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Zeb A

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  1. My wife and I have now been back to this restaurant multiple times, and I am even more impressed. I am not a competent food reviewer, so I leave that to Varmint, who I again am encouraging to visit the restaurant. I think they are serving some of the best and most interesting food in Raleigh. Though completely different, I certainly put it on the level of restaurants like Vin and Fins.

    A couple recent favorites:

    1. Birria Jalisciense de Chamorro

    Lamb shank vaccum stewed in birria adobo and served in its own juices 21

    -- very tender flavorful meat

    2. Cochinita Pibil

    Pork marinated with annato seeds and sour oranges, served shredded on a banana leaf with red marinated onions and habanero salsa 6

    -- mentioned this before, but is is just great--don't go without ordering this dish


    Rompope del Convento

    Mexican eggnog presented in three ways: Sponge bathed in rum-vanilla bean syrup, natilla pudding and a shot 6

    -- sounds good, and it is

  2. We have been on a roll, with two new restaurant visits in two weeks, both of which were very successful.

    This past Friday, we went to Vivace, the new Italian restaurant in North Hills, brought to us by the Urban Food Group (ie, the folks responsible for Frazier's and Porter's).

    The restaurant is just one week old, but the buzz is strong. Having heard numerous people at work rave about Vivace, we decided to give it a try and were very impressed. The place was jumping on Friday night. The restaurant space is pretty impressive. read about it here. Better yet, the food was great. Standout selections that we tried included, the Ribollita (less thick than the traditional version, but very tasty), caprese salad, a risotto, and fresh paparadelle. Our selections weren't very exotic, but we saw quite a few more options that we'd like to try on a return visit.

    Prices were about $5-8 for appetizers and $12 (pasta) to $28 (steak) for entrees. (That''s from memory--I apologize for any inaccuracies, but I think that is about right.)

    Definitely worth a visit.

  3. I don't have time to write much of anything, but we went to Jibarra for dinner on Friday night and enjoyed it so much, we went back on Sunday with family. The menu was interesting, the food was great, the atmosphere was good (intersesting plates, bowls, etc.), the staff was friendly, informative, and professional, and prices were fair (in fact, appetizers were very reasonable). This:

    Cochinita Pibil

    Pork marinated with annato seeds and sour oranges, served shredded on a banana leaf with red marinated onions and habanero salsa 6

    was great!!!

    Simply put, this is a great addition to the Raleigh dining scene. You owe it to yourself and your fellow Raleigh diners to visit this restaurant!

  4. I'll second or third the food recommendation but I have to say we received really bad service when we brought our kid with us.  I know it's a tavern and all and that they do not intend to cater to kids (although they do have a kid's menu) but the attitude we received caused my wife to swear we would not be going back--even without our son--and despite the fact she loves their fish taco.  Too bad for me I guess as I'm ashamed to say I'm willing to put up with some rudeness for a good and conveniently located burger.

    Maybe give it a second shot. We take our kids there all the time, and the staff is always very accomodating. Plus, the noise helps drown out any unwanted sounds from our children

  5. I agree with Varmint, though I could not possibly have expressed myself in such an articulate manner.

    I guess I wouldn't say that I leave BB disappointed, but I don't ever leave with a real desire to go back anytime soon, which I think tells the story.

    Of course, I try to also look at local restaurants from another angle. If you want to go out to a nice dinner in Raleigh, what are your other options?

    Vin and Fins are clearly superior in my mind, but more expensive.

    I think I prefer Frazier's and Nana's Chophouse.

    Bistro 607, Glenwood Grill, Second Empire, BB, etc all seem more or less comparable to me.

    That's not a lot to pick from, and, judged from that perspective, I enjoy an occasional (ie maybe once a year) visit to BB. I'd probably enjoy it more if Varmint's observations were taken to heart.

  6. This past weekend, we went to Chapel Hill with our 20 month old and one month old to try something different. Our first idea was Elaine's, but upon arrival, it didn't look like a great kid destination (plus, no high chairs, which is a clear indication that they don't really want kids anyway). So, we lurched around and found Acme. What a great place. Of course we had to eat early and fast, but we had a number of the small plates and some wine and were quite impressed. The empanadas and wontons were particularly good, and a lasagne special hit the spot. A little off the beaten path, but definitely worth a visit.

  7. Excellent review Deano!

    That is Exhibit A as to why I can't do reviews. Somehow, "I had the chicken, and it was good," just doesn't measure up.

    Fins is a great place. I've eaten there quite a few times over the last 5 years, and every meal has been great.

  8. I would like to see more good restaurants in the Triangle as much as the next person would, but, I think we have to ask, to what are we comparing the Triangle? If you took the top 5 restaurants in the Triangle (say, Magnolia Grill, Nana's, Fearrington House, Vin, and Fins) and compare them to the top 5 resturants in similarly sized (or some even bigger) cities, I suspect that you would find that the Triangle compares favorably. For example, consider the following cities that I have spent some time in the last five or so years: Charlotte, Richmond, Denver, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Baltimore. I don't think any of these cities can beat the Traingle (and some of them can't even come close). The fact of the matter is, outside the major cities like NY, Boston, Chicago, DC, SF, etc., it is difficult to find great restaurants of this variety. That's not to say that it is difficult to find great food, great restaurants with local flavor, etc., but when looking for a top-notch up-scale restaurant in Random US city X, it can be a challenge.

    So, I think the Triangle (thanks in large part to Magnolia Grill), does a pretty good job when compared to its "competition." Nonetheless, I still wish we had more options because I like to eat out.

  9. I apologize up front for not reading all of the posts, but I think I get the idea of this topic.

    Personally, I am very glad that we have restaurants like Magnolia Grill, Vin, and Fins. Though I wish we had more restaurants of this caliber, my non-scientific sense is that this is not a poor showing in comparison to the country as a whole (putting aside non-comparable locales such as NYC and SF).

    For example, we recently went to New Orleans, which I always sort of imagined to be a food mecca of sorts. But, if you are looking for "cutting-edge" fine-dining, I think The Triangle compares favorably.

    What I do wish, however, is that a restaurant would open that had a more adventuresome spirit. Perhaps such a restaurant would fail becuase the consumers would not support it. But, theoretically, if Hugo's can be successful in Portland, Maine, I see no reason why such a creative restaurant could not be successful in the Triangle. And, I hope that someone soon will take a chance and try something like that.

  10. Zely & Ritz is a new restaurant on Glenwood in Raleigh (at least, it seems new to me). It is in the spot where Crooked Chef and the deli joint (can't recall the name) failed--next to Sushi Blues. We went there last week. I would call it thoughtful tapas. I don't have time for a detailed review, but just about everything was pretty darn good, including the desserts. And, the tapas were interesting, not run of the mill appetizers that you see everywhere. Check it out.

    Zely & Ritz

    301 Glenwood Ave

    Raleigh, NC 27603

  11. we have recently had poor service at margaux's as well.

    in my opinion, the menu is too large, nothing is all that good, most entrees are over sauced and too heavy, and the price is high for what is provided.

    nonethless, not a terrible option for a change of pace

  12. I have heard good things about Second Empire, but have never dined there. 


    we just ate at second empire for the first time in about 1.5 years. it was ok, but not great. too expensive for what is served. portions too big with too much going on. also, it seems a bit pretentious from an atmosphere standpoint. i would leave it off this list, but, varmint, if you want to definitively answer your question, you probably need to hit fearrington house, despite the cost

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