Fine dining downtown Raleigh?
- sidcundiff Dec 1, 2012 06:30 AM
I'll be in Raleigh next weekend, and I haven't a clue as to the fine dining in the downtown area. Recommend to me something that's up to Chowhound standards. Thanks.
There have been several recent threads on this. Mandolin would be my pick, although it's 10 minutes from downtown. Poole's Diner has foodie cred, gets good press (chef was recently nominated for a Beard award), and food is pretty good. Although I've had some good dishes there I'm not a big fan, see the recent thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/874891. Lots of folks like Buku - small plates, pan-Asian, nice space. Not sure if you mean "fine dining" in a traditional sense, or more like inspired dishes skillfully prepared from quality local ingredients :-). Mandolin is the only one of these that does both.
re: D R C
+1 for Mandolin and it isn't that bad a drive either to get to where you need. Maybe 2nd Empire or Mo's Diner (not a diner). Poole's is not fine dining in any way, shape or form. It is upscaled take on diner/homey food. This doesn't mean it is bad but I don't think I'd put it in the fine dining category. Buku has the setting of fine dining but the small plates concept isn't really fine dining and the dishes are hit and miss.
Downtown, Second Empire is the choice for fine dining. You have the choice of the main dining area, truly elegant, gracious service, excellent food. Or, downstairs is the bar, which offers the same menu and a less pricey menu in a more casual setting.
Another choice, more urban than elegant, is Battistella's, here: http://www.battistellas.com/
Batistella's is New Orleans accented dining, local ingredients, delicious food. The BBQ shrimp are wonderful, as is the gumbo, and everything else on the menu.
If you want to venture out from downtown, people have mentioned Mandolin or Bloomsbury Bistro, both in suburban settings (Raleigh has a really small urban downtown). Mandolin is more contemporary fare, while Bloomsbury Bistro is more traditional, and, I think, bland (or maybe the right word is subtle).
Even further out in a pocket of urbanity in the midst of suburbia they call Midtown is Coquette, a French bistro-style place, elegant, and with great food.
FWIW for many years I've thought that Second Empire and Bloomsbury were probably still "pretty good" but past their prime. John Toler was/is a great chef (and a Magnolia Grill alum), and we've eaten a dozen or more fantastic meals there many years ago, but after their second place in Cary closed, Bloomsbury never seemed the same to me. Similar situation with Second Empire, as it became as much a destination place to host wedding receptions. Really great setting though. Rue Cler (and other folks say Vin Rouge) in Durham seem so much better to me than Coquette that I haven't been back since a few months after they opened.