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Chapel Hill NC - Kitchen Restaurant (Midtown Market) - Anyone Know About This New Place?

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I was on my way to Fosters this morning and noted a new place getting ready to open - it's called KITCHEN. It's in the old Ba-Da-Wings location. The sign has even been added to the main Midtown Market sign (but only on one side).

Anyone know anything about it? I've attempted an internet search and come up with nothing.

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  1. That's fast as I saw it too, but with lots of construction and no name, bother! Now I've got to know:) Oh i remember I asked the workman and he said it was going to be a bistro.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Rory

      A bistro would be fantastic. I'm going to have to check this out. Maybe time for a trip to the new, indy bookstore in that same little strip to snoop around.

    2. I was curious about this and went by and looked in the storefront window. They have a website that gives a general description of their plans. The website is http://kitchenchapelhill.com
      It's sort of vague but it sounds bistro like and definitely an improvement over the wing place.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ncpearl

        they have a facebook site which I checked... mussels are good, so I'll check them out. Flyleaf Books is great, they have very interesting choices. Like visiting there..

      2. I think we Chowhounders can find anything, right?

        I agree the website for this new spot is very vague. A Google search turned up this information from a Frommer's Guide to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, owned by couple with this same name. Here's what book said: We had a memorably wonderful meal at Starfish Brasserie (51 W. Broad Street, Bethlehem, 610/332-8888, www.starfishbrasserie.com), whose chef/owners Dick and Sue Barrows have shaped a seafood-heavy seasonal menu as the star of a beautiful space populated with attentive, informed waitstaff and folks celebrating special occasions. Entrees like a local trout stuffed with bacon, swiss chard, tomato confit and pinenuts, served with Port wine and sage sauce run $18-20, and the desserts are gorgeous and homemade. There's also a cigar-friendly bar and live entertainment some weekends. Read more: http://www.frommers.com/articles/337...."

        I also read an article about how their restaurant had closed and that it would be missed. This sounds like they have lots of experience and great reviews at their Pennsylvania spot. I eagerly anticipate this new place in Chapel Hill.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wintersummer

          Great research, thanks! And it sounds perfect. I don't eat a lot of meat, so a bistro type place that specializes in seafood would be wonderful. Thanks for the info.

        2. Here's more about this couple. And, two things of interest - they have a UNC connection (daughter in school here) and they used to work at Frog, a restaurant I used to frequent in Philadelphia (about 20 or so years ago!). I loved Frog!!!

          http://www.zoominfo.com/people/Barrow...

          1. They had their soft opening on June 30 and plan to have their full menu this coming week. They are on Facebook.

            1 Reply
            1. re: romansperson

              This is very good news! Thanks.

            2. The menu is up outside the restaurant (unless this was for the soft opening). It is fairly limited as far as options. There are about 4 apps and about 6 entrees and 2 desserts on what was posted. Here is what I can remember (memory is not that great anymore)..

              One of the apps is a duck terrine and another I believe is a salmon dish.

              The entrees include a duck confit (choice of one leg or two), steak frites, mussels and fries, calimari (I believe this was in the entree section despite the notoriety of being an appetizer) and there was a salmon dish.

              The two desserts were a polenta poundcake and (what seems to be a requirement in every fine dining place in the triangle) a creme brulee.

              Prices for the entrees avg about 18 bucks.

              The other side of the 2 fold menu is wine and beer.

              3 Replies
              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                Thanks so much bf. Possibly the calamari isn't fried, but served in a more traditional entree way. I LOVE duck confit, so I cannot wait to try this place.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Sure just stop by and check it out on the window of the place next to the door. i fyou have a camera to upload a photo of menu..that works better than my memory.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    I've got the camera, but currently don't have the computer to download it onto. Working with a borrowed laptop and going insane. May well stop by in the next day or two though (although I doubt very much that my addled memory will be better than yours).

              2. A group of us went to Kitchen last week, I think on their 3rd night open. I generally don't like to try places this soon, but everyone else was excited.

                We did a pretty good job of eating around the menu. Let me see if I can remember what the group had: Mussels with frites, salmon with lentils, braised pork belly, hanger steak with frites, duck confit. We all had dessert, either the polenta pound cake or creme brulee. Everyone was pleased with their dishes - in fact, they were excellent. Only complaint was meals were a little heavy on the garlic. Service was a little slow, but I think that's because they are new. The space is a little small and I'm not sure what it will be like if it's crowded. 4 tables were occupied when we were there.

                5 Replies
                1. re: wintersummer

                  Is there a bar to sit at? And are they serving wine yet? The over-use of garlic I can easily deal with. I"m excited about this place.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    The space is laid out like the photos you see on their facebook link (from their website). Tables along the left side and a small(ish) bar on the right.

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      Thanks. I"m not on facebook (and do not want to be) so the pics I've seen are limited. When I eat alone (babysitter nights when my husband is out of town) I prefer to sit at the bar. Just more comfortable as a solo diner. So good news that they have one.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        This place is currently serving food. They had a nice photo up of their mussels and fries. I don't own the photo and hence why I haven't posted it.

                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          I'll be going asap. Thanks for the info.

                2. We went last night. I have attached photos of the menu - it looks a little odd since I stitched two photos together for each page. I think if you save them to your computer should be able to enlarge them enough to be able to read them - if not let me know and I can send you the photos by attachment, or post them somewhere else.

                  OK - First, the good stuff:

                  The food was pretty good. I actually had one of the hot appetizers as my main, the four-cheese ravioli with olive tapenade. I was told the app was small ("only three ravioli" the waitress said), but these were big ravioli - about the same height and width as a playing card. The filling was delicious but the edges were a bit undercooked - adding more filling or just trimming the edges a little closer to the existing filling would probably have resolved the issue. The tapenade was perfect and the dish was topped with sauteed zucchini, with half a very good sauteed tomato on the side. This was plenty for me for a meal.

                  I also ordered the side salad - local field greens (frisee, romaine and dandelion) topped with a few chopped tomatoes and dressed with vinaigrette. The salad was very fresh and *perfectly* dressed - just enough to add a nice tang. When I finished the salad there was no pool of dressing on the bottom of the plate - yay! (this is one of my peeves - I personally prefer about an eyedropper's worth of dressing on my salads at home and I just hate it when I get one swimming in goo. These folks know how to dress a salad).

                  My husband had the burger. There are three choices of cheese if you want it - goat, Gruyere and bleu. He went for the goat, but said it was too mild to stand up to the taste of the meat. Herbing it probably would have been a good idea. I told him he should try the Gruyere if he gets the dish again. That would have been my choice. The burger comes topped with a 'house sauce,' which is a remoulade style.

                  I snagged a couple of his fries, which I thought were pretty good, but he said they were 'just OK' - I will have to get the fries and try them the next time around. It's important for a bistro place to have good fries, I think.

                  I had the creme brulee for dessert (even though I was pretty full - somehow I managed to soldier on, lol). While it may be a common dessert item here, I rarely order dessert at restaurants and I hadn't had creme brulee in at least 20 years so I was up for trying it. It was delicious (and I forgot how much fun it is to tap the carmelized surface and watch it crack, and then digging into the wonderful custard underneath).

                  Also had a cup of coffee with dessert - comes in a good sized mug with real cream and choices of Splenda or Sugar in the Raw for sweetener.

                  The Not So Good:

                  It was HOT in there - 85 when we arrived about 6:30 or so and 87 when we left (I know
                  this because I was sitting within easy view of the thermostat). Not sure what was going on with their AC that night, plus they need to do something about the store front. They had a wooden blind up on the main window, but the transom and door itself have nothing, and as the sun goes down it shines directly in, roasting all of us sitting at the tables. The owner and the waitress said they were working on a fix for it, but the AC was the main problem.

                  I ordered a quatrino of their house red wine, and the heat in the place contributed to the wine being too warm. I know a lot of people like their reds at room temperature, but when the room is 85, that's too warm! (and personally I prefer them at cellar temp).

                  And speaking of wine, there's only one house red and two white by the glass (and one sparkling as well). The only French house wines are the whites - the red and the sparkling are Italian. The wine I had was competent but not something I'd probably go buy a bottle of.

                  When we got there, no one was at the bar and only 2 or 3 tables were occupied, but it got quite busy as the evening progressed - several large parties came in while we were there (about 6 people each) which required some re-arranging of table space. This slowed the service down quite a bit - there were two servers and no bar help - but I figured that was too be expected. This is a new place and I think it will only get better.

                   
                   
                  4 Replies
                  1. re: romansperson

                    Thank you so much for the review and photos. I"m with you on the fries and the red wine (and I feel the same in reverse - white wine shouldn't be served icy cold). I really cannot wait to try this place, although I do hope the temperature thing was a temporary glitch. Did they say anything about it being part of the problem, or are they solely focused on fixing the blind issue?

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      They really seemed fixated on the blinds - didn't say anything about the A/C at all.

                      1. re: romansperson

                        I can deal with that; Lulu can deal with that. Husband? not so much.

                    2. re: romansperson

                      87 degrees? No thank you, I'll wait until fall or for the AC to be fixed.

                    3. Their website is now finished:

                      http://kitchenchapelhill.com/kitchen/...

                      1. it's a french-themed Gastropub, soft opening was last week. GREAT food-- mussels provencal, steak frites, a great chopped salad, beet cured salmon, braised pork belly-- they're just getting up and running, but are now open every day but Monday. Web site: www.kitchenchapelhill.com. They are also going to serve full menu til 10pm. my husband and i really enjoyed it both times!!!

                        1. We made it to Kitchen last night - against all odds. First, was due to go and meet up with a friend (and fellow chowhound) on Saturday night but Lulu got sick. Then last night was babysitter night, and we had Kitchen in mind. Babysitter called mid-afternoon with an emergency ... oh no! Luck was on my side, and I found someone to fill in (thank you Eleni!). So glad we did. We had a great time. No problem at all with the temp in the place, although we were sitting at the bar so no sun streaming in directly on us. Started with a glass of prosecco, surprisingly nice and a good size pour. Husband had the mergez to start and loved it, I had the chopped salad (roasted veg, blue cheese, walnuts) and liked it very much. Ordered a bottle of red (something from Sicily - I think a bourdeaux blend), very very nice, but totally agree with romansperson on the temp of the red wine. Needs to be kept a bit cooler, not room temp. I then had the duck confit which comes with roasted fingerling potatoes, caramelized onions - yum. Very happy with it. Husband got the steak frites. He liked it, thought the version at Vin Rouge better but still thought this was decent (and much closer to home). I snuck one of his fries to check - I liked the potato-y flavor, and his had a nice crunch. Could maybe use another moment in the fryer, but very good. Maybe they vary depending on who is behind the fryer? No desserts for us. A happy meal, and we'll be back. Good prices too. Friendly and helpful staff. A very good addition to Chapel Hill's dining scene.

                          -----
                          Vin Rouge
                          737 9th St, Durham, NC 27705

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: LulusMom

                            So glad to hear a good report. The stretch off of Franklin kinda need(ed) a place like this. So glad they decided to go with this location instead of closer to Hwy 40. How would you describe the space? Is it cozy, jewelbox, sorta tight? I only remember a brief glance. Glad to hear the food is up to snuff. Did you think the prices matched the quality/quantity?

                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                              It is a very small space. They've done a nice job with it, but in the end it is painted concrete blocks inside. I actually like that look, strikes me as sort of urban *and* french at the same time, but I think it could be an acquired taste. I felt cozy in there, but wouldn't call it a jewelbox (like Bonne Soiree). Not having sat at a table, can't really comment on if it felt tight, but it didn't look as if it would. I thought the prices were more than fair. Quite reasonable. The mains were not huge portions, but the starters were. I think it is priced to be a place you'll like and go to often, not a special occasion place. There seemed to be a lot of traffic - it was never full at any point while we were there, but there were often several tables with diners. And keep in mind that we were there very early (babysitter to get home to and all that). They may well fill up at a chic-er dining hour.

                              -----
                              Bonne Soiree Restaurant
                              431 W Franklin St Ste 10, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                On Saturday when we were there it got full, but we never felt crowded. The tables are set a decent enough distance from each other that we never felt we were in anyone else's laps (and I hope they don't decide to change that as they get busier). It does get a bit loud, though - the floor is wood and the walls are bare, so there's nothing to absorb sound.

                                We spent a total of $70 (with tip) for a (large) appetizer, a side salad, a main dish, a quatrino of wine, two (good) beers, one coffee and one dessert. You can see their full menu on their web site now, with prices.

                                1. re: romansperson

                                  I knew what their full menu was going to be as I work practically next door, but I hadn't heard whether you get what you pay for or not is all.

                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                    That's the last thing I'd worry about, actually. I was so stuffed afterwards I was actually a bit sorry I ate as much as I had and I didn't have a main. My husband, who I think still has a hollow leg at 55 (and no, you wouldn't know it to look at him), was stuffed as well.

                          2. We ate there on Tuesday night and made a full meal of two appetizers each: a chopped salad and minestrone for my husband and a shrimp remoulade salad and minestrone for me. The minestrone seemed very French, rather than Italian, almost more like a soupe au pistou, but very good no matter what it was called. The remoulade was just right, nice and tart with capers, not too much horseradish. We polished off every bite. The bread that they brought to the table was truly outstanding, dense and chewy but soft at the same time. I forgot to ask if it was bought or made in-house.

                            I had a glass of the nice Prosecco, and he had iced tea. They bring a bottle of simple syrup for you to sweeten your own tea--a nice touch. We skipped dessert and drank two cups of decaf. The coffee is pretty good, not the best ever but very acceptable. We spent about $45, I think, not counting tip. We plan to return.

                            They were upfront about the A/C problem on Tuesday, but said it was being fixed. We got there at 5:30, when the sun was still streaming in the front window, but by the time we left, it felt to me as thought the problem had been solved. At least, cool air was blowing on us from the overhead vents. I suggest getting there after 6:30 or so if you're worried about it, though.

                            1. Second time back to Kitchen - and it was great. Husband had duck confit, I had steak frites. We're thrilled to have this addition to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro dining options!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: wintersummer

                                Dick and Sue Barrows always have fabulous restaurants and I wish I lived close enough to try this one. My husband and I were huge fans of their two restaurants in Pennsylvania and can heartily say that if the Barrows are running this one, it's got to be wonderful! We reallly miss them in PA, but those of you in Chapel Hill are really fortunate to have them there now.

                              2. Had another meal at Kitchen last night, and again it was very good. Husband started with the grilled romaine (basically a ceasar salad). He thought it could use more dressing, but liked it a lot. I started with the shrimp remoulade - thought it was great. He then had the gnocchi, and was very happy with it. I had a special - grilled tuna steak served over corn with a shrimp broth. Very nice. We shared the chocolate almond tart. Again, my one criticism is that the bread just isn't up to par for a place like this. It was dry and hard. At least this time they brought some butter to go with it (last time nothing was brought as a side; the first time a delicious spicy olive oil was brought). Overall though, a very nice meal. With a bottle of wine and 2 glasses of champagne the bill came to just over $100 (pre-tip), which I think is very reasonable.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  I ate there last night with my husband and really liked it a lot. The place was packed (maybe because it was Labor Day weekend?) and we ordered 2 appetizers and 2 entrees. The bread we got was not hard, but was not exceptional, very surprising for a french place I think. We ordered the sauteed calamari and the grilled romaine, both were really good, the calamari was floating in a delicious sauce. However, we were there at 6:30 and they were already out of Mussels, so disappointing! Out of the special entree they advertised as well. I had the duck confit, husband had the steak frites, both were pretty good, but we liked the appetizers much better than the main courses. I thought the fries were very yummy. Definitely will come back for the Mussels, they looked so good. Next time we will try even more appetizers.

                                2. Just ate at the Kitchen last night and was happily impressed! Limited seating so we sat at the bar which was fine but experience would have been better at a table. Good Basque mussels, fries are quite tasty but the big winner for me was the braised pork belly app, oh so good! Carmelized with a side of sweet potato hash and greens, what a great combo...

                                  I'll be back some time soon hopefully, don't get out to Chapel Hill too much any more but the Kitchen and Allen & Sons will soon be a calling!

                                  1. They do lunch now so that is great for me being right next door.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                      Lulu and I had dinner there recently. She was fighting me for more duck confit, while she ate her ravioli with tapenade (very nice). Again a very good meal, with very lame bread. For the record, Lulu thought it was perfectly fine (the bread, that is).

                                    2. Kitchen is becoming one of our favorite places! And, we actually love the bread. We were there with a group of 8 the other evening and everyone wanted more bread. Do you think they change breads on different nights? The bread we've had in recent visits is not the bread we had on our first visit, way back when they first opened.

                                      We've eaten our way around the entire menu and have only been slightly disappointed once, with the Chicken Tagine and Vegetables. Vegetables were great, chicken just lacked flavor. They've introduced a fall menu and that item is no longer on the menu. Everything else we've tried has been great.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: wintersummer

                                        How funny - the bread we tried the first time is different from what we've had every time since. We liked the first bread much more. Aside from the bread, though, we've been very happy with the place. I've tried a number of their fish/seafood specials and been impressed (although I seem to keep coming back to the duck confit). Good thing I read your post, wintersummer, because I have been wanting to try the chicken tagine and somehow haven't gotten around to it, and would have been very disappointed if I hadn't read your comment on it being sort of bland.

                                      2. Oh, so happy to see they are open for lunch now!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: romansperson

                                          Yep going there on Weds.

                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                            Went there for lunch today. Got the special, which was a white pizza with Manchego cheese, chorizo and caramelized onions. The crust was a thin cracker-like type that could have used to be in the oven a couple more minutes (a pretty typical problem in this area, it seems) but the rest of it was just awesome. I had never thought of using Manchego on a pizza before, but I will now. It was silky and delicious, with the chorizo adding a mildly spicy and smoky note. Oddly, the onions were added in a pile in the middle of the pizza, so I spread those out - the silkiness of the cheese, smokiness of the sausage and the sweetness of the onion were a very nice combination.

                                            1. re: romansperson

                                              To continue on my previous post (browser is acting odd today and not letting me see my whole post), I had intended to get the salade Nicoise today until I had heard the special. A couple guys who came in and sat at the bar after I did got that. It looked great and they said it was excellent.
                                              I found out in talking with the server that they make most if their own sausage, though the chorizo on the pizza came from D'Artagnan.

                                              There were only a couple tables occupied when I came in around 1 pm. A couple groups that came in after I did mentioned that they had originally intended to go to Foster's (which is in the same building), found it was packed, and were pleased to see Kitchen open. I hope they can take advantage of that.

                                        2. Went for lunch the other day and had their Provencal mussels and frittes. Fries were good, but to me Mussels weren't worth it. Half of them weren't open. I would have said something but I was there with co-workers and didn't want to make a scene. Also, I think it is just me and that I'm not much of a mussel's person.. somewhat like crablegs.. lots of work for little reward to me. The broth was good and the owners were nice and personable. The husband offered me bread to soak up the broth. The bread was okay and not remarkable in any sense of the word. I think the next time I go I'm getting the burger or the veggie sandwich.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                            Had lunch there today and was very impressed. I had the Thai curry mussels and fries, and my companion had the grilled vegetable sandwich.

                                            http://kitchenchapelhill.com/kitchen/...

                                            The portion of mussels was the largest I have ever seen, they were of very nice quality, and every one was open. The Thai curry was seriously intense but very tasty. There must have been at least two generously sized garlic gloves cut into slices, along with chopped onion and green onion. It was what I would describe as moderately spicy, but bear in mind that habaneros are practically a staple for me. If you don't like spicy, stick to the provencale.

                                            The grilled vegetable sandwich looked divine. Zucchini, red peppers and onion with mozarella melted over them on a ciabata roll. My companion was very happy with it, and it was rather large as well.

                                            The fries were pretty much frites. They were very good, but I wouldn't put them quite into the category of those from Watt's Grocery or Rue Cler. Not quite as crisp, but seasoned very nicely.

                                            The service was excellent: attentive and prompt, but not over bearing.

                                            We'll be going back.

                                            -----
                                            Rue Cler Restaurant
                                            401 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701

                                            Watt's Grocery
                                            1116 Broad St Ste 100, Durham, NC 27705

                                            1. re: dschoonmaker

                                              My first time at Kitchen on Sunday & do not go at 6:30 if you want a table. We snagged the last one! The place was packed. There were about 5 specials: sea scallops, local trout, french onion soup. Very nice.
                                              I had the oyster special & they were amazing, so briny they really tasted of the sea. Then we had the mussels mariniere. Nice portion, okay to me but I made this dish all the time in Ireland with Galway mussels so I'm uber fussy. The frites were hot, crunchy, great. Someone else had the pork belly & loved it. Dessert was creme brulee - perfect, apple croutade -best cream & divine caramel sauce. The service was 1st class - professional, attentive, expert. Everyone loved this place. Kitchen is doing a great job.

                                              1. re: Rory

                                                I had that special french onion soup about a week and a half ago and it was one of the better renditions I've had for a while. I'm sad that they've taken the duck breast off the menu for the winter, but I still had a great meal (made up of 3 appetizers).

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  Ach, wouldn't you know it. I rave about the onion soup and then just a few days later go back and have it and it is horrible. Maybe that is too strong a word, but I couldn't eat it. It seemed to have something like apple or cinnamon in it, and was much too sweet for my tastes. I kind of ate the cheese off the top and then left the rest - couldn't get it down. The chopped salad was delicious, but it seemed as if some of the roasted vegetables in it (maybe the beets?) hadn't been completely peeled. I kept having to pull out these very chewy tough bits. I'm putting this down to just a bad night, although I wish the bartender had at least asked the kitchen what was going on with the soup after hearing my complaint. I'd be more likely to order it again if I knew it was just an experiment or something.

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    Onion soup that is sweet? Ew.

                                                    1. re: romansperson

                                                      Bartender just shrugged when I said this. Would have liked to have known why I was getting that flavor from it.