Raleigh: Date Spot for Next Week
Was hoping y'all might be able to offer some assistance in helping me put together a good date night Monday. I live in NYC and Wilmington, and she lives in Raleigh (on Wade around the corner from Glenwood). So I have zero idea whatsover where I should take her. Put me in NYC, DC, or Wilmington, and I'm the king of great dates (how's that for modesty?). But this Raleigh thing is a whole new ballgame...
Based on my reading around online as well as a friend's recs, I've come up with these as potentials: Rockford, Duck & Dumpling, Bahama Breeze, ShabuShabu.
Any commentary on those, or new suggestions? Preferably something lowkey, nothing over-the-top where it looks like I'm trying too hard or anything like that. Not worried about spending some money, but again, wanna keep it simple for round 1. Girls have to earn the top-dollar dinners over time. : )
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
when i used to tour with a band, we would always eat at Rockford. Great food, cool enviornment, good service and very reasonably priced. Everybody seems to love it. We made the mistake of trying some all chili place when the wait was too long and we had to get to a performance. That was a mistake i would not suggest duplicating.
Thanks, sixhoota. Looks like I have been headed to the right places, as I've been to all of those but King Neptune and Artisan Market. We'll put those on the list for next weekend. Is Deluxe as good as they say? Have you tried Le Catalan?
Thanks, and give us a report on your Raleigh dinner.
re: Chapel Will
Hey Will. Thanks for your recs in Raleigh.
As for Wilmington/Wrightsville, your options today are a whole lot better than they would've been a mere 3 years ago...For simplicity purposes, your two main areas are Downtown and the Wrightsville area, the latter encompassing both the beach (which shockingly doesn't have much) and the surrounding two or three mile area.
My favorite restaurant in the Wrightsville area is Boca Bay, which is on Eastwood Rd. (main road that leads right into Wrightsville Beach), about half a mile before the bridge. It has a good selection of seafood (mostly prepared in contemporary flavorful tyles), a couple beef options, pasta, and a solid sushi menu. Should be noted that sushi is not their specialty, but by all accounts they do well with it. The Pecan Fried Flounder served on a bed of butternut squash is can't-miss. All desserts are $9, which I think is too pricey even though they are amazing. But if you're getting one, they're huge and all great (obviously price hasn't stopped me from trying them all).
My second favorite restaurant in Wilmington is called Circa 1922, and it's downtown. http://www.circa1922.com/ Not surprisingly, it's owned by the people who do Boca Bay, and they are for the most part similar in menu (Circa's is a little more expanded). Boca has a nice patio section for outdoor seating, while Circa is a bigger, more open overall space.
For just pure bonafide seafood goodness, I have to recommend King Neptune at Wrightsville Beach, which is on Lumina Ave., the main road that runs parallel to the beach. Decor/atmosphere is typical beach vibe (casually nice, but not tacky). Endless array of seafood from across the board, cooked fresh and right. Can get it broiled healthy or fried; both good. Not as expensive as I think it could be, given the quality of the food, if not the atmosphere.
A mile from Wrightsville is the new "place to be" area called Mayfaire Town Center, which is an open air shops and restaurants place. Unfortunately on the food front it's mostly chains such as Macaroni Grill, Longhorn, Red Robin, etc. Of note though, which would be great for lunch outside if it's not scorching, is Artisan Market & Cafe. http://www.artisanmarketandcafe.com/salads_menu_artisan.pdf
It seems that Friday night is the unofficial "Let's go out downtown" night, and Saturday the "Let's go out to the beach area" night. Doesn't mean either is dead on the other nights, but that's just the trend.
Others of note:
If y'all are gonna make a night of it, say doing a Friday downtown thing, would be great to do a late dinner here, then go upstairs to their sofa bar (get up there by 10 and you're sure to grab a couch or 2-top before the crowd arrives) which is great to kick the night off (superb extensive beer and wine list). Then you could either stay there for the night, or venture out within the 3-block surrounding area where most of downtown's nightlife is. Or you could do dinner at Circa and then come to Caprice for after-dinner drinks.
Indochine (on Market St., about midway between Beach and Downtown); http://www.indochinewilmington.com/
Hands-down the best Thai & Vietnamese food you'll be able to get anywhere in Wilmington. Atmosphere is of the tacky Asian variety, but the food more than makes up for it. Large portions for not-crazy prices. If not painfully humid and hot, get an outdoor table, as they do have a very nice, lush garden that makes for good scenery in the back, making you oblivious to the fact that you're off of God-awful Market St.
Port Land Grille (1/4 mile before bridge on Eastwood, in shopping center called Lumina Station) http://www.portlandgrille.com/index.jsp
Arguably the best restaurant in Wilmington when price is no concern. Head Chef recently selected as 1 of 19 to compete in National Seafood Cook-off in Louisiana to be televised on Food Network.
Brasserie (Also in Lumina Station);
Bluewater; One of the few actual on-the-water options available. Seated on the Intracoastal Waterway, an outdoor table is a must. Food is good, seafood slightly better; prices reflect the one-the-water situation more than they do outstanding food or service.
Here is a rundown for you to take a look at and see if anything appeals to you and I can let you know my thoughts on them:
"Midtown: Indochine...Hands-down the best Thai & Vietnamese food you'll be able to get anywhere in Wilmington."
Rim Wang downtown has better Thai food and I have heard that Viet Bistro has pretty good Vietnamese food. Indochine tries to be all things to everyone, and often fails.
Raleigh Times Bar is great. It has hip design and shockingly good food. The chef is Ashley Christensen from Enoteca Vin; it's casual bar food that is upscale without being pretentious. There is an increasingly interesting beer list as well, with a ton delicious Belgians by the bottle.
I may not be a lot of help, as I am too far removed from the dating scene, however, one of my sons is single, recent grad of UNCW, living in Raleigh, so I will rely on what I have heard. This is not based solely on food, but on the critereia you indicted, which sounds very similar to his approach. Two main areas to consider - Glenwood South and North Hills, both of which have numerous options. Glenwood South is not far from where your friend lives, a mile or so south on Glenwood. This area is about 3 or 4 blocks of Glenwood, south from the intersection with Peace St. to Hillsborough St. You will need to do some research on the specific restaurants in the area, but it has everything from fine dining, to steak houses, tapas, Irish, pizza, Italian, seafood, and from expensive to reasonable, but probably no "Cheap Eats". The Red Room and Bogarts on Glenwood South are the two he recommends for meeting your objectives (decent food, appropriate atmosphere. North Hills will be a couple of miles north at the Intersection of I-440 and Six Forks Rd. and again a wide range of options. His recs there are Fox & Hound and Bonefish Grill. At least this may help get you started, or create an opportunity for others to post different options.
That is my grilfreind's neighborhood, so I have tried a few joints around there. I have not yet met a girl who lives in Raleigh that does not love the Rockford, so that is probably a safe bet. However, she probably eats there plenty living that close. We recently had a great dinner at Duck and Dumpling (my first time), so I would also recommend that. Don't know Bahama Breeze and had an awful lunch on my one trip to Shabu.
I would also recommend Bistro 607 on Glenwood. Zely and Ritz for small plates (tapas) or Sushi Blues are also both on Glenwood and have been enjoyable for me. The oyster bar at Nelson's in Cameron Village was nice on our first visit. Enoteca Vin and Nana's Chop House are also very nice, if not too pricey.
April and George is a cool wine bar on Glenwood for after dinner drinks, if you are in to that.
Disclaimer - I have no idea who may be closed on Mondays.
BTW - What are your top 5 best eats in Wilmington/Wrighstville? We're headed down next weekend.