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Everything posted by foodiehall

  1. I agree with your statement about Kevin and Stacey. They're just as nice and eager to please as they were 8 years ago when they first opened the doors to Frazier's. We were at Vivace not long ago and K&S were eating in a back booth with their little girl, who was busy with a coloring book and crayons. I went over to congratulate them on their latest venture and remind them that hub & I were among their first customers when they were new to Raleigh---back when Frazier's was their one and only and they were always there. Stacey would be back in the kitchen and Kevin would be chatting with the diners, always soliciting ideas for improvement in one thing or another. And I guess I mark myself as an old f_rt by saying this, but I'm at the point where higher-end dining value trumps elegant dining just about any day of the week.
  2. Any corn experts out there? Used to be that one of the great treats of summer-time eating was Silver Queen corn. Not just any white corn, Silver Queen has kernels that resemble small translucent pearls so tender that the corn is almost as good eaten raw as it is cooked. The unshucked cobs usually have tightly=wrapped bright green leaves, often with sand clinging to the silky end. I can't pinpoint the exact time but over the last ten years, Silver Queen has become more and more scarce....at least in central NC....until now it seems to be non=existent. What gets me is that at the state Farmers' Market and even at roadside stands, people will advertise their corn as "Silver Queen" assuming (I guess) that us dumb city folk will be fooled into thinking that any white corn is Silver Queen....but it's not! I think most of what's being sold as SQ is actually Supersweet, which is certainly not bad....but it's NOT Silver Queen. Supersweet has plump white kernels which turn a pale yellow when cooked whereas SQ will remain white. Also Supersweet is almost too sweet, even when salted....but that's a matter of personal opinion. Can anyone out there shed some light on the disappearance of Silver Queen? Surely I'm not the only one who's missing it. Anyone know of a source for it in the Raleigh area?
  3. Just so there's no misunderstanding...I'm not saying/implying that St. Jacques is pretending to be a French restaurant; it's as French as a restaurant can be in Raleigh, NC. I'm not passing judgment on its authenticity. My problem with the place is that---in my opinion---their food isn't worth the price they charge for it.
  4. You've got your opinion; I've got mine. And mine is that St. Jacques is a big rip-off and won't be getting our business any time soon. 'Nuff said. We can afford to eat anywhere, but we also have our eyes wide open when it comes to getting good value for our money. Just for the record, we've eaten at various kinds of restaurants---cafes, bistros, upscale, etc.---on 6-7 trips to France....so we do know a little something about French restaurants.
  5. Sorry to disagree with you....this place is not my idea of "very good". We've been there three times. Last time we were there, not one entree was under $20.00....even at places like Bloomsbury Bistro, you can find at least one entree for less than $20. For the prices this place charges, I'd expect their food to be outstanding and it surely is not that, IMO. I'd say it's "all right", but not good enough to make regular customers out of us. This really isn't about money; it's about value and, again IMO, St. Jacques doesn't cut it. Every time we've been there, service has been uneven: either we've been ignored for long stretches or someone is in our faces every five minutes, usually when our mouths are full, asking if everything if OK. If you want "VERY traditional French and very good", even better than "very good", I recommend Vin Rouge in Durham.
  6. Just returned from Charleston. Am short on time now and can't write much. Was not at all impressed with McCrady's....maybe expectations were too high? Not worth the money, IMO. Haven't been to Charleston Grill in several years so can't judge fairly. My best dinner during our long weekend was at Hominy Grill.
  7. We'll be making our annual Memorial Day weekend visit to Charleston soon so it's time for me to start making dining reservations. Some of our faves are Magnolia's, Blossom Cafe, Carolina's, Sermet's Corner, Hyman's Seafood, Hominy Grill, Cru Cafe...planning to return to Peninsula Grill after reading all the praises here. We've been to McCrady's a couple of times, but I wasn't terribly impressed....seems like it was temporarily closed last year? Set me straight if I'm mistaken about that. Always so many good choices, so little time....on that particular weekend. Have any of these places closed/gone downhill in the last year? Anything new that we should try? Thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions.
  8. OK....let's not even consider the money factor then; money isn't an issue with us anyway when dining in restaurants, whether we're out of town or at home. We do, however, like to get good value for our money and No. 9 didn't cut it---with us. We just didn't like the place with regard to ambience, service and food. Frankly, I don't even remember what we got to eat. I just remember thinking I wanted to get dinner over with and get out of there. I'm sorry we didn't eat dinner at our hotel, the Ritz-Carlton, where I can highly recommend the breakfast. And the service there leaves nothing to be desired.
  9. Here's my take on our first visit to Vivace this past Sunday evening: There are indeed still some kinks.....altho I'd made reservations, hostess tried to seat us with "Hall party of six"---a group of strangers---and said she had no record of "Hall party of two" (as we were leaving, she informed us that she'd found our reservation). This was no problem since the place wasn't full but it could have been a big problem on a busier night. And altho the place wasn't full, it was very noisy; can't imagine how it sounds with a full house. Since the nasty weather was atypical of an early May evening, outdoor dining was out of the question. Next time we'd like to try sitting outside. I was all set to order one of their limoncello cocktails when here came a server bearing two glasses of pinot grigio for us, compliments of another diner who's been our server many times at one of our favorite downtown restaurants. No way could I have handled both the wine and another drink...pitiful huh? So I'll try the limoncello next time. I'd reviewed the above posts before we went and advised hub about the mussels and the meat & cheese plate, but he went with the Caesar salad and was pleased with his choice. Good marks also for my salad with beets, fennel, gorgonzola and walnuts. We both thought the bread was a little lame--thinly sliced whole wheat...not what you'd expect in an Italian restaurant; a heartier bread would have been more to my liking. Bread hog that I am, even I didn't find it particularly tempting; it was saved by the accompanying bean spread. Although I told hub that VaNC wasn't bowled over with the chicken saltimbocca, he ordered it anyway....and later said he should have listened to me (ha, that's often the case!). Said it wasn't bad, just not quite what he was expecting, said it could have been "tastier". I played it safe and ordered the pappardelle with Bolognese sauce and had no complaints. No dessert for us; we didn't even see the menu. Hub ordered coffee, which arrived at a very lukewarm temp; he was pleased the replacement however. Considering the Jennings' three restaurants, I think I prefer Frazier's....but the jury's still out on Vivace. We'll return....I'm already thinking maybe I'll make a meal out of 2-3 appetizers and skip the entree.
  10. Thanks for this last bit of info.....nothing turns us off like going to a place which is the place-to-see/be-seen du jour, where most of the customers don't give a rat's a$$ about the quality of the food. I did in fact try to make Sat. reservations a couple weeks ago but they were booked solid. We'll be sure to try it on a week night.
  11. I baked this cake for the first time for my mom's birthday this past weekend. The end result was a beautiful, delicious cake which drew many raves and compliments. I'm just an amateur cake-baker (really more into yeast breads and cookies) so my question will probably sound lame to the pros out there, but here goes: my only problem, which was later concealed by the frosting, was the presence of a slightly crusty overhang of cake around the edges of the pans when I removed them from the oven. Once the cake cooled, I carefully broke them off which left an uneven edge around the cake. What causes this overhang....too much batter in the pan? Some other problem? As I said, there was no "problem" with the end result, but I don't want to ruin a future cake by having to remove too much overhang. Thanks for your help.........Cheryl
  12. I don't think it was so much sticker shock as it was the place being over-hyped. Certainly we expected to pay more in a Boston upscale restaurant than we would here in Raleigh....we've been around; we didn't just fall off the turnip truck. And we've got some places down here that wouldn't be anyone's idea of inexpensive. I guess I'm of the mind that when a place charges big bucks, it should have something more going for it---say, ambiance---besides good food and IMO, No. 9 didn't cut it. And here's one of my pet peeves regardless of where I'm eating: these small servings of entree/dessert in the middle of a huge plate. I can't imagine the size of No. 9's "little plates"....what would that be, two bites? And nothing whatsoever about the dining room struck me as "romantic"....it may as well have been a sports bar---without the widescreen TVs, of course.
  13. HA! We took your word and that of others and went to No. 9 Park and were NOT favorably impressed. That place is a ripoff, IMO! If I were a Bostonian, I'd never set foot in there again. The only positive thing I can say is that I enjoyed the bread/rolls. Hey, Honeymoon Guy---if you're looking for a reasonably priced meal in a place that is even minimally romantic: No. 9 Park is not for you and your bride! The tables are so close together that you're practically sitting in your neighbor's lap. And forget about having any sort of private conversation....you wouldn't be able to hear your companion anyway what with all the din in the claustrophobic dining room. We were seated next to a 40-something couple who were obviously on a first date....the lady was lovely, the guy was a loser. Probably took her there to show her how much money he could spend on dinner. The owner must be paying an arm and a leg in overhead what with her choice location right off Beacon Hill; I got the distinct impression a big percentage of our meal cost was going toward the rent. The food was OK, but not what I'd consider a good value. 'Nuff said about No. 9 Park. On a positive note: we very much enjoyed our meal...the food/general ambiance/service...at Pigalle. I'm back home now; hub is still in Boston, now attending a conference. He reports that he and his associates have been pleased with dinners at Troquet and Hamersley's Bistro. I regret that I missed going to those places. Many thanks for all the suggestions!
  14. Breakfast? Paramount on Charles St. is a good one and relatively close to the common. As someone said before, breakfast isn't a thing in Boston like in NYC. I would recommend hitting one of the bakeries in the South End as someone said above (Flour or South End Buttery). I think Tremont 647, also in the South End, is one of the few places in the city that is known for its brunch. Good luck! Weather is supposed to be warm and sunny (by our standards) this weekend! ←
  15. We live in NC and haven't been to Boston in almost 20 years. On our last visit I recall eating at Legal Seafood. We will be visiting there again this weekend....going to support our team in the Women's Final Four basketball tournament....arriving on Saturday and I'll leave Wed. morning; hub will stay on a few days to attend a conference. I've read through this thread with great interest. Would someone be so kind as to tell me which places are in the area of Boston Common? Any suggestions for reasonably priced breakfast places....we'll be staying in a nice place, but not interested in paying big bucks for hotel breakfasts. Thanks so much in advance for your help and advice. Cheryl
  16. Tea for me. Diet Coke. Practically any kind of good bread along with unsalted butter.
  17. I'll second that. Now if only they could do something about the parking situation.
  18. I bake my own cakes, pies, cookies, although my real interest is in yeast breads. You might say this is my hobby. I doubt that I would patronize a bakery; indeed, I've never set foot in Hereghty's (sp?) which is only about a mile from my house. My hub, a Moravian from Winston-Salem, has always lamented that Raleigh doesn't have a baking establishment like Dewey's. Judging from comments from neighbors/family/others who cross my path, I believe myself to be in the minority when I say I do most of my own baking (yes, I do buy some bread at the grocery store)...that said, I have to think a good locally-owned bakeshop with reasonably priced products would do well.
  19. After making soda bread so many times and always using buttermilk, as opposed to plain milk, I made the recipe again using buttermilk. The result was only slightly less yucky than before....took one bite, spit it out, and had terrible aftertaste. Not to be defeated by this recipe, I e-mailed the food editor of the local paper and describled my problems with the recipe, which incidentally is from a cookbook put out by none other than Culinary Inst. of America. Sure enough, she wrote back saying others had contacted her with complaints so she called CIA. Turns out there was a misprint in the cookbook....called for twice as much baking soda as was needed....but Assoc. Press had picked this up and printed incorrect recipe in syndicated article. I made the soda bread again using the correct measurements and it was fine; the third time was a charm I guess. But now that the mystery has been solved, I think I'll just stick with my old recipes that worked in the past.
  20. I've been making Irish soda bread for years using several recipes. Finished product has always turned out well, no complaints from anyone. A couple days ago I decided to try a new recipe for soda bread which was featured in the food section of my local newspaper. The only difference I noticed was that this recipe called for regular milk instead of buttermilk. OK....so I mixed up the batter, formed the disc-like loaf and baked it---nothing unusual, texture seemed right, looked fine when I took it out of the oven. At dinner, hub and I bit into pieces of this bread about the same time....and almost simultaneously spit the stuff out into a napkin. Ugh....I've never tasted bitter bread like that in my life! It was terrible...and took me a while to get rid of the taste in my mouth. What could have gone wrong? I bake often so none of the ingredients were out-of-date. I reviewed the recipe and can't recall omitting anything. Possibly the sugar was left out, although I recall washing the measuring cup I would have used for the sugar.....maybe I'm losing my mind?! Recipe called for the usual ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, shortening/butter, (regular) milk, currants. Any ideas as to the mystery of the bitter bread?
  21. Maybe this should be taken as a cautionary tale to others
  22. My favorite old stand-by is my Betty Crocker cookbook which I purchased in 1974, the 1973 version. It's pages are stained and the book itself has completely separated from the binding. I handle it very carefully these days; guess I should take it someplace to get it re-bound...but then I'd have to do without it for a while. There is no mention of microwaving in this book...duh!....but that's probably a good thing for someone who's learning the basics. Although the recipes aren't "dumbed down", they're pretty easy to follow. Among other things, I taught myself to make yeast bread(s) using this book.
  23. Re Lucky 32: Raleigh also has one of these. We've found this to be a good place for large family groups (like my extended family) which consist of 15-20 people at a meal, 3 generations w/ 75-yr. age span, various income levels, various likes/dislikes in food, etc. Everybody can find something they like at Lucky 32. Re Bistro Sofia: A couple posters on this thread have commented on the burning down of Madison Park restaurant...yet when I went back to Sofia's website and looked at photos, the exterior of the building sure looked like Madison Park, albeit with some spiffing up. Photos of the interior looked like a different place, however. And the directions given on the website sound like the directions to the former Madison Park. Perhaps the front part of the Madison Park building was not destroyed, just the back? Just curious.....
  24. I was so inspired by all these people waxing poetic about their memories of chicken & dumplins that I printed out your post and used it as a guide to cook up my first pot of c&d for dinner tonight. And it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. I used a left-over roast chicken from a few nights ago, simmered it for an hour or so with your ingredients, followed your instructions about using the broth for the pastry....I poured the 2 cups of broth into a large bowl, then kept adding flour until dough felt right. Next time, I think I'll reverse this process with the broth and flour. Also I'll cut the pastry into smaller pieces. I could probably keep adding water to the leftover c&d and have it last for quite a while. I served some broccoli along with the c&d; didn't have time to come up with all those other side dishes and breads. Those dumplins were enough "bread" for me.
  25. We enjoyed our first meal at Federal early in January and will return in the future. Just a head's up here: since service moves at what I would call a casual pace, Federal might not be the best place to eat if you're going somewhere afterward and have any time constraints.
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