Your "go-to" place (Raleigh)
Ever since Vin closed, I'm at a loss for a place to take visitors - where I can count on good food in a nice environment that feels a bit special.
Where's your "go-to" place? Is there somewhere that replaces what Vin was in its heyday?
(The reason this came up today is that I was just asked for a recommendation for a place to take out-of-town clients - and one that had a decent vegetarian choices.)
It depends on the clients. If I wanted to give them a Southern flair, I'd take them to The Pit. If we had a lot of time and they could appreciate the stylings of Ashley Christensen, I'd take them to Poole's. If I just wanted to take them to a nice place without a lot of pretense, I'd likely go to Fraizer's. If they were interested in having a few beers and a good burger, I'd go with either Raleigh Times Bar or The Player's Club. J. Betski's is a great choice also!
Lately my reliable go-to has become 18 Seaboard. In fact, I'll probably be there for lunch today. If your client accepts fish there are usually at least 2 fish options on the dinner menu. Coquette may soon go into my regular rotation but I'm not entirely sure about it's veggie-suitability.
My go to places are:
Excellent Asian = The Lantern.
We eat here very regularly and can usually get out for under $80 including wine if we do our usual family style sharing of apps and mains.
Great food and atmosphere = Fins.
We ate there last week and it was one of the best meals that we have had in a long time.
We split one app, one salad, one main and one bottle of wine for around $70, and it was more than enough for us.
Beer and bar food = Tyler's Taproom.
Not as many beers as The Flying Saucer, but better chosen beers and MUCH better food.
Barbeque = The Pit.
People argue which BBQ is the best, and to me, there is a close tie as to which has the best food, but I would much rather eat it at the Pit because of the atmosphere.
I hated it. I was in there a few weeks after they opened and there were flies everywhere buzzing around the inside dining room, and my clothes reeked of BBQ smoke when we left. You can't have a place that has a business casual atmosphere and not ventilate the BBQ smoke so that people have to dry clean their clothes after eating there.
Have others encountered those negative aspects?
I've been to The Pit half a dozen times and I've never noticed an issue with smoke or flies in the dining room or noticed that my clothes smelled of smoke. I find flies particularly offputting. You say this was a few weeks after opening, so perhaps it was an issue that they've worked out.
I used to take clients out ALL the time. Their favorites were:
Bloomsbury Bistro (a hit EVERY SINGLE TIME!),
Mo's Diner (off Nash Square downtown in the bunglaow home),
Cafe Tiramisu (if you they are up for Italian in "north" - but not too north Raleigh)
(I also used to really like Glenwood Grill, but I haven't been there in a while and not sure if it is still as good as it used to be)
Of course if you/they want a steak, I recommend Sullivan's, but the quality at Ruth's Chris is absolutely deplorable. I will never waste my money there again - it has gone downhill fast.
Of all the above, I would go to Bloomsbury Bistro first, then Mo's, the 18 Seaboard or Fraziers (as posted above), and or/then Cafe Tiramisu if you would like higher-end Italian (ossu bucco, etc. - very, very good!).
(And there is Margeaux, too, come to think about it. And I *always* put in a plug for the Oakwood Cafe, which is not fancy at all, but the food is absolutely outstanding every single time - love! my Churrasco steak!)
re: Tom from Raleigh
There's a good reason it hasn't been mentioned - it's not worth the effort. The atmosphere can be nice, but Irregardless long ago outlived it's purpose. When vegetarian food was not commonly available, Irregarless filled that niche. Now that nearly every restaurant has good vegetarian choices, there's no compelling need for Irregardless' lunch counter-style food and hit-or-miss quality. (I'm sure some people will disagree, but the time I got a black bean quesadilla without a single bean of any kind in it was my last visit ever.) Besides, to stay competitive they've had to add fish, chicken, and beet to the menu.