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Triangle here I come?


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I know people in their 30's here who own houses that cost $500,000-$1 million - but they have never spent $200 for a couple for dinner - or stayed at a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons.  Every last penny goes to make the mortgage payment and the car payments.

$200 for a couple's dinner???? WOW! :shock:HOW???

What do they eat? 20 course meal?? :blink:

So how much would it be to try out Fins???

Sorry, still shocked.....

Amy

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I think robyn was referring to $200 meals anywhere, not just in the Triangle. If a couple is to get apps, main courses, and dessert, along with a good bottle of wine, you're going to get in the mid 100s at nearly any decent restaurant -- even in the Triangle.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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We had some decent meals - but the only memorable one was at Crook's Corner ages ago when Bill Neal (think he was the chef) was still alive and in the kitchen there. I'm sure we never would have found the place on our own - a friend took us - because he insisted we had to try this new-fangled dish - "shrimp and grits" - which was perhaps the first example of "new southern cooking". It was the concept of the thing - perhaps more than the execution back then - and certainly more than the restaurant itself - that put Crook's Corner on the map. I still have an old Bill Neal cookbook. It's interesting reading - even though I never have and never will make a dish using squirrels :).

I was a grad student at Carolina in the late 80's and one of my best (non-academic!) experiences was discovering Bill Neal, his cookbooks and Crook's Corner. His cookbooks really inspired my passion in cooking (although I grew up in a family that loves good food and where it is a centerpiece for all celebrations). It was a new cuisine for me (coming from a European immigrant family up north).

You may not cook the squirrel but I hope you have tried the incredible chicken and dumplings, sweet potato and buttermilk pie, sweet potato and pear soufllee, hominy w/mushrooms, low country shrimp pate.... hmmm. I could go on.

I see people still recommending Crook's Corner. Unfortunately, I haven't been back there for awhile, can anyone comment on Crook's direction, quality, etc since Bill Neal's untimely passing?

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I know people in their 30's here who own houses that cost $500,000-$1 million - but they have never spent $200 for a couple for dinner - or stayed at a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons.  Every last penny goes to make the mortgage payment and the car payments.

$200 for a couple's dinner???? WOW! :shock:HOW???

What do they eat? 20 course meal?? :blink:

So how much would it be to try out Fins???

Sorry, still shocked.....

Amy

Hi Amy - Varmint was right. I wasn't talking about Raleigh/Durham in particular - but the dining world as a whole. Haven't been there lately - but I suspect you could spend close to $200 at La Residence for a complete meal with a couple of bottles of wine. And my larger point was that a lot of people who spend a lot of money on houses have never sampled the world of high end dining - even when they're in a great - but expensive - restaurant city like New York. Take care, Robyn

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We had some decent meals - but the only memorable one was at Crook's Corner ages ago when Bill Neal (think he was the chef) was still alive and in the kitchen there.  I'm sure we never would have found the place on our own - a friend took us - because he insisted we had to try this new-fangled dish - "shrimp and grits" - which was perhaps the first example of "new southern cooking".  It was the concept of the thing - perhaps more than the execution back then - and certainly more than the restaurant itself - that put Crook's Corner on the map.  I still have an old Bill Neal cookbook.  It's interesting reading - even though I never have and never will make a dish using squirrels :).

I was a grad student at Carolina in the late 80's and one of my best (non-academic!) experiences was discovering Bill Neal, his cookbooks and Crook's Corner. His cookbooks really inspired my passion in cooking (although I grew up in a family that loves good food and where it is a centerpiece for all celebrations). It was a new cuisine for me (coming from a European immigrant family up north).

You may not cook the squirrel but I hope you have tried the incredible chicken and dumplings, sweet potato and buttermilk pie, sweet potato and pear soufllee, hominy w/mushrooms, low country shrimp pate.... hmmm. I could go on.

I see people still recommending Crook's Corner. Unfortunately, I haven't been back there for awhile, can anyone comment on Crook's direction, quality, etc since Bill Neal's untimely passing?

I haven't been to Crook's Corner since Bill Neal died (haven't even been to North Carolina since my mother-in-law died a few years ago and we wound up moving my father-in-law to a nursing home here near us).

The cuisine was a new one for me too (nice Jewish girl who grew up in New York and spent most of her adult life in Miami). A lot of the recipes are kind of complicated for me to make at home - but the ones I make regularly are collards and field peas for New Year's. We get very nice fresh collards and black eyed peas here around that time of the year - so they cook up yummy. And I'm a bit superstitious - have to eat them at least once a year for good luck. I also make a couple of different kinds of sweet potato dishes - and swet potato pie - although I've not used the Neal recipes yet. Regards, Robyn

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And I'm a bit superstitious - have to eat them at least once a year for good luck.

According to my wife the supersition is that for every black eye pea you eat on New Years day, you get one day of good luck that year.

Makes me wonder how large a serving 365 black eyed peas is

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And I'm a bit superstitious - have to eat them at least once a year for good luck.

According to my wife the supersition is that for every black eye pea you eat on New Years day, you get one day of good luck that year.

Makes me wonder how large a serving 365 black eyed peas is

I've never counted - but 365 sounds like a lot. I will have to count when I cook on New Year's. On the other hand - it's December now - and things have been ok up to now this year (knocking on lots of wood <g>).

Don't know where you live - but where we live - in north Florida - it's now possible to get fresh black eyed peas in the supermarkets this time of year. They're very tasty and quick cooking. So there's no excuse not to make the dish (you can even get it in the pot during a football half-time on New Year's Day). Robyn

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I have to say that growing up in NC and GA, I don't think the people are "Food Morons". I went to culinary school in Philly and I now see NC and still Atlanta(where I live now) and southern people in general, as culinarily (a word?) inexperienced. But I also see people, most people, as willing to change so it comes back to what every chef in a new market has always said. We, as culinary professionals, must educate people.

I helped open a Emeril's Atlanta and we saw it first hand how inexperienced the diners were. For the first 3 months I didn't cook a steak under MidWell. That does not make the night fun. The food there is good despite reviews, but all people want to know is if you can say "BAM" (which we do NOT) and if "the man" has been there lately. From a cook point s of view its a great place to work, good and (outside of the menu) creative specials.

But I totally believe that you can serve collards and black eyed peas, the traditional way or you can "gussy" it up to make it a little better. Maybe a nice stack of vinegared collards with some Foie Gras on top... Or a southern version of Foie, chicken livers... This is where we must challenge ourselves. Quit complaining and make it.

Do you the the Inn at Little Washington had people there who understood what the food was there when it opened? My Aunt, who eats at the "Inn" about 3 times a year, hates the food there. I eat there once about 2 years ago and I can still taste the food and remember almost every detail. Culinarily inexperienced.

I think it takes us as culinary professionals to educate people to that type of eating. From what I know of Ben and Karen at Mag Grill, it didn't happen over night that they got a get following a reputation.

Also, another thing... Has anyone ever heard of a restaurant in High Point/Jamestown/Greensboro called Marisol's? If so what your opinion of it?

Finally, can the triangle/traid/charlotte support professional cooks? Is the market big enough to provide enough jobs for all of us?

Treat everyone the same, like a VIP...

Something gave its life for what you are about to eat... Respect the food...

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all."

-Sam Ewig

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Finally, can the triangle/traid/charlotte support professional cooks? Is the market big enough to provide enough jobs for all of us?

I don't know about the triad, but the triangle definitely can. The labor pool is ridiculously small, and even though we bitch about mediocre offerings for a decent meal out, I believe it's partially due to the lack of a core group of professionals to hire. Charlotte will be flushed with the new Johnson and Wales, and hopefully we'll benefit from some extern overflow, but I would enthusiastically encourage anyone who wants a new area to live to come and give it a shot. It's not as competitive as Atlanta, and one would have to be patient with the 'uneducated' palates, but the more people we get here who want to make great food, the less we'll have to complain about.

Edited by phlawless (log)

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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I have to say that growing up in NC and GA, I don't think the people are "Food Morons". I went to culinary school in Philly and I now see NC and still Atlanta(where I live now) and southern people in general, as culinarily (a word?) inexperienced. But I also see people, most people, as willing to change so it comes back to what every chef in a new market has always said. We, as culinary professionals, must educate people.

I helped open a Emeril's Atlanta and we saw it first hand how inexperienced the diners were. For the first 3 months I didn't cook a steak under MidWell. That does not make the night fun. The food there is good despite reviews, but all people want to know is if you can say "BAM" (which we do NOT) and if "the man" has been there lately. From a cook point s of view its a great place to work, good and (outside of the menu) creative specials.

But I totally believe that you can serve collards and black eyed peas, the traditional way or you can "gussy" it up to make it a little better. Maybe a nice stack of vinegared collards with some Foie Gras on top... Or a southern version of Foie, chicken livers... This is where we must challenge ourselves. Quit complaining and make it.

Do you the the Inn at Little Washington had people there who understood what the food was there when it opened? My Aunt, who eats at the "Inn" about 3 times a year, hates the food there. I eat there once about 2 years ago and I can still taste the food and remember almost every detail. Culinarily inexperienced.

I think it takes us as culinary professionals to educate people to that type of eating. From what I know of Ben and Karen at Mag Grill, it didn't happen over night that they got a get following a reputation.

Also, another thing... Has anyone ever heard of a restaurant in High Point/Jamestown/Greensboro called Marisol's? If so what your opinion of it?

Finally, can the triangle/traid/charlotte support professional cooks? Is the market big enough to provide enough jobs for all of us?

I was the person who used the phrase "Food Morons" and I stand by it.

I too live in the south - but not in Atlanta (the largest most sophisticated city in the south) like you do. I live in the Jacksonville metro area (which has more than twice the population of a wonderful food place like Vancouver). And what do we have to show for it? Perhaps a half dozen small restaurants which on a good day might almost be as good as a place like Eno's. (Note to those not from Atlanta - Eno's is in my opinion a charming little restaurant in Atlanta with good - but not great food - I used it to give to robsimons a sense of what I was talking about). And that's it for the most part in terms of "dining". The rest consists of about a million chain restaurants - Chinese buffet and other ethnic restaurants with inedible food - a couple of handfuls of overpriced mediocre "fancy" restaurants - etc. There are of course some decent "fried fish" and "BBQ" places - but how many times can you eat fried shrimp and pulled pork without longing for something a bit more sophisticated.

The big laugh will come in 2005 - when tons of Super Bowl fans try to fight their way into those 6 restaurants.

And - in my experience - a couple of well-meaning chefs cannot educate customers. If all people want to eat is huge platters of greasy stuff with gobs of cheese on everything (there's a reason we have so many double and triple wides in the south - it's those huge platters of greasy food loaded with cheese) - the chef either obliges or goes out of business.

I'll give you an example of how dumb people are. We had a fellow from New York open a "New York style" deli. One day I ordered a pastrami on rye. Good pastrami - but it came out cold with mayo. I sent it back - and asked the owner/chef what was going on. He laughed - and said that all the customers ate pastrami cold with mayo despite his attempts to teach them that it really wasn't the way to eat the stuff (although he of course took back my abortion of a sandwich and made me a proper hot pastrami with mustard).

So if people can't even learn how to eat pastrami on rye - how do you expect them to learn to eat things that are more sophisticated? I know successful middle aged people who make a certain restaurant the most popular Italian place around despite the fact that all it makes is frozen meals from Costco. When a decent Italian chef opened a restaurant - he did ok business on Friday and Saturday - but had to resort to "all you can eat" fish nights to pull in customers during the week. The wait staff used to call the nights "f****** fish nights" - because the customers demanded a lot of attention and left lousy or no tips.

Went to a "covered dish" Christmas party last week where someone was praising the curried fruit salad. I had overlooked it - and went back to find it. It was canned fruit salad with some red powder floating on top (I'm not sure it was curry powder). I passed.

Anyway - I could probably fill half of this message board with my rantings and ravings - but I won't - at least tonight. Note that I am not in the food industry - and the thing I hate about the situation is that it's hard to find decent places to go out to eat. On the other hand - the situation has forced me to become a better cook. By the way - we had great meals when we were in Atlanta a few months ago. Robyn

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Atlanta -- "the most sophisticated city in the South". You might get a lot of arguments there!

Anyhow, I still think that many of the South's culinary problems are geographic ones. Not in the sense that Southern geography is not conducive to fine dining, but most of the South's city's are hopelessly designed, leading to substantial urban/suburban sprawl with insufficient concentration of population to support lots of fine dining establishments. Sprawl leads to strip malls and traffic problems. Both of these problems make the creation of top notch restaurant desirable. Even when you do find a decent restaurant in a strip mall -- such as Raleigh's Fins -- the owners usually wish they were downtown or in an area that was more active at night. These dead downtowns are slowly -- very slowly -- starting to go through a rebirth. The restaurants will follow.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I was the person who used the phrase "Food Morons" and I stand by it.

I too live in the south - but not in Atlanta (the largest most sophisticated city in the south) like you do. I live in the Jacksonville metro area (which has more than twice the population of a wonderful food place like Vancouver). And what do we have to show for it? Perhaps a half dozen small restaurants which on a good day might almost be as good as a place like Eno's. (Note to those not from Atlanta - Eno's is in my opinion a charming little restaurant in Atlanta with good - but not great food - I used it to give to robsimons a sense of what I was talking about). And that's it for the most part in terms of "dining". The rest consists of about a million chain restaurants - Chinese buffet and other ethnic restaurants with inedible food - a couple of handfuls of overpriced mediocre "fancy" restaurants - etc. There are of course some decent "fried fish" and "BBQ" places - but how many times can you eat fried shrimp and pulled pork without longing for something a bit more sophisticated.

The big laugh will come in 2005 - when tons of Super Bowl fans try to fight their way into those 6 restaurants.

And - in my experience - a couple of well-meaning chefs cannot educate customers. If all people want to eat is huge platters of greasy stuff with gobs of cheese on everything (there's a reason we have so many double and triple wides in the south - it's those huge platters of greasy food loaded with cheese) - the chef either obliges or goes out of business.

I'll give you an example of how dumb people are. We had a fellow from New York open a "New York style" deli. One day I ordered a pastrami on rye. Good pastrami - but it came out cold with mayo. I sent it back - and asked the owner/chef what was going on. He laughed - and said that all the customers ate pastrami cold with mayo despite his attempts to teach them that it really wasn't the way to eat the stuff (although he of course took back my abortion of a sandwich and made me a proper hot pastrami with mustard).

So if people can't even learn how to eat pastrami on rye - how do you expect them to learn to eat things that are more sophisticated? I know successful middle aged people who make a certain restaurant the most popular Italian place around despite the fact that all it makes is frozen meals from Costco. When a decent Italian chef opened a restaurant - he did ok business on Friday and Saturday - but had to resort to "all you can eat" fish nights to pull in customers during the week. The wait staff used to call the nights "f****** fish nights" - because the customers demanded a lot of attention and left lousy or no tips.

Went to a "covered dish" Christmas party last week where someone was praising the curried fruit salad. I had overlooked it - and went back to find it. It was canned fruit salad with some red powder floating on top (I'm not sure it was curry powder). I passed.

Anyway - I could probably fill half of this message board with my rantings and ravings - but I won't - at least tonight. Note that I am not in the food industry - and the thing I hate about the situation is that it's hard to find decent places to go out to eat. On the other hand - the situation has forced me to become a better cook. By the way - we had great meals when we were in Atlanta a few months ago. Robyn

If it makes you feel any better The Olive Garden near Seattle is just as crowded as The Olive Garden here in Raleigh. And although built after I left, I'm sure P.F. Changs does a thriving business in Seattle as well.

I knew plenty of people back in Seattle who thought the best pizza came from Pizza Hut, the best burgers came from McDonald's, and the best meal was a nice expensive steak cooked well done. Your mistake is in thinking that the 'average American' doesn't exist in bigger, more sophisticated cities. It's not that the South is full of food morons, but rather that smaller cities lack the higher concentration of the type of people who will try something 'different' for dinner.

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Atlanta -- "the most sophisticated city in the South".  You might get a lot of arguments there!

Anyhow, I still think that many of the South's culinary problems are geographic ones.  Not in the sense that Southern geography is not conducive to fine dining, but most of the South's city's are hopelessly designed, leading to substantial urban/suburban sprawl with insufficient concentration of population to support lots of fine dining establishments.  Sprawl leads to strip malls and traffic problems.  Both of these problems make the creation of top notch restaurant desirable.  Even when you do find a decent restaurant in a strip mall -- such as Raleigh's Fins -- the owners usually wish they were downtown or in an area that was more active at night.  These dead downtowns are slowly -- very slowly -- starting to go through a rebirth.  The restaurants will follow.

As for Atlanta being the most sophisticated city - ain't got no dog in that fight :smile:. It is certainly the largest.

You are partially right about the geography. Our best restaurants are in a couple of areas where there are a fair number of younger people with taste and disposable income that are above the norm. Guess it will not come as a surprise that a substantial percentage of these people are gay. I'm not sure we'd have any decent restaurants if it was still totally unacceptable to come out of the closet (and it is still a little dicey in the Bible Belt).

Unfortunately - I do not live in those areas. I live in a supposedly more affluent suburban area where most of the people are spending their last dimes on mortgage payments. You would think that people who live in expensive houses would support good restaurants - but - increasingly - during this real estate boom - people have been getting in over their heads when they buy houses.

And - because everything is sprawled all over the place - I am about a 30-40 minute drive from the better restaurant areas (if there is no traffic). So they're difficult for dinner - and impossible when the cops are out trying to get their DUI quotas. Luckily - most are open for lunch - and that's when we tend to go (we can combine lunch with other errands in the area). Robyn

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If it makes you feel any better The Olive Garden near Seattle is just as crowded as The Olive Garden here in Raleigh. And although built after I left, I'm sure P.F. Changs does a thriving business in Seattle as well.

I knew plenty of people back in Seattle who thought the best pizza came from Pizza Hut, the best burgers came from McDonald's, and the best meal was a nice expensive steak cooked well done. Your mistake is in thinking that the 'average American' doesn't exist in bigger, more sophisticated cities. It's not that the South is full of food morons, but rather that smaller cities lack the higher concentration of the type of people who will try something 'different' for dinner.

I looked up Seattle. The Seattle metro area has about 2.5 million people - twice the number of people that we have here.

We were in Seattle last year. Stayed in Bellevue - home of P.F. Chang :smile:. And you're right. The place was jammed (I had never been in a P.F. Chang - and we ate lunch there during a break from shopping in the mall). And Bellevue was similar to what we have here. In the sense that more restaurants than I expected were chains. Of course - the chain restaurants were higher end than our chain restaurants (we don't even have places like P.F. Chang - or Cheesecake Factory - or McCormick & Schmick - which I consider to be nice alternatives to the "food court" if you're spending a day at a mall - but that's about it) - and the non-chain restaurants were better than ours. On the other hand - we ate at an Indian restaurant one night. Our 3 Indian restaurants serve inedible food - this one in Bellevue served totally undistinguished food. Same result - you wouldn't want to dine at any of them again.

Anyway - I was kind of surprised that Bellevue had so little. You could drive downtown - or go to Kirkland - or other places - but then you're getting into the same 30-40 minute drive that I was complaining about - assuming no traffic.

So perhaps what I'm mad about isn't a regional problem. It's a national problem. I seem to recall an article in the New York Times a while back about chain restaurants like P.F. Chang (or similar places) opening in or near Times Square. Who on earth would eat chinese food at P.F. Chang's in a place like New York? Guess the answer is a lot of people.

There is also a new organization - can't remember what the name is - dedicated to trying to get people to get out of the "chain rut" - and to try their local restaurants. Robyn

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I was the person who used the phrase "Food Morons" and I stand by it. . . . I'll give you an example of how dumb people are. . . . [A]ll the customers ate pastrami cold with mayo despite his attempts to teach them that it really wasn't the way to eat the stuff. . . . So if people can't even learn how to eat pastrami on rye - how do you expect them to learn to eat things that are more sophisticated?

Not to be obnoxious or to bring up old debates that have been re-hashed hundreds of times, but I really disagree with concepts such as there being a "right" way to eat a pastrami sandwich. Likewise, I disagree with the idea that Southerners are "morons" who need to be taught how to eat. If there are fewer per capita fancy restaurants in the South than in the Northeast, I suspect it has to do with factors such as those suggested by Varmint, not some inherent stupidity on the part of people born south of the Mason-Dixon.

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Also, let's focus on the topic of this thread, which is the Triangle food scene. I think that it'd be a great new thread to discuss some of the issues we've raised in the past dozen posts or so. But if we want to do that, please open a new thread for such discussions.

Thanks!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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