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Guilty Gourmand's Profile

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Raleigh Dining Pet Peeves / Questions

Well, not sure exactly of the Chowhound posting rules but I say go for it here. Suspect some of the pet peeves of owners would be instructive to diners and help raise the quality of dining overall.

If I were an owner, my number one pet peeve would no doubt be diners who have nothing better to do with their time than make snide, anonymous comments about a particular restaurant on random message boards!

Jun 16, 2015
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast
1

Raleigh Dining Pet Peeves / Questions

Like DRC, I had initial negative reactions / guilt pangs to the tipping software when in a mostly retail environment. I'm sort of over it now though. I've convinced myself that must just be the way the software comes and they cannot turn it off and so don't really expect a tip or, if there is a way to turn if off and they've elected not to do so, then shame on them and they don't really deserve a tip. Maybe it will replace the largely inappropriate tip jar in those places that shouldn't have a tip jar.

Speaking of tips, kudos to LucetteGrace for eliminating tipping. I really like that decision even though the prices presumably include a portion to cover the higher wages and I'd throw some of their services into the retail / don't really deserve a tip category. Maybe that sort of split retail / food service situation is the reason they decided to do that there and we're all paying a tip on basically retail services but I do like not having to deal with tips at all there.

Now, one other rant--restauranteurs do you ever sit and eat in some of your own chairs and bar stools? It seems like a crime to have people sit on those little rocky bar stools to eat the delicious food at Bida Manda when eating at the bar. I'm sure they help save space but I find them to really detract from my experience there. Some of the ones at Chuck's are not any better.

Raleigh Dining Pet Peeves / Questions

1. Servers Keeping Change--Probably not unique to Raleigh but that I've noticed an increasing amount of times at downtown dining establishments (yes, Empire Eats I'm talking specifically about some of your spots but not exclusively) where servers just skip bringing small amounts of change back--say 19 cents--when I pay with cash. Is there some unspoken hipster rule at there that says you don't have to bring change if it is under a certain amount? If so, where is the cutoff. To be sure I'm usually inclined to leave small amounts as part of the tip but I'd like to be given the opportunity to make that decision rather than just have it assumed. Indeed, when servers make that assumption for me, I'm often inclined to tip less than I otherwise would have.

2. Postcards with the Check--I haven't complained about any Ashley Christensen dining spots lately so let me spread the rant a bit (although this is not unique to AC): What is up with the post cards left as part of the check? Do people routinely take these? I just leave them with the check. I'm all for feeding the publicity beast that is AC restos but couldn't we just have a stack of postcards somewhere for those really desiring to spread the word. OK, if I go to Poole's maybe but I'm not inclined to send somebody a postcard from Joule or Chuck's--"Hi Mom, I just spent $4 on a single cup of coffee!" or "Dear Wake Cardiology: Greetings from your favorite restaurant--I got a burger, fries and the shake."

3. Stealth Menus--Speaking of Poole's, I love their food (most of it) and dedication to daily menus (although I hate not having it printed anywhere and having to stand and look at the boards). In this technological time, would it be that hard for places like Poole's, Stanbury, Mandolin, etc. to (1) post more recent sample menus on their website and (2) to take a photo and put on their facebook page? I guess I must just not be part of this new target clientele that doesn't care about money (see #1) but I'll admit that when I'm spending a big chunk of change to eat at one of those spots, there are times I'd like to have a better idea of current menu offerings than just showing up and being surprised.

518 West in Raleigh Closing

I guess the lack of comments here sort of speaks volumes. I, for one, was very sad to learn this although, to be honest, we don't eat there very often anymore.

Several years ago, my wife and I ate there a lot. Our favorite time was late lunch on Saturdays when there was a small crew of regulars that gathered at that time. You could sit in the bar, catch up with your favorite server (Stephanie) and catch a bit of a game on the tv or watch the train roll by.

That was back before they built the condo next door and 518 had their own parking lot and life seemed easier all around. Even after we had kids, we used to go there fairly often back then for Saturday lunch or Sunday brunch or to get takeout. But then they lost the parking lot and they stopped being open for lunch on Saturday and the menu seemed to not really change much or the specials to seem all that special.

In any event, it seems sort of like the end of an era. Upon learning of the news, my kids echoed Greg Hatem's recent comments and said it was further proof that Raleigh was becoming unlivable. . . .

Mar 31, 2015
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

DC - Durham trip

Agreed. I used to make that trek a fair bit post-graduation on the way back to Durham and the most readily accessible pit stop we found was Taco [H]ell in South H[e]ll, VA. I'll not advocate a stop there even if that may be a realistic sample of what one might do as a student making that drive. DC rush hour traffic on Fridays, HOV lanes, and taco bell . . . . all things I don't miss.

Mar 19, 2015
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast
1

DC - Durham trip

Well, if they manage to make it that far this year, the men's bball team should be playing sometime on the 27th. Not sure of the current plans but sometimes Duke opens up Cameron and broadcasts tournament games from there--that or other viewing options with students may be worth checking out as a substitute for the real thing

Mar 19, 2015
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast
1

DC - Durham trip

I like that idea a lot. If I were a prospective student, I'd appreciate a glimpse of some of the more typical off-campus dining options such as Satisfaction's and some of the other spots downtown or on Ninth Street and SmashBurger. It was a long time ago but when I was there, Bahn's Vietnamese, Bullocks, Bojangles, Elmo's etc. were all off-campus staples. Wish we had Geer Street, Pit, Federal back then. (These days I understand Cook Out for overnight dining is key but probably best to let Jr. explore that on his own at 3:00am once he matriculates.)

I'm really dating myself here but our favorite off-campus spot was the weekend buffet at La Fonte's (RIP). I can still remember wallowing back to the dorm and crashing for the rest of the afternoon after all that pizza and manicotti.

Mar 17, 2015
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Raleigh NC - Lunch near Cameron Village?

Unfortunately, I haven't been to Hibernian in a long time. I think it's probably fine but just no longer my scene. Food-wise, I think Tir Na Nog in downtown probably has the stronger reputation but either is probably fine for basic items. (Greg Cox from the N&O recently provided an updated review of Tir Na Nog and I think it got 3 1/2 stars.) Suspect both may have block parties, etc. in honor of the day.

If you are looking for an Irish pub, McDaid's opened in the old Porter's space on Hillsborough Street not far from Cameron Village. (FWIW, all of these places are basically within a roughly 2 mile radius of each other.) I've only been to McDaid's once and I thought it was ok. Wife liked it more than I did. I think part of that may have been incredible depression i still feel over the loss of Porter's.

Let me throw out one other thought that is not strictly burger and beer place but has great versions of both and also very good but limited salads. That is be J. Betski's in Seaboard Station. Although it is Polish / German and I just about always get the sausage and pierogi platter, they sell burgers at lunch and have limited but great German beer selection.

http://www.tnnirishpub.com/
http://www.mcdaidsirishpub.com/

Mar 10, 2015
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Raleigh NC - Lunch near Cameron Village?

Sort of an interesting question. In Cameron Village proper, there are unfortunately not many strictly non-chain spots I'd recommend for burgers / salads and beer. Perhaps leading the list would be Village Draft House which has a very good draft beer selection but I've never found the burgers, salads, etc. more than average really. It's been awhile since I've been. They are part of a local group I think that has more than one other location but not really a chain. There is also Cameron Bar and Grill there which I prefer to Village Draft House for atmosphere and food but, again, we're not talking about anything special food-wise.

Another old school option would be the Players Retreat at corner of Oberlin and Hillsborough just a few blocks up from CV. Can be pretty decent bar food and good overall beer selection although not as broad of a draft beer selection in my experience. I'm probably forgetting some other options right around CV but there really is not an obvious spot there that leaps to mind as a recommendation.

As others have noted, CV is not very far from lots of other areas including Glenwood South (MoJoe's Burger Joint--for very good local, non-chain burger but probably not for salads), downtown Raleigh proper (Chuck's--for the best burger in town in my opinion plus Brewmasters for very good but sometimes inconsistent non-chain burgers but very strong NC draft selection). Sort of in between the two areas is the Seabord Station / Peace Street area with a Bad Daddy's Burger Bar and Tyler's Taproom with good burgers and beer selections but from chains.)

Mar 09, 2015
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Blue Plate Mayonnaise in NC?

I have also seen it at Smith's Red & White in Dortches (Rocky Mount) when there for sausages. I got some specifically because of the Cooks Country test and tried it on a variety of the things, including in homemade pimento cheese and still prefer Duke's.

Jan 21, 2015
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Suggestions for In-Laws 40th Anniversary Dinner in RDU

I will come to the rescue of Bloomsbury Bistro on this one if I may. I may have missed the negative press on BB here or elsewhere but find that surprising if that is the case as it has always been very good and consistent whenever I've been. For whatever reason, it does not seem to get much love here which is fine and I know lots of folks don't really appreciate Toler's menu options but I've always found I'm able to make that work.

The menus change seasonally or more often--maybe every couple of months?--and are posted on the webpage promptly so you can see generally what is on offer and whether that is to your liking. There have been a few menus over the years that had nothing that really did it for me and so I made it a point not to eat there during those stretches. Otherwise, I've always found at least a few things that really had me salivating. For my wife and me, it remains our favorite couples dining spot for a quiet, low-key dinner with great food.

I will also note that this past holiday season I had to schedule an annual dinner for a nonprofit board there and they did a fantastic job. They were the most prompt and reasonably priced option available of the 5 or 6 different finer dining places around downtown that we solicited bids from. They really did a great job and the food was fantastic.

The only downside I would mention here is that they may be too romantic or low key or quiet, etc. if you are looking for glitz and buzz as part of your dining out. If that is what you are in the mood for, I think there are probably some other places I would say to hit up rather than Bloomsbury but if you are looking for the opposite, they do a great job. Given how long they have been around, I think people forget about the place or sort of take it for granted but I think some of the food choices there are as creative as any place around.

The Irregardless, on the other hand, leaves me cold based on my last couple of experiences there.

Jan 20, 2015
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast
1

Tupelo Honey in Raleigh -- Nohing Special

Thanks Rocky. Certainly understand your sentiment here. I think the issue (for me at least) is not tied to them opening up more than one location but the fact that the other locations have evolved so far from the original quality, feel, concept, etc. of the first location. While the original was many moons ago and may never have been all it is thought to have been, it seems to hold a special place in the hearts of many. Unfortunately, I think much of that original concept survives only in PR hype and webpage description now. FWIW, I feel much the same way about the Flying Biscuit just a couple of stones throws away from Tupelo Honey in Cameron Village. For better or worse that place can really pack them in for breakfast / brunch even though my experiences there (very dated at this point) have always been sub-meh. I'm from Morehead City and would say the same goes for The Sanitary and Capt'n Bills seafood restaurants--heck those are so far away from their storied reputations I'm not sure they could open more than 1 location if they wanted to.

Dec 11, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

A Change At G2B in Durham

Hmmm. Interesting. While I'm glad to hear the menu has improved in the veg / pescatarian selection as that may make my wife more likely to visit, I'm saddened to see the burgers apparently gone and increase in prices, etc. I've never had the chance to eat there but have always wanted to until I heard this and looked at the menu that's posted. To my mind, that menu really doesn't suggest gastro pub in the way the old menu did and so makes me less inclined to visit. At the very least, it seems they should continue the burgers--i mean the "about" section of the current website even specifically calls out their burgers. Seems to me they may be better off to expand the old menu rather than overhauling.

Dec 10, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Any NC State Fair Reports?

If I recall correctly, Hill's was usually located along the strip not far from the waterfall just down and across from the church tents / lunch stands. It has a big corn cob sticking up on top.

Oct 22, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Any NC State Fair Reports?

Anybody know if Hill's Roasted Corn stand is there this year? We usually make that a tradition but I was looking on the NC State Fair Food / Ride finder and did not find any listing for it. Perhaps it is considered a fixture that need not be listed? If it has disappeared, that would be almost like Barefoots disappearing.

http://www.ncstatefair.org/2014/Visit...

Also, I seem to recall Greg Cox having published a list of his favorite spots at the fair a few years back but cannot seem to find it. Does anyone have a copy or link to a copy of that. As I recall, many of his favorites have already been mentioned here (maple cotton candy, kettle corn at Village of Yesteryear, howling cow ice cream) but I think there were some others like maybe a favorite strawberry shortcake vendor?

Oct 21, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Asheboro recs

Sorry, sounds like this may be too late but perhaps for future reference The Table in downtown is very good. Coffee shop, bakery and sandwich and brunch items. Have heard Bistro 42 is good but I have not tried. Big gap after that in my experience--Sir Pizza for Asheboro pizza or Dixie III for take out sandwiches and milkshakes but otherwise limited pickings. There is also a pizza / bar place downtown called When Pigs Fly (reference to passage of liquor by the drink actually happening a few years back) that is supposed to be ok but nothing special as far as I know.

Sep 20, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Restaurant in Winston-Salem with a private room?

Sorry, not a Winston-Salem native so no great inside information. When we faced similar need for lunch in between tournament games last year we went to the Fox & Hound in Thruway Shopping Center. Lunch was fine and the team enjoyed watching games, playing pool. Unfortunately, I understand the Fox & Hound closed at that location. Not sure if anything else has taken their old spot there that might be an option or not.

Not exactly what you've asked for but several of the team got Pizza from Burke Street Pizza in the evening and ate that at the hotel. If you don't find other good dining out options, might consider getting a conference room or meeting room at the team hotel and getting pizza or pasta brought in. Good luck.

Sep 16, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

General Recommendations in Wake Forest, NC

Thanks again for everybody's recommendations. Just wanted to provide a quick report. So far we've been to Mellow Mushroom, Gonza Tacos (twice) and Gatehouse Tavern (twice) and back down toward Raleigh to eat at Cafe Capistrano (twice). We haven't been to Farm Table yet as we're generally doing this after soccer with younger kids in tow and so typically looking for more casual fare.

Sep 07, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

General Recommendations in Wake Forest, NC

Thanks very much. I had heard of Girasole but never tried so glad to know of the transition there.

Aug 08, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

General Recommendations in Wake Forest, NC

Apologies if I've missed a similar recent post on this topic but we are finding ourselves around downtown Wake Forest, NC at dinner time on Fridays and Saturdays and would appreciate any recommendations for good family style restaurants of any stripe. We have been to Gonza Tacos and enjoyed that and have been told to try Main Street Grille as well but wondered if there were other gems. In particular, is there a favorite non-chain pizza / Italian place or good local tavern to check out? Have not been to Over the Falls Deli in several years--is it a good choice or are there better options? Thanks!

Aug 08, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Raleigh Sundry Shop - Downtown Raleigh

For those that may have missed the recent note in the N&O, just a heads up that David Fowle (formerly of the Wilmoore Cafe and Cafe Udine) is back in downtown running the Sundry Shop in the old (old) Progress Energy Building. David is offering basic breakfast options in the morning and then deli sandwiches, grilled pimento cheese, hot dogs, and soup for lunch. The deli sandwiches and daily soup are both very good and reminiscent of those he offered at the Wilmoore. No homemade chips there (at least not yet) but he is serving high qualify meat and gives you an ample portion at a price that is one of the best deals in town. Hefty ham and swiss and chips and a drink for $7 or so. He also has his old chocolate chip cookies (with sea salt?) that are great. The atmosphere is pretty basic but it's well worth seeking out for great food at a great price and a chance to chat with David.

Angus Barn in Raleigh What to have and what to avoid

Thanks. She doesn't eat red meat so takes one for the team generally when we eat at steak houses. I feel badly though because I basically talked her into the snapper over something else (maybe vegetable gnocchi?) that she probably would have enjoyed more. She did enjoy the beet salad as did the rest of us--wow, they put a lot of beets on that thing.

Jun 18, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Angus Barn in Raleigh What to have and what to avoid

I like your list with AB, Stanbury, One, etc. As you'll note in the thread that Tooth Tooth sent, I'm a big fan (and defender here) of the Angus Barn and really do think it worth a visit for those in the area. Not sure I'm qualified to judge who has the best steak but I think AB does a nice job, service is great and the whole thing is I think a worthwhile experience even if you don't go back.

To answer your specific question, I typically get the same thing there so have not tried all the various menu items will share my advice. First, one thing I like about AB is that each steak / meal comes with a choice of soup or salad and choice of potato, etc. My general advice on the salad if helpful for future reference is I prefer the spinach salad to the regular garden salad because I always prefer that but particularly like the warm poppy seed dressing they bring in a little cup; I also like the wooden bowls they serve the salads in. The french onion soup is good but I really prefer just a salad given all the other food you're likely to be eating.

I always end up getting the regular baked potato. The stuffed potato is very good and would be my next choice but then I'm a traditionalist. I've never had their french fries or onion rings.

For the entree, I prefer the single steaks (rib eye or ny strip) to the chateaubriand although the cb is very good and comes with lots of vegetables and some extra presentation. (Note, I've only ever gotten the cb that is split among two people as that used to be the only way to get it--i think they now offer it for one but I haven't tried.)

I did try the prime rib once (special i think) and it was good but I regretted not getting a steak. I've been with others who got ribs--they said they were good but didn't rave about them so I think probably hard to go very wrong with any choice but I'd recommend the rib eye.

I'm not a huge dessert fan but they have all been really good. I'd say the chocolate chess pie is the best and is justly famous but others are good too. We usually get a slice of the chocolate chess and an apple crisp for the table to share when with my family.

As others have mentioned, the wine choices are great so if you have an interest in that, there are tons of choices.

One thing to think about is skipping the main dining room and just eating at the Wild Turkey Lounge as that can often be a faster and easier seat. You can get steaks there in addition to sandwiches and I think the steaks there are a little less expensive (don't think they include the salad).

On a somewhat related topic, my sons took me to Bin 54 for fathers day as that was at the top of my list as I had not been for steak there. We had a very good meal and the steak was great but I did not find it any better than the AB. It was right there with the AB quality-wise but I was not blown away and did not leave feeling the AB paled in comparison meat-wise. The atmosphere was very nice and very different of course from the AB but I think both serve their purpose depending on what you are looking for. I got the bone-in rib eye, other son got the hangar steak and youngest got a small filet. We all got to sample each others steaks so I think I got a pretty good feel for the steaks at Bin 54. The filet really did almost melt in your mouth but my favorite taste wise was my bone-in rib eye. The hangar steak was ok too but I wasn't all that impressed with it. The salads and sides we got at Bin 54 (grits / mashed potatoes) were good but nothing special really and I sort of missed the old school salad and potato being included with each steak. My wife got a vermillion snapper special which she did not really care for. She said it was "fine" but not worth the money. One thing that is a constant between both AB and Bin 54 is that it will be expensive.

To be perfectly honest, the best steak I've had in NC in recent memory was one that I got at the Bistro by the Sea in Morehead City a couple of years ago. I'd put that one steak above Bin 54 and Angus Barn but I've unfortunately not been back there so not sure whether that was just a lucky night or they are always that good. Sounds like I need to try Vin Rouge next.

Jun 18, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Good country sausage near Greenville, NC?

thanks

May 06, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Good country sausage near Greenville, NC?

Please forgive my ignorance here but for the air dried sausages discussed here, are these sausages along the lines of Italian or Mediterranean-style air dried sausages or instead some variation of what I think of as country breakfast sausage (e.g., Neese's)? If the former, are these mainly used for grilling and do places like Smith's and Mac's sell both kinds? Thanks.

May 06, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Downtown Raleigh - Good Food and Basketball on TV?

As a downtown Raleigh worker, I've not found a place that provides what I consider an ideal combo of food and tv viewing within walking distance.

It's been awhile since I've been in but I don't recall Poole's even having a tv at the bar. I've not been to the Borough. Raleigh Times, Busy Bee and The Pit all have tvs but they are not huge and if you're going at night it could be tough to secure a spot where you can really watch. Same for Chucks--small tv and not easy to view from many seats. I don't think Beasleys or Joule have TVs. Sitti and Gravy each have a relatively small tv in the bar area which can be ok if you're there during an uncrowded time but wouldn't be my choice for watching a game at night. Tir Na Nog has pretty good viewing and I like their food ok if you're in the mood but it's nothing great in my opinion.

I really like Tobacco Road and that would be my choice of the places mentioned thus far but I wouldn't consider that within walking distance. Along those lines, you could also check out Village Draft House or OC Grill in Cameron Village area if you have to get into a car.

Been awhile since I've been to Woody's but that is a solid option. The couple of additional suggestions I'd add are The Oxford or Bolt on Fayetteville Street. They are a short walk and offer pretty good tv viewing in the bar. The food is passable.

Edit: 1 more option to add would be Brewmasters which gets my vote for best viewing and great draft beer selection. I have found their burgers and some other offerings to be just fine but others have disagreed with me on the food part.

Mar 17, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Pompieri Pizza, downtown Durham

Maybe the Pizza Palace which I think was originally located off of 9th Street in the building where Vin Rouge / Blu are located? I have friends that used to leave in Durham in the late 80s / early 90s that used to make special trips back just for the pizza there. Sadly, we never got to try it.

Feb 10, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Raleigh - best in downtown?

Afraid I cannot offer much on the Stanbury to Poole comparison as I have not made it yet but hear great things about it. Stanbury is not far from the hotels around Poole's (Marriott, Sheraton) but it would be a long walk. R line is doable as noted but that's not always the greatest.

If you're willing to take a cab from downtown though that does open up I think Mandolin or Bloomsbury Bistro. I really like Mandolin a lot although options can be a bit limited and Bloomsbury is very relaxing and can have some great food but know it doesn't get much love here.

Neither of these is in downtown Raleigh and would be more expensive but when my wife and I were doing same sort of thing a few years ago she said she would rather save up another month or so and go stay at the Umstead and eat at Herons or go to Fearrington than anything else.

Jan 27, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Mexican in downtown Raleigh

I've been fortunate to go to both within the last couple of weeks--first time at Jose and Sons. Both were very good but I think I personally enjoyed the food more at Centro than Jose; however, I think that could have been due solely to liking my selection more at Centro than Jose rather than the quality of the cooking, etc. I think they both typically do a fine job so my advice would be to look at both menus and choose which one has the dishes that appeal to you more. As noted below, Jose does offer the advantage of Videri next door.

Jan 17, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast

Joule, in Raleigh

It's definitely pricey!

I have since made it back for lunch and ordered the chicken sandwich with avocado and tomato from, I believe, the "all day menu." Seems like it was around $9 without a side of chips or whatever. The sandwich was really great and fairly good sized and I thought an appropriate thing for a bit of a splurge lunch. I know I can find a cheaper chicken sandwich around but not sure I can find one with as much flavor in the same price range. (By the way, I think they have this all day menu (and brunch, etc.) posted on the website now.)

On the other hand, I'm a fat southern boy that likes my bojangles (and biscuitville) and am happy to take the $9 or $10 savings on my gravy biscuit and grab an extra serving (or 3 or 4).

Jan 02, 2014
Guilty Gourmand in Southeast