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Posts posted by detlefchef

  1. For what it's worth...

    Certainly I never take the news that somebody had a poor meal at my place in a cavalier manner and always look specifically into the concerns raised as best I can. While I'm not sure which noodle dish you are talking about, nor the server, the only thing I can suss out it is the mushroom soup. That dish is a rather curious situation for me. The same guy makes it every time in large enough batches that I can only assume that what you had is how we serve it. To be honest, I agree that it's quite spicy and frankly, thicker than I prefer, but I fear that if I ever changed it, there'd be hell to pay. There is no single dish on the menu that is as ferverently ordered by the same people over and over. Literally, we have people who come in for lunch more than once a week and get a large bowl of that with rice, every single time. We don't even bother offering them menus anymore. I'm not telling that guy we "fixed" it.

    Once again, I'm sorry you had a bad experience but you'll need to take my word for it that, as far as I can see, we're not turning into the next Grasshopper. I am fortunate to say that I have never been involved with a restaurant that had as loyal and regular customers who seem to nearly always be having a great time. My current chef Josh is turning out exceptional food and I'm very, very pleased with the staff in general. Business, by the way, is also staying quite strong even in the face of financial doomsday reports and a basketball crazed community in the throws of it's annual orgy of brackets (I'm really not kidding about the later as establishments without dozens of TVs refer to this time of year as "March Sadness").

    Does this mean that we never mis-step? Hardly. Though I should add that the next restaurant that I've gone to more than once or twice, even those with exceptional reps and lofty price points to match, that hadn't disappointed me one or twice will be the first. There's basically a few options, either examine every plate on every night that goes out, pay enough people enough money to insure that you will never make a profit, or grit your teeth and accept the fact that, like basically every other industry in existence, you're not going to bat 1.000. Honestly, the only realistic option is #3. Nobody owes it to anyone to be a martyr. I got into it once with somebody on another board (about a restaurant other than mine) because this was an unsavory truth they did not want to accept. Their point, "we don't accept failure from surgeons and airplane pilots, why restaurants?" Mine, was that line cooks make about $10 an hour and the economies of the industry will not support any more. I think it's fair to hold them to lower standards than surgeons and pilots. This is not carte blanche on happily accepting poor food (either from the standpoint of a consumer or as the proprietor), rather coming to grips with reality. An interesting stat: If I get it right with 99% of the time, I will piss off about 10 people per week.

    I like my servers and feel fortunate to have as loyal and good hearted a crew as I do. They donate their time when we have charity events to allow us to give as much of the proceeds as possible to the cause. They've become more and more interested in food, wine, and service with each passing day. However, let's not fool ourselves, service as a whole is slipping everywhere and there's some very simple economics behind it. When I was coming up in the industry, your average busboy was in their early 20s and waiters started there and went up into the 30s. As one of those busboys, I knew more about wine than nearly any waiter I can remember waiting on me in any restaurant I've eaten at in the triangle. Now? I have exactly one server over 25 years old. Cheesecake Factories, PF Changs, etc. enter a market and employ dozens and dozens of servers which seriously dilutes the labor pool for everyone.

    Now, once again, I'm not exactly sure what amounted to your poor service, but I've certainly learned to lower my expectations in that regard at pretty much every place I eat these days. All I look for now is that they're basically friendly and I get what I ask for in a timely manner. Long gone are the days where I can expect pros anticipating my needs. I know people get pissed because they had to ask for refills, etc but I honestly think they should relax unless they're in the kind of place that charges the kind of money that allows waiters to make enough in tips so the cream of the crop is lured there.

    Jujube is at a bit of a crossroads as we've become different things to different people and are going to have to make some choices. Because Josh and I are excited about pushing the envelope with special dinners and such, we've developed a bit of a following for that. There are regulars who joke about why we even bother having a regular menu because they always get specials. At the same time, we have a set of people who come in for the same thing over and over (like the mushroom soup I mentioned above). Resolving these two is harder than it might seem.

    So, once again, my apologies.

    Now it's my turn.

    You prefaced your critique by explaining you respected me in the local scene. Why would you not, then, simply bring your concerns to me or at least elaborate to the extent that I could figure out what went wrong and fix it? That would seem to be a noble intent. To inspire local restaurants to keep striving to make their product better. Forgive me, but that is not the tone I am getting.

  2. True. Execution is the most important thing.

    I have worked with hundreds of culinary students from all over the country, all skill levels. They have NO IDEA what they are putting on the plate, they just do what they are told.

    The execution is not in question here.

    The rules and structure for student ACF sanctioned competitions is a JOKE. Any accolades they get should go straight to the instructors. You have instructors competing vs. students. LOL. Every other team in this state(I know this as fact) writes', plans, and executes their own menu. period. The fact that they are passing off that crap as being their own work is the SHAM.

    Microgreens? Are you kiddding me? WTF does a 19 yr old pot-smoking hippie student living in Asheville know about a microgreen and a Trotter-esque microportion? Nothing.

    They execute very beautiful tasty dishes to a "T". Ones' they do not even understand.

    The proof is in the pudding pal. All of their knife work looks like it was done by a Robot Coupe.


    I am done crying now

    First off, execution is not just "the most important thing". It is far-freaking away the most important thing. Not even a contest. Throughout my entire career, I've been exposed to more "innovative" 20 year olds who want to start writing menus on their first day than I'd like to remember. Give me someone who understands how to sear a piece of fish over that any day.

    Cooking schools should be turning out kids with line skills. Let them figure out the rest over time.

    As for your microgreens comment. Are you kidding me? I've seen those things at Harris Teeter! If you're going to point to something that is obviously over the head of a 19 year old kid, you're going to have to try harder than that.

  3. Went there Saturday night and have to say that I can't remember the last time I had as nice a meal out.

    We started off with a scheurebe (sp?) trocken that went great with the beet salad with horseradish quark, my keilbasa (that was delicious and a much lighter color than I'm used to) and even the seemingly simple butter lettuce salad (dressed with a delicious herbed dressing). We also tried the pork belly with poached pears. Super tender with a crispy browned top.

    Entrees were also great. I had the pumpkin perogies with shrimp and browned butter. Interesting addition was the browned milk solids often strained off when one is served brown butter. It was kind of like bread crumbs only super rich. I mean, it's basically fried cream! Really nice dish all in all.

    My wife had the polish stew of beef, pork, and smoked sausage with saurkraut and potatoes. Every bit as delicious as we anticipated. Others had the braised venison shank with (I recall cherries but could be wrong) again nice and the triggerfish with potato-onion gratin. If I had to say the one dish that didn't floor me it was that one but that could easily have been due to the fact that everything else was so off the hook. They insisted that I go with a von Kesselstat Riesling Auslese as neither I or the waiter could imagine anything else that would bridge all those dishes. Long story short... it did.

    Desserts just kept it going. Gingerbread cake that was downright spicy with ginger and really, really moist. A super rich cake of chocolate layered with dried apricots was, ok I'm starting to repeat myself but it was really, really good. Lastly the apple strudel...lovely.

    Honestly, I really wasn't surprised considering the fact that everyone I'd talked to who had been there gushed about it. Well, count me among those ranks.

  4. I can't imagine a worst time to hold a farmer's market then 10-2 on a weekday. Sure you overlap lunch, but that only covers one hour of the market and what is someone supposed to do with their produce when they go back to work?

    There aren't enough food industry people and stay-home parents to make a market thrive at that time of day. Mid week markets work but they need to go 3-7 or something like that so people can hit them on the way home.

    Obviously weekends are ideal, but back home in Santa Cruz, the Wednesday afternoon market was by far the bigger deal than the Saturday morning one.

  5. haven't yet...but I think we are going with your (and many others) suggestion of Udupi.

    We're going Thursday night...I'll let you know.

    Make sure you get the dosas. They're really great. Word of warning, don't expect to get a beer. They don't serve alcohol nor do they allow BYOB. It's against their religion. That said, it's a wonderful meal none-the-less and they are very kind people.

  6. sant pau.    moo , espai sucre, commerc 24.  most other places are closed in the first two weeks of jan.  any other suggestions would be appreciated.  we are a bunch of chefs on a gastro weekender.

    I'm not a big fan of Sant Pau. Excellent execution, great product, but IMHO nothing to write home about.

    Wow, must be tough to please. I've never seen "excellent execution" and "great product" used to describe a restaurant that doesn't merit a positive review.

  7. I just received a press release that Kevin and Stacey Jennings, owners of Frazier's, Porter's and Vivace, will be opening up a new southern-inspired restaurant in the old Savannah spot in North Hills.  To be called "South," this restaurant will "feature updated versions of classic Southern dishes – from Shrimp & Grits and Fried Chicken to Cobblers and Mint Juleps – in a lively, urban setting."

    The Jennings have clearly developed a strong recipe for success, and when this new place opens in early February, I'm confident it'll be another great place to eat.

    How long was the "old Savannah" place there. Didn't it just open in the last year?

  8. I went last night and had the 3 course meal as well. Endive, Fennel, and Goat Cheese Salad which was particularly nice. Dressing was bright but had a curious richness. The cheese itself was delicious. Also had, and enjoyed the gnocchi while my companion had the crepe. The duck was very tender and the dish was all together good. I should say that my wife started with the mushroom soup which was gorgeously rich and mushroomy. My Tuna with picholine olives was great. One thing that caught my eye about it was that it wasn't fashionably uber-rare, rather cooked to about Medium Rare but it really seemed to work for the dish. After seeing the tables around us deal with desserts that were easily twice the size of any other courses they had, we took their word on it and skipped.

    In general, after two trips I think they're doing a wonderful job. I love the muscadet so I may take back what I have said (maybe not on this site?) about offering something else by the glass.

    I'm rather sure that Rue Cler will end up in our regular rotation of spots to eat.

  9. Last night, a group of us had the pleasure of partaking in a special "Whole Hog Tasting" meal at Vin, featuring a hog from Cane Creek Farm.  This hog is a cross from the Ossabaw and the Gloucestershire Old Spot (discussion here), raised on protocols established by Niman Ranch.  In fact, Bill Niman himself was at last night's dinner, and he took the time to chat with us (and to rave about chef Ashley Christensen).

    The first course was a frisee salad, topped with fresh garlic pork sausage and a poached egg.  This was a great starter, and I could easily have enjoyed a larger version of this for brunch.  Maybe some crispy lardoons, too!

    The second course consisted of pork belly served two ways: first, the fresh bacon was braised and then crisped on the outside.  I'm not really sure how the second part was prepared, but it ended up being shredded pork belly served on a piece of crunchy baguette.  The entire dish was served with a chick pea soup – very light and refreshing to contrast with the unctiousness of the pork.

    We then were served some great house-made tortellini filled with testa and pork shoulder.  Ashley had intended on making a testa terrine, but she just didn't have enough time for it to cure and set properly.  Nevertheless, the tortellini were fantastic.

    The final pure pork dish was a basic risotto Milanese topped with pulled pork shin and shaved white truffle.  God, I love truffles!  This was a great dish, but frankly, the truffles almost made the pork unnecessary.  That's the one problem with truffles in my opinion.

    Dessert was a braised apple shortcake with whipped cream.  I think the braising liquid included a little Calvados, but I'm not sure.  Anyhow, as I started to eat this, I declared, "Well, there's no pork in this dish."  One of my dining companions informed me that the biscuits could have been made with lard.  I just couldn't tell, so never being a shy one, I informed everyone at the table that there was no lard in these biscuits.  Of course, my friend walked over to the kitchen, informed Ashley Christensen that I stated there was no lard in the shortcake, and she gave me a look that said, "What the fuck is wrong with your sense of taste, boy????"  I responded by yelling, "But did you render it yourself?"  And she looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Of course."  A minute later we had another biscuit on the table, accompanied by a small bowl of lard.  Oops.  My friend started smearing the lard over the biscuit, wolfing it down – that was a bit of overkill.  Yup, that's the kind of chef Ashley Christensen is, taking the time to make her own lard.  Geesh.

    In the end, it was a super meal with great friends.  I will say, however, that the one downside to this meal was that I would have really liked to try some of the pork in a fairly unadulterated form.  The chef certainly had a very light hand in her dishes, trying to let the flavor shine through, but I would have loved to pull some of the shoulder meat straight off of that pig.  Boy, that would have been great.

    Guessing by your description of the shredded pork on baguette that it was rillettes (sp?), essentially seasoned pork braised in pork fat, then shredded and stored in the same fat it was cooked? At any rate, it would make sense based on your description.

    Sounds like an outstanding meal.

  10. While [MINIBAR] seemed to be about cooking, his seemed to be about food first.  A very important distinction.

    Can you all elaborate on this distinction? I am definitely a food amateur, and at times this thread of Bryan's has intimidated me, especially given the fact that he too is an amateur and yet is clearly so talented and putting together some incredible meals, by any standard. But in the end, I lean toward a variation of what Duke Ellington said: if it tastes good it is good. So help me understand what is going on here. I'm not talking about educating me on the techniques. I'm more interested in, What are we gaining by this direction in cooking? Is it something analagous to what, say, a postmodern examination of modern of some artisitic piece might provide us in terms of insight into the work of art?

    Or is it more like what a (excuse my ignorance here) discordant piece of music might tell us about our own understanding of music? i.e. it sucks to listen to, but it is nevertheless interesting.

    Or something else entirely?

    I pose those questions not because I lean toward any particular answer, but because I'm ignorant and curious.

    I'd be happy to. In general, I'm not inclined to buy the whole molecular gastronomy thing hook line and sinker but appreciate the energy behind it. Provided, of course, that these techniques are a means to an end and not simply culinary masturbation. As in every movement, there are those who are really artists and those who grab that same bag of tricks and create something, perhaps less inspired. I'm quite confident that this movement is no exception.

    As to the comparison I gave. The phrase, "Wow that's cool" was uttered often during our meal at Minibar, but rarely the phrase, "Wow, that's delicious". Thus, I think they missed the point and let the pursuit of shock value overtake the pursuit of satisfaction. In this case, it was not unlike the oft-satired foods of the late 80s "Teriyaki buffalo taco with mango-mustard seed genache and epazote coulis". This is not to say my meal at MiniBar was without it's high points because there were certainly dishes that I was very jazzed about. It may simply come down to the fact that they were trying to keep it up for 37 courses. That said, a meal at Manresa a few summers ago was equally ambitious in terms of courses but was on-point essentially throughout.

    My dinner at Z kitchen did not resemble this. Frankly, in many cases, I wondered why the term "hyper-modern" was being used. It just seemed like a really tasty plate of food. Further examination and discussion revealed that he was actually using some rather innovative means to achieving these dishes but I wouldn't have known. When something was obviously different, like the carbonated fruit, it was excitingly good. The thought, "Well that was an interesting idea, but I don't think I'd want a second helping" never came up.

    I hope this clarifies things for you.

  11. BTW, I feel terribly remiss in not having posted my thoughts from my evening at Z Kitchen. Unfortunately, unexpected circumstances have forced me to be exceedingly busy at Jujube of late so I simply have not finished my report.

    Long story short, I thought the meal was outstanding as did the rest of my party. Besides serving interesting but more importantly delicious food, Bryan is very charming and a fine host. Any critques I have (which I will at somepoint finally share) were minor. As I said to him that night, I really thought his meal was much better than the one I had at Mini-bar in DC not long ago. While that one seemed to be about cooking, his seemed to be about food first. A very important distinction.

    At any rate, gotta go, but I just wanted to mention...

  12. Saffron serves Indian haute cuisine and was at least quite full last friday night. My guess is that these places are making their bread and butter during lunch while hoping the area grows in terms of housing developments (which it appears to be doing). That, of course, should result in better dinners as well.

    But yes, the shopping center where 9n9 is all about lunch.

  13. Bryan sent me the menu for this Friday:
    Corn croquetas, caramelized onion and sherry vinegar ailoi

    Salmon mi-cuit, braised fennel, raisins, soy sauce powder

    Squid, braised beef, garlic cream


    Squid, goat cheese, piquillo peppers, garlic cream

    Chicken breast cuit sous vide, wine jus, roasted vegetable puree

    Carbonated fruit salad, miso-chocolate dipping sauce

    So, anyone have any tips on wine pairings?

    Riesling is always a good choice because it is, basically the single best food wine out there. Nothing pairs so well with apps and meat courses alike. Go down to your boy Chrish's place and grab a bottle of 2002 Nigl Privat Riesling. At $40 it would hardly qualify as cheap, but I had some this weekend and saw god. That tends to happens for me at higher price points than that.

    Another thought is a rueda. Much cheaper (I know you well Varmint) but super versatile. Casa Moro is somewhat readily available and really good for the money ($10 or so).

    Or are you looking for specific course pairings?

  14. People do not pay for experiments.  Either add an extra dish, the experiment, at no cost or just work on the stuff on the side.  With regards to preparing the meals, they should and will take more than a few last minute hours.  The key is the planning, prep and organization.

    Actually, paying for Bryan to experiment is exactly what I expect my dollars will be doing when I go in a couple of weeks. I expect to get some culinary enjoyment out of this, but let's be honest, I'm going to be eating cutting edge food in a college apartment. To do so under the impression that I'm going to get some comfy food that I know will be right up my alley would be nothing short of naive.

    I would imagine that if Bryan truly messed something up, he'd be stand up enough to discount the meal. On the otherhand, I think that in good faith, people should not complain if a well executed dish, "doesn't really do it for them".

    In the quest for mind-stretching experiences, we need to accept the fact that sometimes we pay for things that we may have not enjoyed that much. You can't have it both ways.

  15. This might be only partially relevant as this experience does not specifically apply to z-kitchen, rather to the hyper-modern movement as a whole. I dined at mini-bar in DC this weekend and had a very enjoyable time. That said, the "pushing of the envelope" was more interesting that satisfying. The words, "that's cool" were uttered far more often than . "wow, that was delicious!"

    My point? I was in DC for two nights. One night at mini-bar, the other night we cooked for ourselves. Both dinners were over the top for different reasons. Mini-bar for intellectual reasons, the next night when we cooked for ourselves it was over the top for decadent, hedonistically delicious reasons. Nothing we did on Saturday night was remotely cutting edge or difficult to repeat but all in all, I think it was better.

    At mini-bar we were served a number of whimsically deconstructed versions of classic dishes, clam chowder and guacamole for instance. The dishes were very interesting, but as one of the diners said, "The next time I have clam chowder, I don't think I'll wish it was more like this."

    The other thing that I noticed lacking from the meal was an awareness of season. I felt the meal prepared was done so without any concern for what was naturally good. As if this meal was about preparation of food more than it was about food itself.

    I did walk away from the meal with some great ideas, but firmly feel that hyper-modern culinary techniques may be best carefully applied than relied upon to achieve the ultimate goal, the complete satisfaction of the diner.

  16. So way after I had supposedly confirmed with kids who are coming on Saturday, I get an email saying one of them doesn't eat beef or chocolate.  This made me want to kill myself.  So no dairy, no pork (a late addition), and for one of the diners no beef or chocolate.


    That's not so bad. All you need to do is sub duck or something similar for the beef and ditch the bacon. How about a roasted pineapple-vanilla dipping sauce instead of the miso/chocolate?

    I've been playing with the idea of a vanila flavored dipping sauce instead for the one diner but can't figure out how to make it without dairy. Ideas?

    We served a vanilla tamarind sauce with dessert that was pretty tasty. The tamarind brings with it a bit of viscosity which, I'd imagine would be somewhat simillar to that of your chocolate miso deal.

  17. I don't question his right to wonder if people will be into what he's doing but I'm assuming that this forum was intended to be much of his target customers.  Wondering if those of us in the triangle are "ready" can very easily be seen as a challenge. 

    Right on, but this "us" thing...I'm almost sure he wasn't talking about eGulleters from the triangle when he wondered if NC was ready. That would've been not only brash but counterproductive and well, not very smart. Maybe he should've said "I don't mean you guys", but I thought that was implied...

    As I think I've said, my comments were directed toward what I consider the area at large. And as others have said, the same comments can be applied pretty much everywhere, NYC included. Of course, they were not directed toward eG members. I do understand, however, how my comments could have been misconstrued or seen as brash. And, yes, as detlechef says I don't have a lot to prove my worth besides this idea, a website, and some passion. At the same time I've never said my food or ideas are so good that people just won't be on my level. It's more that I'm doing something that no one in the area is doing so people might be weirded out or even offended. These boards (of "foodies") often show how vehemently against hypermodern cooking people can be.

    From the response to this thread, it seems like many are indeed willing. You really aren't in any kind of position to 'advertise' what you are doing anyway, so why worry about getting the word out? You can't be investing large sums since you are reservation only. I would think your dontation system would cover the costs of preparing the food for exactly the number of people you are going to serve. The venue of egullet seems a perfect place to let in who you would want your core audience to be, right?

    Willingness is a relative term. People are willing to talk about it (as on eG), or even contact me, but few people are actually taking the plunge and book a party. When time and money are on the line they're less willing to try something new and unfamiliar. That goes for just about anything. I would love for eG'rs to come by, but so far I've not heard from many.

    Is there a actually an eGullet night @ Z Kitchen planned, or did that get sidetracked?

    I'll just have Bryan haul his stuff over to my house in Raleigh. We could all cover his costs. detlefchef will pick the wines. I can find room for 20 or so!

    Up for it, Bryan??? :wink:

    Errr. :blink: How about four of you get together and come to Durham. Once I have some patrons (in both senses of the word) I'll consider private dinners off-site.

    What a very rude response to a very generous offer. Previously I referred to the assurance of youth. Now I'm I'm pondering the arrogance of youth.

    I think you're overreacting.

  18. Aw...I've been holding off on this, and don't really have time to do it justice at the moment, but: I agree with almost everything else you say, detlefchef, especially that dude should be able to just cook dinners out of his apartment....

    However, I myself have been dismayed at the naysaying of the "alleged naysayers". I almost said something at the outset but didn't. Re-reading the posts, I don't know why I found them so negative, there are only a couple....I just got a harsh vibe. I would've been disappointed if I'd been Bryan, but maybe that's me.

    As for Bryan's questioning of whether or not "his audience is ready"...That's absolutely the prerogative of anyone who's going to invest time and creative energy into an endeavor, isn't it: will there be anyone to appreciate it? And having spent plenty of time in Bryan's neck of the woods, I understand his concerns. I would've said the same thing he did, and I'm not a man/boy his age. I'd say it about most cities. This is not a dis of non-megalopolis diners, this is an assessment of the potential audience for an alternative creative effort: something outside of what people are used to. And about his age...at what age does a chef become qualified to gauge the potential receptiveness of the city he lives in to his food?


    I don't question his right to wonder if people will be into what he's doing but I'm assuming that this forum was intended to be much of his target customers. Wondering if those of us in the triangle are "ready" can very easily be seen as a challenge. One made by someone who's got little to his resume but a cool website and an obvious love and penchant for cooking. Again, this wont stop me from coming and I think what Bryan is doing is immensly cool. From a sports analogy, though, it's a lot like a rookie coming up and telling people that he's all that. Dude usually gets hit pretty hard week one. That's all.

    Now if, say, Ferran Adria or one of the other chef's Bryan credits as his inspirations made a simillar public statement, it would carry a bit more weight (but would still likely be perceived by many as a bit of a slight). All in all, people don't tend to appreciate the insinuation that they might not be ready for or understand someone's art. This might be the reason some have snapped back with bits about not wanting to eat at his apartment, etc.

  19. I dont think most know what they are ready for untill it has passed them by. Having said that, dont listen to any naysayers. the "predictors" and "analyzers", like Bocuse said "...write because they can't do".

    Do it!!!! the world is ready for a FUN night on the town doing ANYTHING besides wasting money at a mediocre restaurant and a mediocre movie. THIS IS ONE OF THE SINGLE BIGGEST PROBLEMS IN THE TRIANGLE.

    We are bestowed with great music and arts, but not everyone is "in" to that. Some people want to go out and have a GREAT time doing something new and different. There is very little in the way of original fun, especially for intellectuals.

    I think this or these types of restaurants would be successful anywhere. The key is doing it well.

    If we were to take ALINEA or El Bulli and transplant them to the triangle would they be less busy? I think not, people make reservations months in advance and travel half way around the country/world for these experiences. They have highly trained and dedicated STAFFS .

    I feel that this the biggest issue, building a team of people that share a similar vision. 

    It is a great risk, however there will be no great reward without it.

    My idea is to go legit. Get a TAX ID. Find a spot(maybe in a house, perhaps we should talk). Organize a dinner. Send out invitations, Advertise in the Independent, and wait. If you build it they will come.

    Honestly, I'm getting rather annoyed with all the reference to all the alleged naysayers. The person most openly questioning whether the triangle is "ready" for this food is Bryan himself. Frankly, I find this to be the only off-putting element to his venture. I support the notion entirely but think he's not very well served to comment so much about whether or not the audience is worthy. Perhaps that is not his intention, but that's exactly how it is percieved.

    Mind you, this is not an acclaimed chef making the bold statement that a certain demographic wouldn't understand his food but rather a 20ish year old college student. Plenty of us have experienced great food from stellar kitchens (perhaps, in fact, the very food. from the very chefs that Bryan is emulating) so we find the challenge to be tollerable only because we've come to expect such brashness from men/boys his age.

    As I mentioned before, it is valid to question whether the triangle would support a full scale version of what Bryan is doing, but that is hardly the case with this. For what it's worth I do doubt the validity of doing such a venture here. Yes people do travel across the globe to go to El Bulli but it also happens to be not far outside of Barcalona which is, itself very much a destination. Who makes a point to come here if not for hoops? Is there some massive b-ball fanatic/foodie demographic that I'm unaware of? (Please spare me the list of cool other reasons to visit the triangle. Let's just say it trails Barcalona on the holiday destination list by a stretch and leave it at that.)

    Why can't the endevour just be seen for what it is, a young aspiring chef expanding his talents. Why does he have to leave school or go public? Why can't dude just cook some dinners out of his apartment? Having spoken to Bryan about a possible dinner, I've gotten the sense that this is certainly taking a back seat to his studies, which is exactly what it should be doing.

  20. Chapel Hill is a great town, hard to disagree.  However it's a toughy for finding a good decent lunch inside town, or in the Greater Franklin Street area.

    Might I recommend Carrburritos at the top of Franklin St. which bottles Chapel Hill/Carrborro funk in a bottle.  Additionally, Foster's on MLK/Airport captures the fancy lad qualities of Chapel Hill.  Good sammiches, freshly fired pizzas and a great atmosphere all work in it's favor.

    Is Jujube open for lunch?  That would also be a very solid option.

    The question you probably meant to ask was probably, where should I take my guests for an afternoon pint of beer?  Top of the Hill has the nice views of town, but the more enjoyable place is probably Tyler's in Carrborro or Milltown (both of whom serve a solid pub-friendly yet sufficiently fancy lunch too boot).

    If I may, we are open for lunch at Jujube. Thanks for the mention.

    I also second the Milltown/Tyler's suggestion especially for the suds.

    If I may add Sandwhich (yes that's how it's spelled). Very Chapel Hill indeed.

    Two outstanding coffee options. For fans of french press, 3 Cups right next door to Sandwhich and for those looking for possibly the finest cappucino anywhere (mind you, I haven't been to Italy, but have been to every domestic city that fancies itself a good coffee town) check Driade. In fact, when I was trying to convince a food geek friend of mine to move here we went there for a cap. I kid you not, I saw tears welling up in his eyes as he saw them made.

  21. Forget Southpoint if you don't want chains. 54/55 has a ton of funky ethnic places. I've been hearing good things about Vit Goal (sp) Korean tofu place. I can't echo the good things I've heard about Chosun OK Korean as my experience wasn't so hot. Also good words on Jamaica Jamaica and a South American place in the same area. Certainly not fine dining, maybe even less so than you were expecting.

    Have 4 people all coming from different points in the Triangle that are looking to have dinner somewhere off of I-40 between Chapel Hill and Raleigh.  I don't get out of Raleigh much anymore.  Are there some good dining choices around the Streets of Southpoint area (other than the usual chain suspects), around the 54 /55 interchange, or RTP that would be good for dinner.  Not looking for fine dining really--just solid dining away from a chain.  Thanks.

  22. If I may add a story that may explain why a place like lantern (or any number of smaller places) would be a better fit.

    Back in the day, I was working at a place in Berkeley called 4th St. Grill. It was a popular place but not considered A-list akin to the likes of Chez Panisse. A young couple came to town to do some internships, he came and worked for us, she went to Chez Panisse. Over the next few months he worked nearly every station in the restaurant and picked up a ton of knowledge, she (according to him) spent all day picking thyme, peeling tomatoes, and blanching vegetables. Barely sniffed the line.

    Why, because chez panisse was constantly innundated with people looking to do externships there and always had several around. People were apparently willing to trade getting some actual reps in the kitchen for being able to say they worked there. Either that or they didn't know what the were (or rather weren't) getting into.

    For the vast majority of those of us in the industry, restaurant work is not about beautiful spacious kitchens with tons of prep staff and always immaculate product. It's about having a line cook at home with the flu, a dishwasher in jail, his brother helping out in his place, making do because you got sent lamb shanks rather than racks, and knowing your going to get pounded because it's friday night and nobody cares about your problems. As you're more likely to encounter these sorts of things in a less iconic place, you might be well served to work at one of them.

  23. The question of whether or not the triangle is "ready for this" is a rather silly notion. We are, after all, not talking about someone investing a bunch of money, signing a lease, and hoping at least 50 people choose to shell out the type of money it takes to eat at Moto, Manresa, etc. each night. We're talking about maybe 8 people each week. or a total of about 100 people over the next few months. That will be no problem.

    For those taking issue with the location, you need to chill. When I was about Bryan's age, I did the same thing out of my apartment in Berkeley (though in 1990 we didn't bring centrifuges, etc. into the kitchen). At any rate, the rather unusual venue brings with it a level of charm. The clandestine element, more still. I, for one, am looking forward to it.

    As for an area supporting a place like this on a larger scale, a large population base is paramount. This is not "everyday food" even for those who take dining very seriously. I love to check out places that really push the envelope... like maybe a few times a year. The rest of the time, I'd just as soon as eat a carnitas taco. Sp you need 10s of thousands of diehard foodies to support such a place. Thus, big cities.

    In fact, last time I was back home in CA, some friends and I went to Manresa in Los Gatos. David has worked with Ferran Adria and is completely in the middle of the movement around this type of food. We had a very memorable 35 course meal. That said, I was grabbing snack at home about a week later. Leftover roast chicken with some mayonaise as I recall. I called my buddy who shared the meal with me and we discussed how, as wonderful an experience Manresa was, none of the courses were really any better than the chicken and mayo snack that I was eating. He agreed completely and he'd spent some time as the sous chef there.

  24. Thanks for the post Nibbs, i think you are spot on and am glad you are making penence for your initial BBQ comments. 

    RTP is really the Triangle's dining version of Epcot Center (and I think with the tech businesses there we could really stretch this analogy out even more).  I noticed that you didn't mention any Japanese places.  Is this what Greater 54/55 is missing?

    Additionally, I think the Chatham/Harrison intersection in Cary is quickly developing a South Asian cooking niche.  King Kabob, Suchi, and the Veg. Indian place have all maintained a decent level of cookery (though Suchi lost their best cooks to Spice and Curry from what I understand).  King Kabob is also supposed to be starting up a buffet soon which is good news since their menu offers some good Pakistani style sausages.

    That corner (or actually the one that Varmint mentioned) is about as close to a true ethnic enclave as we have in the triangle. The only other I can think of is a 5-6 block stretch of Roxboro in Durham with possibly 3 of the top 5 mexican places in the triangle. Udipi is stellar as are the Indian markets in Chatham Square. Honestly, parts of town like this with a concentration of a particular ethnic cuisine is what the area is most bereft of. Frankly, given the sprawling nature of the area, my guess is that we wont see many more sprout up.

    Others may argue, but I think our fine dining is about as good as you'll find in any market of this size (or even somewhat larger). I've been to few cities not named SF, NY, etc. that outmatch it at least in terms of percentage of good to bad. For that matter, I've been burned far more times on very high end food in the big cities then I have here. It's the Chinatowns, little Saigons, etc. that this place lacks. The irony is that Greensboro has a pretty good Vietnamese scene going on but we don't.

  25. Does anyone know the name of the chinese restaurant in the same shopping center as Big Lots & Eckerd's on the corner of 55 &54. They have a regular menu and an authentic menu. I've had good roast duck there for lunch.

    I hardly venture out to Cary, but if you find out please post it. I'm really dissapointed by the chinese in this area.

    That's not Cary. It's in SW Durham sort of near Southpoint.

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