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Posts Tagged ‘NC’

Just a hop away from the Raleigh-Durham airport is a large red wooden barn that houses one of the most revered institutions in the NC Triangle. The Angus Barn is much more than a mere steak house, and around Christmas time can be seen bedecked in lights, trees, apples, santas, and crowded with local families carefully dressed in their Sunday best for family reunions, dinner with Grandma, and milling about with chummy business associates impressing each other with their largesse. Downright impossible to get a reservation for the main dining area during these times, it’s best to go frightfully early, around 4pm, and set up camp upstairs, past the gun collection, in the no-reservations Wild Turkey Lounge, which has enough presence and Southern charm to satisfy any diner. Actually, due to the popularity of the Wild Turkey Lounge, a satellite area has opened up by the main entrance under some tents, which is open year-round.

This time we went in late April, which has a different, more homey feel to it than the pageantry of Christmas. Thanks to a reservation, my party was able to secure a table in the upstairs dining area, where we were greeted with a basketful of crackers and two small (or too small) crocks of cheddar and blue cheese spreads, and upon request was given a relish tray piled high with cucumber pickles, olives, pickled peppers, and celery. Forget the yummy twice baked herbed potato with cheddar or the huge “side” of Caesar salad and perfectly cooked prime rib with horseradish sauce and juice – one could happily munch on bottomless cheddar spread, homemade pita chips, and pickles all night with a glass of sweet tea. Expect a constant battle of the frustrating confines of ones own stomach, but just keep in mind that the portions (and service) are pure Southern hospitality and each additional course is worth sacrificing the previous course for room.

Don’t worry – the cheese spread and crackers are also available for sale in the country store by the exit.

9401 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, NC 27617, USA

See my December 2009 review here: https://rachelrecommends.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/angus-barn-a/

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Diners need to have either admission to the Biltmore Estate or a 12-month pass in order to dine here, but if you’re already in the area, it’s worth a visit to this laidback, almost California-style bistro. Don’t worry – the portions are East Coast-style. And it seemed family-friendly.

I was intrigued by the first appetizer on the menu, which was pickled shrimp with spring asparagus, green beans, tobiko caviar, and yuzu crème fraîche. It worked together, though the cold acidic shrimp had perhaps a tad too much vinegar acidity for my Northern taste buds. My main course of spring risotto with peas and mushrooms, tarragon oil and shaved parmesan was very good and something I might try to replicate at home; could not taste the tarragon, but didn’t miss it.

While I was full, I couldn’t resist the strawberry shortcake was mostly strawberry, with a very soft and somewhat spongey “shortcake,” topped with just the right amount of fancily swirled whipped cream; I enjoyed every last drop of it.

The Biltmore Estate, Antler Hill Village, Asheville, NC, USA

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As we walked the short distance from the car to the entrance of Bullock’s, a local eatery institution, we were welcomed by the mouth-watering aroma of barbecue wafting from the kitchen fans. The first sight upon entering is the wall of autographed pictures of celebrities and of Mr. Bullock hanging out with celebrities. Apparently Mr. Bullock still works around the restaurant.

Hot hush puppies are served like other restaurants serve bread baskets – the little fried bits of cornbread can be enjoyed as-is or with the butter spread or honey butter spread on the table. I don’t care for hush puppies, but the others at my table got a second basket.

I ordered sweet tea, chopped barbecue (West North Carolina-style…or is it Northwestern Carolinian-style?), dark sugary candied yams, tender green butter beans, crispy fried okra, all of which could easily have been shared between two people. Among the menu’s “daily vegetables” were macaroni and cheese, cottage cheese, French Fries, and deviled eggs (our dishes each came with a choice of three vegetables).

The question came up at the table as to whether Blue Mist or Bullocks made better barbecue. I preferred Blue Mist’s succulent chopped bits to Bullock’s spicier, chewier, pulled-pork style. I’m told there’s some contention as to the standard of barbeque – some people prefer it that way. Both restaurants make their barbecue in the Western version of North Carolina’s barbecue; the Eastern part of the state makes it drier. The pricing is similar, although Bullocks has a greater selection of sides and provides more amenities. In fact, one might be more drawn to Bullocks’ sides than its barbecue, although the barbecue is good, too.

3330 Quebec Drive, Durham, NC 27705, USA

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This is a fairly new Cuban bistro in the suburbs. First thing’s first: skill is needed for maneuvering the oddly organized parking lot in the back of the restaurant.

Ok, now onto the food. The appetizers were more interesting than the entrees, and I’d actually recommend sharing several appetizers as a main course. For starters, the five of us shared tender lightly-breaded fried calamari, stuffed sweet plantains with Cuban-style ground beef, crispy cubes of house-cured pork belly and tamarind dipping sauce, and fried cassava root with cilantro sauce. For the main course, I ordered the shrimp over rice with arugula. I liked that the lightly-dressed arugula was placed on top of the shrimp so they stayed crisp, and that the shrimp tails were crunchy enough to each whole, but there wasn’t anything remarkable or memorable about the dish. For dessert, I shared a small, creamy vanilla flan. Coffee can be served sweet if requested.

Service was ok.  The server had us help her pass each other our dishes and drinks, and hand her our dishes when clearing the table.

2818 Chapel Hill Road, Durham, NC, 27707, USA

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While we looked through the Alexander Calder exhibit afterwards, we specifically went to the Nasher Museum to have lunch at the delightful café. No admission fee is required if one is only eating in the café, though reservations are recommended at peak times and there is a charge for parking. We were given an option of butter or oil with our bread. I enjoyed a glass of sweet tea which was constantly refilled and a delicious yellow curry chicken salad wrap, which included lettuce, grapes, celery, and toasted almonds. The side was described as quinoa salad, but it was really Israeli couscous; it was still good. Friendly, helpful service; airy ambiance as the café is in one corner of the spacious museum lobby area. The outdoor seating looked pleasant, as well.

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, 2001 Campus Dr., Durham, NC 27705, USA

See my December 2009 review here: https://rachelrecommends.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/nasher-museum-cafe-b/

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On the way back to Durham from pottery hunting in Seagrove, we stopped by a perennial institution for lunch. Blue Mist looks like a simple no-frills diner, but it is more than that. The inside is decorated with antique tea tins and coffee cans and posters advertising cream separators. Apparently it had been a drive-thru bbq place in the past, and is well-known by locals. It’s a good place to stop for those just passing through looking for a casual meal, especially if that meal includes North Carolina barbecue.

My husband and his family have been coming here for decades after trips to pottery country, and he always gets the same thing: the bbq plate. Barbecue, either chopped or sliced, is served with hush puppies, fries, cole slaw, and baked beans. Having weathered a day already of eating through the holiday with my foodie in-laws, I got the next smaller dish, which left out the hush puppies and the baked beans. It was just as well, since my order was quite sufficient for me. The chopped barbecue was a mash of wonderful little bits of succulent pork shoulder and was sprayed with vinegary barbecue sauce. The others made fun of my lack of enthusiasm regarding hush puppies in general – flavorless fried lumps of cornbread, in my opinion – but after tasting one of the Blue Mist’s hot hush puppies, I suppose I could have eaten a serving had I space left in my stomach. It was all washed down with a big glass of very sweet tea. The portion sizes were quite reasonable for the pricing, and one platter is about right for one adult.

3409 US Hwy 64 E., Asheboro, NC 27203, USA

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Just a hop away from the Raleigh-Durham airport is a large red wooden barn that houses one of the most revered institutions in the NC Triangle. The Angus Barn is much more than a mere steak house, and around Christmas time can be seen bedecked in lights, trees, apples, santas, and crowded with local families carefully dressed in their Sunday best for family reunions, dinner with Grandma, and milling about with chummy business associates impressing each other with their largesse. Downright impossible to get a reservation for the main dining area during these times, it’s best to go frightfully early, around 4pm, and set up camp upstairs, past the gun collection, in the no-reservations Wild Turkey Lounge, which has enough presence and Southern charm to satisfy any diner.

Fortunately, this time around we went in early April, and my party was able to secure a table in the main dining area at 5:30pm, though we had to wait until then for it to open. I was happy to do so, as that meant more time eating the fantastic cheese spread and pickles available upstairs. When we were later seated at our table, we were entertained by a circulating magician so suave I initially couldn’t tell that he was a stranger.

Forget the yummy twice baked herbed potato with cheddar or the huge “side” of Caesar salad – one could happily munch on bottomless cheddar spread, homemade pita chips, and pickles all night with a glass of sweet tea. To my delight, these wonderful delights were readily available at our dining table, too. Ok, then there’d be no juicy, perfect bacon-wrapped sirloin or lush, classic Southern desserts – sawdust or chocolate chess pie, anyone? Expect a constant battle of the frustrating confines of ones own stomach, but just keep in mind that the portions (and service) are pure Southern hospitality and each additional course is worth sacrificing the previous course for room.

9401 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, NC 27617, USA

See my December 2009 review here: https://rachelrecommends.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/angus-barn-a/

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