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May 2, 2013 04:39 AM

Paella? / Oliver Twist? / French?/ Birthday Suggestions in Raleigh

Hi all! So, the ol' birthday is next week and I'm at a loss of what I want to do. I was thinking paella (which I love), but I did that last year at Parizade (which was fantastic) and was thinking I *should* do something else somewhere else.

I see Oliver Twist in Raleigh does paella, but I've never been and I don't see commentary about Oliver Twist on CH. The reviews on Yelp are mixed. I am NOT going to Tasca Brava after that dismal experience a couple of months ago.

I have Italian all the time with the BF, so I probably will forego that cuisine this time around. I really enjoy French, but St. Jacques is a little too intimate for 8 or so people....

Ideally I'd like to go to some place fun and awesome that I haven't been to before that my friends can enjoy and chill on a weekday night. I'd love any advice for Raleigh-area (non-chain) locations from my CH friends. Thank you!

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  1. If you want to French but not as formal as St. Jacques, then Coquette could be nice.

    ETA - it wouldn't hurt to give St. Jacques a call. They have two rooms, and would probably be willing to reserve the whole back room for a weeknight part of eight.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mpjmph

      I didn't even know there was another dining room at St Jacques --- or if I did, I had forgotten. I'll investigate; thank you!

      1. re: Tehama

        There is the "main" room at the front/to the left of the entrance, but I also believe there is a room to the back/right from the entrance. I haven't been in several years, so I might have invented that in my imagination.

    2. I was going to say Mandolin but it isn't as relaxed as say.. bu.ku. I'd say if Market were open, I'd go there. Ya sure we can't convince you to go to some place like AN in Cary? Whats the word these days on Margaux's? How about Sono or Zinda?

      6 Replies
      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        Ohhh- those are all really good ideas. I used to go to Margaux's all the time and always had a great time. It is a bit if a schlep from downtown, but that sounds like a great idea.

        I haven't been in AN's in ages either; always has been fantastic. Sono and Zinda could be really tasty, too. Thank you so much for all those great ideas. Much appreciated.

        1. re: Tehama

          If you like paella, have you been to Mateo's Tapas in Derm? There are some excellent things on the menu and it's a fun atmosphere for a group.

          1. re: Tom from Raleigh

            That is definitely on my short-list, but I haven't been yet! I've been drooling over Mateo's with every CH post! Maybe we will just trek over to Durham next week instead of Raleigh. I really *do* want to go some place new and exciting. Thank you!

            1. re: Tehama

              Mateos would definitely be fun. And ... happy birthday!

              1. re: LulusMom

                Mateos is going to be a bit of a squeeze for 8 people wouldn't you say?

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  Definitely going to be a tight fit. But some of the best restaurant experiences of my life have been in packed places. But certainly Tehama would need to call well in advance to make it happen.

      2. Oliver Twist closed this spring. I haven't heard of a reopening. I loved the venue for drinks and nibbles, but the food wasn't outstanding.

        I visited An in Cary last month - my first visit since the change in chefs. It was still good but not the OMG good of my past memories.

        A bit of a drive, but I recently have a really nice lunch at Oakleaf in Pittsboro. They are offering a wonderful wine dinner next Tuesday that sounds birthday worthy.

        Wherever you end up - enjoy and happy birthday!

        7 Replies
        1. re: meatn3

          I could vouch for Oakleaf too. Oh how about The Little Hen in Holly Springs. That might work for you and I've heard good things.

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            The BF was mentioning The Little Hen a couple of weeks ago; yes, we will go soon and report back. :-) Thanks!

          2. re: meatn3

            I am always up for a culinary road trip; we often go to Saxapahaw or Southern Pines/Pinehurst on the weekends. I haven't heard of Oakleaf --- I can't wait to try! YUM!

            I heart all you guys! Thanks so much for the suggestions and updates!

            1. re: Tehama

              If you are open to a culinary road trip then get yourself to The Chef and the Farmer in Kinston asap! Outstanding and well worth the drive. My only quibble is it tends to be too noisy for me at prime time - so I go early or later.

              Soco (mentioned by veganhater and kagi here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/866457) is on my short list for a road trip. From the looks of their website (they have a B&B too) it could be a nice option for a getaway for you and your sweetie.


              1. re: meatn3

                OMG - what cool ideas! I had been wanting to go to The Chef & Farmer when I first started reading about it here on CH, but I had forgotten about it. Thank you so much for the reminder.

                That idea about Soco is awesome! We are definitely going there a.s.a.p.

                D@.. I wish my bday wasn't on a weeknight this week. I am ready to get in the car and GO!

                1. re: Tehama

                  A weeknight bday simply extends the celebration!

                2. re: meatn3

                  2nd chef and the farmer and a stop at Mother Earth.