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Raleigh Meal Review - J Betski's - Terrific - will definately go back!

  • Dkirk1 Oct 29, 2009 05:58 AM
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Went to J Betski's on Oct 24th. Got there early (5:30) and had a drink at the bar, with a 6 pm dinner reservation. They have some interesting beers on tap. My hubby got a smoky dark beer that was excellent, and my Pomegranate Margarita was perfect. The restaurant filled up fast, so I'm glad we had a reservation. We were seated at our requested time and the service was outstanding. Our waiter was knowledgeable had ready answers for my questions. Our starters were a Fresh Knackwurst with Sauerkraut and spicy mustards (a special), and the Smoked Pork and Cambozola Pierogies with Apple - Curry Sauce. Both were perfectly prepared (how will I ever face canned Sauerkraut again?)

My entree was Pork Schnitzel with a side of Lingonberry compote, Austrian Potatos and Dill Cucumber Salad. The pork had a nice crisp coating, and the Lingonberry sauce went beautifully with it.The potatoes were served as slices and were exactly done. The cucumber dill salad was an excellent compliment to the meal. I ate every bite on my plate. The portion size was such that I was fully satisfied, yet felt like I could squeeze in a dessert without being uncomfortable - which I did, having the Chocolate - Chestnut Rice Pudding with Spiced Sabayon - delicious!

My husband's entree was the Duck Confit, Polish White Bean and Sausage Stew, and Cider Braised Cabbage. He was completely satisified with his meal. I am not a fan of duck, so I only had a small taste and it was good. I wish I had tasted the stew and cabbage. The couple at the table next to us had the stuffed chicken breast - which was a nice size portion and looked great. From their favorable comments, I know that I will order it on my next visit.

We had a wonderful meal with excellent service and the prices were extremely reasonable. I'm glad to say the decor was not your typical German Oktoberfest look. It was a nice interior with dark wood. The dining area is not large so it felt a little close, but not too bad, even though every table was full. They also have outdoor seating available.
I'm very glad I chose to try this restaurant, and we will definately be back!

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J Betski's
10 W Franklin St, Raleigh, NC 27604

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  1. I've eaten lunch there twice in the last month. It's fantastic! They make all of their sausages there. In fact they make everything but the mustard, which is imported from an European source. Their attention to detail is great. Even their iced tea is different - it's from a loose leaf blend that they put together themselves. Their lunch menu is very reasonably priced. I definitely want to make it to dinner some time.

    12 Replies
    1. re: wvu_sam

      Believe me you won't regret it. We are going back to Raleigh next weekend ( to see South Pacific and celebrate my birthday) and I'm thinking we might go back to J Betski's for dinner again. However, there are so many places in Raleigh we still have yet to try, so I'm conflicted!
      Any thoughts on places we should consider?

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      J Betski's
      10 W Franklin St, Raleigh, NC 27604

      1. re: Dkirk1

        I liked Coquette in North Hills mall and while I have not tried Vivace yet (also there), I've heard good things. Downtown I've had good meals and Mo's Diner (not a diner), Sitti, Sono, and while Enoteca Vin has closed the former chef/owner now has Poole's Diner (sounds like a lot of diners) that gets great reviews. Of the places I would like to try are

        Poole's
        J. Betski's
        Busybee Cafe
        18 Seaboard
        Bloomsbury Bistro

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        Sono
        319 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601

        18 Seaboard
        18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

        Sitti
        137 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh, NC 27601

        Mo's Diner
        306 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

        Bloomsbury Bistro
        509 W Whitaker Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27608

        Enoteca
        401 E Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902

        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

          By all means, get over to 18 Seaboard. Great place with interesting cocktails. Their lunches are especially good value but I like them for dinner, too. Good, solid New South (?) cuisine at very reasonable prices. I just wish they'd get a different pastry chef. Very, very nice staff, too.

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          18 Seaboard
          18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

          1. re: rockycat

            Dinner at 18 Seaboard was great! Loved the fried green tomatoes starter. They also gave us an amuse - something (can't remember) on a crostini - that was very tasty.
            Both my hubby and I opted for the Cracklin Pork Shank with blue cheese grits, spinach and apple compote. And we both enjoyed it. The meat was tender and falling off the bone.The cheese grits were very good and a went well with the pork, but I did get tired of them about halfway through the meal. For me, maybe a little less cheese would have been better. I definately would have liked for there to be more of the apple compote on the plate as the sweetness of it help balance the heavier flavors. But in the end I was very satisfied with the meal and it was certainly filling.
            We shared the pumpkin cheesecake dessert - but I substituted plain vanilla ice cream for the maple pine nut that it was supposed to have (I'm not big on maple flavor). I was much less impressed with the dessert than I was with the rest of the meal, so I think you are right on with the comment about them needing a better pastry chef.
            The service was excellent. This is definately a place I will return to - once I'm done checking out many of the other recommendations I've gotten.

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            18 Seaboard
            18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

            1. re: Dkirk1

              Though these are not downtown if you have time you can maybe grab a meal at Vivace or Coquette in North Hills Mall. Also I believe I've heard Savoy is good. All in Raleigh, just not right downtown.

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                We are getting used to running around Raleigh, so no problem going to other parts of the city for a good meal, We usually have plenty of time if we dine at 5:30 or 6 to enjoy our meal and make it to Mem Auditorium for whatever show we are there to see.
                So many restaurants to try, so few weekends to go to Raleigh. . . (sigh)
                Wish it wasn't a 2.5 hr drive from the coast.

        2. re: Dkirk1

          Dkirk1,

          Try Poole's Diner. I'm infatuated with the place right now. Great food, great drinks, funky atmosphere. It might be my favorite spot right now.
          I also enjoy Jibarra's for modern Mexican. I'm often surprised by the food. Things that sound almost pedestrian on the menu always come out a bit unexpected. They have some nice mixed drinks too. Tasca Brava might be a bit of a wild card, but I had a really good meal there. It's the only Spanish place I know of in the area, and the owners are passionate about what they do. I like the place, but it doesn't seem to be everyone's cup of tea.

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          Jibarra Restaurant
          7420 6 Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

          Tasca Brava
          607 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603

          1. re: dinersaurus

            Dinersaurus,
            I looked at Poole's website and they give NO CLUE as to what might be on the menu. I comprehend that they change it regularly - but it would be nice it they at least five examples of what they have served. Can you give me some insight on what you've had there?

            1. re: Dkirk1

              It changes often and the menu consists of several large blackboards listing the options (four or five entrees) for the night. Recently they had a braised lamb on a bed of grits, they usually have a fish that's often local, I recently saw a chicken breast, and the "Royale" is typically on the menu (an open faced burger on a slice of brioche -maybe?- with gruyere and an au jus on the side). A number of sides are offerred for an extra charge (mac n cheese, lentils, a green or two). So it's often comfort food/southern influenced.

              I love their wine list, which also changes often. They've always got some really interesting, but delicious things to try. And, they're quick with the samples if you can't decide.

            2. re: dinersaurus

              Went to Poole's last night and was extremely disappointed. Both entree items were over-salted and the service was -- to be polite -- lax. I don't think I'll be going back. I'd rather do Betski's or 18 Seaboard.

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              18 Seaboard
              18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

              1. re: drdave397

                Sorry to hear that you didn't like it. I've never had an issue with the salt, so hopefully it was just an off night for the kitchen. I can see how the service might be a bit too...um, laid back. I usually just sit at the counter and eat and drink at a pretty leisurely pace and chat up our neighbors. I tend to think of it as a place to hang out that happens to have food and wines that I really enjoy. But, now that you mention it, I can see it being a bit lax.

              2. re: dinersaurus

                I wouldn't recommend Pooles for a night when you have show tickets. Love the food, but especially on the weekends the service/kitchen can be a little slow. I've come close to missing curtain twice and wouldn't risk it again. When you have time to enjoy a meal it's certainly worth a visit. Don't miss out on the homemade bread and butter, they do charge extra for it but we still think it's the best restaurant bread around.

          2. I agree with the praise for J. Betski's. I've had a number of dinners and lunches here and have always loved everything. It's also a terrific value, especially considering the number of items that they make in-house. All of their entrees are under $20. And where else can you get a massive salad (the bibb) for $4.50? If anything, I feel that their portions are too big. I think it's the best deal or at least value, given the quality, in town (along with Coquette's $13 steak frites and $6 quiche and salad on their brunch menu).

            You mentioned the beers - to say that they have some interesting ones is an understatement. I pride myself on having tried hundreds of different beers, and I'm always stumped by 2/3 of their list. They manage to find some very rare beers that you will not see anywhere else in the U.S.

            Also, the service is always very good too, and they know there beer and wine lists forward and backward. No matter what I'm looking to pair, they always seem to have a good recommendation and a detailed description on the top of their tongue.

            14 Replies
            1. re: dinersaurus

              Since I didn't try any beers but the one my husband ordered, "interesting" was the best I could do without actual tasting them. They all sounded fantastic. Next time I'm going to go for the beers instead of a drink. Their bartender was top notch, I'm glad we got in there early before it filled up and were able to chat with him.

              1. re: Dkirk1

                bartender with great moustache? :)

                i love j betskis - it'd be VERY dangerous if i worked near there...

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                J Betski's
                10 W Franklin St, Raleigh, NC 27604

                1. re: cervisiam

                  Yeah, that was him! LOL
                  It's too bad I live 3 hours away - but we try to get to Raleigh every month or two. It would be dangerous to my wallet (and weight) if I even lived in Raleigh! We do have a FEW good places here on the coast, but not so many as to endanger my budget or my waist.

                  1. re: Dkirk1

                    Dkirk1,

                    Great post! I'm also a big fan of J. Betski's. Their food is unique. In Raleigh, you may also want to try Fins, 18 Seaboard, and Jibarra. I've been to Poole's many times and never had a bad meal. They cook everything to order, so service may lag. Our secret is to get there when they open, before the lag begins.

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                    Jibarra Restaurant
                    7420 6 Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

                    18 Seaboard
                    18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

                    1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                      I looked at 18 Seaboard's website - and they are at the top of my list so far. I couldn't access Fins site - it wouldn't come up. I don't know that I want Mexican for my b-day, but I'll keep Jibarra in mind for a future visit (we already have tickets to some shows during the 1st quarter of 2010.
                      I'm intrigued by Pooles' website, but no menus so I'm clueless about what they might serve.

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                      Jibarra Restaurant
                      7420 6 Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

                      18 Seaboard
                      18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

                      1. re: Dkirk1

                        http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_17yqRhyt8lQ... That maybe hard to see but it's a sample of a dinner. If you find their yelp page you'll see some pictures of food, I've heard the Mac N Cheese Au Gratin is heavenly.

                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          Thanks, I was able to read it, so it helps give me an idea.
                          I am soooo leaning toward 18 Seaboard right now since it's an "occasion". but with at least 3 future trips to Raleigh already on schedule, I will put Pooles on the plan for one of them.

                          -----
                          18 Seaboard
                          18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

                        2. re: Dkirk1

                          You said that you weren't in the mood for Mexican, but keep in mind that Jibarra is very different from a Tex-Mex joint. The flavors are a lot lighter, and you won't find any cheese drenched enchaladas or anything like that here.

                          -----
                          Jibarra Restaurant
                          7420 6 Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

                          1. re: dinersaurus

                            We do enjoy "Mexican", and you've convinced me that Jibarra's is worthy of a visit. I'll put it on my plan for one of my next 3 trips to Raleigh. I'm thinking 18 Seaboard will be the pick for this coming weekend - so long as I don't have a problem getting the reservation time I want. We eat early due to showtime so hopefully will have no problem.
                            The other thing I have never been able to hit on for Raleigh is somewhere we can go for a good late dessert AFTER the show is over - which could be anytime between 10 - 11 pm. Any suggestions for places with desserts that are open late? (Reasonable distance between Mem Auditorium and Crabtree Mall area)

                            -----
                            Jibarra Restaurant
                            7420 6 Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

                            18 Seaboard
                            18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

                            Crabtree Restaurant
                            129 18th St, Corbin, KY 40701

                            1. re: Dkirk1

                              You might want to consider parking at 18 Seaboard and dining there - and then taking the (free) R-line bus to Memorial Auditorium. That way, you can grab dessert afterwards!

                              -----
                              18 Seaboard
                              18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

                              1. re: cackalackie

                                We ended up getting dessert with dinner - I wasn't thrilled with their dessert offerings and the pumpkin cheesecake dessert was merely average. I'd love to find an awesome place for a late dessert that is open till midnight. We didn't get out of the show until 11:15 pm

                                1. re: Dkirk1

                                  Sauced Pizza on Glenwood South carry desserts from Hayes Barton Dessertery. They're open late - although by that time, they might feel more like a bar. Right across the street is Helios coffee shop. I'm pretty sure they have dessert and are open late.

                                  -----
                                  Glenwood Restaurant
                                  5016 S Independence Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23456

                            2. re: dinersaurus

                              Made reservations for Jibarra this Saturday night. . . .

                  2. re: dinersaurus

                    Enjoyed a very good meal at J. Betski's after reading a decent amount of press on the place. The food is delicious and everything is clearly made in house. The beer and wine list are both interesting, well chosen and priced inexpensively. Keep in mind the food is German/Austrian/Polish in style so I would not go there expecting a light dinner. I would go there expecting bold flavors and substantial plates.

                    Highlights from our meal included a huge charcuterie plate, soft pretzels, sardines, any sausage on the menu, quail, spaetzle with cheese, peirogies, pork and dried fruit stew and any form of cabbage. I watched the chef wheeling in a big ceramic vat of what had to be saurkraut, which is a great sign in this type of restaurant. The portions are on the large side and priced inexpensively for what you get. As I stated earlier, the wine list is priced great and loaded with really good producers (especially German and Austrian).

                    This would be a go to restaurant if I lived nearby. Fun food and drinks at very reasonable prices with good service. I, in typical fashion, preferred the starters and small plates to the mains and would recommend leaning that direction when ordering. I would also trust the servers on beer and wine selection unless you're sure of what you want. They were well versed in beer styles and have a fool-proof wine list to choose from. Highly recommended and quite possibly the best fine dining value I've been to in the Triangle.