Tag Archives: Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week – The Piedmont, Durham, NC

piedmont

  • Executive Chef: Ben Adams
  • Location: 401-B2 Foster St. Durham, NC 27701
  • Phone: 919-683-1213

Emblem_Triangle2015v4Piedmont Restaurant in Durham was the last designation for The Friends during their Triangle Restaurant Week adventure. Piedmont is known for using local, organic and sustainable NC products. According to their Facebook page Piedmont states, “Our food is inspired by seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and purveyors.”

Ben Adams is the chef at Piedmont. By chance earlier in the week, Traveler had attended one of the Trial-by-Fire events in the Triangle NC Competition Dining Events where Chef Adams was one of the competing chefs. In his bio for this event, Chef Adams says, “My cooking style is modern American, refined comfort, seasonally driven and local.” The dishes Chef Adams creates are innovative and exemplify the farm to table concept done right.

logo-smallWe took a few minutes to look over the menu and make our selections. Piedmont’s Restaurant Week menu was varied and large enough to allow us each to select something different and share tastings around the table. During the NC Competition Dining event Traveler met Jennifer Noble Kelly, the publicist for Piedmont Restaurant, and shared that Piedmont was one of our choices for Restaurant Week. Jennifer told Traveler to let her know when we would be dining at Piedmont. Traveler made sure Jennifer knew we were on our way. To our surprise we were treated to additional appetizers Pan-seared scallops and house-made fettuccini with NC blue crab, trout roe with a smokey crème fraiche off the regular menu. The scallops were seared to perfection and locked in the tender juices. The fettuccini had the most delicate sauce that tasted fantastic.

The Traveler choices for the night were fried NC oysters for a starter and Smoked spiced-rubbed Green Buttons Farm’s pork chop accompanied by Shotgun Betty-braised cabbage and pine roasted fingerlings. The pork chop was juicy and flavorful and the cabbage cooked to perfection.

I decided on Lil’ Farm’s organic greens followed by spice-crusted NC flounder with pine-roasted fingerlings and braised fennel with a smokey fumet. The flounder was cooked just right – light and flaky.

Bad Boy selected marinated Heeks Farm beets with house-made ricotta and blackened NC Catfish with Carolina Gold hoppin’ john and braised collards. Bad Boy said the catfish was blackened to his liking and the sides added great flavor to the plate.

All of us felt the spices were used to arouse the palate but left plenty of room for the natural flavors of the food to come through. Also the chef’s mixings of flavors and textures added interest to each plate.

As Traveler and I were discussing the desserts, Bad Boy made the decision for us. Since there were three desserts and three of us, we would just order one of each:

  • Horchata semifreddo, avocado-coconut sorbet with sweet potato-tamarind sauce
  • Sticky Date Cake, salted caramel ice cream, dulce de leche
  • Coconut cashew cake, salted caramel-chocolate sauce with chocolate cashew ice cream

Each of the deserts was delicious but the Horchata semifreddo was our favorite.

The Piedmont is located in a refurbished 1930s Nash dealership. The environment is hip and urban complimented by a simple décor, high ceilings and soft lights. The ambiance is cozy, intimate and comfy. This can be attributed to General Manager, Crawford Leavoy’s belief in “guest-focused attention.” He wanders throughout greeting and engaging diners. When Crawford stopped by our table, he and Traveler discovered they had something in common – Traveler had worked in the town Crawford was born in Louisiana.

We had amazing service making our meal extremely enjoyable. Alexis, our server, was knowledgeable, friendly and attentive but not hovering. She could easily explain ingredients, techniques used in preparing the dishes as well as the flavorings and paring of the foods.

The Friends rated their meal and evening at Piedmont their best overall experience of Triangle Restaurant week. The fresh meal prepared with attention to detail and severed in a great restaurant environment didn’t disappoint. The three of us left with smiles on our s_belle_smfaces and looking forward to a return visit.

 

Restaurant Week 2015 – Lunch at The Big Easy, Raleigh, NC

bigeasy

  • Executive Chef: Frank Ferlo
  • Location: 222 Fayetteville St. Raleigh, NC 27601
  • Phone: 1-919-832-6082
  • Date Visited: 1/31/15 at noon

Emblem_Triangle2015v4Initially, the friends had intended to have lunch at the recently opened restaurant, Bolt Bistro. When we arrived, we found it unexpectedly closed for lunch. Befuddled, we were determined to find a nearby location participating in the Triangle Restaurant Week. In dining, as in life, always have a contingency plan. Across the street we saw, The Big Easy, a restaurant that we had originally selected for our list of eatery to try, but only offered dinner samplings for restaurant week.

“Now is as good a time as any,” I remember telling Belle and Traveler, followed by “Laissez les bon temps roulez!”

dragonflymarket_1373571988_140As you could guess, their specialty is Cajun cuisine, indigenous to Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta region of the US. I must warn you, their menu,whether lunch or dinner, is vast and diverse. Since this was lunch, we selected an appetizer of fried oysters and sandwiches: shrimp Po’ Boy for Belle, oyster Po’ Boy for the Traveler and a muffuletta for me. As luck would have it, I have wanted to try a muffuletta for some time. This sandwich is served on muffuletta bread, which is round in fashion, with a hearty crust. It is filled with a variety of meats; mostly consisting of sweet soppressata, mortadella, capicola and provolone cheese, and topped with olive tapenade and giardiniera. Thank God I could order a half-a-sandwich. The size of this portion is almost disturbing to a light luncher. All of the food was well prepared, and the staff was pleasant and knowledgeable. If you enjoy, or have ever been temped to sample Cajon food, I would recommend The Big Easy.

As fate would have it, The Big Easy will be celebrating Mardi Gras in block-party fashion on February 17, from noon till 10 pm. This event will have street performers, music, as well as several food trucks from around the Triangle, including:

For more information, go here.

bruce_smLet the Good Times Roll – Badboy

Restaurant Week 2015 – Revolution, Durham, NC

reveloution


  • Executive Chef and Proprietor: Jim Anile
  • Location: 107 West Main St. Durham, North Carolina
  • Phone: 919-956-9999

Emblem_Triangle2015v4On Friday, January 30th Belle and I were going to DPAC to see 50 Shades the Musical, a parody of the Fifty Shades of Gray series by E. L. James at DPAC. Since it was Restaurant Week, we chose to go to Revolution. We were seated promptly and the two-top table had ample room, with lovely place settings instead of the usual cramped table. The bar was large and very busy. The manager, John Ray, greeted us and I let him know we would be blogging about the restaurant. Our waiter arrived to our table with an unpleasant attitude. Belle cannot eat raw meat, so had a question about the Chicken Fried New York Strip, asking about the doneness of the meat. His response was it was done when the breading was done and there was no way to adjust the cooking of the steak. It was delivered in an “I am better than you” attitude.

After this encounter our orders were taken. I chose the Charred Octopus Salad served with shaved onion, red peppers, smoked paprika and shiso gastrique. The octopus was expertly cooked and married well with the other ingredients. I loved the dish. Belle ordered the Haystack Shrimp, spicy shrimp with a nice aioli. The dish was great; the shrimp was cooked well and the other ingredients complemented and enhanced the flavor of the shrimp. I sampled the ample portion and agreed with Belle that it was a hit. I also ordered the Clams & Pork Belly with coconut in a spicy red curry sauce from the regular menu. The clams were filled with sand and the pork belly was difficult to find.

When our waiter brought our entrées he appeared to have done a 360 turn and his attitude became pleasant. Perhaps it was because we were tweeting out complementary statements regarding the food. We both chose Chicken Fried New York Strip: creamed corn succotash, smashed Yukon potatoes with onion gravy. My steak was perfect with a slight hint of pink. The breading was seasoned well with salt and pepper. I loved the mashed potatoes and gravy. I am usually not a fan of succotash, but found this to be better than the usually succotash, providing a textural element to the dish. Belle enjoyed her steak as well but felt the succotash could have been omitted. We both agreed that the entrée was large enough to be shared by two. We ended the meal by ordering a Chocolate Mousse Cake with a hazelnut almond crust, orange coulis and caramel sauce. I am not a dark chocolate fan, so after one bite I was done. Belle loved the cake and since were going to DPAC, after taking her bite, boxed up both pieces to enjoy at a later time.

Service at a restaurant definitely influences patron/customer’s impression of the meal. The food can be outstanding but if the service is bad, I probably will not return. Perhaps our waiter was having a bad evening, but his attitude did change and the food was outstanding so Belle and I would definitely return.

mary_smUntil Next Time – The Traveler

Restaurant Week 2015 – Little Hen, Apex NC

littlehen


 

  • Executive Chef: Regan Stachler.
  • Location: 5160 Sunset Lake Rd Apex, NC 27539
  • Phone: 919-363-0000
  • Visited: 1/29/15 – 6:30 PM

Emblem_Triangle2015v4My selection for Restaurant Week was the Little Hen. I had read many great reviews on Twitter so thought this would be a great time to sample what it had offer. I had some difficulty finding Little Hen because my GPS and Phone were giving me squirrely directions.

I arrived first, asked about the table and told it was not ready, as Belle and Bad Boy came through the door. The waitress appeared and took us to the table. The restaurant has a hopping bar and the dining area offers an intimate dining experience. I loved the comfortable chairs.

little hen_coolveticaThe restaurant was not crowded, yet service was very slow. Our Waitress told us about the menu and the specials for the evening: left and did not return for quite some time.

We all ordered different things; I had the Charred beets with a brown sugar cider gastrique, which were excellent. All of the ingredients married well together. They were my favorite dish of the evening. Belle ordered the grilled Romaine lettuce with bleu cheese and honey mustard dressing. Bad Boy had the potato soup with a unique flavor from the sweet & sour vanilla-apple puree.

The second course did not go as well. I ordered the NY Strip steak, (an upgrade from the Hanger steak) medium well, with crispy fingerlings, pickled local mushrooms and shallots. When it arrived to the table I received a rare steak. I called the waitress to our table since she seemed to have an aversion for us and I let her know. Later she brought over pork belly with fried Sauer Kraut and sweet and sour slaw as an apology from the Chef.

Belle ordered Grilled Shrimp and grits, with bacon-scallion portabella vinaigrette and hoop cheddar, however Chicken and dumplings were brought to the table. The mistake was corrected and Belle finally received her correct order. The hit of the evening entrees was Chicken and Dumplings consisting of potato gnocchi, braised chicken and chives. The gnocchi were cooked to perfection and chicken well-seasoned. The dish was however, skimpy on chicken.

It was finally time for dessert. Belle and I chose the Vanilla Bean Pannacotta with red wine gelee, an orange reduction and walnut brittle. It appeared from the texture of the Pannacotta that it had not been made that day. The Bad Boy ordered the Cheese Cake with peppercorns. He did not feel the flavors of the cheesecake and the peppercorns complemented each other.

The food, while eating from a limited menu was good, but service was an issue.

We love to promote local businesses. I do have a suggestion for the Little Hen. Work with your wait staff. Our waitress seemed to be preoccupied and we were not a priority. Friendly conversation, checking on the patrons to make sure their dining experience is living up to their expectations and providing good and accurate service will make the diner want to return. It was annoying when the table next to us received complementary dishes and wonderful service and we were ignored as first time diners as well as the others patrons in the restaurant. Restaurant Week is intended to ‘showcase’ popular restaurants in the Triangle. You may only have this one chance to make a good impression, make it work.

mary_smUntil Next Time – The Traveler.