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Dinner in RTP Again

I wanted to thank all the hounders who helped me last year durring my trip down to RTP it was a great food success and got to have an amazing meal at Watts Grocery and the ambiance at Angus barn was great but do tend to agree with the comments made about price vs what you get.

I will be heading back down to RTP and was looking to visit some more of the sites that were on the list from last year. Please let me know if anything has changed or a new place is beter than something on this list. I only have 2 nights and will probably be eating at top 2:

Elaine's on Franklin
Crook's corner
18 Seaboard
J Betskis

I just read that Magnolia Grill closed which was top on my list for this trip I heard so many nice things about it I wish I would have went last time. Please let me know if i am making the right choices with Poole's and Elaine's on Franklin and if there is anything else you would recommend.

Note: my work budget is 50$ pp prior to tax and tip

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. Frazier's just closed. I would do Poole's and Lantern as my top 2 from your list, or consider substituting Panciuto in Hillsborough for one of those two. It's worth the drive. Not to make it too confusing, but I'd add the following for consideration: Vin Rouge or Rue Cler (both in Durham).

    Finally, at the priciest end of Triangle dining - and I haven't been to these places - there's Fearrington House, Il Palio, and Herons.

    1 Reply
    1. re: brsmith2

      Thank you for your sugestions I will definitely look at those other options. Poole's was at top of my list and your confirmation makes me very sure I will stop by there.

    2. J Betskis is high on my chart. Nothing toooo fancy , but some really good eats.

      1 Reply
      1. re: supernc

        I'd add One in Chapel Hill to your list somewhere in the middle. I'd also recommend Lantern up at the top with Poole's. Poole's doesn't take reservations, so arriving shortly after they open is the key to a short wait. It's worth the wait, but if you'd rather not wait or if you're looking for someplace quieter, go to Lantern. Also, check out Lantern's lounge.

      2. Poole's is good and I like Elaine's as well.

        1. Herons, Panciuto,a nd lantern are all solid recs but will definitely consume your per diem for a 3 course meal and drink.

          1. Not sure how much alcohol you're planning on consuming (maybe none since it is a work dinner?) but I don't think I could make it out of Elaine's or Lantern for $50 pp before tax and tip. It would be tight. That said, I love both places. Vin Rouge would fit the budget and I love it too, not sure if offers things you can't get where you live, but it is a great place. I don't know the Raleigh side of the Triangle so can't offer any thoughts about those places, but always like readings what others think so I can plan my rare trips there.

            4 Replies
            1. re: LulusMom

              Just going over some receipts from the past month, and at both Elaine's and Lantern I ate and drank well (in both cases 3 appetizers - no entree or dessert - and a few drinks) for about $80 with tax and tip.

              1. re: LulusMom

                We dine at Lantern relatively often. I find 2-3 apps is a great way to try new things. I've had all the entrees at one time or another. I do like the fried whole NC fish and the tea smoked chicken & rice quite a lot from the entrees.

                1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                  I love doing a few appetizers instead of one and then a main. I feel like a lot of chefs put a bit more imagination into the starters, and they definitely change them/have more specials as appetizers than they do with main courses at the Lantern. They've had some of the most amazing spring rolls I've ever had there in the past few months (although not being a pork eater, I haven't tried the latest). They have the new one, they had a duck one, and they had a vegetarian one with shiitakes and asparagus.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    I agree that chefs appear to take chances with apps and I like it. The current Lantern menu has Korean fried chicken which is always good.

                    Last year, one of their special apps was a beef carpaccio with some Asian vegetables, chiles and dressed with sea urchin oil. It was an amazing, ummami bomb!

                    Looking fwd to going to Lantern again on Saturday night. I love living in Carrboro with Lantern as my local, nice restaurant. We may not get as many new restaurants as Cary, Derm, or Raleigh, but we have quality.

            2. Out of the list you gave Lantern, Revolution and Poole's are probably at the top. Others to consider since Poole's does not take reservations are Herons and Mandolin (i'm taking a shot in the dark to say that that restaurant will be mentioned in next years James Beard Awards just from reading the menu and the caliber of the chef). One of my other favorites is Vin Rouge.

              1. When are you coming this way as there may be food related events going on like a food truck gathering..

                4 Replies
                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  IMO, attending a food truck gathering would be one of the absolute worst ways you could spend your time and your dining per diem.

                  Unless, of course, you enjoy waiting in long lines just so that you can place your order and then waiting another extended period of time for your food to be served. Your enjoyment of this scenario would increase exponentially in the event that you also relish the scorching summertime heat in central NC and eating while standing up.

                  Instead, +1 for Poole's, Lantern and Vin Rouge.

                  1. re: ToothTooth

                    Yes but I was trying to use it as an example I guess and didn't mean the rodeos.

                  2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    We just arived today and are staying in Durham at the Hilton on Page road. We had lunch at MEZ because i couldn't convince my boss to go to the backyard bbq pit over here. Tonight we are going to try and hit either poole's or something down in RTP and tomorrow I am going alone and from recommendations I think Elaine's or Lantern would be my choice.

                    1. re: bubblesdlev

                      I'd rather eat at MEZ than BBP.

                  3. Four Square in Durham is excellent.

                    I also love The Fed (Federal Lounge) in Durham. This place has more of a laid-back "vibe" and the prices are great.

                    Poole's is my favorite in Raleigh. Sometimes the wait can be daunting especially on the weekend. There is no dinner service Sun-Tue.

                    1. Nanas and Elaines are the places most reminiscent of Magnolia Grill to me. It's been many years since Howell and Jennings worked there, but I think all the best chefs left a part of themselves there and carried a part of Magnolia Grill with them. I had some so-so meals at both about a year ago and haven't been since then, but I expect next time one or both will knock my socks off :).

                      I've had excellent dishes at Pooles and Lantern but never a great meal start to finish. Also specifically at Pooles I don't care for the blackboard, randomly picking my own sides vs. sides matched to main course, and the sort of haphazard rushed feeling I get when eating there. At Lantern, a lot of the food is straight-up Asian rather than a creative fusion, so for instance a tiny $15 bowl of very authentic Vietnamese rice and chicken soup is almost absurdly overpriced compared with what you'd get at one of the small places at Eden Center up in Falls Church. Very good food at both places and worth a visit but not my own top personal preferences if I was picking just one.

                      I'm about due for another visit to Herons and Ferrington but as LulusMom said, they're both over your stated budget.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: D R C

                        I still say that if you are going to go to Raleigh and don't want to chance it with Poole's then you should give Mandolin a try. Think Crooks Corner or Charleston establishment. It was received very well by our food critic.

                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          This is I believe the best advice not taken, I was mostly disappointed with my meal at Poole's.

                          I am a huge fan of beef carpaccio so when i saw it on the menu for an app it was a no brainer decision. The dish was overwhelmingly covered with dill which ended up taking over every bite and the delecate beef carpaccio was hidden. After pushing the dill off to the side it was quite delecate and intricate. I looked at the young lady next to me's app which was tomatoes and some grilled bread, and she had formed the same mountain of dill that I ended up with.

                          On to the Entre, I had the rosemarry chicken which was deboned way too early in the cooking process which left it dry and lifeless, however the bed of mashpotatoes that it rested on were heavenly and added some much needed moisture to the chicken.

                          The highlight of my meal was a delightful marscapone tart with blueberries and myer lemon curd. It was so good it was beyond description.

                          All in all it wasn't a bad meal but in no way was it a meal I would rush back to next time I am in RTP.