Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Brunch and More at Fleming's

Looking for a great place for Easter brunch this Sunday? Check out the Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar three-course brunch. You can enjoy classic favorites like succulent prime rib with a trio of sauces or baked brioche French toast with a walnut crisp. Brunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs $36.95 per person.  What’s more, each party will receive a $25 Fleming’s dining card valid for a subsequent visit. 

Plenty of other dining specials are in play at Fleming’s. For one, the popular filet and lobster combo is available through April 7. Enjoy a tender filet mignon and sweet North Atlantic Lobster Tail plus a starter course and a side for only $37.95.

The restaurant, located at Raleigh's Crabtree Valley Mall, also now offers a new Fleming’s 5-6-7 concept seven nights a week from 5-7 p.m. Diners in the bar may choose from five cocktails, five wines by the glass and give appetizers for just $6 each.  If you’re interested in trying a complimentary wine flight or appetizer at Fleming’s, email me with your name and address and tell me in 25 words or less why I should send you a gift card.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Electric Beanz Generates Positive Buzz

Electric Beanz Coffee Bar is a cool little outpost that’s best considered a hidden jewel. Located in the King’s Grant Shopping Center at the corner of Highway 401 and Ten Ten Road between Fuquay-Varina and Garner, the place is well worth seeking out for its serene environment and quality java.

When it comes to ambiance, visitors will find a centrally located six-seat coffee bar accented by sleek hanging pendant lights. The main area features a mixture of round, square and rectangular black tables, but the back of the house offers a small, overstuffed loveseat, a pair of plush chairs and a flat-screen TV. A black-tiled ceiling with track lights and light jazz music wafting overhead make for an easygoing vibe.

Provisions include the requisite espresso drinks like macchiato, cappuccino, latte and mocha offered in three convenient sizes. Custom blended frappes, real-fruit smoothies and organic teas also deserve consideration.

Among the most popular choices include the beans brulee, which boasts white chocolate, toffee, caramel and sprinkled raw sugars on top. The YoShake features house-made frozen yogurt blended with organic espresso shots. Spring specials available hot, iced or frozen are the berry berry much (strawberry, raspberry and a touch of almond with Ghirardelli dark chocolate); mudslide (Irish cream syrup and dark chocolate); and the Yoreo YoShake (vanilla frozen yogurt, Ghirardelli caramel sauce and a double espresso shot).

Self-serve blended frozen yogurt is available along with free WiFi Internet.

 Electric Beanz Coffee Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 11, 2013

Maru Hits All the Right Notes

Expect anything but the ordinary when you visit Maru, a modern Asian bistro in Cary that provides a distinctive dining experience. Exquisite in atmosphere and offerings, the restaurant’s owners are committed to providing a superb gastronomic adventure to its patrons.

Sibling owners Don Yoo and Dokim Elphick are Korean natives who opened the eatery in June 2012. As positive buzz has increased, business has followed suit.

Maru’s eclectic, ever-evolving menu is ambitious and intriguing, mixing tapas and sushi along with conventional Korean fare.

At the cozy sushi bar, master sushi chef Sung Song conjures impeccably crafted specialty rolls as well as classic nigiri and sashimi. No matter what you try, each creation will tantalize your taste buds. That said, the sweet-tinged Heavenly Sashimi is an absolute game changer.

Among the impressive array of more than 40 specialty rolls, choices abound like the incendiary Iron Man (deep-fried tuna, yellowtail and eel); Supa Cool (shrimp tempura topped with salmon); and the spicy tuna-infused Maru roll. Then there’s Kiss the Dragon, a jaw-dropping roll that’s flambéed right in front of you. Extraordinary.

French-trained executive chef Sang Deok Seo's creative talents are evidenced by the inventive tapas and main dishes he churns out. The Fire Fighter, for instance, features a deep-fried jalapeño pepper stuffed with cream cheese, shrimp and cilantro. Beef Kala-age encompasses tempura-style beef blended with sunflower seeds, green and red onions and homemade noodles with a special sauce.

Sublime entrées like the portobello mushroom-imbued Eiffel Tower salmon and the spicy barbecue pork rib with seasoned cabbage are artfully presented. Standing out from all the selections, though, is Korean galbi jjim. This ginseng-enhanced beef short rib is slow-cooked for five to six hours, and is as succulent as anything else on the menu.

Another worthwhile main course item is the popular bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish featuring rice, beef, chicken, pork or seafood, sautéed vegetables, gochujang (chili pepper paste) and a whole egg that’s served in a stone bowl to keep it piping hot.

It’s fitting that such imaginative cuisine would be served in posh surroundings. Black, silver and natural wood tones coalesce for a decidedly sophisticated yet not-too-swanky vibe. Original oil paintings created by Elphick hang on the dining room walls.

Thankfully, the tariff for Maru’s food is accessible even for budget-conscious guests. Most dinner entrees cost less than $20.

Weekly lunch specials are attractively priced between $6 and $10. Standout midday attractions include bento boxes with bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated ribeye steak); stir-fried chicken, shrimp, beef and vegetable yakisoba (Japanese noodles); and an Ahi tuna tataki salad, which is priced at $12.

Service is friendly and accommodating. Courteous wait staff not only deliver beverages and food with ease, but they take the time to enlighten patrons about Maru’s varied bill of fare.

During warmer months, a private patio surrounded by bamboo provides a serene milieu for more informal dining. Maru is open seven nights a week for dinner and serves lunch Monday through Saturday.


Maru Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hidden DOMO Sushi Worth Finding

Sometimes the best restaurants are those located off the beaten path — the little-known mom-and-pop eateries just waiting to be found. DOMO Sushi in Cary is one such hidden gem located in a somewhat concealed business strip center you may never have noticed. That’s a shame, because DOMO is worth seeking out and visiting time and again.

The owners have successfully managed to pull off an intimate Japanese bistro vibe that’s suitable for a lunch or dinner date without the white-linen trappings or high prices. At lunchtime, DOMO features a variety of sushi rolls like spicy tuna or salmon, soft shell crab-infused spider or deep-fried bagel served with a fresh garden salad and soup for under $10.  

More ambitious roll offerings like Snow White, Maynard and Sweet Dragon feature shrimp tempura, avocado and eel sauce or spicy mayo. Service at DOMO is friendly and efficient. What’s more, you never have to worry about your beverage glass going dry.

At dinner, consider ordering the satisfying Orange roll, which comprises a California roll topped with salmon, wasabi mayo, fruity mayo and sesame seeds. All rolls are artfully presented with precision and flair. The requisite sashimi and nigiri options are available as well.

Save room for dessert. You can’t go wrong with a fried banana or fried cheesecake, both of which are served with ice cream.

DOMO also offers daily specials such as 15 percent off sushi rolls at dinner on Monday and Tuesday and drink specials on other days. Check the restaurant's website for details.

Domo Sushi on Urbanspoon