New places in Raleigh
Several new places have opened in Raleigh recently, many of which I've not had a chance to check out as yet. If you have, perhaps you could chime in on the following. Feel free to add to the list.
Posta (Marriott downtown)
Foundation Bar (they make their own cola, tonic, and ginger ale, apparently!)
Jibarra (since it moved)
Boylan Bridge Brewpub
European Espresso & Wine Bar
Tobacco Road Sports Bar (looks like they're trying to make an effort with the food)
Flying Biscuit Cafe
Just went to Sitti for the first time last night. I cannot say enough good things about it. Every thing we had from the app's to the entrees were mouthwatering. The prices for both the food and the wine were quite reasonable. Apparently Sitti is in some sort of partnership with Neomande, according to their website. I cannot wait to go back and give it high, high marks!
137 S Wilmington St
Raleigh, NC 27601
Here's a Posta report from last night. It's certainly convenient for dinner before the theater, symphony, or ballet. But my overall one line summary is: "This is what I get for all that money?!?"
Before going, look at their menu online and check the prices. They are right up there with what you would pay at some place like Second Empire. And the food just doesn't measure up to that level. Mind you, nothing was "bad"... It just wasn't good enough.
There are several wines by the glass, the cheapest being $9 and ranging up to $25! Complimentary bread rolls and bread sticks were served with an olive oil for dipping and both of us crinkled our noses and thought the oil tasted rancid. I started to ask the waiter about it and before I could even finish my sentence, he cut in with "Oh. There's nothing wrong with the oil. It's ITALIAN olive oil! Lot's of people don't like it, but that's the way it's supposed to taste." Well thank you very much. But if lots of your customers don't like it, perhaps you could consider changing to a different one of the hundreds of ITALIAN olive oils and find one more appealing in flavor?
For appetizers, she had the spinach and ricotta ravioli in butter-sage cream sauce. For $12, she got two ravioli. She liked them, but geez. I had the beef carpaccio. The beef was icy. I mean actual frozen icy. I asked the waiter and he explained that they have to freeze the beef in order to slice it so thinly. Strange... I have been eating carpaccio for about 20 years, and this is the FIRST time I have ever tasted frozen meat on my plate.
For an entree, she had veal piccata. A large plate came with a small portion of veal thickly coated in an unappetizing gray sludge. Next to it was a big mound of chopped chard. Worth $28? Probably not. I had the farfalle pasta with lobster. This was actually pretty good, with big chunks of lobster meat. It was swimming in a thin clam broth that was perfectly adequate, but reminded me of the most common mom 'n pop back alley eateries in Italy. Not exactly a gourmet treat for $30.
Her dessert was a panna cotta with fresh berries. Very nice and recommended (See? I don't have to complain about EVERYTHING!). I had a cup of cappuccino. Nothing wrong with it. It was served in classic Piazza San Marco style... A very small cup. No long, lingering desserts over giant cappuccino mugs here!
This place seems like one of far too many similar hotel/convention center restaurants in big cities. Designed purely for the captive business traveler on an expense account, it overreaches its own quality level.
But that's just one meal. Maybe you have had a better experience?
We tried out Boylan Bridge Brewpub last week - it was good, not excellent, but good. When we were there they only had two beers on tap - both were tasty, but not as good as other breweries in the area. I do, however, appreciate that the beers weren't overly heavy or bitter, the amber wasn't too hopped and the darker beer (the Stout?) wasn't bitter and had molasses undertones. I had the black and blue burger - it had a lot of blue cheese on it and was otherwise a decent burger (and it was a good size, not too large nor too small). I ordered the fries with some of the cajun seasoning, which made them quite good. The onion rings are too greasy (it's so hard to get a good onion ring around here), and my husband said that bratwurst was quite good. And, they have a parking situation in that there isn't any - we had to park by the Saucer and hike it there, which sounds lazy, but when I'm that close to the Saucer and the Roast Grill on a Saturday afternoon...well...I just don't know where I'd end up.
I also had lunch at the Flying Biscuit last week - I love the decor and wish there was a breakfast place like it nearer to my neck of the woods in Cary. I had the eggs benedict with homefries - it was okay, and I wouldn't bother ordering homefries again as they appeared to have some herbs on them, but were overall somewhat tasteless. My companion had the Southern Fried Steak with grits and mac and cheese (we ate a LOT of starch that day). The steak was everything one would want it to be - which is crispy, flavorful and not too greasy - and the grits were creamy and velvety. The mac and cheese tasted like...well, nothing at all...enough said. And the biscuits aren't special until you put the apple butter on them - at which point they become almost sublime. So, sort of a mixed review, but I did walk out of the place happier than when I had entered, so I'll likely return again, but probably only for some cheery atmosphere and a couple of eggs and biscuits.
I used to eat at Posta's sister restaurant in Atlanta (Antica Posta), so I was excited when they opened in Raleigh! They also used to have a sister restaurant in Florence, Italy, and the Posta chef is from that restaurant. I've been to Posta three times so far, and have enjoyed my food each visit. The pasta is all homemade, and they also make some of their meats in-house (ie salami) which is impressive. They have a variety of foods at various price points, including appetizers to small plates to larger entrees. They also offer a special three-course menu for symphony/ballet/theatre goers...I haven't tried it, but from what I hear you need to tell them when you make your reservations.
Although I haven't eaten at Raleigh's Flying Biscuit Cafe, I did eat there in Atlanta...I just thought it was alright, the biscuits weren't all that special in my opinion and in Atlanta there were better breakfast places to eat. I'm hoping Raleigh's version may be better?
I ate at Tobacco Road within the first couple weeks of the place opening, and had a burger that was just so-so. In my opinion, a place like that should have a great burger, but perhaps it was because the place was still working out the kinks.
I had dinner at Jibarra this past weekend, and it was really delicious. I ate at the old location once, and while I remember the food being pretty good, we waited forever and I was staggered by the prices. I don't know if they have lowered their prices, but it sure seemed like it. It also helped that they have 1/2-price bottles of wine on Sunday. Dinner for 4 with 2 apps and a bottle of wine came to about $85 before tip. The space is huge, maybe a little generic-cool but I think it's better than the old space, more spread out and not so loud or bright.
My husband and I both ordered from the "taqueria" menu, which was quite reasonably-priced ($12-14). I had the vegetarian tacos, which involved a sauteed dice of zucchini, roasted corn, huitlacoche (sp?), maybe something else. It was nicely spiced and browned and delicious, served with two hot sauces, one mild and green, one smokey and very hot. My husband had the carne asada tacos, which involved not only steak but mashed potatoes. The steak was perfectly cooked, tender and still pink. His came with yet a third, different salsa (altogether our meal involved quite a number of different salsas, each slightly different - it was impressive). Our friends also said their meals (a seafood/rice dish and another type of taco) were very good as well.
I have also been to Foundation and really liked it. The space is cool, the ingredients are homemade, the cocktails are very carefully and thoughtfully made. A grown-up but not stodgy place and a welcome addition to the suddenly-hopping Fayetteville Street scene.
Boylan Bridge Brewpub - as a resident of Boylan Heights, I'm glad to see it FINALLY open, and look forward to walking down to hang out on the awesome deck come summer. The beer is good - not spectacular, but good, with 6 varieties currently available. (They also have wine, can't remember if there is liquor). The food is . . . meh. As my husband said, the main message sent by this menu is "Come for the beer, and if you get hungry we'll feed you, but we're not going to put any effort into it." The food isn't gross, but it's pretty much what you could find at the bar in any suburban Days Inn. It's a real shame, surely there are any number of underemployed chefs in the area who could give them a halfway decent menu and source some non-frozen ingredients. But every bar can't be all things to all people, so I'm cutting them a break.
AND Tobacco Road (I've really been making the rounds!). Tobacco Road is a new, big, tv-intensive upscale sports bar on Glenwood South. It's true, they are definitely making an effort with the food. We went to watch a game and I had an arugula salad topped with steak - not your typical sports bar fare and pretty tasty. My friend had the homemade corndogs which were huge, crispy and impressive. Also, it's smoke-free! Hooray! I will definitely be going there for March Madness. (Our other current favorite place to watch games with decent food is the Oxford).
I enjoyed a recent trip to Sitti. Seems like a well run operation with good staff. We tried a selection of the usual mezzos (hummus, shawarma, etc.) and it was all very enjoyable. Respectable beer selection and some interesting wines. Nice space. Also enjoyed Jibarra post move. Had a delicious ceviche sampler and a succulent NC raised goat. Well made margarita, some good beers at reasonable prices. Also, a good selection of South American and Spanish wines.