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Everything posted by umbabaru

  1. Sorry to see you go BryanZ. Hope Durham treated you well.
  2. I just returned from Atlanta for a trip; some friends took me to Top Flr in Midtown, I believe, a small place that seems to cater to a late-night crowd, a huge bonus for me. It was out of sight, with a very simple a la carte menu. I had a terrific skirt steak. Excellent sides. It is a very hip, very casual, very relaxed spot. I also ate at FAB downtown, and that was good -- very much a French Brasserie, so the name fits (French American Brasserie). Top Flr was the special place of the trip, though.
  3. Just found this thread:Dining In Downtown Atlanta
  4. I'm in Atlanta for the week, without a car and staying at the Hyatt Regency at the Peachtree center. Any places within striking distrance that I shouldn't miss?
  5. My wife read my post and had exactly the same response as Varmint, BryanZ, and detlechef. Well, actually, she was pissed at ME. And I think detlechef's response speaks for itself. Clearly he brings an honesty and integrity to his work, and I erred in creating this post based on one meal. I can't take it back, but I suppose I'll eat a little crow here in public to minimize the damage. I edited my initial post -- I will be back. Regarding the service: our server was extremely nice and accommodating, and I have super-high expectations that I agree need to be lowered. The food was a problem, but I suppose as Varmint insinuated, this can happen with any restaurant. It wasn't bad, just a little sloppy, which suggests it was an anomaly (especially given detlechef's response). The soup with rice would have been much better; I just couldn't handle it by itself. To take that singular experience and open up a new post was wrong. I have this very informal mindset regarding eG Forums, and I forgot that the post gets splayed up there with "poor" in the title for all to see. My sincere apologies.
  6. Since Chef Deal is one of the folks I most respect in the triangle food industry, I thought I'd try to find out what's up. It's been a while since I've been to Jujube, but I was surprised at how mediocre it was last night. Granted, it was Monday, but the meal reminded me so much of The Grasshopper near it's end. The ingredients in the noodles I had were way out of proportion, with heaps of scallions overpowering everything, and little sign of balance. A soup I had was so incredibly hot (and I like hot food) that it was impossible to enjoy. And poor service (which, I guess, the place has always had in my opinion). It was a totally mediocre meal. So has Chef Deal busy with new ventures? I remember hearing something about a high-end Mexican place, but perhaps Super Taco and the other outstanding Mexican eateries in town put an end to that venture.
  7. What about Pop's in Durham? That's the best pizza I can think of around here. I agree with the others that Cinelli's New York Pizza and Grandma are great, as long as you don't get any toppings. The staff there is kind of freaky, though. If Randy's served booze, that's probably where I'd go most nights. Some folks like Satisfaction in Brightleaf, but I think it pretty much is on par with Mellow Mushroom. And <hack> the smoke is not so great in there either.
  8. Thanks for the info. Had a nice time in Omaha. I did not make it out of downtown, but I had a great meal at M's, where everything was done very well. Basic hearty american fare, but executed perfectly. I also ate at Upstream, where I had a very mediocre steak. But the beer there was great. We had dinner one night at La Buvette -- the wine was great, but the salad I ordered was a disaster. "House-made" gravlax with dried dill, for gods sake. Yuk. But it was fun, despite the food. So thanks again for the tips.
  9. I am heading into town, staying at the Embassy Suites in the downtown/Old Market area. Any good restaurants within walking distance? M's sounds good .... what else? And while Omaha may be the wrong place to ask, one of my traveling companions is vegetarian -- anything recommended on that front?
  10. Amy has opened her new place on Broad in Durham. What's the egullet word on the food?
  11. Capital Seafood is okay -- I've had terrible luck with their oysters, but if you'd like something that they don't normally carry (like mahi mahi), you can give them a call and they'll have it for you the next day. They are really nice, even if they don't carry the best product. However, I just down university, I've gotten very good oysters, for a very good price from the red and white. They are pretty good butchers, and while they don't get any small-operation meats, you can find some really fine prime cuts there from feed-lot stock, which some might enjoy. And originally, I thought you might be referring to the restaurant Fishmongers, which supposedly sells retail as well. See this thread: Food Lover's Guide to the Triangle
  12. What are the greatest finds in and around Southport? Fresh seafood retail Kid friendly porch-and-beer spots Upscale seafood and anything else!
  13. Actually, the new Fresh Market carries it. They carry (their labels) Market Style Bacon and Applewood Smoked Bacon. The label the meat dept prints out for the Applewood Smoked Bacon says "Neuskes Bacon". Also, it must be Neuske's, because it is $7.49/lb, while the market style is $4.99/lb! Fresh Market is now at the corner of Cary Parkway and Waldo Rood Blvd. It is huge now, the size of a Taj MaTeeter. ← I've been buying Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon for a couple of years at the good ol Fresh Market in Cameron Village. ← There's also Benton's if you're really up for a full smoked bacon. It's not local, but it comes from East Tenn where I hail from. BryanZ I have a pound for you when you get back to town.
  14. umbabaru

    Z Kitchen

    I only now have a chance to comment on the wonderful dining experience we had at Z Kitchen. The food was delicious, the menu was extremely well conceived, and the individual dishes and ordering were very well balanced. The artichoke soup was about as close to perfect as you can get. I hadn't realized how important a role the acidity of the artichoke can play; it is like a sherry-infused vegetable. The mushrooms and the chestnuts mellowed the soup and gave the dish its perfect balance. I suppose soft-boiled eggs are something not everyone loves (but I certainly do), and I think you have to appreciate a soft boiled egg, or at least appreciate what happens to the proteins in the yolk, to enjoy a slow-cooked egg. But to have this hollandaise like consistency in a soft-boiled egg provided a beautiful interlude between the scallops and the pork. The cheek was a perfect braise. Bryan clearly understands what a braise is. I was surprised he didn't do it sous vide, given that he has such a fancy water bath, but thank goodness he did it however he did (in fact, I think he had to cook the pork in his neighbors oven, since his broke before the meal). The cheese course was well chosen. In terms of wine -- on Bryan's suggestion, we opened with a Spanish sparkling wine, cava avinyo, which could not have paired better with the soup. I brought a white Burgundy (A Blaune), which got killed by the pork course, but luckily we had a spare Grenache that fit quite well. We also brought along a Sauternes to finish off with, and it paired as well as it could, out of its environment, with the cheeses.
  15. I may have been a bit harsh on HG -- it was one meal, two plates, and so I don't think that is a good basis for judging the food. We went for Brunch, and I do not think the items we had were well conceived, plus in a weekend of terrific meals, it was the poorest we had. However, my comparison to Bluebird was ill-conceived as well.
  16. Magowan was at the Durham Farmer's market this weekend, serving a butternut squash salad on croutons, and a country pate with some pickled onions. The pate was a good choice -- it showed that they know how to cook but also that simple is good. The squash thing was okay; probably didn't turn out like they'd hoped. Expectations are high -- it's interesting what it says about Durham. I guess if you're going to open up a restaurant here, you better come correct. Foie gras, raw oysters, fresh pastas, and then breakfast and lunch as well? Wow -- that's a lot. I'm looking forward to trying this place.
  17. umbabaru

    Z Kitchen

    Wonderful insight. I believe I need to visit Bryan and his food. Thanks detlechef for the response.
  18. umbabaru

    Z Kitchen

    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.
  19. What about the 54/55 area? To me just a cruise around that intersection, with the Wok Buffet extravaganza, hidden Asian groceries, and perhaps a dozen nationalities represented says a lot about the culture of RTP and what the workforce looks like. In particular, the following spots are tops on this cracker's list for RTP cuisine: - VIT Goal Tofu -- Korean tofu soups and barbeque. Perfect for the cooler nights. The tofu soups are as good as any I've ever had. - Sal's Birdland -- my favorite wing place ever, just be sure and get the sauce on the side. This place should be in Roadfood just for the crazy hotdogs (Jamaica style???) they serve. - Sarah's Empanada's, but alas they're not open for dinner. Bolivian baked empanadas; the feel of the turnovers is a bit industrial (I sense campbell's mushroom soup sometimes, but hell, the best crawfish pie recipe I have employs the same), and damn the salsa is good.
  20. FIG was definitely the high point. You all already know what the low point was -- Bowen's Island burned down before we got a chance to go there. We even stopped by on Saturday to see the place, and decided to return on Sunday for an early afternoon feast. Holly and others comment on what I missed, but hopefully can again enjoy, in the thread on the fire. At FIG we started with a King Mackerel salad. The ~3 oz. filet was grilled, I believe at a colder temperature, and then served with a julienne of roasted peppers (which were a bit overwhelming, but perhaps that's a personal thing) and a few currants spread around, along with some amazing arugula. My entre was veal sweetbreads, pan fried, along with some interesting mushrooms. Perfect. I've tried and tried to do sweetbreads at home, and I can't get the technique down. These managed a crispness on the outside and creaminess on the inside with that unmistakable sweetbread heartiness. My wife had a grilled triggerfish that was beautiful as well. We had a side of local turnips that were the best I've ever had, and I love and have had a lot of turnips. Simply done: sauteed in butter with chives. No desserts, but I had a grand tour of the wines-by-the-glass menu (my wife wasn't drinking!). Wines were wonderful, but the server didn't hit the recommendations quite right. Service was informal but very good. We went to Hominy Grill, and I found it pretty ordinary. If you ever went to the Bluebird Cafe in New Orleans then that's about it. It was fine, but not worth the 45 min wait. Not even worth a 15 min wait. I wish we'd stayed in town and done Diana's or something. The G&M/Pig and Chicken was amazing as always. I love how that place can be so interesting 25 years -- it must be because it is simple and French. Another highlight -- there is a small hotdog storefront (Ed's) on Wentworth behind Justine's where Justine's baker sells (in addition to hot dogs) the most amazing red velvet cupcake. I have never, ever, had a cupcake like that.
  21. We're heading out on a last minute trip to Charleston. We have no idea where to go or where to stay. Here's the criteria: Accommodations: less crystal, antiques, and lace -- more funk, fun, and location. Food: fresh is more important than style, a cook that values ingredients. What do the Charleston folks recommend?
  22. If Augergine is still around, it is a spectacular experience.
  23. Hell yes Sara's is still there. I went there last Friday and walked away staggering in delight.
  24. This weekend I found Hogans Grass Fed Beef. A great selection of cuts, incredible prices given the quality of the meat I saw (and bought), and a super nice guy. He's on old 86 near the Maple View diary, so you can grab an ice cream treat after you pick up some beef. Very convenient to Chapel Hill and Durham. I think this is a real find. I just drove up to his farm house, loaded up on supplies in his cooler, took my daughter back to see some of sheep, and rolled out. Door to door, 20 min from downtown Durham (not counting the side trip for the ice cream). I saw rib eyes, strips, a sirloin tip roast, sirloin steaks, chuck roast, bones. We had a couple of rib eyes last night, and they were just what you want out of pastured beef -- perfect fat content and a nice earthiness -- not that fake grain fat. The only caveat -- he also keeps the tarheel mascot... BUT he is a state grad (blasphemy, I know). Crazy.
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