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Best Restaurant in the Triangle (NC)


Varmint
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I was also disappointed in Four Square. I can't remember what we ordered now, but nothing stood out. And quite a few things we had missed the mark. If we paid half the price I might have been more tolerant, but when you are paying top dollar you expect more. Service was also not what you would expect for the price. They "lost" the flowers I had sent to be put on our table. The host on duty said he didn't know anything about it, even though I had called earlier in the day to make sure they arrived. Luckily a waiter intervened and found them. The host didn't even care to look, nor did he apologize.

I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Starlu!!!! Really great food. Great service. A nice selection of both beers and wine. OK the location is the pits (it is the same bldg as our mortgage broker !?!?) but maybe the rent was right. Once your inside the atmosphere is great!

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I've moved a number of posts that focused on the overall dining scene in the Triangle to this topic. Let's keep this discussion focused on the best restaurants that exist right now. And I'll try my best to get to another one in the next couple of weeks. If anyone else visits one mentioned above, report back here (in excrutiating detail, of course).

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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  • 4 weeks later...

We'll be headed to Fins tomorrow with my wife's family in celebration of Mrs. Varmint's 40th birthday. Because we're a party of 8, we'll have lots to sample. I always look forward to going to this restaurant, and the owners are always at the top of their games.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I'll be interested to hear about Fins. I don't know if I'm just off, or what. I've been there twice and had mediocre experiences both times. The last time, I was part of a party of five and it took an hour to get our food, the waiter had difficulty explaining the menu and my dish was just average (muddy, ugly-looking sauce of an indistinguishable flavor, although the fish on top was perfectly cooked). Others in my party were not bowled over.

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Back in school, I remember Four Square and Magnolia being pretty good, from being treated there by my parents, or friends' parents.

However, one time one of my frat brothers treated us to a dinner at Il Palio after winning a ton of money gambling.

That was absolutely incredible.

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  • 2 months later...
That's what this thread is all about.  I hope others will conduct a similar experiment and report back here.  We can then crown an official champion of the Triangle!

Hate to be a nit-picker here, but I don't think any one place can be christened "official champion of the Triangle (or anywhere else, for that matter)". My opinion of "best" isn't going to necessarily coincide with yours/the next person's and vice versa, to state the obvious. There are too many variables at play, IMO---and since I don't have all day here, I'm not going to try to list them. When dining out, I'm going to give more weight to certain things which may not be as important to you and vice versa. I've found that when I go to a place that's been deemed the "best" this or that kind of eatery, I'm usually less than thrilled....probably because my expectations were too high. Case in point: this past weekend, we ate at one of our all-time faves in Durham....everything was great, up to par EXCEPT that our server was an extremely annoying individual. Have never seen him before in this place and I can't imagine he'll be there long. OK, if we'd never been there before and went because we'd been told the place was the "best", I'd surely disagree because of our experience with this particular server---but as I say, he seemed to be a glaring exception to the rule.

CBHall

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That's what's fun about this thread, foodie. It's a ridiculous premise to begin with and part of the reason why I called this an experiment. Some people love Magnolia Grill, while others hate it. You'll always have disagreement, so the point of this thread is to discuss what are considered the top restaurants in the Triangle. We'll never get a consensus, but we'll end up with some good conversation and -- who knows -- maybe an idea of the cream of the crop.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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That's what's fun about this thread, foodie.  It's a ridiculous premise to begin with and part of the reason why I called this an experiment.  Some people love Magnolia Grill, while others hate it.  You'll always have disagreement, so the point of this thread is to discuss what are considered the top restaurants in the Triangle.  We'll never get a consensus, but we'll end up with some good conversation and -- who knows -- maybe an idea of the cream of the crop.

(Sigh) OK, Mr. V......I've always had a "problem" with taking some things too literally and this is one of those times. By now, I think those of us who venture out have a pretty good idea as to the cream of the crop around here. I'm always glad to get a heads up on a new place....I can decide to either not waste my time or head on over there. Just for the record, I have previously participated in online food groups (certainly not of scope of this one) where posters would get unbelievably nasty whenever a "best of" debate came up....far be it from eG'ers to do this :wink:

PS - I really do need to give MG another try; it's been a long time.

CBHall

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Yeah, we're just a "group hug" sort of community. :wink: Seriously, when I used the term a "ridiculous premise", I was referring to the notion that one could actually crown a single champ. Now if you really want to get contentious, start debating about the best barbecue joint in NC!!

Zeb, many people think Magnolia Grill is too loud, too pretentious, and some folks don't care for the Barkers' style of cooking. One eGullet Society member whose tastes I totally respect thinks they go too far with the ingredients and flavors. He doesn't hate it there, mind you, but it's just not his cup of tea.

But there are those who do hate it and wouldn't go back if they were to receive a free meal. That's usually attributable to several possible problems: they were the recipient of an extraordinarily "off" meal, or incredibly bad service, or more likely, unrealistically high expectations. I've run into a lot of reverse snobbery at a place such as MG where diners are going to dislike the place no matter what.

As for me, there are few places that I hate. Hell, I'll eat at any restaurant for free!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Everything here is all in good fun.  I'm curious to hear about your supposed favorite place in Durham, foodiehall.

Nana's.... what got me hooked in the beginning was that great bread they kept doling out; as soon as I finished one chunk, here came Breadperson with another one. I've mentioned on another thread that any restaurant will score mucho points with me as long as they serve plenty of great bread and generous portions of salads. In recent years, I've tried to cut back on my bread habit. At first, it seemed that most of the entrees featured some component that wasn't entirely to my liking; as this is no longer the case, maybe my palate has become more sophisticated over the years. And in general, I like the ambience there---some people don't care one way or another about that, but I do. BUT, we were there this past Sat. evening prior to going to an ADF performance and had a waitperson whom I found to be very annoying. It's one thing for a server to exchange pleasantries with the patrons, but going off on tangents, expressing personal opinions not related to the food, practically telling your life story, etc.....I can do without that, especially when it interferes with the service. This guy's voice level was such that he could be heard all over the room. Thanks to his spending so much time "entertaining" his other tables, there was no way we had time for dessert and then he disappeared when we needed the check so we could leave. Suffice it to say, if he's there the next time we go there, I'll see to it that he's not our waitperson.

Slightly off topic....back when I was lurking as a visitor, I recall your laments/complaints, etc. about the quality/quantity of dining options in the Triangle. As a native of Raleigh, I can tell you that this area has come a loooong way since I was your age....and that's been a few(!) years ago. In her book Remembering Bill Neal, Moreton Neal speaks to this in detail.....if you haven't read it, it might be worth your while; you'd probably come away with a greater appreciation of where we are now in the Triangle, culinarily speaking. I'm impressed with your knowledge/appreciation of food, certainly far beyond the level of most people your age (of my acquaintance).

CBHall

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  • 1 year later...

Is this thread still alive? :cool: Over the last year, we've been to Fins, Enoteca Vin, and Magnolia Grill and we're going to Nana's in early September. We almost made reservations to Il Palio instead, but the lack of recent reviews kind of turned us off. If I had to rank the restaurants we've been to so far, I'd put them in this order:

Fins

Magnolia Grill

Enoteca Vin

We'll see how Nana's does :)

Edited by aldamon (log)
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It's always a good time to revive an old thread, particularly this one.

I won't rank my favorites, but I would agree that Fins, the Grill, and Vin are all on my favorites list, and they're completely different styles.

I'll have a report shortly on Vivace, which I wouldn't put on the top of my list for elegant dining, but it's a restaurant that firmly clinches Kevin and Stacey Jennings as the Triangle restaurateurs who deliver the best higher-end dining value.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I'll have a report shortly on Vivace, which I wouldn't put on the top of my list for elegant dining, but it's a restaurant that firmly clinches Kevin and Stacey Jennings as the Triangle restaurateurs who deliver the best higher-end dining value.

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.

CBHall

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Other than the opening of Vivace several months back, is there anything that's opened more recently that might have a shot of "best" or, at least" "pretty damn good."

Whatever happened to that bistro by the Pop's Trattoria folks?

I don't think there's any new place that would be in the "best of" class. However, there are a number of new restaurants that would be considered extremely good. In Raleigh, you'll find Riviera and 18 Seaboard. There are also a number of new-ish restaurants in North Hills that make the area a prime dining destination. None of them will knock your socks off, but all are very solid additions.

I don't know about the bistro.

Of course, I've heard about this new Z-Kitchen concept!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Of course, I've heard about this new Z-Kitchen concept!

Biding my time....

I'm writing this post having just arrived in my apartment just a couple hours ago. The kitchen isn't a total trainwreck, so I think I have a shot.

In keeping this post on topic, I can guarantee perhaps the most unique dining experience in the Triangle with, hopefully, some pretty good food. Details to follow.

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