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Southern Rail, Carrboro

I saw in the N&O that it finally opened! I'd love to hear reviews if anyone has checked it out yet. It seems like it'll have a neat atmosphere at least, in the rail cars...

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  1. My husband and I ate there last night. Lovely setting. When we arrived it was a little too early for dinner, so we had a drink at the entrance bar. The area was so pleasant we never moved on to a table, though I liked the way they did over the inside. There is another, larger bar and a beirgarten area also. Lots of nice little decorating touches.

    They have only been open since last Friday, so the menu will be changing. They hope to keep it seasonal.

    We shared a spinach, fresh basil, and strawberry salad ($6). Feta chese and a generous amount of walnuts were also added. Not exciting, but a nice basic salad. I only got one whiff of basil, though.

    My husband had the pork chop which was accompanied by a grit cake and a mushroom barley cream sause ($17). He loved it. The pork chop was massive and very moist. I found the coating a little salty, but I am very salt sensitive. Maybe it is unfair to judge since he only allowed me that one tiny taste. The grit cake was delicious.

    I had coriander-crusted tuna with fried baby leeks, asian greens with carrots and snow peas in a peanut sauce. I was a little disappointed in the dish, but that was my fault. For some reason I expected the tuna to be hot and the greens to be sauted. What I ended up with was cold slices of rare tuna placed over a salad greens with peanut dressing. Since I had just had salad for an appetizer, it didn't really hit the spot. But, I did like the fried leeks and the corriander crust on the tuna. Again, a very generous portion. I have several slices of tuna leftover.

    All in all, we will be back to try it again.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Panski

      Great review! I really do like the atmosphere.

      Curious...is the restaurant owned by the DC guy who attended high school in Chapel Hill, or did someone else take over? Anyone know?

      1. re: peetoteeto

        I think he's from here originally, but lived in DC for a while, and had/has a place there called Cafe St. Ex, which is fairly well thought of.

        1. re: peetoteeto

          Mike has two places in DC, Cafe St Ex and Bar Pilar, both of which I liked very much when I lived in DC. In fact, I had a deja vu experience last weekend when I had a drink at the bar at SR before going to a show at the Cradle. In DC I would meet friends for a drink at St Ex before going to a show at the Black Cat down the street!

          One of the things Mike did nicely at St Ex that it looks like he might be duplicating here is focusing on simple prep for seasonal food. One of the best meals I ever had at St Ex was a salmon filet on a bed of brussels sprouts, all perfectly caramelized. His tastes really put the focus on the food itself.

          Also, he's brought his wine buyer from DC as well. Should make for good beer and wine choices.

      2. Mike Benson is a very nice guy and I'm sure the place will do well. Cafe St. Ex is uber hip in DC and Mike is a very good fit for this location. I'll give it a couple of weeks to settle in but I have a lot of confidence in his ability.

        4 Replies
        1. re: tommio

          Is the menu veg friendly besides the salad?

          1. re: Rory

            We stopped by last night for a drink. The place is beautiful, very funky.

            The menu is very small, maybe 6 appetizers and 6 entrees (I could be slightly off on this). I think this is usually a good thing, because it means they can do a better job of just a few things. I do hope it changes fairly often though. There was one veg entree, 1 fish, 1 seafood, 1 chicken. I think it is kind of odd to have both the fish and the chicken entrees be salads, but they may well be delicious and maybe it is just until the weather gets cooler.

            1. re: LulusMom

              Hmm, thanks LM;
              I'm going out tomorrow night & I'll check the menu. I like atmosphere a lot. So maybe I'll give it a whirl. Dressy?

              1. re: Rory

                No, not at all. Very comfy and funky. Let us all know what you think.

        2. Tried to go this afternoon but was thwarted. Until everything comes online in a few weeks, there's no food served btw lunch (ending 2ish) and dinner (starting 5:30ish).

          The interior design was really cool looking and we're still looking forward to it. Thought about hanging out and drinking but on an empty stomach...

          1 Reply
          1. re: brokegradstudent

            I peered in at 6. The place was jumping (little kid hour) but the hostess was very nice & gave me the menu & I looked about.
            The bar is great, the menu looked excellent: crab cakes, scallops, gourmet corn bread, black bean cake, plust meaty things. I felt even better when I found out the chef used to work at Acme.
            I'm definitely going there

          2. Anyone know if they're open on Sundays? I can't find a website.

            4 Replies
            1. re: LulusMom

              Yes, they are, at least for brunch. I think dinner too.

              1. re: LulusMom

                I found this website: http://www.southernrailnc.com/ but it looks like they're still working on it.

                1. re: hungry in carrboro

                  definitely the menu was different. If I'd have seen veggy lasagna I'd have died how '70s; spare us;-)
                  Nice to see they are open late. Carborro is really jumping.

                  1. re: hungry in carrboro

                    Fantastic - thanks so much. I have no idea why I seem to always have problems with these things.

                2. We went for opening night (with kids in tow). I know, we're nuts. Actually didn't know it was opening night. Very small menu, but everything we had was very good. No kids menu yet - my son was happy for it - he had the salmon entree and licked the plate. The pork chop (mentioned above) was especially tasty. My wife did get a spinach, basil, and strawberry salad which was 80% basil, 10% spinach, but we chalked that and the somewhat spotty service to opening night jitters. Great redo of the space from the Crazie Mae's era, excellent for hanging out in one of the outdoor areas during good weather. Would hope they will flesh out the menu, kid's menu, lunch, etc as they spin up....