30 restaurants paired with 30 breweries spread throughout all three DPAC floors featuring unlimited samplings and the Harris On Stage Experience showcasing local food trucks with the help of County Fare, a daily food truck rodeo opening soon. Get all the details and tickets here.
  • March 17th is the date for the second annual Food Shuttle Garden Gallop 5K to benefit the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Growing School Gardens program (better known as the Sean is Faster Than Gordon race). Put it this way, if I can do it, you can do it! Come on out and support a great cause. Register and get all the details here.
  • Durham Magazine, Chapel Hill Magazine and Chatham Magazine return with their popular culinary event, Taste to take place April 18-22 highlighting the culinary talents along the Durham/Chapel Hill corridor. The event will feature over 30 of the area’s top chefs at four unique events throughout the week. Keep up with the latest and get tickets here.
  • And looking ahead a bit, it was announced this week that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will host a culinary event called Thrive NC set to take place at downtown Raleigh’s City Market on May 10-11. The two-day event will highlight the fact that 1.5 million people in the state struggle to buy affordable and fresh foods. A highlight of the event will be a two-day food festival featuring top chefs from 50 North Carolina restaurants serving food and drink samples against a backdrop of live music each night. Tickets will go on sale in February. Keep up with the details as they unfold here.

Food Bank Corner

  •  Looking to get your company involved (in a very easy way) in fighting hunger in our community? Virtual Food Drives increase the impact of your donations! For every $1 donated, the Food Bank can provide $10 worth of food, thanks to their partnerships and buying power! Create a personal page and invite your friends and family to browse through our virtual grocery aisles, add items to a shopping cart, and check-out by making a monetary donation. Consider making it a team effort by organizing a competition between your neighbors, within your company, or among your community by easily setting up a team page. Find out how to set up a Virtual Food Drive here.
...[READ MORE]   Source: Triangle Food Blog

Saigon Grill & Bar, Raleigh: A Creative and Modern Take on Asian-Fusion Fare

Front of Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Front of Saigon Grill and Bar in Raleigh – nctriangledining.com

When it comes to restaurants in the Glenwood South neighborhood, it’s often a tough go! While this street typically gets a lot of pedestrian traffic, most of it is focused on bars, beer and cheap eats more than anything else. I had walked by the new Saigon Grill & Bar when it first opened up and grabbed a paper menu from the hostess out front. Hmm, looks like they’re doing some Asian-fusion which is pretty daring for this area! I had my mind on some barbeque so I put them on the mental back-burner for a future meal.

Colorful bar at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Colorful bar at Saigon Grill and Bar in Raleigh – nctriangledining.com
Dining room at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Dining room at Saigon Grill and Bar in Raleigh – nctriangledining.com

But you know what sometimes you do make mistakes and it would certainly be a mistake to miss out on the great Asian-fusion eats at Saigon Grill and Bar. While the focus is on Vietnamese fare, this restaurant goes beyond that with a very creative culinary touch. So I was finally able to make it in for a couple of visits to Saigon Grill and Bar and wow, what a pleasant surprise! Pop inside and you’ll find a large modern dining room with circular fabric lamps overhead, a colorful bar with back-lit glassware in the wall and plenty of sunshine.

Clay pot mussels at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Clay pot mussels at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh – nctriangledining.com
Fried calamari at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Fried calamari at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh – nctriangledining.com

All of my visits have been for lunch so far and they have a small selection of appetizers, along with a selection of banh mi and street tacos that are only available for lunch. With prices in the $6 to $12 range, it’s at a great price point for your mid-day meal. They also have a handful of entrees available during lunch if sandwiches and tacos are not your thang! The clay-pot mussels I ordered were really nicely done. Steamed with some tomato, onion and pungent black bean sauce, the flavors paired well with the succulent mussel meat. Clay pots are pretty common for certain types of braised Chinese food and they use them well here. Their fried calamari was perfectly fried with a light bumpy coating and paired with a sweet chili sauce, yum!

Taro chips at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Taro chips at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh – nctriangledining.com
Pork banh mi at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Pork banh mi at Saigon Grill and Bar in Raleigh – nctriangledining.com

For two of my meals I ordered up the banh mi for lunch. Why? Because they are REALLY good here! Saigon Grill offers up five different types (pork, chicken, steak, duck, mushroom) at the $9 to $10 range and the banh mi come with a side salad and taro chips. The banh mi are constructed on nice, light French rolls and while a bit shorter, are nicely stacked with meat and filling. The grilled pork banh mi was fantastic, topped with fried shallots and pickled veggies. And the same goes for the delicious duck confit, excellent! But what really completes the meal is the fresh salad with vinaigrette and chips! If you’re not familiar with taro, it’s a white root vegetable and quite starchy. Saigon Grill thinly slices the taro and they come out super-light and crispy! Not sure if they’re baked or fried but there’s not much grease and they are fun to eat.

Fried calamari at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Pork belly tacos at Saigon Grill and Bar in Raleigh – nctriangledining.com

For my most recent lunch visit I tried out their Asian tacos which were really interesting. Seared pork belly topped with fried shallots, bean sprouts, daikon-carrot and cilantro made for a delicious bite. The house-made wheat-rice tortillas held all the deliciousness together and the mango chutney and fish sauce added some flair. A really creative take on tacos with a Vietnamese spin and very filling. I heard that the chef came over from the dearly departed An restaurant in Cary, which would explain why the food is so good at Saigon Grill and Bar!

Water bottle at Saigon Grill & Bar in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Water bottle at Saigon Grill and Bar in Raleigh – nctriangledining.com

Service at Saigon Grill and Bar is still finding its feet but that’s not unusual given how new the place is. That’s the one area where I think they could use some improvement but otherwise, they are nailing it for food and decor. Even after only three lunch visits, I feel comfortably sure that Saigon Grill and Bar will be one of the best dining options in this hood. So if you happen to be hanging out on S. Glenwood, stop on by at Saigon Grill and Bar for a delicious bite! I’m pretty sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the menu here, like I was.

 

Saigon Grill and Bar

222 Glenwood Avenue

Raleigh, NC 27603

919.271.5976

 

Location on Google maps

The post Saigon Grill & Bar, Raleigh: A Creative and Modern Take on Asian-Fusion Fare appeared first on NC Triangle Dining.

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Friday Fun Food Facts – January 12, 2018

Triangle Restaurant News

Triangle restaurant news…that not everyone knows. Impress your co-workers at the water cooler.

Featured Restaurant News

  •  The News & Observer reported this week that Bu.ku, the restaurant that introduced global street food to downtown Raleigh, will open a second location by March or April in Wake Forest. This will be the third restaurant for owners Sean Degnan, Tony Hopkins and Todd Ohle, who also operate so.ca in Cameron Village. The new Bu.ku will be at 1228 Heritage Links Drive, in the Heritage development, next to Wine 101 wine shop. Check out Bu.ku here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • In Raleigh, got word that a new pizza franchise named Firenza will open in the McNeill Point development at the corner of McNeill Street and Wake Forest Road (next to Mami Nora’s). This will be the second location in the state (Charlotte has one) and the first in the Triangle. Get familiar with them here.
  • Speaking of pizza, blogger EatRaleigh reported last week that Brookside Market & Pizza is now open at 1000 Brookside Drive in Raleigh. Check them out on Facebook here.
  • And if that is not enough pizza news for you, the folks over at ITB Insider reported this week that Manhattan Pizza will be opening soon at the Falls Pointe shopping center at 9660 Falls of Neuse Road. While we are not aware of the timeline, the restaurant will open in the space once occupied by Greek Fiesta. The chain has locations in Virginia and Maryland and this will be their first venture into North Carolina. Check them out here.
  • We first told you about this back in June, 2017, but the Triangle Business Journal reported this week that Growler USA will open its first Triangle location this month at 314 S. Blount St. in the Moore Square Historic District. Apparently other locations are expected in Durham and Wilmington. Check out Growler here.
  • Got a note from reader Carole Walker that Creedmoor Café is now open for breakfast and lunch at 8315 Creedmoor Road. Check them out here.
  • And we are getting closer to the opening of the North Ridge location of Zoes Kitchen on Falls of the Neuse Road. There was an invitation-only event last night, and they are conducting staff training with invited guests on Saturday and next Monday. That usually means an opening immediately following that. Stay tuned. Check out Zoes here.
  • Over in Cary, reader Forrest Stroud sent me a note letting me know that the closed Peter Wang’s Asian Buffet and Szechuan on Kildaire Farm Road has been replaced by Silk Road Dim Sum & Sichuan. Couldn’t find an online presence for them – just their Yelp review here.
  • Down in Apex one of our readers brought it to our attention that Archibald’s Tavern at 5160 Sunset Lake Road fairly seamlessly transitioned to Shakey Ray’s Tavern. Might be too early to know what changes to expect, but the website suggests a new menu is forthcoming. Check them out here.
  • Also in Apex, reader Chris Creighton shared that a Mr. Dumpling has opened at 5470 Apex Peakway in the former location of Lee’s Garden Chinese Restaurant. They are serving up (you guessed it) dumplings as well as other Chinese food. Check them out here.
  • And finally a shout out to Chuck Russell over at D’Nardys Caterers. In addition to his catering, he has over 40 years of experience (he started when he was 6!) whipping cream cheese, sugar, and cream together to bring you the finest homemade cheesecakes. His D’Nardys Cheesecake Jars are now available in Whole Foods in the bakery department at nine locations in Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary. Kudos to Chuck and his success. Check his cheesecakes out here.

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

  • In Durham, the newer, more casual feeling Piedmont Restaurant re-opened this week featuring lower prices, expanded beer and wine selections, and a menu that chef John May created chock full of whimsical dishes. Check out the new menu here.

  • In Ram’s Plaza in Chapel Hill I noticed this week that the newest location of Firehouse Subs opened. It is in the new standalone building near the front of the shopping center. Check out Firehouse here.

Closings

  • Got word from a colleague that the Tossed location in Morrisville closed. The Tossed site suggests it might be relocating – so stay tuned.

Food Trucks

  •  See, even Mother Nature loves a good food truck rodeo. The single digit temperatures are gone and a warm(er) sunny Sunday is in the forecast for this Sunday’s Winter Food Truck Rodeo at Durham’s Central Park. Located at 501 Foster Street, the rodeo will take place this Sunday, January 14th from 12-4 p.m. Get all the details here.

Events

  • And here is a great event to kick off your 2018… Can you say sausage!?! Durham’s first Sausagefest will take place this Sunday January 14th inviting meat-lovers to taste and stock your fridge with locally crafted sausages from your favorite restaurants and butcher shops! VIP tickets include early entry from noon-1 p.m. with passed appetizers, t-shirt and an exclusive sausage-making demo. General Admission entry from 1-4 p.m. Sausages of all kinds will be available for take home from First Hand Foods, Left Bank Butchery and more. Restaurants providing bites to include Gocciolina, Dashi, The Root Cellar, Black Twig Cider House and more. VIP tickets are $45; General Admission is $25. Get all the details and tickets here.
  • Here’s a great time. I mean a really great time. The guys behind the NC Food & Beverage Podcast (Max and Matt) have teamed up with John May over at Piedmont in Durham to offer up their first dinner called “Pork & Rum” on Sunday, January 28th. They will be pairing rums from Lassiter Distilling with a menu by May – think Caribbean-meets-Hawaiian-meets-North Carolina. And for the best part, it’s family-style, i.e. big tables, big plates and flowing cocktails. Tickets are $65. Get your tickets and all the details here.
  • Also, the dates for the Lucy Daniels Center 2018 version of their popular Cooking for a Classic have been set. This year’s event consists of three rounds and eight chefs vying to win a restored ’49 truck. It is gorgeous! The first round kicks off on Monday, January 22 and continues through the week. The semifinals are the following week and the final showdown will be on Wednesday, February 7th. This year’s competing chefs are Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill, Chapel Hill; Matt Hannon of Ironwoods Cafe, Southern Pines; Jonathan Ballard of Dean’s Kitchen and Bar, Cary; James Patterson, McConnell Golf Dining; Troy Stauffer, City Club, Raleigh; Aaron Matyac, Whiskey Kitchen, Raleigh; Dean Thompson, Raleigh Renaissance Hotel; and Nick Fay, Coquette, Raleigh. Get a peek at the truck and all the details here.
  • Mark your calendars for the return of Triangle Restaurant WeekJanuary 22-28, 2018. During TRW, participating restaurants offer special three-course menu options and fixed pricing, a great opportunity to try places you’ve never been before – or to enjoy your old reliables with a new twist. No reservations, tickets or passes required. Get all the details and a list of participating restaurants here.
  • The Cary Rotary Club is hosting its 15th annual Chili Dinner fund-raiser to Stop Hunger on Friday, January 26 at Kirk of Kildare Presbyterian Church (200 High Meadow Drive in Cary) between the hours of 12 and 2 p.m. and 5 and 7 p.m. This year they are working toward providing 94,000+ meals internationally and generating $11,000+ to support local hunger relief efforts. Each $8 ticket purchased will send ~19 meals internationally and $2.40 to relieve hunger in our own neighborhoods.  International meals are typically served in schools. Doing so encourages attendance and supports education/literacy. Delicious meals prepared by Whole Foods Market will be served at lunch and dinner. Get details on their Facebook event page here.
  • March 17th is the date for the second annual Food Shuttle Garden Gallop 5K to benefit the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Growing School Gardens program (better known as the Sean is Faster Than Gordon race). Put it this way, if I can do it, you can do it! Come on out and support a great cause. Register and get all the details here.
  • And looking ahead a bit, it was announced this week that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will host a culinary event called Thrive NC set to take place at downtown Raleigh’s City Market on May 10-11. The two-day event will highlight the fact that 1.5 million people in the state struggle to buy affordable and fresh foods. A highlight of the event will be a two-day food festival featuring top chefs from 50 North Carolina restaurants serving food and drink samples against a backdrop of live music each night. Tickets will go on sale in February. Keep up with the details as they unfold here.

Food Bank Corner

  •  Looking to get your company involved (in a very easy way) in fighting hunger in our community? Virtual Food Drives increase the impact of your donations! For every $1 donated, the Food Bank can provide $10 worth of food, thanks to their partnerships and buying power! Create a personal page and invite your friends and family to browse through our virtual grocery aisles, add items to a shopping cart, and check-out by making a monetary donation. Consider making it a team effort by organizing a competition between your neighbors, within your company, or among your community by easily setting up a team page. Find out how to set up a Virtual Food Drive here.
...[READ MORE]   Source: Triangle Food Blog

Best New Restaurants, Food and Drink in the Triangle, 2017 Edition

Best New Restaurants, Food and Drink in the Triangle, 2017 Edition - nctriangledining.com

All good things must come to an end so we say goodbye to 2017 and eagerly look forward to what may come about in 2018 for the Triangle food scene! It was an interesting year, probably not as strong as last year (Best New Restaurants of 2016) but there were certainly some great new restaurants that opened up in the Triangle. Most of the action seemed to happen early and very late in 2017 which made it tough for me to draw up this list. And I’ve got to say that there were some pleasant surprises out of Cary for me. While better known for its chain restaurants, Cary seems to have committed to growing its downtown core with quite a few new, cool restaurants and businesses.

Choosing the best new restaurants for the year is always a huge challenge but in the end what really helps guide my choices revolves around a single question: How excited am I to go back for a meal? If a friend calls and says, “Let’s meet at xxx restaurant”, how excited am I? Do I feel meh and just alright about dining there? Or am I grabbing my car keys and running out the door with my foodie tail wagging?!

The other consideration I had for this best of 2017 list was: Are they likely to be successful in the long run? Does this restaurant offer value, a unique experience and are they well-run? Are they getting better over the course of the year after opening? Predicting long-term success is a bit tricky in the restaurant and hospitality business but with all the years I’ve been reviewing, you just get a strong gut feel on which restaurants and businesses are built for the long haul!

So without further adieu, my best new restaurants and bars for the Triangle, 2017 edition! Click on the restaurant name for a full review with details.


Accordion Club, Durham – Opened February 2017

First up on my list of the best new restaurants and bars of 2017 is the fun and cool, Accordion Club! This newer lounge out on Geer Street really is a fantastic neighborhood bar offering inexpensive drinks and a fun crowd. Toss in the interesting decor, table games, and discrete location, it all makes the Accordion Club a hidden gem in my opinion. Over the course of the year, they continue to innovate and try out new things. The Accordion Club is currently serving up green chile breakfast burritos (on Sunday) along with their hot dogs, pretty cool!


Brewery Bhavana, Raleigh – Opened March 2017

What’s there to say about the Brewery Bhavana that hasn’t been said in the national press?! Super interesting decor and dining concept built around a brewery, floral shop and dim sum (Chinese small plates), I’m mostly focused on the food and beer here. While Brewery Bhavana may be a bit pricey, I respect what they’ve done here offering upscale, spun up Chinese eats along with really fresh and interesting beers. Love Brewery Bhavana’s space, the sleek decor and white interior design makes for a very elegant dining and drinking experience without being stuffy.


City Market Sushi, Raleigh – Opened December 2016

The emergence of City Market in Raleigh as a food destination in the Triangle continues on in 2017! While City Market Sushi officially opened up at the end of 2016, I’m rolling it into this 2017 list! Love the sleek and modern Japanese decor at City Market Sushi along with its cute, little sushi bar in the corner. They do a fantastic and different bento box, offering up soft-shell crab sliders, pork belly salad and ahi poke, dee-licious! City Market Sushi does great sushi and fish along with hearty portion sizes in a cool environment, so glad to have you in the area!


Grub Durham – Opened July 2017

While Durham is well known for its upscale culinary scene, I always hoped for more affordable eats when visiting the Bull City and now you’ve got one, the new Grub Durham. Located in a renovated gas station, I love the retro space! Front patio, rooftop seating and then a classic diner counter with some 4-tops inside, Grub Durham works really well as a modern diner. The smaller menu covers a variety of breakfast plates, bowls, sandwiches and a handful of blue plate entrees. Their grub is well-prepared and shows a lot of care and talent in the food coming out of the kitchen. A fun spot for Durham locals and visitors to this neighborhood!


Mekong, Morrisville – Opened February 2017

Oftentimes choosing the “best” for me is not about the money spent and Mekong Vietnamese in Morrisville is the perfect example of great, low-budget dining. Simple but excellent Vietnamese food across all forms, they do a great banh mi, bun (vermicelli), com (rice plate) and pho which is extremely rare in my experience. Personable service and a more modern dining room makes this “hole in the wall” Vietnamese eatery a wonderful culinary surprise. You can’t go wrong with anything off the menu here, I can say that with confidence after 8 or 9 meals at Mekong! And while the address says Morrisville, Mekong straddles the Raleigh line for those of you in N. Raleigh.


Oakwood Pizza Box, Raleigh – Opened September 2017

When it comes to pizza, there are a ton of options in the Triangle but few as consistently good as Oakwood Pizza Box! Given the pizza pedigree of owner Anthony Guerra I’m not really surprised but I am so happy to have the Oakwood Pizza Box in ITB (inside the beltline) Raleigh. Thin-crust pizza with quality tomatoes and cheese makes for a great foundation pie and the handful of toppings offered are also excellent. Love the neighborhood vibe and simplicity of this modern pizza joint, they’ve done a great job so far and I’m hoping for an expanded menu in 2018!


Pizzeria Faulisi, Cary – Opened March 2017

Continuing on with the pizza theme in my best new restaurants of 2017, how about the top-notch Neapolitan pies at Pizzeria Faulisi? Cary has been hopping when it comes to new restaurants and this pizzeria sports clean and stylish decor along with a great location near Bond Brothers Beer. And the pizza? Some of the best Neapolitan in the area serving individual thin-crust pizzas topped with high-quality and delicious Italian ingredients. Don’t miss their $10 pizza special on Tuesdays (great deal) which truly shows off the pizza-making skills and delectable crust at Pizzeria Faulisi.


Saint James Seafood Restaurant, Durham – Opened November 2017

Even though I’ve only eaten at Saint James Seafood once, it was enough to blow me away and put them on my best of 2017 list. Everything across the board was impressive and memorable at Saint James Seafood, starting with the dining room decor, service and menu. Love how they’re offering up an array of fresh seafood for the Bull City covering raw oysters, fresh fish dishes and fried Calabash seafood. And their quirky tiki drinks and cocktails are a lot of fun. Truly an impeccable dining experience for the Bull City, I expect more and better from Saint James Seafood this year!


soca, Raleigh – Opened March 2017

Over in Cameron Village you’ll find a slew of average restaurants with not many stand-outs except for the new soca on the corner of Clark and Oberlin. This stunning restaurant combines modern and upscale decor with an interesting selection of small plates from south of the border. Choose from Jamaican lamb patties, crab mofongo and conch fritters as a nod to Latin-American cuisine. All the plates are beautifully presented and their waitstaff is very well-trained and knowledgeable on the expansive menu. Definitely do not miss dessert or the patio here, they are both exquisite!


Viceroy, Durham – Opened November 2016

Last up on my best of 2017 list is the newer Viceroy out in Durham. Officially it opened up late in 2016 but I’m rolling it forward to my best of 2017 list! The rich Victorian decor, dining room details and ambiance, makes for a wonderful dining experience and great date spot. I really appreciate the tasty Indian-English gastropub menu which highlights classics such as short rib pasties, goat samosas and curried Shepherd’s pie. While the wait for a table can be a bit long, I love that the Viceroy has brought spicy eats to the downtown Durham dining scene and Main Street!


So there you go, my top 10 for 2017 and let me tell you that I spent hours trying to figure out where to finish the Best of 2017 list from the restaurants (My list of new 2017 restaurants) that opened up this past year. There were quite a few restaurants that were on the cusp for me so honorable mentions go out to Cortez Seafood, Hummingbird, Namu, MOFU Shoppe, Quarter Horse Arcade, and Saigon Grill and Bar. Your list may be a bit different than mine so feel free to comment and let’s discuss!

And what do we have to look forward to in 2018? More pizza with the upcoming Pizza Times and Pooleside Pie along with food halls! Some delays mean that Morgan Street Food Hall, Transfer Co, County Fare (food trucks), and Blue Dogwood Public Market should all hit the Triangle in 2018! If you want to keep up on my lists of new and upcoming restaurants, check out the links below which will be updated throughout the year. It’s always fun to explore new restaurants in the Triangle, here’s to the new year along with whatever foodie delights it may hold!

New Restaurants and Bars in Cary

New Restaurants and Bars in Durham

New Restaurants and Bar in Raleigh

The post Best New Restaurants, Food and Drink in the Triangle, 2017 Edition appeared first on NC Triangle Dining.

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Friday Fun Food Facts – January 5, 2018

Triangle Restaurant News

Triangle restaurant news…that not everyone knows. Impress your co-workers at the water cooler.

Featured Restaurant News

  •  A Place at the Table will open this Monday, January 8th as Raleigh’s very first “pay-what-you-can” style restaurant, joining the list of nearly 60-70 restaurants of this kind worldwide. It will be located in the former Café de los Muertos space in downtown Raleigh at 300 W. Hargett Street. Check out this exciting new concept here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • So excited to share the news that one of my favorite chefs, Michael Chuong, the owner of Elements in Chapel Hill, will return to Cary (where he was formerly with An Cuisines) and open a second restaurant in the historic Sam-Jones House in downtown Cary. No timeline on the opening or the name, as some improvements will need to be made to the historic home before Chuong takes over. Thanks to the News & Observer for the details. In the meantime, visit Elements here.

 

  • Ashton Mae Smith was the first to let me know that the folks behind Raleigh Times and Morning Times (and four other concepts under Empire Eats) are opening a pizza joint, The Pizza Times, on the Wilmington Street side of their ’empire’ at 210 Wilmington Street. The opening date hasn’t been announced yet, but look for it very soon. In the meantime, check out the rest of the Empire Eats concepts here.

 

  • John Huisman, aka Triangle Explorer, noted that just two months after opening a location in Chapel Hill, Wilmington’s Tama Tea has opened their Raleigh location at 401 Fayetteville Street (at the intersection with E. Davie Street). They serve up tea, coffee, smoothies and toast. Get to know them here.

 

  • Also saw in Ashton Mae Smith’s weekly email that The Dogwood Bar & Eatery opened over the holidays at 610 Glenwood Avenue in downtown Raleigh. The Dogwood is the latest concept out of Bunch of Fives Hospitality Company (The Anchor Bar, The Milk Bar, Mofu Shoppe and Southern Charred). Visit all five concepts here.

 

  • Got word from reader Monica Williams that Postmaster at 160 E Cedar Street in Cary has opened. They feature seasonal southern dishes using local ingredients, paired with a classic, but creative bar program. Check them out here.

 

  • Thanks to the folks over at Raleigh Offline, we learned that Edwards Bar & Grill recently completed a mini-overhaul including a new chef, a new menu and a new look. Highlights of the new menu include a weekend brunch and $5 Burger Saturdays. Leading the menu overhaul is the chef from Mura with family recipes and NC inspiration. Check them out here.

 

  • Got a press release in December that Vita Vite, the popular Raleigh wine bar and art gallery, will open a Midtown location this spring in the Park Central building at North Hills. Keep up with them here.

 

  • On the beer front, ITB Insider reported that Funguys Brewing will be holding a grand opening celebration of their new Raleigh brewery at 2408 Paula Street on February 24. They will have their first can release, a food truck, games and more. Get all the details here.

 

  • Down in Garner, got word from Hugh Autry that the Tripps at Garner Station had closed and was being replaced by a Mexican concept called Cocula Mexican Restaurant. We don’t have any other information at this point, but will kindly ask Hugh to keep an eye on it for us!

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

  • Saw in the News & Observer that Saltbox Seafood Joint, the shack that turned fried fish into an art form, opened its second Durham location the Tuesday before Christmas. The new Saltbox is in the former Shrimp Boats spot on Chapel Hill-Durham Boulevard. Congrats Ricky MooreMoore said the original location will go dormant and reopen in the spring. Check them out here.

 

  • The News & Observer also reported that Jack Tar & the Colonel’s Daughter opened that same Tuesday on the ground floor of the Unscripted Hotel in downtown Durham. Jack Tar takes its name from the original hotel on Corcoran Street, which was renovated and reopened earlier this year as the boutique Unscripted Hotel. This is the third restaurant from the owners of Pizzeria Toro and fine dining bistro Littler, Gray Brooks, his wife, Cara Stacy, and business partner Jay Owens. Get familiar with them on Facebook here.

 

  • Durham’s farm-to-table pioneer Piedmont is going “casual” in the new year, shifting somewhat away from fine dining, which has been its identity for nearly a decade, to more of a neighborhood restaurant. Piedmont will reopen Jan. 10 with a new, more playful menu that’s built around smaller plates and a few shareable entrees at lower price points with the talented John May still working his magic in the kitchen. Keep up with them here.

 

  • Ali Rudel’s plans to open a pie shop in East Durham just got bigger with the new year! Indy reported this week that with the new year (and a slight weather delay) Rudel has changed up the name of the soon-to-open bakery to East Durham Bake Shop, expanding the menu beyond pies (the plan was always to eventually expand the offerings – it is just happening sooner rather than later). In addition to everyone’s favorite sweet pies, she will also carry savory pies, soups, salads, and other pastries like croissants from scratch, seasonal cobbler, scones, and morning buns. Doors should open in a week or two. Follow their progress and opening on Instagram here.
  • Over in Chapel Hill, reader Charles Harrington noted that the Monterrey Mexican restaurant on Elliot Road is moving in February into the former Bailey’s spot in Ram’s Plaza. No word on the exact date. They also have a location in Carrboro. Check them out here.
  • And down in Chatham County, the folks behind Chapel Hill’s The Root Cellar (Sera Cuni and Susan White) have opened their second location very close to the intersection of 15-501 and Hwy. 64 in the Chatham Park development. The space is absolutely gorgeous and inviting with three large garage doors that will open to an expansive outside dining area when the weather cooperates a little more. And next door will be a brewery set to open this spring. I see a lot of collaborative outdoor ‘events’ in this space. Check out The Root Cellar Pittsboro here.

Closings

  • Two closures to report in Apex. Readers Jeanette Hauser and Chris Creighton confirmed that Rookies Sports Bar has closed. And Creighton also shared that Lee’s Garden Chinese Restaurant has closed.
  • Also sad to report that the Clayton location of McCall’s Bar-b-Que and Seafood has closed after a 13 year run. They still have the original location in Goldsboro.

Food Trucks

  •  This is going to be fun to watch in 2018 – County Fare over in Durham. What is it? Let’s see if this gets your attention. A barn located at 1920 Chapel Hill Road in the Lakewood neighborhood that will be surrounded daily by at least four food trucks with seating inside for 150, outside for an additional 200. And did I mention a ‘beer garden’ that will offer beer, wine, cider and other beverages? Yes Mattie Beason, you have our attention. Look for it to open in the fall of this year, or by year’s end. Follow their progress on Twitter here.
  • Hopefully these frigid temperatures are soon a distant memory, and we can once again enjoy being outside – just in time for the Winter Food Truck Rodeo at Durham’s Central Park (501 Foster Street) on Sunday, January 14th from 12-4 p.m. Get all the details here.

Events

  • And here is a great event to kick off your 2018… Can you say sausage!?! Durham’s first Sausagefest will take place on January 14th inviting meat-lovers to taste and stock your fridge with locally crafted sausages from your favorite restaurants and butcher shops! VIP tickets include early entry from noon-1 p.m. with passed appetizers, t-shirt and an exclusive sausage making demo. General Admission entry from 1-4 p.m. Sausages of all kinds will be available for take home from First Hand Foods, Left Bank Butchery and more. Restaurants providing bites to include Gocciolina, Dashi, The Root Cellar, Black Twig Cider House and more. VIP tickets are $45; General Admission are $25. Get all the details and tickets here.
  • Also, the dates for the Lucy Daniels Center 2018 version of their popular Cooking for a Classic have been set. This year’s event consists of three rounds and eight chefs vying to win a restored ’49 truck. It is gorgeous! The first round kicks off on Monday, January 22 and continues through the week. The semifinals are the following week and the final showdown will be on Wednesday, February 7th. This year’s competing chefs are Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill, Chapel Hill; Matt Hannon of Ironwoods Cafe, Southern Pines; Jonathan Ballard of Dean’s Kitchen and Bar, Cary; James Patterson, McConnell Golf Dining; Troy Stauffer, City Club, Raleigh; Aaron Matyac, Whiskey Kitchen, Raleigh; Dean Thompson, Raleigh Renaissance Hotel; and Nick Fay, Coquette, Raleigh. Get a peek at the truck and all the details here.
  • Mark your calendars for the return of Triangle Restaurant WeekJanuary 22-28, 2018. During TRW, participating restaurants offer special three-course menu options and fixed pricing, a great opportunity to try places you’ve never been before – or to enjoy your old reliables with a new twist. No reservations, tickets or passes required. Get all the details and a list of participating restaurants here.

Food Bank Corner

  • The last thing you probably want to do after reading this long blog (especially long after the holiday break) is read more. But I’m going to challenge you. PLEASE take an extra three minutes out of your day to read this blog post over on the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s website. It is a post by Matt Kopac where he challenged himself to ‘survive’ on just $4.70 per day for food through the SNAP Challenge. It is a real eye-opener to the reality of food insecurity and the importance of organizations like the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina in preventing hunger in our community. Please read this! You can thank me later for the perspective it will provide you. And perhaps you will take the SNAP Challenge.
...[READ MORE]   Source: Triangle Food Blog

First Take: Waffle House for Heart-Warming Southern Eats

Front of Waffle House in Durham - nctriangledining.com
Front of S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham – nctriangledining.com

I’ll confess that given I grew up outside of the North Carolina area, so I had NO clue about Waffle House. I was always more of a Denny’s or IHOP sort of guy when it came to greasy breakfasts but it would be a mistake not to put Waffle House on the list of great casual breakfast and lunch joints. Around for over 60 years, the Waffle House has been an iconic diner for the Southeast with that famous yellow and black lettered sign. They specialize in down-home breakfast and lunch eats, perfect for fueling up for a long day of activities if you’re on the road. And given they’re open 24 hours a day, it’s hard to find an excuse NOT to eat here every once in a while when the mood hits you. Well as a newbie, I’m still learning about this Southern diner classic and so far, so good! Especially those hash browns….

Counter at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham - nctriangledining.com
Counter at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham – nctriangledining.com

Having stepped into several Waffle Houses (GA, SC, NC) at this point in my life, the experience is usually pretty consistent. Inside Waffle House and you’ll usually find a lot of noise and activity given their popularity with the locals. Open kitchen with counter seating to watch all the action. Rows of booths with vinyl benches and formica tables lined up against plate glass windows, Waffle House is the quintessential Southern diner experience. You’ll be handed over a laminated, plastic menu by a very seasoned waitress who affectionately calls you honey or sweetheart and gets you started with a coffee or soft drink.

Waffle House menu - nctriangledining.com
Waffle House menu – nctriangledining.com

The menu is pretty basic, listing the usual breakfast favorites ranging from eggs, bacon and sausage to their always-famous, hash browns!! Why the hash browns? The Waffle House does a hash brown with shredded potatoes and then you customize the sh** out of it! You can add cheese, gravy, onions, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms and more using the Waffle House hash brown code (scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, etc…) And yes, there’s American cheese on a lot of the food here so you won’t go home hungry! And pretty much everything is under $10 outside of the steak options.

All-Star special at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham - nctriangledining.com
All-Star special at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham – nctriangledining.com
Pecan waffle at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham - nctriangledining.com
Pecan waffle at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham – nctriangledining.com

I’ve had the chance to sample several items off the Waffle House menu, from breakfast to lunch and it’s all pretty solid! For breakfast, you can’t go wrong with their All-Star Special: Two eggs, breakfast meat, grits, and toast along with one of their famous waffles ($7+). I’d recommend upgrading to hash browns and trying the fluffy and crunchy pecan waffles to get the full experience. My sunny-side up eggs were cooked perfectly and loved the hash browns topped and covered (chili and American cheese). There’s a LOT of food here so take your time!

Texas bacon cheesesteak melt at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham - nctriangledining.com
Texas bacon cheesesteak melt at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham – nctriangledining.com

For lunch I’ve tried their Texas bacon cheesesteak melt which takes two thick pieces of toast and stuffs it with thinly sliced beef, grilled onions and some bacon. A bit heavy on the salt but definitely a satisfying sammich. Paired with some hash browns melted with American cheese and onion and you’ve got yourself a meal! Just don’t plan any after lunch meetings after this onion-filled lunch.

Iconic sign at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham - nctriangledining.com
Iconic sign at S. Miami Blvd Waffle House in Durham – nctriangledining.com

So what can I say but Waffle House, you really hit the spot. While the menu is a bit small compared to other diner options, what Waffle House serves up is really good. And the service is usually super-friendly and personable. It’s a depending dining option that’s open 24 hours a day, which is pretty impressive. There’s even a Waffle House Disaster Index which rates the severity of a disaster by the local Waffle House status. If Waffle House is closed, you know it’s REALLY bad out there. Rock on Waffle House, I’m not sure when I’ll be back but you can be sure that I’ll be getting those hash browns again…

 

Waffle House

2,500 various locations in the Southeast

The post First Take: Waffle House for Heart-Warming Southern Eats appeared first on NC Triangle Dining.

...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: NC Triangle Dining

First Take: Milk Lab Cafe in Cary for Ice Cream Rolls Made Right in Front of You!

Milk Lab Cafe in Cary - nctriangledining.com
Milk Lab Cafe in Cary – nctriangledining.com

If you’re a fan of frozen treats and ice cream, you may have heard about Thai ice cream rolls. I had run into a Youtube video online a couple of years ago and ice cream rolls puts a spin on the ice cream making process! Instead of churning cream, sugar and toppings over some hours and then freezing the mixture, cream is poured directly on a freezing surface and prepared right in front of you. Well guess what, we’ve finally got some options for Thai ice cream rolls in the Triangle, people! One of the newest places offering ice cream rolls is Milk Lab Cafe in Cary (Opened on 12/8). And I had a chance to see what the deal is all about with this upcoming ice cream craze…

Menu at Milk Lab Cafe in Cary - nctriangledining.com
Menu at Milk Lab Cafe in Cary – nctriangledining.com

Head on over to a small plaza over at Tryon/SE Cary Parkway and you’ll find the Milk Lab Cafe in the far corner, far away from both streets. It’s a spartan little spot decked out in white, blacks and woods with modest seating near the front window and a handful of small 4-tops. A chalkboard menu up front shows off 12 ice cream flavors along with an assortment of toppings for $6.47 each. (I’m guessing it rounds up to $7 with taxes!) In addition to ice cream rolls, there’s also milk teas with boba on the menu, very Asian!

Toppings at Milk Lab Cafe in Cary - nctriangledining.com
Toppings at Milk Lab Cafe in Cary – nctriangledining.com

I’m a bit unsure what to order given I’m a ice cream roll virgin and all the flavor combos sound pretty good. Campfire Delight, a smores spin, sounds wonderful along with Monkey Business (nutella, banana). But my eyes settle onto Unicorn Poop, I mean who can resist that name? Fruity pebbles? Caramel and honey? Count me in! So I send in my order and you can choose your toppings after your rolls are made.

Making ice cream at at Milk Lab Cafe in Cary - nctriangledining.com
Making ice cream at at Milk Lab Cafe in Cary – nctriangledining.com

The Milk Lab Cafe has two ice cream prep surfaces but they’re not too busy today so only one is being run by a young guy in black. Cream is poured on top and spread across the freezing surface along with a cup of fruity pebbles. Choppity-chop-chop-chop, he quickly smashes up the cereal and scrapes up the ice cream mixture across the surface again. Honey and caramel are drizzled on top with squeeze bottles and the process repeats itself. In a couple of minutes, the mixture has frozen pretty solid and he scrapes the mixture off into six separate rolls. They’re placed in a cup where you can finally add unlimited (well, limited by the size of the cup!) toppings to your frozen treat.

The unicorn poop ice cream rolls are speckled with bit of fruity pebbles giving it its name. For my toppings, I decide to go with gaudy and ask for more fruity pebbles and gummi worms. With a little whipped cream on top, my ice cream rolls makes for super colorful sundae! The ice cream rolls are very light and easy on the tongue. And while I do like the colors in my Unicorn Poop rolls, the gummi worms get pretty hard and chewy with the cold, so I’d pass on them in the future. Overall it’s a tasty cup and a nice little snack for the afternoon.

Unicorn poop ice cream rolls at Milk Lab Cafe in Cary - nctriangledining.com
Unicorn poop ice cream rolls at Milk Lab Cafe in Cary – nctriangledining.com

So what can I say but Thai ice cream rolls are a lot of fun to watch being made. The ice cream itself is ok but I’ll have to come back to try some different flavors. But If you’re in the area and have some kids, it’s a fun way to do ice cream as a performance. Just understand it takes some time for these rolls so you may be eating your cream on a staggered schedule. But very cool, Milk Lab Cafe! Thanks for bringing a different take to ice cream to the Triangle and I’m looking forward to cup #2…

 

Milk Lab Cafe

6418 Tryon Road

Cary, NC 27518

 

Location on Google maps

The post First Take: Milk Lab Cafe in Cary for Ice Cream Rolls Made Right in Front of You! appeared first on NC Triangle Dining.

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Fab Five Recommendations for Food Photography

Churro waffles at soca in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Churro waffles at soca in Raleigh – One of my favorite pics this year, partially because the dish was also fantastic! The lighting at soca was perfect inside and the plate has a lot of texture and color. Shot this one at a near overhead angle, maybe 80 degrees off the table.

You know the saying, a picture is worth a 1,000 words and it’s never been more true than when you talk about food blogging or social media. We’ve all been tempted by a foodie photo on twitter or Instagram and every now and then, a really good food picture will make you hungry and salivate. And sometimes I’ll find one of my pics up on a website or in an email to tempt others. Given my background as an amateur photographer (years ago), I’m amazed at the versatility and ease at which we can take food pics nowadays. I remember the days of carrying TWO SLR’s, one loaded with color film, the other with black and white film (OMG). But there are still some basic rules and guidance you should follow to get the best food pics out there, whether you’re carrying an iPhone, point and shoot or full-blown digital SLR.

So I thought I’d share some of my top tips that I’ve learned the hard way over the years. Photography is all about light, shutter speed, distance-focus, composition and color, five really important points to consider. And I’m going to assume your auto-focus is working properly on your camera!

Shrimp and grits at Humble Pie in Raleigh
Shrimp and grits at Humble Pie in Raleigh – Love this pic, shrimp and grits are usually basic but the translucent element of the shrimp and broth really pop out here. Pretty sure I was outdoors on a cloudy day on their patio for this shot.

First of all, lighting. Light is key to any photography and the more natural, flat light you can get, the better. Too little or too much direct light (bright sunlight) and your pics will not have any color or get washed out. Ideally, choose a dining spot where you’ve got some good, flat and even natural lighting. The right time of day can be crucial here, mid-day hours are usually better. Barring perfect lighting, you’ll have to adjust for low-light situations which is often the case for night-time restaurant visits. So choose your dining spot carefully if you’re really looking to get some great food pics! A seat by a window is usually best or a decently-lit inside table. Watch out and avoid spots with colored lighting and bulbs, they will make it very hard to get a good image.

Patio at Mulino Italian Kitchen, Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Patio at Mulino Italian Kitchen, Raleigh – A wonderfully lit night shot on their fantastic patio. You can guess I shot this pic carefully with two hands, feet spread apart to steady the lens and with a higher ISO. It came out really sharp which surprised me. The Samsung S7 is strong in low-light conditions.

Second, shutter speed. If it’s dark and you shoot at too slow a shutter speed, you’ll get camera shake and a blurred pic which is definitely no bueno. Some options to compensate is to bump up the ISO (film speed) which is tricky on the iPhone but doable on Android. Use ISO 400 preferably, 800 for worst case. At ISO 800 and beyond you’ll usually start running into graininess in your photos. Another way to compensate, is to shoot your pics with a sturdy base. Lean up against a wall, put both elbows on the table and shoot with two hands. With the right physical support, I’ve gotten decent images with longer shutter speeds (1/8 second) that are still usable. Newer smartphone cameras are pretty fast with large aperture lens (1.8 to 2.0) so choose wisely! A larger aperture lens will allow for faster shutter speeds and minimize shake.

Pancakes with apple at the old Provenance in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Pancakes with apple at the old Provenance in Raleigh – A nice shot with lots of textures and colors. I wanted to capture the apples on top but to also pick up the layers of pancake so I had to find a compromise angle for both. While it’s a bit mono-chromatic (yellows-browns), I think I got the complexity of the dish.

Third, distance and focus. I always suggest getting as close to your food subject as possible to capture the detail but cameras sometimes have problems at close (macro) distances. Make sure you tap where on the image your camera should be focused on when you’re in tight (close to subject). Alternatively, you can try to take a photo at distance and then crop the photo digitally to make it look like it’s “close”. But you will lose detail here, even if it may seem like an easier proposition.

Skillet burger at Kindred in Davidson - nctriangledining.com
Skillet burger at Kindred in Davidson – Sandwiches are usually tough because of the bun covers everything but this burger is stacked just right to open up the insides. Getting close shows off the melty cheese and textured ground beef, I get hungry looking at this pic!

Fourth, composition. This aspect of photography is key and what I’d call the photographer’s eye. Part of composition is distance and I usually suggest getting as close as possible to fill the frame and eliminate any distracting background details. Although sometimes you will want some background, especially if it’s interesting. Composition is affected by the angle you shoot at. Some people like their food pics directly overhead for a 2 dimensional viewpoint. I prefer about a 30 degree angle (relative to table) so I get some texture/height of the dish. You should also consider moving the plate and/or spinning it to get the right view of your food. There are definitely good and bad sides for food dishes so consider the perspective before you snap that pic! I also prefer not shooting at 90 degree angles with the lines of your subject squared up in your viewfinder

Crab mofongo at soca in Raleigh - nctriangledining.com
Crab mofongo at soca in Raleigh – soca does an amazing job with plating/color and this crab mofongo shows it off. Great porcelain bowl, creamy rice, white crab with pickled red onions show off a lot of color and texture.

And the last and final point, color! Color is so important for any picture but you’re often limited by your subject and lighting. Some dishes are just bland in color (brown, beige, orange, mono-chromatic) and there’s nothing you can do. Other issues are the type of lighting you have (fluorescent, tungsten, colored). Use your Auto-White Balance (AWB) settings on you camera/phone to compensate for the temperature of your light (cool-blue to hot-orange). Good cameras will allow you to set a custom temperature by shooting a white card to set it up. Or avoid the problem altogether by shooting in natural light (see Tip #1). Unfortunately some dishes just don’t photograph well even though they are still delicious!

Christmas at the Angus Barn, so much to look at in this fram but shot this pic hand-held standing on some stairs. Luckily there was enough light from the tree to allow for faster shutter speeds.
Christmas at the Angus Barn in Raleigh – So much to look at in this frame but shot it hand-held, standing on some stairs. Luckily there was enough light from the tree to allow for faster shutter speeds.

Digital photography has totally changed the picture-taking game. Not only because you can take as many pictures as you want and cull out the best ones (volume photography) but you also have the ability to fix/edit photos, in post-processing. I rarely ever use photos I’ve taken, directly into my blog. Normally there’s always some cropping, lightening and color editing to maximize the impact of the picture. And of course, your equipment and smartphone camera. While I’ve typically been an iPhone guy, a switch over to the Samsung Galaxy S7 brought me a slew of compliments on my posted pics. Although I do have interest in possibly getting a Lumix G7 or G85 mirrorless camera sometime, soon. In the end, smartphone cameras are excellent overall and will do a great job 90% of the time. So just practice, practice, practice with your food pics! Eventually the hardest part of photographing a food pic will be holding back on digging into your delicious meal!

 

Five Ways to Improve Your Food Photography!

  • Light – Find natural and flat light, no flashes!
  • Shutter speed – Keep it over a 15th to a 30th seconds and max, ISO 800.
  • Distance-focus – Stay as close as possible, watch the background!
  • Composition – Shoot directly overhead or at a nice 30 degree angle, find the best view of your plate.
  • Color – Use AWB or set your white balance and edit oh smartphone if necessary to maximize color. You may need to post-edit on your PC or MAC.

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The post Fab Five Recommendations for Food Photography appeared first on NC Triangle Dining.

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