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Watts Grocery in Durham, NC

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Has anyone heard when it will open? I saw it mentioned on the Slow food Triangle site and checked out their web site. It looks very good. No word on an opening date, though.


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  1. Matt, I think they are aiming for late september, early october. This was discussed in a post last week, i think, so you can probably find more info there. I think everyone is looking forward to another exciting restaurant in Durham.

    1. I'm adopting this as the official Watts Grocery thread. The other thread, with significantly more responses, appears to be more about anticipation for the restaurant. And the title is spelled wrong, after all. I hope other posters will follow my lead.

      So anyway, I do have the scoop on Watts Grocery, however preliminary that scoop may be. I was at the F&F soft-opening tonight. To be clear, Watts IS NOT open to the public as of right now. The plan is for this weekend, but that's not a guarantee. I piss off enough restaurateurs calling them for opening dates and showing up at doorsteps unannounced (though not in this case) that I would rather no one try to scope this place out on my accord.

      Given that this was a soft-opening, I'll refrain from too much discussion until a later time to let the staff have a chance to change anything they may wish to. I will say, the space actually surprised me with how nice, welcoming, and large it is. There's a nice bar dining area, which I really like. The presence of a well-selected, if brief, list of wines, beers, and cocktails (I enjoyed seeing the Sidecar, in particular) is also well-appreciated. Too often restaurants ignore one of the trifecta, and the dining experience often suffers.

      The menu in its current guise, which I will comment on because it is posted online, maintains some Nasher-esque favorites but also goes further. The proteins are well-sourced--porky pork, tender quail--and for some reason whatever butter the restaurant was serving was crazy delicious. If prices do not change significantly from what I saw tonight, everything was very fair.

      The service was relatively organized for what must have been a hectic evening for the entire staff. Although small quirks will hopefully be ironed out, there was a genuine sincerity and excitement that pervaded throughout the entire staff. One of my biggest problems with restaurants in the area is staff that seem so disconnected, either through apathy or ignorance, from the food they serve. Watts Grocery exudes honesty, and I hope this will continue.

      Overall, I came away with a very favorable impression of this new addition to the dining scene. So close to campus, it presents a great alternative to 9th St. or Hillsborough Rd. eateries. I'm extremely excited to watch the restaurant continue to grow.

      I will be back frequently to explore brunch and late-night options. The prospect of fried chicken gizzards and a real (non-Cookout) burger at 1 AM as a break from other intoxicating pursuits is incredibly exciting. I feel like I'll be buying people lots of meals in exchange for rides.

      3 Replies
      1. re: BryanZ

        Sounds promising. Thanks, Bryan. I looked at the menus posted on their website and the impression I got was that they were going to try to serve well-sourced, high quality simply prepared food rather than complex dishes. Smart approach. I'm sure they'll broaden their menu once they get into their groove.

        1. re: bbqme

          I had the same impression. Good local food, prepared with a kind of Southern twist. I aree with your take on the approach - done right, it has the makings of a great restaurant. Can't wait to try. My mom is visiting next week. I think that is where I'll take her.

        2. re: BryanZ

          I wish my experience had been as positive as yours! When we arrived for dinner last weekend, the restaurant was really busy. A pleasant hostess greeted us at the door; and we decided to get a drink at the bar while waiting for our table. The bar was also packed and there were only two bartenders, so I assumed we would be waiting for awhile. To my (happy) surprise, the lady bartender greeted us (also very pleasantly!) right away and made my husband and me each a drink. His mojito (apparently a house specialty) was fabulous; and I think she made the best cosmopolitan I've ever had. She offered us menus and was even able to give some [excellent] recommendations for food-pairings. After a bit, we were shown to our table. Sadly, that is where our wonderful experience ended.

          The waitress service was excruciatingly slow. When we inquired about some of the of the entrees, we were informed, rather rudely, that 'they were out of that, anyway'. She (the server) seemed to be quite annoyed that we had asked, at all, and seemed like she couldn't get away from our table quickly enough. We ordered an appetizer - fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade, which were delicious - and placed our orders for dinner. Our entrees took almost 35-40 mins to come out after we had finished our appetizer. The wine was an excellent compliment to the food (we had taken the advice of the lady behind the bar), but our glasses sat empty for quite awhile before the server even thought to ask if we'd like another round (and the water we asked for never showed up).

          All in all, the food was good-very good, but took a VERY long time, and the atmosphere has a casual elegance about it. The table service came with quite an attitude, when it came at all, but the knowledge of (SOME) of the staff seems to be quite extensive. If my husband and I decide to give this place another try, rest assured--WE'LL STAY AT THE BAR!

        3. It's now open. Just got an email.

          4 Replies
          1. re: termite

            Fantastic. Thanks for the heads up. Is anyone else having trouble with the website? I can't seem to see the menus.

            1. re: LulusMom

              Some of the menus aren't up yet (thought last time I checked the dinner one was up). You may need to enable pop-ups in your browser.

              We're going tonight, I'll report back tomorrow. If their menus are printed on paper like Piedmont's, I'll ask for one so I can share :)

            2. re: termite

              Per the Noble press release, this place seats 110. For a neighborhood spot, that's pretty damn big.

              1. re: BryanZ

                I went for lunch yesterday. I had the turkey sandwich with chow-chow. I have to say, any restaurant that will serve chow-chow will get five stars from me. The sandwich was awesome, the chow-chow was fresh, and the hand-cut fries were great. I strongly recommend the onion rings because the sauce that accompanies them is out of this world.

            3. We had dinner there last night, between around 7:00 and 9:00. It was never 100% full during that time, but I'd say it peaked at around 90% full, not counting the bar-table section at the front.

              It being their first official night, I was ready to cut them a lot of slack, but I really didn't have to. The service was fine, especially for a busy Friday night, and all the food came out plated well & at the appropriate temp, etc.

              The three of us had the following dishes:

              Local Greens tossed with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers, Spiced Pecans, Roasted Garlic and Balsamic Vinaigrette: This was actually the standout of the evening for me. The greens were just so fresh, and the balance between them, the roasted tomatoes & peppers, and the dressing was perfect. And! the portion was a normal salad portion, not the giant-plate-of-bagged-greens portion that you get a lot of places nowadays. (this was actually a drawback in this instance, however, as all 3 of us really liked it & would've loved more. If it were just mine, though, it would've been just the right size.)

              Fried Green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade: the breading was very light, lighter than that at the Barbeque Joint (and lighter than C's dad's recipe as well, she said). It really let the flavor of the tomatoes dominate, which was ideal. I didn't manage to get enough of the remoulade to be able to comment.

              Glenn’s house country terrine served with house pickles, grainy mustard, baguette toasts, and seasonal compote. : The country terrine (roughly similar in size & composition to the country pate's served at Federal and Piedmont) wasn't up to the standard set by Piedmont, but that's a really high standard. Was as good or better than a similar terrine I had at Bonne Soiree. The house pickles were nicely sweet-savory--not full-blown sweet pickles, but rather just enough sweetness to give them complexity.

              Grilled NC Wahoo with Slow-Cooked Field Peas and James’ Grilled Corn and Sungold Tomato Salad. : I didn't get my hands on enough of this to be able to comment, but my companions thought the peas & the corn-and-tomato salad (*not* a peas-corn-tomato salad, which I think they would've preferred) hadn't had enough attention paid to them. The bite I tasted could've used salt. HOWEVER, Watts Grocery, to their great credit, have salt and pepper shakers on the table, so if you need to adjust the salt level in a dish, you can do so.

              Rockfish Muddle with Onions, Potatoes, and Carrots in a Bacon studded broth and served with Braised Greens and Hush Puppies. : OK, first things first: the hush puppies were AMAZING. incredibly light and fluffy. They were the big-round-ball variety, which I tend to avoid at BBQ and seafood joints, as they're usually the density of golf balls. These were the complete opposite; they nearly floated off the table. No idea how they got them so light, but they were the hit of the evening for our table. The rest of the dish was great as well--clearly a lot of fresh quality ingredients, brought together in the service of plain/simple comfort-style food (without the heavy salty/fattyness that "comfort" seems to connote). If it would ever get cold around here, this would be a great cold-weather stew.

              We weren't planning to have dessert, but then we looked at the menu, and realized we couldn't NOT try the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with coffee creme and coffee sauce. NOR the root beer float with cinnamon ice cream, NOR the fruit & berry crostada with ginger ice cream.

              I have to say, I found the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding to be simultaneously irresistible and appalling. It made me feel about the same as I feel when I'm on the fourth KK of a half-dozen-KK binge. The coffee sauce (a coffee syrup, basically) was like liquid crack, too. Everyone at the table expressed a desire to have it piped directly to our homes.

              I didn't get enough of the other desserts to be able to comment, but my companions thought the ice creams stacked up favorably with our other local ice-cream faves (Maple View & Jujube, basically).

              Decor-wise, it's just a nice simple space. Bar on one side, banquette down the other side, a few 4-tops down the middle (which makes the walking space a little tight between the front & the back, but not unpleasantly so . . . we were seated at one of these middle tables & I didn't feel like I was getting bumped as people walked by). After the bar ends the room widens out & there are quite a few more tables in the back. It was loud-ish when full last night, but not nearly as bad as a lot of our other local faves.

              The website says they're doing late-night Thur-Sat, but I thought the menus last night said *every* night (which seems crazy, so I assume I'm misremembering that).

              I will *definitely* be going back, for dinner, yes, but most assuredly also for lunch/brunch/late-night. I don't even know if Durham needed or deserved another awesome local/neighborhood restaurant of this quality, but I'm not going to complain (especially not with all those barstools & bar tables hopefully ensuring I'll be able to get a quick casual bite even after the word gets out).

              Watts Grocery
              1116 Broad Street, Durham, NC 27705

              2 Replies
              1. re: rossgrady

                The menu does say everynight, which I also found strange. Sounds crazy, but maybe they're trying to make it an industry hang-out. Is there enough of a critical mass of Durham restaurant folks to support such a place like in a major city?

                And, yes, the bar will too become my friend.

                1. re: atornquist

                  I have to say, the menu looks like one of the more promising ones I've seen in the Triangle. I'm excited and will stop on by for dinner sometime this coming week.

              2. Kidnapped a coworker for a long lunch today. Got to support Durham local places as much as possible (am I the only one feeling the stress here? So many good places in town, I'm starting to feel shiftless lazy when we stay home and cook....But with a 10 month old, it IS easier to stay home...)

                Lunch was a little longer than we wanted. There was some kind of computer glitch related to the taking and sending of orders. Server brought us a cone of hushpuppies to make ammends - Butter for spreading as well. They were excellent. Really liked that they were served in a cone.

                I had a chicken sandwich and onion rings. The rings seem house-made. They were pretty good - I give them a 6/10. Tough to compete with rings from the Q-Shack (which I'm pretty sure are NOT house made, but I'm pretty sure ARE the best rings ever). Menu didn't say we'd get fries with our sandwiches, but we did. Not my favorite - They were a smidge larger than McDonalds dimensions, but seemed like they were just fried until dark brown (rather than par-fried). On the plus side, they were not skin-on. Skin is for baked potatoes only. Fries are incredibly subjective, so if these sound like some you'd like, you may.

                I was disappointed by my chicken sandwich as well. Advertised as having roasted chilis, but the only thing on my sandwich was a roasted red pepper. I don't have anything against a roasted red pepper, but I would have ordered something else had I known. Friend's catfish po-boy was enjoyed - She liked the slaw the best.

                I do really like the space - Beautiful addition to the neighborhood. I especially like the fact that they are doing late night. Not that I get out late much anymore. Watts may prove to be a reason to get out.

                I feel like I've been mostly negative, but my experience was OK, and definitely worth some additional visits. Reviewers so far seem to be highlighting dinner dessert and brunch, so I'll try them next. Service was good and friendly.

                Anyone have anything they really liked at lunch? I know someone mentioned the turkey sandwich, so maybe I'll go that way next time. Anyone had the shrimp burger?


                3 Replies
                1. re: Nibbs

                  My lunch review (from the usual place, click on my name, then on the link to the blog):

                  And so to my fourth visit to Watts Grocery since it opened twelve days ago…

                  Yesterday, I invited my friend AR out to lunch, naturally suggesting we go to Amy Tornquist’s new neighborhood star. We got there somewhat late in the lunch hour (around 1pm) to find the restaurant at about 40% occupancy, still quite bustling given its 110-seat capacity. We were greeted by Zavi, the front house manager who somehow knew my name by the second time Durmonion and I showed up there 10 days ago for brunch. I’m not much of a stickler for the minutiae of service, but the personal touch is emphasized at a place like Watts, and that’s to be appreciated.

                  Anyway, to the food. We were told upfront that they were out of the reuben and the yellowtail tuna sandwich, though Zavi did go back to check on the former, which turned out to be available again. By this time I’d ordered a sweet ice tea (can’t get enough of their ice tea, it’s quite literally awesome) and a coffee, and had pretty much settled on a burger (for AR) and the Pan fried Sweetbread Sandwich w/Mushroom duxelle Mayo, Tomato, Aged Sherry Vinegar and Napa Cabbage on toasted Sourdough for me.

                  (I just had to put in the full description of that sandwich here…it’s a rather crazy idea for lunch. I tend to go for the stranger things on menus, just to give them a shot.)

                  The sandwiches came quickly while we were busy having a lively discussion on some small detail of our belief systems, as AR and I often do. Taking one bite from his burger, AR proclaimed that it was indeed as good as I’d described it to be. My sweetbreads sandwich was also marvelous. I’d only eaten sweetbreads once before, at Magnolia Grill last year in a very different gastronomical context. The sandwich had a great balance of ingredients, tastes melding together well. It was rather rich and filling for a small sandwich and kept me happily going until dinner many hours later.

                  A certain tongue-in-cheek attitude shines through in the idea of serving this very unusual and somewhat luxurious cut in a sandwich. As I’ve said before, I appreciate that attitude. This restaurant has an excellent gastronomic philosophy, as well as great execution. Now that I’ve eaten there for dinner, brunch, late-night and lunch, I can happily proclaim Watts Grocery to have easily made the list of my favorite Triangle restaurants.

                  Kudos to Amy and the entire team!

                  1. re: termite

                    Sweetbread sandwich? Yes, please.

                    1. re: BryanZ

                      Man, you gotta try it. It's something else!

                2. I went to Watts Grocery for the first time Wednesday night. It was a friend’s birthday, and when I made the reservations (8 p.m.) I told them that this would be a birthday celebration. Upon arriving, the hostess greeted us and wished my friend a happy birthday, a very nice touch. We were promptly seated – I’d guess that the restaurant was about 80% full.

                  My friend ordered the roasted butternut squash salad with field greens, stilton, spiced pecans and balsamic vinaigrette for a starter, I ordered the fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade. They were out of crab cake and the country terrine appetizers – not a big deal as I had studied the on-line menu, read the reviews here and had decided on my choice earlier. The salad looked very good – my friend really enjoyed it, and my fried green tomatoes were wonderful – very light as stated before and the shrimp remoulade and pea sprouts were a delicious addition.

                  For entrees my friend ordered the 12oz ribeye with buttermilk smashed new potatoes, grilled asparagus, pimento cheese butter and Jim Beam brown sauce. I had wanted to order the Wahoo – but they were out of that choice so I went with the rockfish muddle with onions, potatoes, and carrots in a bacon studded broth served with braised greens and hush puppies. My friend loved his steak – it was huge and cooked exactly like he liked it – he said it was one of the best steaks he had ever had – high praise from a steak lover. My rockfish was delicious – delicate and very flavorful – a lighter entrée that went well with the generous serving of the fried green tomatoes.

                  We usually don’t order dessert – both of us are always watching calories and I prefer a nice appetizer to desserts – but as this was a special occasion, my friend ordered the chocolate pudding cake. This was served with some whipped cream on the side and a couple of fresh berries for garnish. I tasted it and it was very good.

                  Upon receiving the check, I noticed that the restaurant had comped the cake for my friend's birthday – a very generous and nice touch.

                  While we were there Amy, the chef and owner, came by and greeted us and thanked us for coming and talked for a few minutes. Also the manager came by and another lady – I’m not sure if she was also some sort of manager - came by and visited. On top of this, the wait staff was very efficient and very friendly – everyone there was just a pleasure to meet and to interact with.

                  Sorry this is so long – but to sum up our experience – we had a great night and will definitely be returning.

                  1. Went to Watts Grocery for dinner last night and can pretty much echo the general sentiments on this thread that it's a wonderful addition to our local dining scene. They had a packed house last night. For appetizers, we ordered the crab cake and fried green tomatoes. The crab cakes were spectacular - light, fluffy, fresh, with understated interplay of flavors from the super-fresh ingredients. A wonderfully refreshing dish. The shrimp remoulade accompanying the fried green tomatoes was particularly notable.

                    For entrees, we had the wahoo and pork porterhouse. Both were excellent.

                    Dessert was a pretty-much perfect blackberry apple pastry tart of some sort, with ginger ice cream.

                    This has immediately become one of our favorite places. It's casual and comfortable, the atmosphere is lively, upbeat, and aesthetically appealing, and the food is top-notch. I'd say this along with Bonne Soiree and Panciuto are my three favorite restaurants in the Triangle.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mikeh

                      We went (yep, again!) to check out their late-night offerings last night. We were rather impressed.

                      I put up a full review in the usual place, which linking to apparently gets my posts deleted (fair enough). Click on my name below to find a link to the blog if you want, but here's the write up:

                      Last night we decided to go check out the late night offerings at Watts. We pitched up around 11:30pm to find a small number of people hanging out at the bar. Amy was just departing, leaving behind the friendly bar staff and a few others. I got a sidecar, which I was informed by a guy sitting at the bar ‘wasn’t ordered much these days’. I’d never had one before and it seemed like a nice way to start a late meal. I agreed with guy at bar that it was good to see classic offerings being put on the menu. On a side note, the caiparinha was deemed awful by everyone else apart from me, and was no longer available.

                      I was rather hungry, having had oysters at Fishmonger’s many hours earlier and nothing after that. Durmonion and I decided to split a burger and I ordered the creole deep-fried gizzards…

                      There’s a story here: My mother’s side of the family is from Eastern Europe and was never particularly wealthy. As such, I ate gizzards, chicken hearts, livers, beef tongue and so on as a kid on a very regular basis. Both my mum and my grandmother cooked the most wonderful hearts and gizzards stew. I have many happy memories of a plateful of it on mashed potatoes. It’s strange to me that most people here have more than a little reticence regarding innards. It’s a serious limitation on taste and texture. When I first saw the Watts menu, I was thus delighted to see gizzards on there.

                      So anyway, back to the evening. I was enjoying my sidecar, Durmonion her usual bourbon-and-ginger, A his local Durham beer, and S an ice tea, when the huge tray of food came. Spiraling metal conic serving devices (for lack of a better phrase), with brown paper cones filled with goodies began covering our table, accompanied by delicious-looking sauces. Farmers cheese hush puppies, buttermilk onion rings, creole gizzards and hand-cut fries came with basil mayo, chipotle-blue cheese sauce, garlic mayo and catsup. Plus the burger. You can imagine the smiles…

                      So, to the food itself. The gizzards were tasty, though I do prefer my grandmother’s soft stewed gizzards over the chewy fried ones. Good stuff nonetheless. The hush puppies were by far the best I’ve had: large, light and fluffy, damn-near perfect with the basil mayo. I liked the onion rings very much too: crunchy rather than soggy and not overly battered. I would have never really thought of teaming blue cheese with chipotle, but the sauce really was excellent.

                      The burger was great. Tender, flavorful meat, just as a good burger should be, served on a very lightly charred bun. Durham is full of good burgers - from the Fed, through Wimpy’s, to Cookout- at a wide range of prices. This one was certainly on the expensive side, $8 with cheddar, but I think it’s worth it, at least once in a while.

                      So, we happily munched away on all the late-night food, chatting and generally having a good time until after 1am. Watts’ late-night opening hours are certainly a welcome addition to the Durham scene.

                    2. Have been twice for lunch. On my first visit, I was delighted to see a sweetbread sandwich on the menu, and had my decision for lunch roughly 30 seconds after getting the menu. The sandwich was delicious, although the fries were a little cold (a minor quibble, since they were pretty crispy anyway). Friendly, if brisk service. On the second visit, saw Ben, late of Bin 54 behind the bar, and took a seat to chat with him and have some lunch. I decided on the burger, despite the fact that they were out of bacon at that point. This could be construed as a good thing of sorts--out of bacon means they're using lots of it, which is a sign of a good resto, IMHO!!! *grin* I got it with gorgonzola and mushrooms instead, which was just fine. Two quibbles here-- no mustard served with the burger, and no onion! I can understand the first--it was brought to me mere seconds after I asked for it. The second, though, verges on sacrilege. I think any burger needs a good slice of red onion for some texture and spice. Nice local grass fed beef, though-- I was hoping to be able to order to temp, but didn't press the issue. Not to be missed arethe absolutely HEAVENLY farmer's cheese hushpuppies. Boy were those good. Feather light, almost creamy in the middle, and a nice accompaniment to my burger.
                      I am excited to go back for dinner, having perused the menu on my second lunch visit. The wine list, too, bears mentioning. All but 1 bottle from the old world, which tickles my geeky fancy, and lots of interesting stuff by the glass. All in all, I think these guys are to be commended-- I'll be back often.

                      1. Stopped in for some drinks and snacks at Watts this weekend. Again, I came away favorably impressed. Had an Old Fashioned, which was a decent modern interpretation, if a little bit sweet. Also got the bartender to do a gin drink--woefully underrepresented on the menu itself--with simple syrup, some cointreau, a good amount of lime, and perhaps one other addition. This was a nice, simple drink that I quite enjoyed. The bartenders free pour, much to my chagrin, and the cocktail program could use a bit more investment if they want to make it a distinctive part of the restaurant. Owing to modern fashion, the martini glasses are much too large yet the drinks themselves are what I consider a normal size. This leads to what looks like "short pours" on the drinks. Not a huge deal, but not completely aesthetically pleasing. With that said, if they at least change up the drink menu every now and again I won't be complaining too much. Friend of mine had an Allagash (I believe that's how it's spelled) wheat beer that was quite tasty.

                        The bar food itself was quite delicious, like seriously. The menu says the late-night menu starts at 10, but the staff informed me it's more like 10:30 to give the kitchen time to reset. I was a bit short on time, so Amy, who was walking around until the end of normal dinner service, helped me out. Have to appreciate that level of hospitality. I'm not sure if the 10:30 change will become official or if the kitchen will learn how to transition between menus more quickly. Regardless, the late-night menu is worth waiting for. The cheese hush puppies are killer. Light yet flavorful and very crispy. The gizzards are also a nice addition to the area's late-night dining options. Another poster mentioned that they're slightly chewy. I agree, but think this is to the dish's benefit. They taste of gamey, deep-fried nuggets of chicken goodness. My friend, who was a bit apprehensive of trying them, took to them immediately and was raving about them to friends afterward.

                        That sweetbread sandwich remains elusive, however.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: BryanZ

                          lunchtime, brother... but i'm goin in for some gizzards sometime in the very near future. late night gizzards... tasty...

                        2. They need to place their hours of operation on their door! I've been by this place three times now and they have been closed each time.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bbqme

                            When are they *ever* closed? I figured with their "late night every night" commitment, it'd be hard to find a time when they aren't there . . . I take it perhaps they close in the afternoon between lunch & dinner service? Plus I guess they're closed Monday.

                          2. So I checked it out tonight. Nice folks at the bar - the people were generally very friendly. Our food was good - I tried the fried green tomatoes - they were nice - my friend had a salad - also good - I'm a huge parpadelle fan, so I had to try that - it was...okay. The texture of the whole dish left something to be desired - there was no subtlety there at all. Kind of a thick peanut buttery sauce with veg. The pasta itself was not great. My friend had the crabcakes. They were good. We were both a bit disappointed with the bread - which came pretty late, by the way. They were fine southern rolls, but I guess it's not quite what we expected. Bottom line: none of the food really rocked our world in any significant way, but we really liked the place and it had a nice vibe. I think it's here to stay and I wish it all the best.

                            1. I finally went there for lunch. I just had a shrimp burger with side salad and ice tea but it was excellent. As opposed to the coastal NC style of shrimp burger (fried popcorn shrimp spilling out of a hamburger bun with slaw on top-which I like-a lot) this was an actual patty made out of shrimp and seasonings. It was served on a homemade English muffin. Very tasty and more user friendly than the classic. The space, as has been noted, is very stylish and the zinc bar very reminiscent of Paris. I scoped out the wine selection and it looks carefully selected and fairly priced. Almost exclusively European. An evening of pool at the Green Room and dinner at Watts Grocery is on my to do list.

                              1. Went back for late night food tonight after jumping off a plane at RDU. Called ahead regarding their hours and they stay open per the night's demand. Keep that in mind if you want to come in late on a weekday evening.

                                Had the smelts and the pastrami sandwich. Smelts were killer. They really have a way with battered fried foods here. Great crust--probably the same thing they bread the onion rings with--and nice soft texture. The sandwich was nice, but they need to make sure the bread is more toasted or the sauerkraut less watery. I thought the individual parts were better than the whole because it got a bit messy and gloppy. Still, quality ingredients and quite tasty. Fries were fine but not particularly crisp. They were better than the fries at Rue Cler but not as good as Piedmont based on my visits in the past few days.

                                Chatted a bit with the bartender and manager since I was the only one there. Good people, nice quick late-night meal.

                                1. So, my boyfriend and I went last night for my birthday (had been looking forward to it for awhile). It was just ok, which disappoints me terribly because I really wanted it to be good. Our server was perhaps new? I hope she was since she couldn't tell me much about the cocktail I ordered (Watts Tea), brought it late, forgot the bread completely, and brought the wines we ordered to accompany the entrees after they were on the table (without forks) for several minutes already. And my wine glass was just grimy. I sent it back, received an apology and at that point, I fully expected that, at the very least, the glass of wine would be comped. It wasn't.

                                  The good: tasty, tasty fried green tomatoes, yummy hush puppies that accompanied the quail (there were supposed to be grits but none were to be seen), and the peas, beans etc were just great. That said, the quail didn't shine, the wahoo was well seasoned but overcooked, and we were never offered dessert menus. At the end while waiting for my boyfriend to return from the restroom, the manager did stop by to ask how dinner was and I frankly, but nicely, offered some feedback couched in positive terms about how supportive I am of what they're trying to do. I assume it was well taken, though I think I left more annoyed by the dinner than I would have been if I had not talked to the manager. She politely mentioned that she hoped we would return and you know, we might, but our experience there didn't dispose us to being very excited about a second visit.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: eloisa

                                    I had a similar experience. I didn't have any problems with the service (everyone was friendly and very on top of everything), but I was not impressed with the the food. We had the crabcakes and I had the parpadelle and my friend had some sort of pork dish. It was all okay, not bad in any way but just nothing special.
                                    I think this would maybe be a better place to stop in for a drink and appetizers because the glass of wine I had with dinner was great and their late night menu looks much more exciting than what's available for dinner.

                                  2. I'll preface my review by saying I know I'm the odd one out here ... I don't eat pork, and very little other red meat. The result as far as my enjoyment of my meal at Watts? Not so great. LulusDad, on the other hand, thought the food was wonderful (he's a meat eater). We also really like the space. There were only 2 appetizers with no meat - a salad and the fried green tomatoes. Unlike most other people on this thread, I thought the tomatoes were just ok. I had asked if there was any way we could get the fried smelts/sardines, but none were available yet. Luckily I asked for an order of hush puppies to share, and these were, by far, the highlight of the meal. Both of the poultry dishes on the menu had pork, and the only seafood entree was salmon (with all this wonderful NC seafood, they served salmon?), which was too similar to something I make at home to excite me. So I ended up with the parpadelle. The preparation has changed since Suse's review, but in the end pretty much the same story. First few bites were nice, but then it just started seeming sort of stodgy. A little too much going on - a sauce of squash, a couple of other veg, white wine, butter, gorganzola ... and a LOT of the sauce. The krispy kreme dessert isn't on the menu, which was a disappointment. We were also disappointed when the bottle of wine we ordered was out, and then our second choice was out too (as was bottled sparkling water). Again, C loved his meal (pork tenderloin), but it was pretty much a bust for me. With even the poultry dishes having pork in them (and last month one of the fish ones), it kind of makes it hard for me to get excited about going back. But again, I realize this is not an issue for 99% of the other diners in the area.

                                    1. Stopped in for a late-night bite here this weekend. Had the burger. It's quite good, and I like the whole English muffin roll thing they serve the burger on. Better than a nice soft potato roll? Perhaps not, but an interesting change of the pace. Would like to see a bit more bacon on the burger, but the chowchow was a nice additional condiment.

                                      Also had a nice carafe of cotes du rhone that went well with the burger.

                                      1. My girlfriend and I went to Watt's Grocery on Friday night for dinner. We didn't have a reservation but took a couple of seats at the bar, which was very nice. We started out with the Hushpuppies, which were very nice (hot, crunchy outside, flavorful), and I had the pork plate, which was good as well.

                                        She went with the grilled portabello mushroom with goat cheese (and something else I believe, not sure what from memory), and I had the short ribs with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. I didn't try the mushroom but she really enjoyed it. The short ribs were very tender, as they just fell apart easily when I used a fork, and very flavorful. It had been a long time since I had short ribs, and these made me want to start ordering them far more in the future.

                                        Finally, we had the apple crisp with maple ice cream for dessert. The topping on the crisp was fantastic, and the ice cream and filling were very good. I had forgotten about the Krispy Kreme dessert, but it wasn't on the menu now anyway. The coffee with dessert was very good as well.

                                        Overall, a very good meal for both of us. We will probably go back for brunch sometime soon, though I want to try the late night menu and the Reuben myself.

                                        1. Went there for lunch last week with my wife and 4 year old and had a nice experience. I got the sweetbread sandwich, which was quite decadent since t was obviously pan-fried with butter. My wife was happy with her salad with house-made saudage and poached egg. They were out of the apple crisp and when we made a second choice we were told the chef refused to send it out because it wasn't up to standard. So we finally settled on the caramel cake with cranberry compote, which was quite good. Watt's service was very friendly and accomodating of our young one, bringing him just a cup of chili and a cup of the maple ice cream.

                                          We were impressed enough by the lunch to try them for dinner soon.

                                          1. We've been to Watts Grocery a few times now -- dinner, brunch, dessert. But, by far, the most fun we had was going for a late-night bite after the Shins concert. The lights were dimmed, clusters of people were hanging out at the bar or around tables, and despite having fewer staff, we didn't have to wait long for our food. We got onion rings and a reuben. The rings were crunchy and flavorful. The reuben was a plate full of melty goodness. Can't wait to find another excuse to hit the late-night menu.

                                            1. Went in the other night around midnight, rather tipsy...salivatiing over the thought of gizzards.

                                              didnt realize they were fried, which served its purpose with my current alcohol levels.

                                              a couple of observations...

                                              sometimes fried foods, their batter/breading/coatings...dont need to be "different" or avant guard...i've always enjoyed fried gizzards when they were at their most basic and greasiest. these were a bit dry and dense, and weirdly crunchy. and honestly i thought the funky cone server was a bit OTT and only served to camouflage how many i was getting! *still ate every last one tho--I was drunk, after all, and anything fried would have ben manna!

                                              another observation: Much like every other late night food which is inevitably fried...WHY always fried? I'm sick to death of fried calamari rings, for example. why not a serving of delicious calamari rings (or gizzards) which have been sauteed in a flavorful garlicky oil, or in a mixture of roasted peppers and red onions and vino..something where the flavor and the texture of the thing really comes thru...

                                              so yeah, i guess i would really like non-breaded/fried gizzards ...

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: TSQ75

                                                If you want more refined late-night food Six Plates is the obvious (and only) answer. Watts late night has its place exactly for fried comfort food, sliders, etc.

                                                1. re: BryanZ

                                                  oh please dont think i'm sitting here trying to be uppity...i just think it doesnt always have to be fried...geez

                                                  how refined are gizzards fro chrissakes?

                                                  add to my commentary, places that try to pass off as oh-so down home and "real" but are completely unapproachable to the average Prole because of overly refined atmosphere, or pumped up prices.

                                                  believe me, this was not meant to be a rant on Watts...it really doesnt pretend to be more than what it is, good home cooking, kicked up and cleaned up just a notch or two to make for a pleasant lil experience.

                                                  it just opened up an old gripe i have with trendy places

                                              2. Had the sliders tonight. They're pretty awesome.

                                                Also nice to see a Brandy Alexander on the drinks menu.