Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Taqueria del Sol: Quality Food for Good Value

Located at Crossroads Shopping Center in Cary, Southwestern counter-service restaurant Taqueria del Sol is quickly developing a loyal following. The attraction? A simple, focused menu features an affordable array of distinctive tacos, sides, soups and starters.

Among the half dozen taco offerings, the pork-filled Memphis with piquant jalapeño coleslaw and tequila barbecue sauce stands apart. The flavorsome fish tacos I tried contained fresh deep-fried tilapia, poblano tartar sauce and pickled jalapeños. Off-menu specials like cheeseburger tacos are also worth checking out. Never mind the bargain price of just $2.39 for each taco.  



Three types of soup appear on the menu, but I highly recommend the zesty shrimp corn chowder. At around $2.50 for a decent-sized cup, it’s possibly the best item on the menu. As for sides, you can’t go wrong with the slightly sweet turnip greens or the jalapeño coleslaw. Memorable guacamole, salsa trio and cheese dip starters are all served with tortilla chips.



One nice touch for the fast-casual concept, Taqueria del Sol’s “system” rightly treats its patron as guests and not busboys. When you finish the meal, you simply get up and walk away without having to carry and throw away any trash. If there’s anything that needs adjustment, arguably it’s the canned-soda approach rather than bottomless fill-it-yourself fountain style found in most other restaurants. But it’s hard to argue when a 12-ounce drink sets you back less than $1.50.

For those who enjoy adult beverages, Taqueria del Sol also features a full bar with a solid assortment of tequila, bottled beer and margaritas.

When it comes to décor, floor-to-ceiling windows allow plenty of light to penetrate the spacious dining room. Exposed ductwork and a nice combination of white wooden four-tops and stainless steel high tables create an informal, congenial vibe. Taqueria del Sol is a welcome addition to the Triangle-area’s culinary landscape.


Taqueria Del Sol on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lighthouse Lacks Shine

“I always go in to every restaurant for the first time wanting to like it.” So said well-regarded Triangle-based restaurant critic Greg Cox, and I think this is a good way to approach eating out.

It’s with this sentiment in mind that I visited LighthouseDeli & Grill in Apex. After entering the front door, I was surprised to discover that the deli had merged with an adjoining establishment formerly known as Paradise Pizza. Pie by the slice is available at lunchtime, although the choices I saw did not look remotely appetizing. Instead, I ordered a Reuben sandwich on white (since I hate rye) with a side of potato salad and dill pickle.

Lighthouse serves quality Boar’s Head meats, so I was relatively assured that the sandwich would hit the mark. It did. Flawlessly prepared corned beef was augmented by melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The potato salad, however, wasn’t particularly memorable.


Now for the constructive criticism. You would think that a deli sandwich, side and soft drink at a counter-service restaurant would cost less than $10, right? You would be wrong. My order came in at just under $11. Thankfully, no tip was required.

Ambiance? Let’s just say that the Biscuitville in Cary gets four stars compared to Lighthouse. Stark lighting, drab walls and a mishmash arrangement of booths and tables gave me flashbacks to my junior high cafeteria days. Perhaps some art hanging on the walls or live plants would help liven up an otherwise utilitarian feel.

Service at Lighthouse was a shade beyond perfunctory, and it’s hard to put a finger on why this little eatery with so much potential lacks any perceptible soul. It’s possible that I had my first and last visit. I really did want to like it.

Lighthouse Deli & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 26, 2012

Campbell's Diner Satisfies Time and Again

Campbell’s Diner is a popular mainstay for local blue- and white-collared patrons alike at breakfast and lunchtime. This super casual, cash-only establishment serves up all the morning favorites like grits, hash browns and biscuits along with omelets, pancakes and French toast. You can't go wrong with the $5 breakfast special, which includes two pancakes, two eggs and bacon or sausage. Even brains & eggs are offered for those with a daring spirit.

At lunchtime you can get your fill of daily specials such as hamburger steak, chicken pastry and barbecue chicken. My favorite is the hearty meatloaf, which is as moist and flavorful as I've encountered in any restaurant.


Vegetable lovers will find much to like from among the dozen or more options. Whether you choose yams or creamed potatoes, black-eyed peas or butter beans, mac & cheese or fried okra, you won’t be disappointed. Better yet, order a veggie plate with some lip-smackin’-good sweet tea and you’ll be all set.

Friday is seafood day, although prices are a bit high at around $10 per plate. And while the fried flounder and shrimp may not be the best you’ll ever taste, the golden brown hushpuppies are as close to perfect as you’ll find anywhere.

The waitresses at Campbell’s are friendly, efficient and eager to please. Coffee cups stay filled in the morning, and tea glasses rarely get past half empty at lunchtime. The food also arrives faster than a teenager sending a text message.

When it comes to atmosphere, the converted double-wide mobile home with Formica-laden tables, low ceilings and window-mounted air-conditioning units provides exactly what you expect in a hometown diner. After all, it’s mainly about the food.



Campbell's Diner on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 16, 2012

Boogie Bean Rocks the Mug

Not long ago while hanging out at local café, I encountered a cup of coffee that was so good I had to find out the purveyor. Turns out it was Boogie Bean Coffee Roasters, a locally owned outfit based in Holly Springs, N.C.

Several weeks later, I happened to meet the married duo of Kevin Littlewood and Alice Banks, owners of Boogie Bean, at an outdoor event in downtown Fuquay-Varina. The couple was selling liquid provisions out of what they call their “full coffee shop on wheels,” so I bought more and liked it even better than the first time I tried it.



Simply put, Boogie Bean Coffee rocks!

Today I’m pleased to announce a charter venture with Boogie Bean as brand advocate. Friends, you simply must try this premium java that’s judiciously roasted in small batches.  
 
 

Be sure to check out the website at www.boogiebeancoffee.com for all the various blends and global offerings. And, for the next few days, Boogie Bean is running a Thanksgiving Special offering ALL one-pound bags of coffee for $12.00 plus FREE delivery anywhere in the Triangle. The sale runs through Monday and they ensure delivery by Wednesday.

Get some Boogie Bean Coffee today. It will change your life—one cup at a time!

 

 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Assaggio's Goes Above and Beyond


When it comes to popular counter-service haunts to grab a good meal, it’s hard to beat locally owned Assaggio’s Pizzeria. Quality food, friendly service and a laid-back atmosphere make for a reliable dining experience time and again.
Whether you choose hand-tossed New York-style pizza or a pasta entrée, you’ll get plenty of food for a reasonable price. Just be sure to order a basket of melt-in-your-mouth good garlic knots, which are served with a side of warm marinara sauce.
 
Among the standout dishes are the hearty meatball and mozzarella Stromboli, penne a la vodka and the house-made lasagna. Splurge-worthy desserts include the made-to-order cannoli and the delectable Nutella cheesecake with an Oreo crust.
 
It’s worth mentioning here that proprietors Tom (pictured below) and Amy McGrath are as community-minded as any restaurateurs I’ve ever met. Fundraiser-friendly and civic-oriented, the McGraths have endeared themselves to the local populace. They even made the eatery the second Feed the Firefighters Foundation outpost. Just one more reason to patronize Assaggio’s.

 
Assaggio Pizzeria Ristorante on Urbanspoon

 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

MacGregor Draft House Reliable As Ever


MacGregor Draft House is a longstanding sports bar that has become a reliable outpost for finding quality grub in a comfortable setting.

Although I work in the nearby MacGregor business park, it had been a several months since I had visited prior to my dinner outing last week. I will confess that I almost had a panic attack when I couldn’t find the signature fried pickle chips on the menu. Thankfully, the waitress alleviated my fears by saying that it was an oversight on a recent reprinting of the menu. From where I sit, it’s a mind-boggling omission, but all was forgiven when my half-order of perfectly golden-fried goodness showed up just minutes after I ordered.



It seems the burger offerings have changed as well, as the menu essentially now offers a build-your-own concept. The base price for a burger is $7.29, but additional toppings cost anywhere from 29 cents for Heinz 57 to $3.99 for fried shrimp.  I don’t know how you feel about it, but it seems almost unpatriotic to pay extra for Heinz 57 or A1 sauce. What happened to the days of just asking for the bottle and dousing on as much as you want?  

Let me just help you cut through all the overwhelming options and recommend the black and blue burger. Just ask the server to have the cook melt some blue cheese crumbles (69 cents extra) on your patty, and you’re good to go. The burgers are ample size, and the fries are a cut above what you’ll find at most places of similar ilk.



Service at the restaurant is generally dependable, although my glass of diet soda did stay empty a bit too long on one occasion. On the positive side, MacGregor has plenty of TVs for watching sports, and whether you sit at a table, a booth or at the bar, you’re ensured a relaxing experience.

Macgregor Draft House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 3, 2012

China Uno Lives Up to Its Name

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve reviewed China Uno, my lone go-to spot for Chinese food when I want something close to home. The restaurant has changed ownership in recent months, but if anything it’s only gotten better with time.

Situated near the Harris Teeter in the bustling Village Walk Shopping Center in Holly Springs, China Uno serves a enticing blend of Szechwan, Hunan, Mongolian, Cantonese and other Chinese cuisine that’s a cut above what you’ll find and any similar establishment.  What’s more, the eatery offers full table service in a warm, traditional Asian-flared setting.



For the midday meal you can choose from 18 bargain-priced lunch box offerings, which will only set you back $4.95. Whether you choose pepper steak with onion, General Tso’s chicken, Szechuan shrimp or moo goo gai pan, you can’t go wrong.  All lunch box portions are served with fried rice.



Among the two dozen dinner combos, the Tai curry steak, chicken string bean and hot & spicy shrimp are standouts.  Served all day for just $7.25, the generously portioned dinner combos are accompanied with egg roll and fried rice. Ask for a shrimp spring roll instead. Even if you have to pay an upcharge, it’s worth it.

All menu offerings at China Uno are free of MSG and cooked in 100 percent vegetable oil.

Whatever you do, be sure to try the stupendously tasty hot & sour soup. It’s filled with chunks of bamboo shoots, mushrooms and tofu. Top it off with some crispy noodles, and you’ll experience dining nirvana.

During my most recent visit with my wife, the owner brought out a refreshing mango-infused dessert and informed us that it was on the house. Is it any wonder why I love this place?



 China Uno on Urbanspoon

 

 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bonefish Grill Offers More Bang for Less Buck

Let me get this out of the way right up front: I’m not a chain-restaurant fan. There are at least a dozen reasons why I’d rather dine at independently owned restaurants, but I’ll save those for another time.

This post is primarily dedicated to spotlighting a showcase dish at Bonefish Grill. Anyone who’s ever dined at Bonefish is familiar with the wildly popular signature starter bang bang shrimp. I’d like to go on record and make this proclamation: bang bang shrimp is the best appetizer on any menu at any restaurant. Period.

Worth every penny of the nearly $10 tariff, the lightly fried crustaceans likely comprise mayonnaise, Thai sweet chili sauce, hot chili sauce, cornstarch and scallions. Somehow the dish manages to provide a spicy kick without overpowering the palate.  


Image courtesy of Bonefish Grill

The one drawback: This is an exceedingly fattening menu item. Coming in at more than 1,100 calories for the entire dishful, bang bang shrimp is certainly splurge-worthy, but it’s best to share with someone to offset the load.

As if any of us needs further temptation, bang bang shrimp is available all day on Wednesdays for just $5. God bless the folks at Bonefish Grill!

Bonefish Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Anna's Pizzeria a Welcome Addition in Fuquay

Downtown Fuquay-Varina got a much-needed boost recently with the opening of Anna’s Pizzeria, the sister location of the wildly popular same-named restaurant located in downtown Apex. And while the Fuquay store is considerably smaller and lacks some of the charm found in the flagship eatery, it’s beneficial to have a solid Italian joint to bring more people downtown.

When it comes to décor, a large floor-to-ceiling mural and local artwork line the vibrant-colored bead-board walls. A nice array of two- and four-top tables fills the dining room, along with comfortable banquettes.



Pizza is the star attraction here, and for good reason. Nearly 20 gourmet pie offerings include distinctive items like chicken marsala, baked ziti, eggplant and bruschetta. Standout selections are the spicy chicken (similar to buffalo chicken) and barbecue chicken, and one slice may possibly fill you up. It’s nice to have the option to order gourmet pizza by the slice.



As for less adventurous options, thin-crust personal pizzas, Sicilian and regular hand-tossed pies are also available.

Besides the requisite pasta dishes like baked lasagna and stuffed shells, tempting entrée choices abound. You can’t go wrong with the lemon-infused chicken Francese, the veal Marsala and prosciutto and the breaded eggplant parmigiana.



Be sure to save room for dessert. Espresso-soaked tiramisu, decadent cannoli or kid favorite zeppolis (Italian donuts) will finish the meal nicely.



While execution from the kitchen seems fairly solid at this point, service at Anna's can be somewhat spotty. On one occasion when I visited, I had to ask twice for my Diet Pepsi. It also took a bit too long for the check to arrive at the end of the meal. It would be good for a manager to oversee front-of-house operations to ensure things run smoothly. All things considered, though, Anna’s is a welcome addition to the growing Fuquay culinary scene.

Anna's Pizzaria Fuquay on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 15, 2012

Spirits Hits Its Stride

Daniel and Janet Perry, renowned for their Daniel’s Italian restaurants in Apex and Fuquay-Varina, have also done well for themselves in the upscale sports bar market. Spirits Pub & Grub, located near downtown Cary, opened back in 2009 and has grown in popularity ever since.

No doubt it’s attention to detail that sets Spirits apart from other similar establishments.  It certainly doesn't hurt that the eatery grinds its beef in-house using a combination of chuck and top sirloin. Then there are the distinctive menu offerings like the award-winning firecracker burger (topped with a house-made cheddar and habanero cracker) and black and bleu, which features blackened seasoning, bleu cheese and applewood bacon.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Burgers are six ounces and served alongside “wedgies,” or hefty baked potato wedges that are cut and fried extra crisp. These are a nice alternative to typical fries.

Weekday lunch specials are available for $7, and other deals include daily drink specials and discounted wings on Thursdays and Sundays during football season. The $3 fried pickle chips on Tuesdays also are first-rate (just don’t check your cholesterol afterward!).

Spirits showcases 16 large televisions throughout the airy restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week starting at 11:30 a.m. 


 Spirits Pub & Grub on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beasley's Chicken + Honey is Legit

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey is one of those downtown Raleigh eateries that’s all the rage, and let me just say up front that it pretty much lives up to the hype. I'll also mention that it rivals Dame's Chicken & Waffles in Durham, but I'll have to give Dame's the edge when it comes to the overall dining experience.

I was somewhat surprised to walk right in at lunchtime on a Monday and find an open table, but it was a damp, chilly day. After surveying the various selections on the chalkboard menu, I ordered the lunch special, which comprised a quarter white meat fried chicken with two sides for $10. The chicken was delightfully juicy and coated with a just-right golden crust. It was lightly drizzled with local honey, but I requested a bit more since it wasn’t enough for my taste.




A distinctive mac & cheese custard was equally rewarding, as was a bowlful of perfectly prepared summer squash. I washed everything down with a Mason jar of not-quite-sweet-enough iced tea.

Service at Beasley’s was attentive, although the male server could have smiled a bit more often. As for décor, high ceilings with exposed beams and ductwork, wooden flooring and aluminum stool seating make for urban chic meets country diner. Amazingly, it wasn’t too loud to carry on a pleasant conversation with a friend. 

No doubt Beasley’s will have a fixed place in the downtown culinary scene for years to come. I know I’ll do my part to keep it going strong.

Beasley's Chicken & Honey on Urbanspoon




 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Guglhupf Stands Apart

Pronouncing this restaurant’s name is not easy (Guglhupf derives its moniker from a German specialty cake), but don’t let that stop you from heading to Durham for a distinctive dining experience.

While the restaurant serves lunch and dinner, breakfast/brunch is my favorite meal served here. And for good reason.

Take, for instance, the wild mushroom omelet with sautéed leeks and Emmenthaler cheese. Or maybe it's the breakfast cheese plate with St. Andre cheese, seasonal fruit and assorted fresh breads. Then there's the swoon-worthy chocolate croissant that all by itself is worth the price of admission.


Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Proprietor Claudia Cooper, who hails from Heilbronn, Germany, has seen the small bakery she opened in 1998 evolve into a full-scale restaurant. The bakery still thrives, but now an open, two-level dining room and spacious patio provide patrons abundant room to relax and enjoy themselves in a bona fide European-style café.

Guglhupf imports some products from Europe, but the business is also committed to using local vendors and artisans like Cane Creek Farm, Latta Egg Ranch and Goat Lady Dairy whenever possible.

Closed Monday, Guglhupf serves breakfast Tuesday through Friday and offers an extensive brunch on the weekends.

Guglhupf Bakery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Scrumptious Key Lime Pie at Ruckus

Summer may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy some refreshing key lime pie. First-rate slices of this delectable treat are a staple dessert item at Ruckus Pizza, Pasta & Spirits, the popular Caribbean-flared eatery located in Cary's Tryon Village.

So what makes this scrumptious concoction stand apart?

Chef Chris Tucker uses fresh lime juice, homemade whipped cream and a Nilla wafer and butter crust. No doubt he also employs a copious amount of sweetened consensed milk. The result is the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness.

 
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee


Each slice is served with a flavorsome raspberry puree and then topped with a lime wedge for a picture-perfect presentation.

Whole pies are also available. Just call in your order 24 hours ahead of when you need it.


Ruckus Pizza, Pasta, and Spirits on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wasabi Serves Up Legit Sushi

Anytime a restaurant serves up buy-one-get-one-free sushi, I'm usually skeptical. Somehow, though, Wasabi in Cary manages to pull it off.

During a recent visit at lunchtime, I tried several rolls and came away satisfied. Whether you choose the spicy tuna-infused North Carolina roll or the more provocative Victoria Secret roll with salmon, yellow tail and avocado, you won't be disappointed. Then there's the requisite offering of sashimi and nigiri, which I'll have to try soon.



If you're not a sushi fan, consider a lunch special such as the slightly sweet Pad Thai (nearly as good as the gold-standard offering at Sushi-Thai Cary) or ginger chicken. All lunch specials are accompanied with soup and salad as well as soda and iced tea for less than $10.



Service at Wasabi is friendly and efficient. The dining room, while spacious, somehow remains relatively quiet and beckons those who desire a relaxing dining venue. Wasabi has quickly become one of my go-to lunch spots.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF TRIP SMITH

Wasabi Sushi & Thai Food Restaurant Cary on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bravo's Mexican Grill is Fantastico

While it’s not easy to find quality Tex-Mex cuisine in the Triangle, you don’t have to drive far if you know where to go. Discover what others have already found: culinary enchantment at Bravo's Mexican Grill in Cary.

This 28-table outpost serves up first-rate Tex-Mex provisions amid cheery surroundings. A pervasive sun and moon theme adorns the vibrant, multi-hued dining room walls. Stylish pendant lights hang above the cozy bar area, which showcases inlaid photos from various classic Western films. It’s definitely the type of place where you’ll want to linger for a long while.




What sets the restaurant apart from other Tex-Mex establishments is an affordable and diverse menu featuring a variety of seafood, beef, chicken and pork selections. Vegetarians will also find plenty of options, such as the veggie de la casa with bell peppers, beans, mushrooms, squash, onions and cheese or the unpretentious cheese quesadillas.

Appetizers like stuffed jalapeños and Texas dip with shrimp, beef and chicken pack a bold flavor punch. The substantial Bravo’s Sampler features beef nachos, chicken quesadillas and chicken flautas. If you’re in the mood for soup, consider the hearty caldo de pollo, a special broth with chicken breast, rice, pico de gallo, tortilla strips and avocado.

At lunchtime, you’ll find the requisite fajitas, chimichangas and taco salad, while nearly a dozen inexpensive specials also vie for consideration. Hard shell or soft taco options range from ground beef and shredded chicken to shrimp and marinated pork, but the house-favorite fish tacos are an absolute must. Two soft tortillas contain chunks of fried or grilled tilapia, cabbage and fresh pico de gallo.



If you prefer more familiar Mexican fare, the make-your-own combo meals feature beef or chicken enchiladas, burritos and tostadas, among several other choices. All combination dinners are served with rice and beans.

Attractive daily dinner specials provide even more reasons to visit Bravo’s. Whether it’s $2 off fajitas on Mondays, $1.25 hard tacos on Wednesdays or the discounted Bravo’s Sampler on Saturdays, there’s always a good deal to enjoy.

Be sure to save room for dessert. Among the alluring sweet concoctions are sopapillas, burrito banana and authentic flan. Fried ice cream also is a popular staple on the dessert menu.

When it comes to drinks, Bravo’s offers two dozen varieties of beer, including Mexican favorites Modelo Especial, Sol and Corona. The most popular beverages are the paradise drinks, also known as Bravo’s Coladas. Five different flavors — peach, mango, watermelon, piña colada and strawberry — are infused with tequila or rum and then served inside a pineapple shell.



Service at Bravo’s is focused and pleasant. Without question, attention to detail is a factor that makes it worth visiting time and again.
 
PHOTOS COURTESY OF JONATHAN FREDIN/S&A CHEROKEE
Bravo's Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Life Café: Who Says Healthy Isn’t Tasty?

Situated inside Cary’s mega workout facility Life Time Fitness, Life Café features healthy provisions like sandwiches, wraps, salads and smoothies filled with natural ingredients and devoid of artificial additives. There’s much to like about the café: artisan bread made with unbleached flour, all-natural meat and fruit, and made-from-scratch salad dressings and sauces.

My go-to choice after a workout is the satisfying mocha madness smoothie, a 300-calorie delight comprising a boost of java, chocolate, skim milk and whey protein. Other tempting options include strawberry sunrise and very berry blast. You can also build your own smoothie for about $5.


When it comes to sandwiches, a great option is the flavorful turkey avocado served warm on ciabatta bread with pepper mayo, tomato and mixed greens. Sandwiches are served with a side salad and seasonal fruit.

As for wraps, the bacon- and red-pepper-mayo-infused Southwest chicken is a solid pick. Consider avoiding blander wraps like the roast beef and harvest turkey. Quesadillas are also available, but I found them to be just average.

While most selections are healthy (the menu board lists nutrition facts for every item), tasty pizzas like BBQ chicken and pesto chicken approach or exceed 1,000 calories each. Thankfully, a half-serving option is accessible, but it’s unlikely to fill you up.


Self-serve upright coolers hold an assortment of sport drinks, soda and bottled water. Along the interior windows, floor-to-ceiling shelves contain everything from protein bars and organic cookies to athletic socks and racquetball gear.

Life Café offers fast-casual service that’s friendly and efficient. The café is open to gym members and general public alike, although it would be nice if members got a small discount. Daily specials for $4 and $5 provide affordable alternatives to budget-conscious patrons.  

Life Café on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Find Sweet Thrills at D.H. Hill

Situated inside D.H. Hill Library on the N.C. State campus, the Creamery serves up Howling Cow products, which are fashioned from milk produced by cows at the university’s nearby research farms. The result is consummate hand-scooped ice cream, shakes and sundaes.

Ice cream flavors range at the Creamery range from cherry vanilla and chocolate chip mint to campfire delight and dulce cheesecake. Butter almond and peanut butter spin are also worthy of consideration.


Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

While popular specialty sundae Chancellor’s Choice features vanilla ice cream with fudge ribbon and peanut butter cups, the decadent blue ribbon milkshake comes loaded with three large scoops of any flavor ice cream. It's created by adding a splash or heavy cream, a dash of vanilla and then it's blended to perfection. Be advised: it's rich.
 
Although surprisingly the Creamery is closed on Saturdays, students and guests delight in late-night visits Sunday through Thursday, when the store is open until 1 a.m. The shop closes at 8 p.m. on Fridays.

D.H. Hill Creamery on Urbanspoon


Friday, August 24, 2012

Lucky 32 Serves Up Fried Chicken Done Right

Nothing beats the savory unpretentiousness of fried chicken. Consider it the quintessential Southern comfort food. It should come as no surprise, then, to find this crackling culinary staple at Cary’s Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen — but only on Wednesdays.

According to Lucky 32 Executive Chef Jay Pierce, the chicken is served from 4 p.m. until the restaurant runs out. Pierce's concoction represents a rendition of the late chef Austin Leslie’s recipe spotlighted in John T. Edge’s book "Fried Chicken: An American Story."  

Pierce’s recipe calls for buttermilk instead of evaporated milk and also includes smoked paprika. The chicken, which is seasoned and air-dried in a cooler overnight, is sourced from Hopkins Poultry of Browns Summit near Greensboro. It’s cooked in rendered lard from Cane Creek Farms of Snow Camp, N.C.


Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Consider it 19th-century style fried chicken since Pierce uses lard instead of unhealthy hydrogenated vegetable oil. I like to think of it as pure Carolina goodness on a plate.

The $17 three-piece dinner features a breast, leg and wing and is served with delicious fatback-enhanced collard greens, skin-on mashed potatoes with giblet gravy and a hunk of cornbread for dipping.

Be sure to pair it with a glass of iced sweet tea. You'll be glad you did.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen on Urbanspoon