Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Anvil's Cheesesteaks as Solid as the Name

Yesterday I had lunch with an associate at Anvil's Cheesesteaks, a small, hidden-gem eatery situated in Raleigh's Swift Creek Shopping Center just off Jones Franklin Road. If you haven't visited Anvil's yet, it's well worth seeking out.

Here's the skinny: Erstwhile rock-'n'-roll drummer and Philadelphia-area native Bob “Anvil” Thompson and his wife, Barbara, use fresh top round beef they cut fresh daily. They also serve Boar’s Head brand cheese and source bread from the esteemed Neomonde Baking Company. Bottom line: It's all about quality and authenticity.

Among the standout menu options are the classic cheesesteak with American or provolone cheese served “wit’or wit’out” onions and the pepper steak (my favorite), which containss sweet or hot onions (I ask for a mix), cheese and onions. Be sure to try the killer horseradish sauce available in a squeeze bottle near the Pepsi fountain.

For something different, try the vegetarian-friendly Portobello mushroom, which features sliced Portobello with roasted red peppers, cheese, onions and balsamic vinegar, or the house-specialty pepperoni-infused pizza steak.

Just so you know the drill: You place your order at the counter, then sit down and wait for your piping hot sandwich to be delivered, usually within five to seven minutes after ordering.

Anvil's is open six days a week (closed Sundays) for lunch and dinner. Be sure to tell them Lunchboy sent you!

Bonus tip: Next week is Anvil’s first anniversary as a business, and I have it on good authority that complimentary mini cannolis will be served to each person who shows up and buys a sandwich!

Anvil's Cheesesteaks on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Room Service Surprise

Check out these tempting menu items:

  • Pecan crusted chicken with sautéed maple butter and mashed sweet potatoes
  • Stuffed pork loin with sausage and spinach finished with red wine and braised shallot sauce
  • Cheese-filled ravioli simmered in fresh basil and roasted garlic marinara with aged parmesan

Care to guess which local restaurant is serving such succulent cuisine?

Would you believe all these and more are found on Rex Hospital’s room service menu? No kidding.

Since my son is currently hospitalized following an appendectomy yesterday, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy some of Rex’s finest food selections. Let me say this as clearly as possible: Rex Hospital food rocks!

I see you rolling your eyes in disbelief! If you are like me, you’ve always thought hospital food is akin to the junior high cafeteria or a military chow hall.

Believe it or not, somewhere along the way, Rex figured out that hospital food can be—get this—tasty. I tried the aforementioned pecan crusted chicken and was amazed how it was so well-prepared and flavorful. Never mind the delectable mashed sweet potatoes that rival those served at Lucky 32!

Tonight it’s either lime & ginger glazed salmon or Mediterranean tilapia for dinner. Can’t wait!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'll Take this Village

Yesterday at lunchtime, I was in the Cameron Village area of Raleigh, so I decided to grab some grub at Village Deli & Grill. If you’ve never visited this fast-casual eatery, you should. They have the best house-made chicken salad in The Triangle other than the legendary stuff at Tookie’s Texaco on Six Forks Road.

Village Deli is a bustling place every time I’ve ever been, and for good reason. Where else can you get an all-natural bison burger, grilled wild-caught salmon or Cajun shrimp wrap and not have to leave a tip?

For my money, though, the creamy chicken salad on wheat with a side of organic sweet potato fries is as good as it gets. If you’re in the mood for a salad, consider a side garden variety with a large scoop of chicken salad on top. Be sure to try the Vidalia onion dressing.

The guy sitting next to me was enjoying a Carolina-style BBQ sandwich that looked totally legit. His meal was accompanied with Yukon-gold French fries. Reason enough for another visit really soon!

Oh yeah, save room for dessert. A house-made chocolate chip cookie will only set you back 75 cents.

Village Deli & Grill ( is open seven days a week and has additional locations in Morrisville and Wake Forest.

Village Deli on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Superb Sushi in Cary

Want to know where to get first-rate sushi? Look no further than Yuri Japanese Restaurant near Trader Joe's in Cary.

This modern, family-owned restaurant’s motto is “Quality is our recipe.” Superb rolls, sashimi, nigiri and other traditional Japanese fare are all freshly prepared and artfully presented.

House specialty Ahi Tower features an upright assortment of tuna, crabmeat, avocado and three types of caviar. Owner Thomas Sun, originally from Korea, says the Ahi Tower is Yuri's biggest selling menu item. His son, Edward, fills the roll sushi chef quite capably. He honed his skills in Los Angeles, Dallas and other large cities.


More than three dozen special rolls are available, most of which you won't find anywhere else. The atmosphere at Yuri is serene and comfortable. Service is consistently excellent. It's a great place to go for a quiet lunch or even a romantic dinner with someone special. 


Discover more about Yuri at
Yuri Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Death of a Third Place

Earlier this week, I discovered that one of my favorite local haunts closed its doors for good. Java Divine Cafe in Holly Springs was a soul-warming outpost for coffee lovers, gelato enthusiasts and those who enjoyed having a cool "third place" to hang out, read a book or visit with a friend.

I can't tell you how much I'll miss the specialty chicken salad with walnut gorgonzola. Man, that was one divine salad for sure. Never mind the amazing house-made gelato. Where do I go now to find this wonderful Italian treat? Sigh.

It's tough to find words to express my disappointment and sadness over losing Java Divine, a fine independent establishment owned by hard-working local people. I must confess I'm also somewhat angry at the residents of Holly Springs and the surrounding area for not doing more to support this great place.

In these days when so many people flock to Starbucks or --heaven forbid--McCafe (give me a break!), I continue my pledge to wholeheartedly support locally owned businesses. Why? Because I firmly believe entrepreneurs should be sustained by locals.

Friends, let me encourage you to do the same. The next time you think about going out to lunch, don't just head to Pizza Hut. Go to Assaggio's in Fuquay instead. You won't find a nicer, friendlier guy than owner Tom McGrath. Oh yeah, and the food is great, too. In fact, I'm heading over shortly with my family for lunch. Maybe I'll see you there.

As for a nearby place to go grab a cup of coffee and find refuge, I'm at a loss. Any thoughts?

Rest in peace, Java Divine. I'll miss you.