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Dec 18, 2011 05:11 AM

Triangle New Restaurant of the Year

Help! The last couple of years I have gotten a small gift certificate to a significant new or "refurbished" restaurant (e.g., Bella Mia, Herons) as a Christmas gift for my boss . He has been even more appreciative when those same spots show up at the top of Greg Cox's year-end list. I thought those were fairly easy choices after reading Greg's excellent reviews over the year but I am having a problem identifying this year's selection. I'm not trying to replicate Greg's top pick each year (although that does appear to give me added credibility) as I'm sure there will be years when the top pick may be a well known and established spot rather than a new one. This year, however, I'm having trouble thinking of a choice for a top new spot in the Triangle. Thought I would throw this out for your recommendations.

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  1. Just seconding a request for suggestions on this! I am not from Raleigh but want to get a family member there a nice gift certificate to a top new restaurant for the holidays. What would you all recommend? Thanks!

    2 Replies
    1. re: amyoleary

      Though not upscale, Chuck's in Raleigh has got to be one of the area's best new restaurants this year. The burgers and fries are superb.

      As for fancier places, maybe L'Uva in the American Tobacco Campus (Durham)? Or, and this is brand new so basically unproven, how about Mandolin in Raleigh? I haven't been, but I've heard good things.

      1. re: brsmith2

        Thanks brsmith. We must think exactly alike. I was thinking to myself that Chuck's might be the biggest new thing concept / impact-wise but I think I probably need something more formal for gifting purposes. I was sort of defaulting to Mandolin as well although I have not heard much about it. I did pass by one night last week and it looked like it had a full house and the menu looks very nice. Glad for any other thoughts or recs throughout the Triangle.

    2. IIRC, Greg's highest rating, 4.5 stars, given to a restaurant this past year was Saffron, an Indian restaurant in Chapel Hill. It also qualifies as a new restaurant.

      4 Replies
        1. re: ToothTooth

          I went to G2B for the first time the other night and didn't love it.

          The portions were fine but a bit small at the price. I had the pork shoulder confit. The pork was a bit dry. Overall it felt like the plate was missing an element or two.

          The frissee salad was nice enough.

          Pint prices were higher than the same beers elsewhere ($7.50 for a Duck Rabbit Wee Heavy I see for $5 or $6 other places its on tap).

          At nearly $70 for dinner (w/ drinks and tip) for 2, I left feeling like I could do much better at that price point elsewhere.

        2. re: bbqme

          Saffron has been open for almost 2 years. It is not new.

          1. re: bbqme

            Saffron opened in May/June 2010. If that qualifies as new within the last year then there are a slew of others though maybe not best restaurants..

            The Pig, Crook's Atrium, Happy China, L'Uva, Old Havannah Sandwich shop, Bullcity Burgers and Brewery, Babylon, Mantra, 604 West Morgan, Geer Street Garden, Scratch, Capital Club 16, The Pig, Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, Market Restaurant, Bella Mia, Chuck's, Beasley's, Dame's Chicken and Waffles, G2B, ONE, Pop's Backdoor, OnlyBurger, Spring Rolls, La Volta, Macchu Picchu, Kitchen, Frazier's Wine Bar and Bistro, Dim Sum House, King's Sandwich Shop, Bangkok Thai, Wilmoore Cafe, Red Monkey, Hotbox Pizza, Relish Cafe, Antonia's, Hillborough BBQ Company, Taipei 101, Battistella's (which I think is just a relocation), Nanataco, Cantina South, MinGa, Gregorias, Gonza Tacos, Mandolin.....

          2. My suggestion for you is L'uva at American Tobacco in Durham. Every dish we've had there has been excellent. Fish is extraordinary. Menu changes weekly. Service is first class. Place is quite small but high style and has lots of good energy. Everyone there seems to be enjoying themselves. Greg Cox gave it good review just a week or two ago.

            2 Replies
            1. re: yahooer

              Thanks. All helpful thoughts. I have not had a chance to visit L'uva yet but definitely have that on the list.

              1. re: Guilty Gourmand

                L'Uva gets my vote as well. Splendid Italian restaurant, just what we've needed in the Triangle for years.

            2. 42nd Street Oyster Bar, the end.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Ltolbert

                Thanks. Not sure I follow the 42nd Street mention in this case. It's not new and, as much as I love it as a local dining institution, I don't really consider it the best seafood restaurant in the Triangle by a long shot. To be fair, I'm not an oyster eater so I base my seafood rankings on the fish and fried shrimp offerings more than anything. (Well, okay, the hush puppies too which are great at 42nd street.) For the fish / shrimp though I think I'd just as assume to go to Squids or Blu or, to be perfectly honest, Bonefish Grill. The time and money at 42nd Street sometimes seem not that worth it.

                Interestingly, L'Uva was not on Greg's shortlist of best new restaurants at the end of January. Antonia's in Hillsborough was on the list as was Bruno's in Wakefield--two choices I barely recall reading about before mostly I think because they are off my usual beaten track. Looking back, both sounded very good though and I think both got 4 stars. L'Uva sounds great too but I think Greg only gave that 3 1/2 stars on his review so it must not have made the cut. Still looking forward to trying that.

                Just fyi, for gift certificate purposes I went with Mandolin in Raleigh because of convenience and buzz factor. I don't think that got reviewed by Greg in time for the 2011 list so we'll see how that fares overall next year I guess. I have only eaten there once and it was good but was in a large group setting with special menu. I'm anxious to return for normal menu offering before forming a real opinion.

                1. re: Guilty Gourmand

                  If you make it out this way, Antonia's is definitely worth a try. I have been very favorably impressed.

                  1. re: romansperson

                    My lovely wife and I had another excellent meal at Lantern. It would be hard to go wrong by giving a gift certificate to this James Beard award winning spot.