more good news for Durham chowhounds
In the N&O today they announced that Nikos in Brightleaf will reopen soon with a Greek chef whose been training at the Morrisville location
This account also mentions the reopening of The Flying Burrito in Chapel Hill.
The other good news is that local musician and chef Mel Melton is opening a New Orleans style joint in RTP called Papa Mojos Roadhouse
http://www.papamojosroadhouse.com/ It looks like he will use a lot of local food providers which is great.
We've eaten twice at Papa Mojo's this week and liked it very much. It's nearly hidden way back in the corner of Greenwood Commons, down past the Golden Corral on the right side of Hwy 55 just off I40. Unfortunately for them, you can't see it at all from Hwy 55 (they should really put some kind of sign or painted van out by the road.) It's a lot more interesting inside than I would have predicted, with most of one wall decorated with old fireplace mantels going three high way up to ceiling, interesting drop ceilings, and industrial light fixtures.
I like the vibe of the place, the music they play, and food that's a little different for here. They aren't afraid to put the spice to it.
The pork barbeque is interesting, big slices from a roast with a smoke ring and served with a sauce heavy on cider vinegar and black pepper (great if you like spicy, although sweet). I really liked the deep, dark red beans and rice and the jambalaya that was heavy on andouille in the Cajun sampler, although the etoufee wasn't interesting at all (it benefited from a heavy dose of the Cajun Power garlic hot sauce on the table). Fries are home made and served hot and crispy.
My wife had the steak po boy today and it was a large portion, with caramelized onions and mushrooms. I had the crab stuffed shrimp with tasso cream gravy over linguini and it was loaded with crab, with a nice kick to the sauce. They make great iced tea. We've had the bread pudding both times and really liked it, a big portion with whiskey sauce and chantilly cream for $4, plenty for two.
Service varies, but they've been open only a couple of weeks. For the price and the casual atmosphere, it's OK. Always friendly if not especially skilled.
We will definitely be regulars. It's easy to get to off I40, has close parking, and offers good food at good prices. I hope business picks up since we were nearly the only people there both times, although maybe the RTP lunch crowd helps. They apparently have live music sometimes, but the website doesn't have a schedule yet and none was scheduled tonight.
We went to Papa Mojo's tonight - their official Grand Opening started this weekend.
It's in Greenwood Commons on Highway 55, about a half mile south of the Highway 55 exit on I-40.
I had the Cajun sampler, which included a cup each of crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, and red beans and rice. Husband had the mixed grill, which included shrimp, andouille sausage and a bourbon-marinated flatiron steak.
Husband didn't like the shrimp - he said it was 'not quite right,' though he couldn't explain exactly what he didn't like about it. It must have really been ungood, though, since he normally loves shrimp in all the ways it can be made and he said if all the shrimp there was prepared the same way he wouldn't want to eat it again. He liked the andouille, and said it was very spicy, as was the BBQ dipping sauce provided with the dish. He loved the steak and said you could really taste the bourbon in the marinade. He said that's what he'd order if/when we go again.
His salad was good too - homemade vinaigrette, grape tomatoes, mixed greens, carrots, and these little nuts? (I think that's what they were!) coated in a crunchy, slightly sweet glaze. I stole a few off his salad since I was curious about what they were. I could have eaten a whole bag of 'em.
I liked the etouffee, but it needs more crawfish in it and less green peppers. The red beans and rice are classic, earthy and smoky. I only had a few bites of the jambalaya since I was getting full after the first two, but the waitress said it should be pretty darn good tomorrow as leftovers and I agree - sometimes spicy food is better if it sits for a day or two, and if the first couple tastes are any sign, it's looking quite promising, perhaps the best of the three.
The spiciness of the dishes was perfect, imo - enough for a kick (or 'mouth glow,' as husband calls it) but not so much it overwhelms the dish or your sinuses.
Waitstaff is very friendly and attentive.
We tried the bananas Foster mousse for dessert - good, but really too much cinnamon (and I love cinnamon, but it should be a complementary flavor, imo, not the most prominent one) - it's still worth a try though. Smooth light banana mousse with banana chunks mixed in and mini vanilla wafers on top.
I'm looking forward to trying the cochon de lait and the catfish in the future. Prices are reasonable. My dish was $11.00 and plenty filling for me.