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Guilty Gourmand

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  1. Difficult question. I have not been this year and so I am speaking from dated and limited experience from last year but my general impression was that the quality / variety of produce (main reason I go) was not all that great and the prices were pretty high. Although I certainly support the locally and directly grown efforts, my sense is that those efforts really are still catering to a pretty limited audience / niche crowd willing to pay to support those sorts of things. If volume is desired / required for survival, I think quality has to be top notch and that they may have to move away from some of their local sourcing requirements. For example, I heard folks in my office say they went last week and the stuff didn't look all that good and was really expensive. Some went back the next day and got stuff from the City Market folks all based on price and (perceived) quality. If quality and variety are great, you probably have a chance to lure some folks in that aren't as concerned with the locally grown aspect but quality has to sell the item. I work downtown and think that a Wednesday lunch period probably makes the most sense if you are going to do a mid-week market. My sense is that more people are likely to make a special point of taking a slight detour at lunch than would plan to trek over and/or hang around late afternoon or after work unless they live immediately downtwon. I personally would go over on a Wednesday lunch as a break in the day but would be very unlikely to take the time to go after work. We live close to downtown and so would personally support a Saturday morning market if you could pull that off on a full-scale basis. Wonder if that would that create any conflicts with some of the current vendors and other markets? At any rate, I think there are likely to be many many more people downtown willing to make a short detour mid-day on a Wednesday than would be willing to make a special trip downtown on Saturday.
  2. I second the Stitt recommendations and would also add Hot and Hot Fish Club (which is not mainly a seafood restaurant) for high end dining with local ingredients. Carpetbagger hits on some B'ham dining institutions--barbeque and hot dogs. Everybody has their own barbeque preferrences so you can get a lot of different opinions there--my recommendation would be Pat James Full Moon Barbeque. Another Birmingham dining institution is the meat-and-three steam table lunch spot. Nikki's West is probably the best of the bunch--or certainly the most famous. The atmosphere is, in my opinion, pretty awful but the veggies are good and it is a real landmark. If I recall correctly, they are open for dinner but hey--you've got to eat lunch too so why not hit them up for a quick lunch. Another great dininng institution is the Bright Star in Bessemer which is worth a little drive to take in an evening meal.
  3. Just curious if anyone eaten at Windansea in Morehead City lately. It has always been one of my favorite places there and I recommend it to others in addition to Stillwater and Blue Moon, etc. but haven't heard much about them lately.
  4. Thanks for everybody's suggestions. Sorry for my late reply. We actually ended up at Babymoon Cafe as most of the folks in the group knew where that was. Although not as adventurous as some of the other options along that stretch, it was a nice meal and worked out well for our group. Thanks again for everybody's suggestions.
  5. 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.
  6. Sorry it didn't go well. I used to spend a good bit of time in B'ham and Jim n Nicks was always one of my favorites but mainly for the pork, pig in the garden or onion rings. I understand from friends that Pat James Full Moon B-B-Q continues to be the best in town but I haven't tried it recently and everybody seems to have a different preference for their cue.
  7. Sorry for the late reply but wanted to add this for future reference for anybody looking for a quality bbq joint between Raleigh and Wilmington off of I-40. Stephenson's Bar-B-Q is located just 5 minutes or so off of I-40 directly on your way to Wilmington. It's about 20 miles or so out of Raleigh. To get there, take the McGee's Crossroads exit off of I-40 East (Exit 319). After exiting, take a right onto NC Highway 210 and go a couple of miles to the intersection with NC Highway 50 (McGee's Crossroads). Turn right onto Highway 50 and go another couple of miles and Stephenson's is located on the right. I grew up in eastern NC and think Wilber's is at the top of the list but frankly my palate is not sophisticated enough to justify a detour to Wilber's when excellent cue is so close by at Stephenson's. I've heard some say this is "B-level" cue compared to Wilber's or Allen & Son but I frankly have not experienced that in my several visits. In fact, I would put this above typical Allen & Son most days just because I've had some inconsistent stuff at Allen & Son. (I agree when Allen & Son is on, however, it's just about perfect.) I understand that Stepehnson's cooks over hardwood coals so I guess they are not a true "woodburner" like Wilber's and Allen & Son but they also aren't using an electric or gas cooker. At any rate, I believe it's superior to the other nearby options. I love the smoky flavor. It also has a great atmoshphere--an old country Bar-B-Q joint with tons of locals eating around lunchtime. Was in Saturday and there must have been about 30 Legion baseball players in eating in addition to the farmers, families and several "little old ladies." It's just classic. They also serve fried chicken and tons of vegetables.
  8. Maybe Sol y Luna. I believe they have a nice Sunday Brunch if you're looking for something a bit unique. As gifted notes, Sunday options are a bit limited. You may want to investigate the listings on bhamdining.com if you haven't already.
  9. I had the opprtunity to duck in for a late lunch on Thursday and found it very good. It was after 2:00 so all they were serving were Panninis. I got the turkey and brie as well. Didn't see a listing for fries and didn't ask but got served a side of noodles with the pannini and all was pretty good and reasonably priced. I'll be interested to sample a few of their pastas and other selections at later dates. Not sure the food I had was on par with my new favorite restaurant, the Raleigh Times Bar, yet but it's very nice to have these additional options downtown and I look forward to checking in again. Just to be a little more clear on the location, it is on Wilmington, just past the interestection with Hargett heading toward the Capitol. Next to the Wilmington St. deck and across from the Mechanics and Farmers Bank and the Alexander Sq. Deck.
  10. Zeb, Thanks for the post. We have actually been several times and received good service on most occasions but the last two times we went there seemed to be a particular edge. Perhaps its just us. At any rate, enough on the negatives. I really was posting to note that a couple of days ago we received an email from a representative of Porters who said they monitored egullet and other sites in order to get feedback. First, the individual apologized for our negative experience and second also assured us that they had reemphasized for their staff the importance of treating all guests--even the younger ones--with the same attention to detail that I have found carries through in other aspects of their operation. Kudos for Porters for monitoring egullet and for taking time to not only respond but also address my concerns with their staff. The response was noted by my wife who I think has now agreed to pay a return visit.
  11. 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.
  12. I don't live in Winston-Salem but visit occassionally. Nobles is good but pretty upscale. No suit required but i think you would call it a "fancy type place." They are associated with several other Noble's restaurants and have a website. You may want to check the hours--I suspect a lot of places are closed on Sunday nights. Other steakhouse / grill type places include Ryan's (not the chain) and Twin-City Chop House. Other possibilities might include The Village Tavern in Reynolda Village by Wake Forest (I also think they have a location by Hanes Mall). Typical upper-scale Tavern food in a casual setting. (Perhaps not outstanding but I enjoy it as a good comfort food type place.) There is also a relatively new brewpub called Foothills Brewery which we found pretty fun and to have pretty good food. Along those same lines you might also try Lucky 32--a small local chain. I'm pretty sure they have a website too--maybe www.lucky32.com. They provide a solid upscale but casual dining experience and usually have some good regional specialties. I have not been but hear good things about Twin City Diner as well. There is a website called www.triaddiner.com which may also be helpful. Hopefully some natives will respond as well.
  13. BryanZ, Say, I was interested in reading your review in the Chronicle but I cannot seem to get a full-size version of the article to show up on the screen or to print out. Is that just the way the archived articles work or am I doing something wrong? Would you mind providing a link to the reviews for all us egulleters to see. thanks
  14. Bryan, Welcome back to the Triangle. This recommendation is rather limited in scope but I have to add a plug for what I think of as an underrated local treasure. If you or your colleagues happen to be in Raleigh, try Sylvia's gelato shop on Hillsborough St. across from NCSU. A much broader selection and much better quality than Francesca's during recent visits in my opinion. I now find that all desserts pale in comparison to their pistachio gelato.
  15. Greg, Again, welcome to the boards. I am glad to see your participation and interest in these discussions. I am sorry my post came across as suggesting that you needed this site's help for column ideas as that was not my intent. I was just trying to make a joke and publicize your work and I do apoplogize if it came across differently. We really enjoy and appreciate all the hard work and research that goes into your reviews of the diverse dining scene in the Triangle and wanted to be sure others outside the main N&O circulation area saw the discussion. Keep up the great work!
  16. Yes, it's definitely not a secret. I must confess to partaking of far too many of their BBQ sandwiches in addition to the BLT. The BBQ is not bad when you are stuck on campus and need a quick fix. I just thought the timing of Greg's column was interesting. This thread certainly made me think about getting in the car and heading to Chapel Hill.
  17. Looks like this thread may have found its way to Greg Cox at the N&O http://www.newsobserver.com/print/friday/w...p-9129564c.html
  18. Speaking of the Hermitage, how 'bout Chef Sean Brock's Capital Grille in the Hermitage Hotel which is widely acclaimed as Nashville's premiere dining spot. http://www.thehermitagehotel.com/index.cfm?obj=capGrille
  19. Although I generally enjoy BB and have had some great meals there, I agree with Varmint and often find it hard to put together an entire meal there. Lately we have preferred getting a selection of apetizers for carryout and enjoying those as small plates so we can sample the wide range of seasonal options without investing in a full meal. Not all of the apps travel well, of course, but for the price it can be a reasonable way to add adventure to take out. I aslo have to add that I really hate the smoking permitted at the bar. Even seated as far away as possible I find the smoke wafting over and interrupting the meal.
  20. Betsy, Congratulations on your anniversary. I just wanted to second Gifted Gourmet's post. The first time we went to Pennisula was a few years ago during Spoletto. We hadn't intended to eat there that night and were just looking around at the menu thinking of coming another time. My wife and I were in shorts and tennis shoes and the host asked if she could help us. On a lark we asked if she had any seating outside thinking we might be able to eat out there without offending anybody. The host said she did not but could seat us inside right away. Not only did we have one of the best meals of our lives, the service was absolutely first rate and our casual attire didn't cause them to bat an eye. We have gone back since and dressed more "appropriately" for the benefit of our fellow diners but be assured your husband should have no problem without a jacket and tie.
  21. Let me mention a couple of nominations in some of the categories that have developed. For classic southern roadside grill / diner type-food, I have to say the cheeseburger and fries at Johnson's in Siler City, NC. Obviously, you can get a cheeseburger anywhere but I do think this is about the best one around. Freshly ground meat, tons of melted velveeta all done in a precise and time-honored tradition on the grill before your eyes. You really have to experience it to fully appreciate the process What really makes this special, however, is the whole atmosphere of the place and the reverence everybody has for these burgers. It used to be that they did not have set closing hours--they simply prepared as much meat as they had for the day and closed when they ran out. Fortunately for those forced to eat lunch past noon, they usually stay open later now. I love the way the locals look at you a little strangely if you're not from around there but still give you a warm welcome because they know you are part of the avid Johnson's fan club that has altered your route and timing of your trip just to get by Johnsons at lunch time. For food so good it made me cry, I have to say the Niman Ranch Pork Loin I had a Enoteca Vin in Raleigh a couple of years ago. Again, not unique to the south but it was fantastic for the sheer simplicity and expert preparation. It was a perfect cut of pork and was so good I sat there torn between wanting to gooble it down as quickly as I could chew versus the realization that each bite I took brought me closer to the end of the experience.
  22. I ducked in briefly last weekend but did not sample anything other than a cup of coffee which was pretty good. OK looking salad bar, small steam table and soup stand that looked okay. Overall, however, I didn't see much of anything in the way of fresh produce and only limited grab and go stuff. Was really mainly curious about the cheese counter which I found very limited. It's early yet though so I hope they are just getting settled in and will expand. I think a well done boutique food store and salad and sandwich counter (say like the Dean and Deluca in Charlotte) could put the Faux Market out of business around there. I am ashame to say I keep giving them another chance and am continuingly disappointed.
  23. Chops, Thanks for your comments. I am glad to hear from others that have sampled a larger variety. I do look forward to returning and trying a few more options. I cannot comment on how it's doing at night but I really hope they do well. My concerns are based on being there at 12:30 for lunch on nice Friday afternoon when the place was not even 1/3 full at any point during our lunch. I really want to like Poole's and want it to succeed but I remain concerned. If Vertigo couldn't make it, can Poole's pull it off as I found my meal did not match up to the old Vertigo and cost just as much if not more. Contrary to what one might conclude given the success of Cafe Carolina, I'm afraid money is a concern to much of the lunch crowd. I'll visit Poole's again and report back after trying the mac-n-cheese.
  24. Poole's is now open Just wanted to update this post to say that Poole's Diner has been open for lunch for awhile now and I had a chance to check it out a couple of days ago. While I welcome the expanding lunch options in downtown Raleigh, I am sorry to say I found my experience at Poole's "whelming" at best. The menu is pretty broad with a lot of typical diner fare and "blueplate specials." For example, they have meatloaf and mashed potatoes, burgers, tuna melts, club sandwich, fries and onion rings, milkshakes, etc. They also appear to have a fair number of vegetarian options including a vegetable plate, vegetarian meatloaf, grilled pimento cheese, salads, etc. There are also a few mexican options including a taco salad that looked good at the table across from me. We had a party of three--one tuna melt, one turkey / club sandwich, and one vegetable plate. Although we all thought the food was OK, it was not anything particularly great and it's hard to justify spending $8 or $9 on a vegetable plate for just ok vegetables, particularly if you have to walk by Joe's Mom's Place to get there. I got the roasted turkey / club sandwich on white bread with chips and it was around $8. Again, although good, it wasn't worth that price. I really wanted a grilled pimento cheese sandwich that day but it was $6+--that just seems like too much to pay for a grilled cheese sandwich when fries cost extra. While I appreciate the retro atmosphere and food options but if they can throw in a Taco Salad anachronism, couldn't they offer whole wheat or some other form of bread for their deli sandwiches other than just white bread? Also, how many people these days are in the mood to polish off a diner lunch with a butter pecan shake? Service was ok, could have been faster for a downtown lunch spot though considering what we ordered. Atmosphere was nice. As best I recall, the furnishings are largely the same as Vertigo, they still have a good counter space for but they've repainted and added old b&w photos of the original spot and other period pieces. I understand ownership is the same as Vertigo which leads me to believe greater things are possible. I hope that turns out to be the case but unless something changes--lower prices or higher quality food--I'm afraid the new iteration may not fare much better than Vertigo which apparently closed because of declining business. I will certainly go back and try a burger or special or two on occassion but it's hard to justify the trip and the cost on a frequent basis. I would be interested on others' thoughts.
  25. I believe the name is Poole's Diner which, as Dean notes, is the name of the lunch counter that used to be there. Not sure about the story but the departure of the Vertigo was noted awhile back in the N&O with a projected opening of Poole's in early September. Truthfully, I hope the owners are other than the last iteration of Vertigo--unfortunately, I am still trying to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the rancid salad dressing I had during my last meal there in July. It is a real shame to have such a bad last memory of Vertigo.
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