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Dream Catcher Cafe in Chapel Hill - Anyone know anything?

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I happened to go by this place today - its in the little mall where the Chelsea theater is. The sign says "French Country Cuisine" although I can't think of a less french-country name than Dream Catcher Cafe myself. Anyone know anything about this place? Is it destined to be of the same caliber as that very disappointing place in Meadowmont (which my brain has decided i will forget the name of)? Is it new or has it been around for a while and I don't make it up that way that often?

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  1. I saw an article about it in the Chapel Hill News a while back and meant to try it.

    Before I saw the article, I'd assumed it was Native American. I go to the deli right there fairly often and I think I first noticed in December.

    1 Reply
    1. re: brokegradstudent

      It defintely sounds more like a native american place. I'll google it and see if I can find the article you mentioned. Since you go up there often, have you ever been to the little vegetarian place there? I think it is called Sage. I've wondered how it is. Anyway, thanks so much for the info.

    2. Hey, look at that, there was actually a blurb in the Herald-Sun over the weekend, in the same column that announced that Twisted Noodle is actually open (!).
      http://www.heraldsun.com/business/21-...

      "Two Chapel Hill women have launched Dream Catcher Cafe, a new restaurant in Timberlyne shopping center that features French country cuisine.

      The restaurant, which is located at 1129 Weaver Dairy Road, seats about 50 and has a 12-seat bar that opens at 4 p.m. where you can nosh on meat or cheese platters while gearing up for dinner. Kathleen Bowerman and Charlene Allred are behind the venture with Bowerman serving as the matre'de and Allred as a chef. Anne Pambugian is the restaurant's head chef.

      Allread said menu choices range from Daub, a slow-cooked red meat stew, and herb-roasted chicken to mushroom and chestnut soup. Desserts include chocolate Charlotte and ice cream and sorbets made on site. The restaurant, which does not take reservations, is open 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

      "We wanted a small, intimate place where people can come back to conversation," Allread said. "

      IIRC, the article a couple of months ago in [whatever paper it was in] said that the two owners were both retired/exiled from the health-care industry, and that one of them had recently attended CIA.

      RE: Sage . . . I've eaten there twice. The food is Persian-influenced, I think, so you get things like thick sweet-savory sauces/stews with pomegranate & suchlike in them. In that sense it's sort of on that broad continuum of legume-heavy stews served over rice that runs from North Africa through the Middle East & on to India & etc.

      Given that, and given the range of ethnic restaurants serving similar stuff in the Triangle, I kind of felt like the prices were a little high for what I was served. For what it's worth, my vegetarian friends who've eaten there pretty much universally feel the same way . . . they tend to say things like "I could've had Indian, or Ethiopian, or just cooked at home, for a lot cheaper."

      Of course, most of my vegetarian friends are bohemian cheapskate types, so . . . ;-

      )

      If I'm in the mood for Persian (which happens, though not very often), I suppose I'd pick Cafe Parvaneh instead. But I'm neither an expert nor a huge fan of the cuisine, so don't take my word as final on this.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rossgrady

        Wow, what a great chunk of information! thank you so much. Re: Sage - this is all good to know. I love those cuisines you name checked, might be worth checking out if I find myself nearby.

        I guess Dream Catcher must have opened very recently, given that this article just appeared this weekend. I can't wait to hear the first reports. I may even be brave and give it a shot in the next week or two myself, and if I do, I'll be sure to report. The CIA connection makes it worth a try.

        Again, thanks so much.

      2. Not a fan of Sage

        1. It's new. The post office next to it is teh closest one to my house so I've seen them working on it when I've gone to the post office. Glad to hear that it's finally open.

          As for Sage, if you want that kind of food and willing to pay those prices you're better off going to Tallulah.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bbqme

            agreed. sage is too expensive, and in my opinion, not very tasty at all. Ive had 4 different entrees there and the best one was their veggie burger.

            1. re: bbqme

              I love Tallulah's and it is walking distance from my house, so I think i'll stick with that (more wine, please!). Thanks for the info.

            2. Went there 2 weeks ago. Nice atmosphere-a surprise in a strip mall setting. The service was awful. Our server knew nothing about the food or wine. We were one of the first tables seated that night, and had to wait for (yes it's true) 45 minutes for our appetizers to appear. When the entrees finally appeared they were cold--although the flavor was good. The prices were actually quite high for such poor service! Vin Rouge in Durham is a much better bet for French. Looking forward to trying Bonne Soiree.

              1. Sounds like sclarke had a terrible experience, but i just got a note from my French friend who never eats in french restaurants outside of france if she can help it and she raved about this place. her experience sounds completely opposite of what has been posted here. havent been there myself yet but am definitely planning to check it out.

                1. We stopped in at Dream Catcher last night for apps before a movie. We ate at the bar.

                  The menu is nicely focused, and looks like it might change frequently, since it's just a couple of laserprinted pages stapled together. 3 apps, 3 salads, a soup, and a handful of entrees (basically 1 beef, 1 chicken, and 1 fish). Dunno if I can re-create fully, but let me try . . .

                  Apps were mussels (which I had--more on that in a minute), a cheese plate, and I forget the 3rd. Salads were a standard greens+pear+walnut, an arugula with braised wild mushrooms, and something involving ricotta ensalata and hazelnuts, IIRC. We had the arugula. The soup was a French take on minestrone, or so the menu said. Basically a vegetable soup. I can't remember much about the entrees past the shortness of the list & the even division among the meats.

                  We had the mussels, the arugula-and-mushroom salad, and the soup. Of the three, the salad was the clear winner, with the rich sweetness of the braised mushrooms perfectly balancing the bitter arugula (it was a nice bed of baby arugula, too--really well-selected and presented). The soup came in second: it was a good solid thick vegetable stew, with well-blended flavors. My only quibble (and I hesitate to even say this, since I don't want to be a price-nitpicker) was that it was a pretty small bowl, almost a cup, for $7.

                  The mussels added parsley and red bell pepper to the classic white-wine, garlic & shallots combination, and I felt like the parsley & the pepper were too predominant, flavor-wise. I couldn't really get a sense of the garlic & shallot at all, in fact, and the end result was an overall blunting of the flavor which I didn't think served the mussels well.

                  Price-wise, the apps and salads were in the $8-10 range, and the entrees were in the $18-22 range. The atmosphere is nice enough, though the full-glass front windows & view of the parking lot make the stripmall feel hard to shake, especially if you're sitting at the bar, which is close enough to the door to get a draft every time it opens (it's a small enough place that the first 3 tables probably have the same problem.

                  The bartender was personable enough, though he seemed to have trouble understanding my companion's reasonably accurate French pronunciation of the names of the dishes she was ordering (hey, the names are all in French on the menu, so . . .). Then again, he was also distracted by an older gentleman who came in & was attempting to monopolize his attention by teaching him how to make a Sazerac.

                  There was a little bit of a hard-sell going on (an expression of surprise when we didn't order an entree, and an "I'll just let you look at the menu anyway" when we said we didn't have time for dessert), but it wasn't irretrievably annoying or anything.

                  Beverage-wise, they have a decent selection of beers, pretty much all micros/imports, with a nice cross-section of Belgians. The wine menu (and again, my permanent caveat that I'm not a wine drinker) is notable primarily for its offering everything on it, probably 30+ wines, by-the-glass. Big row of bottles on the bar with rubber vacuum-stopper doodads in them. Not sure they get enough traffic to make that the best idea, but on the other hand, by the time we left at 6:45, 2/3ds of the tables were filled on a Tuesday night, so maybe they do.

                  We'll probably go back for a proper meal at some point, as the mussels were the only misstep, and it was as much a philosophical problem as an execution problem, perhaps. I wish we could make it a regular pre-movie stop, but you'd be hard-pressed to pull off a satisfying/filling meal for less than $22/person, or closer to $30 if you want alcohol. Still, it's nice to have it as an option.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rossgrady

                    Thanks - what a great post with tons of information. I'm already a little put off by the strip mall setting ... don't really need them making the most of it by having huge open windows onto the parking lot. But I do like the wines by the glass thing (although I agree - if they're not selling a lot of wine, its going to get skanky). We'll give it a try.

                  2. This restaurant and its owners and chef have to be some of the most pretentious people in all of food service. The food is sub-par at best. The bartender is a true oaf...with no wine or liquor knowledge. The servers....nice folks but uninformed about dining....forget french bistro or fine dining. I have been there twice. The first time the food was cold...and I wrote that off to this being a new establishment. I went a second time. The bartender was rude...apparently aruging with the chef in back. The defininition of this establishment is prententiuousness and serve up at best false prentents. Better to pass this place by and spend your hard earned cash elsewhere. I give this place 6 months to a year before it goes under. Also the health code was a 95%...for a brand new restaurant???!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: belknap

                      Exactly my experience

                    2. Having posted here before reporting about my french friend's positive experience, i feel compelled to add that another french friend went and thought little of it. He was especially put off by the service and the mousse ordered for dessert came straight from the freezer. Wierd. Sigh. It would be fun to have another nice bistrot around here.

                      1. Why all the griping about this little cafe? For this part of the country, it's terrific. It's not Manhattan or New Orleans or DC so get over it.
                        I and my companion loved everything but the hour-long wait on a Saturday night. The sauteed scallops were succulent and tender and the chocolate cake was the best in town. I'd like to run this place down so complaining nitwits won't bother to stop in. By the way, the waitstaff, considering the slow kitchen, was informative and polite.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Old Magnolia

                          We went to Dream Catcher tonight, even though reports above were mixed at best. Well, by 7:45 they had run out of both the fish of the day and the advertised cassoulet special. We were instructed by the waitress to just order the steak or chicken. Too bad. We waited and watched the waitress and another server (there are only 12 tables and maybe 8 were full) ) work on cleaning up a table and putting new settings down (together) for what seemed like an eternity before she came back to take our order.
                          We had a roasted butternut squash, spinach and hazelnut salad to begin. Nice idea, but uninspired in execution. I had roasted chicken, my husband had the mussels appetizer for his main course. The chicken was okay, but definitely not worth the high price.

                          Wine was good and reasonably priced. We thought that perhaps after a year of operation it was worth the risk. NOT. Never again.

                        2. I went to Dream catcher last night. I would guess that at 5:30 I was not dressed nice enough. They turned us away said they were booked for the night. I was wearing cords and a top. I should also mention that they just opened their doors at this time and the place was empty. They told us we should have called for a reservation, we had tried all afternoon, no one had answered the phone. She said that was odd since they were there all afternoon. I will not go back again. Look down your nose at me and I will not return. It looked fairly pretentious inside.