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Jan 2, 2007 10:31 PM


Hi there - I'm new in town and looking for a great place for a romantic birthday dinner. Price is not an issue. I fear I'm a bit spoiled with the culinary scene in San Francisco and haven't yet been able to find really great restaurants in Raleigh. My last venture was Jibarra and I was EXTREMELY disappointed. Please help!

I've heard a tapas place - Underground - is good; as well as Fins and Margauex's; any thoughts on these?

Second Empire is supposed to be the best place in town, but I wasn't crazy about their menu. Same goes for Enoteca Vin. But if they're great and have a great romantic atmosphere, I'd try them.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!!!!


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  1. Yep, coming from San Francisco is a bit of a culinary shock. I've been here two years and keep looking and hoping. But eventually you have to change your expectations to fit the best of the local scene, rather than the best of what you remember back in the Bay Area.

    So far with your requirements the best I can come up with is Second Empire. I was pleased with the service, ambience, and food quality.

    Good luck and happy birthday to whomever!

    1. Newcomer76-

      The Triangle has a great foodscene for the Southeast, it is not San Fran, New York, London, or Chicago. In time, you will come to appreciate it. I know that I have.

      On the bright side, the traffic is a breeze and real estate is cheap compared to those areas. You take the good with the bad and you realize that you can now go out to eat a lot more than before.

      Romantic dinner? I've had a couple of good meals at Fins, Enoteca Vin, Second Empire - all would be good choices. If you want to go outside Raleigh, check out Fearington House down past Chapel Hill or Nana's in Durham. If you want to do something really special for that special someone, call Jujube and ask Charlie aka Detlefchef about preparing a special menu for your special someone. I think that a good menu could be more romantic than a romantic setting.

      1. I'd second the Fins rec... i've only had dinner there once, but it was very very good. Fraziers on Hillsborough St. is another fave in Raleigh for my wife and I... Vin's food is simply prepared, but executed with a great deal of skill and very high quality ingredients.
        As far as outside Raleigh, Magnolia Grill in Durham would be another I'd add to the list, while seconding the rec for Jujube and removing the rec for Fearrington. Another to check out would be Elaine's in Chapel Hill.
        Sorry to hear you were so disappointed at Jibarra.

        1. I don't know if Magnolia Grill would suit the recs. While their food is my favorite in the Triangle and always my choice for my birthday, it is severely lacking in the romance department. It can be crowded and noisy. However, I like the food so much that I'll gladly put up the atmosphere.

          Enoteca Vin ranks well on the romance scale and the food has always been outstanding. I haven't been there since the chef reworked the menu so I can't comment on that but the quality of the meals should still be excellent.

          Fearrington ranks very high on the romance scale. Excellent service, excellent experience in general, but the last two times I was there I was somewhat disappointed with the food. Not that it's bad, it just wasn't up to the quality of the meals that I'd had in previous years. Mucho, mucho dinero, also.

          1. I've been wondering about Mo's Diner in Raleigh. It seems that it would be a romantic spot, but I've not heard about the actual food. Is Mo's any good?