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RDU quiet special restaurant

crimsons Jan 24, 2011 09:35 AM

Hi Friends, I'm choosing a Chapel Hill-Durham area restaurant for my mom's 90th birthday in July. It needs to be inside, air-conditioned, QUIET (hearing loss a big issue), with great food. She was a vegetarian and very health conscious until she lost so much weight she had to eat non-healthy again, and she likes that healthy and local-produce stuff. We are having two long-lost relatives coming in so it needs to be a very, very special occasion. We went to Fearrington house for her 50th anniversary years ago so that's out. She likes Magnolia Grill. Loves Acme, Squid's, Glass Half Full and Weathervane. Lantern isn't going to work for us, as good as it is. But we need something really special. No Crook's Corner and Bonne Soiree didn't go over that great. Anything new? Ideas?

  1. m
    mpjmph Jan 24, 2011 10:54 AM

    How far are you willing to drive? My favorite special occasion restaurant is St. Jacques in North Raleigh. My parents lived in N. Raleigh until last summer, and prior to their move I would happily drive 45 minutes to St. Jacques for a special meal with them. It's a small place, professional staff, and they love to dote on their customers, even more so for birthdays and anniversaries. They will be closed July 18-27 for their annual trip to France, but open for dinner Tues-Sat the rest of the month.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mpjmph
      crimsons Jan 24, 2011 12:03 PM

      I will definitely check it out on my pre-birthday trip!! Thanks!

    2. d
      d.v Jan 24, 2011 11:31 AM

      Just curious--why are the places she's been to "out"? I would imagine returning to any of the places you mentioned would be fine if she enjoyed her previous visits.

      2 Replies
      1. re: d.v
        crimsons Jan 24, 2011 12:02 PM

        Hi DV. Most are too informal or we go too often. I live in CA (am a Chapel Hill native) but have a couple of chances to try out something new. She also loves to try out new places. Of the places we know, Fearrington or Magnolia are top of the list. I'd love to know about something new as I don't live there anymore. We all kinda dislike Crook's Corner -- always seemed a little touristy and we're 110% southern for real so grits don't seem all that novel -- and although I love Bonne Soiree, she didn't. Also the cousins are coming from far away (also actual southerners so we don't want that southern Mama Dip's kitsch thing) so we want to make it really nice. Weathervane is great but a bit noisy and the new ownership earlier this month didn't seem promising. Carolina Club would be perfect but we're not members anymore. Aw geez, I'm fussy.

        1. re: d.v
          crimsons Jan 24, 2011 12:04 PM

          She also wants to "impress" the cousins, haha!

        2. d
          dinersaurus Jan 24, 2011 12:07 PM

          Bloomsbury Bistro in Raleigh, Nanas in Durham, or Herons in Cary might do the trick.

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

          1. w
            walras Jan 24, 2011 12:33 PM

            Four Square in Durham is both very good, and non-noisy. I've also found Il Palio, and The Fairview at the Washington Duke work very well for dining out with two sets of friends with one in each couple getting more hearing impaired as they age.

            Four Square Restaurant
            2701 Chapel Hill Rd., Durham, NC 27707

            1 Reply
            1. re: walras
              bbqme Jan 24, 2011 12:56 PM

              I second the Four Square recommendation.

              Four Square Restaurant
              2701 Chapel Hill Rd., Durham, NC 27707

            2. RonboNC Jan 24, 2011 12:55 PM

              Wow, believe it or not the quite part is sort of stumping me! On your side of the world I would toss out The Kitchen and Revolution as two possibilities. French bistro (a bit casual) and then seasonal American (upscale). I've also heard wonderful things about Herons.

              Out in Raleigh I'd look at Second Empire or maybe Tasca Brava if they would be interested in Spanish.

              Good luck and let us know what you find!

              Tasca Brava
              607 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603

              2 Replies
              1. re: RonboNC
                sisterbeer Jan 27, 2011 08:40 PM

                I second the Second Empire rec and I'll throw in another for Mo's Diner. Both have quiet atmospheres and both places know how to handle special occasions with class.

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

                1. re: sisterbeer
                  RonboNC Jan 28, 2011 05:15 AM

                  I have been to Mo's once and thought it was definitely a great atmosphere for a special date.

                  One other thought is that for most of these restaurants, if you go during an off-peak period you should be ok noise-wise. Just avoid Thur - Sat from 6:30 to 9:00pm and you should be ok even with those hard of hearing...

              2. b
                burgeoningfoodie Jan 24, 2011 01:00 PM

                I would go to Heron's and why is Fearrington out if it was "Year's Ago"? Revolution is too loud if she has hearing loss. My one time at Four Square was also a bit rambunctious given the space. Mo's Diner would be good and quiet. Surprised that Bonne Soiree didn't go over that great especially if she likes something like Glass Half Full. How about Flights in the Renaissance at North Hills?

                Four Square Restaurant
                2701 Chapel Hill Rd., Durham, NC 27707

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

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

                1 Reply
                1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                  mpjmph Jan 25, 2011 09:30 AM

                  +1 for Mo's. It's funny, I've been in Chapel Hill/Carrboro for almost 11 years, but haven't been to many of the nicer restaurants in town since my parents were always paying and they were in Raleigh :) Now that they've moved and will only be in NC to visit me, maybe I can swing a few dinners closer to home.

                2. LulusMom Jan 24, 2011 03:35 PM

                  Elaine's in Chapel Hill would fit the bill nicely. I'm assuming (given her age) that you're thinking of a fairly early dinner. It is always quiet in there early in the evening. They care a lot about local ingredients, and do a good job with them. I think it is one of the best places in the Triangle. It isn't inexpensive, but it also isn't stuffy. Friendly but very professional staff and very good to great food. A nice wine list too.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: LulusMom
                    klmonline Jan 25, 2011 09:21 AM

                    Elaine's is excellent food, agreed. Make sure you take Lulu's comment about dining early seriously. As soon as people start coming in, the small space and proximity of tables will raise the noise level past your comfort level. Heron's on the other hand is extremely quiet, with most tables set far away from other diners. It can be like eating in a church rectory. They do a very good job of pampering (just ask for some salt and see what happens!).

                    1. re: klmonline
                      alan412 Jan 25, 2011 09:52 AM

                      ok, I am curious. What happens if you ask for some salt?

                      1. re: alan412
                        klmonline Jan 25, 2011 02:59 PM

                        A waiter says, "Certainly, sir. One moment." Then reappears with a wooden box containing an array of specialty sea salts. Quite the production for a simple little salt shaker request.

                  2. peetoteeto Jan 27, 2011 08:51 PM

                    How about Cypress on the Hill in Chapel Hill? It's got the local thing going on and I think the volume is respectable.

                    1. d
                      D R C Jan 28, 2011 12:16 PM

                      Agreed on the Herons suggestion, I think it satisfies just about all of the requirements you laid out. Good special occasion place and quiet to a fault, as other folks have mentioned. We ate there a month or two ago and were very impressed with the quality of the food. Interestingly, although polished, the service was inexplicably slow (particularly for a weeknight with only 6-8 tables occupied) - bringing a champagne starter, the wine for dinner, and starting the meal. My wife was quite annoyed, I was laughing at and enjoying the irony of multiple service lapses. But we would both return. (Can't say that I'm a fan of the wine list though - several trophy wines at big markups but very hard to find the nice, thoughtfully-selected $40-60 bottles from small, artisanal French producers that I seek out.)

                      I agree with your mom on Bonne Soiree. We've been three times and while it's a nice setting with good (not great) food, there are other places we'd rather go.

                      Also agree with the folks recommending Elaines, but still lean toward Herons for this event. I don't know why we didn't first visit Elaines until two years ago but the food is very good. Since your family is from CH, you should add it to your repertoire :-).

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