Thursday, October 24, 2013

Carolina Wing Company Soars Above the Competition

Let’s get one thing straight right up front: Raleigh’s Carolina Wing Company isn’t just your average Johnny-come-lately chicken wings joint. 

For starters, the restaurant’s “preflight appetizers” menu includes winning options like the distinctive jalapeƱo-infused bacon tots, savory pimento cheese dip and grilled and skewered chix on a stick. Of the aforementioned items, Lunchboy highly recommends the addictive, melt-in-your-mouth bacon-wrapped tots (pictured below). 

You’d also do well to check out entrees such as bourbon-glazed grilled salmon, slow-roasted prime rib or avocado-enhanced fish tacos. Even the fried catfish deserves consideration. During a recent visit, the owner offered me bite-sized catfish nuggets that hit the mark. 

When it comes to the wings, 16 flavor choices are available in traditional or boneless varieties. Requisite offerings like sweet BBQ, teriyaki and hot all satisfy, but it’s the lemon garlic and chipotle lime that are worth savoring time and again. Wings are meaty and well-executed. Be sure to try the outstanding chunky bleu cheese, which is just one more example of how Carolina Wing Company pays attention to the small details. 

The only misfire I experienced: house-made potato chips were too greasy and lacked any notable flavor. Perhaps they stayed in fry basket just a bit too long. 

Service at CWC is friendly and accommodating. On my most recent visit, the waiter made several strong recommendations and kept my Diet Coke full.  What’s more, the eatery’s casual atmosphere with vintage wall signs lends itself to a laid-back overall dining experience. 

Carolina Wing Company stands apart from other wings-centric places. Just be sure to ask for extra wet naps. 
Photos courtesy of Trip Smith. 

Carolina Wing Company on Urbanspoon 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Amante Keeps Gourmet Pizza Simple

At Amante Gourmet Pizza in west Cary, virtually everything is scratch-made, from the dough to the sauces. What's more, locally sourced produce arrives fresh each day.

Blodgett brand deck ovens are turned to 650 degrees. Pizzas cook on a screen until almost done and then rest on a stone for a crispy finish.

While a good variety of specialty pizzas like Florentine Chicken,Philly Steak and Jammin' Jamaican are offered, must-try pie Tuscany is the star attraction here. This olive oil glazed selection comes with spinach, roasted red peppers, eggplant, caramelized onions and — best of all — goat cheese. 

 Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

The come-as-you-are restaurant provides plenty of dining room and bar seating for patrons. Nevertheless, for whatever reason the lion’s share of business consists of takeout and delivery.

Fans of Mellow Mushroom may not find much that impresses them, but the price point at Amante will please value seekers.   

Amante is open daily for lunch and dinner. Everyday specials also are available.

Amante Gourmet Pizza on Urbanspoon 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thai Thai a Hidden Gem

There’s a good chance you’ve never noticed Thai Thai Cuisine, a hidden jewel located in a small business complex near a large housing development. Once you discover it, though, you’ll be glad you did.

Inconspicuous proprietor Jirawan Pavapotago prepares bona fide provisions from her native Thailand. House specialties like pad Thai, pineapple fried rice and drunken noodle (stir-fried wide rice noodles with egg, onion, carrots, red bell peppers and basil leaves) are all dished up with aplomb. Using a variety of ingredients like cardamom, shallots, lemon grass and turmeric, dishes are prepared in varying degrees of spiciness depending on the patron’s preference.

  Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

At night, consider a chef special like the roasted duck curry or sweet chili fish with choice of tilapia, flounder or whole snapper topped with pineapple chunks, cashews and a toothsome chili sauce. Be sure to try a refreshing Thai iced tea with your meal.

The restaurant’s modest dining room features elephant-themed wall hangings and seating for about two dozen guests. Table service is consistently graceful and efficient.   
Thai Thai is open for lunch each weekday and dinner seven days a week. And here’s a no-extra-charge bonus tip: A $5.99 weekday lunch special is among the best deals in the area.  

Thai Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Enjoy a Taste of Vietnam

It’s hard to imagine finding a Vietnamese eatery any more authentic than Morrisville's Taste on this side of the world. Need evidence? Consider Exhibit A: pho, a broth-based rice-noodle soup that’s traditionally considered the common people’s food in Vietnam. Large bowls are served with a side of bean sprouts, basil and cilantro, and a lime wedge. To kick it up a notch, add some hoisin hot sauce.

Further legitimacy comes in the form of goi cuon, or fresh shrimp spring rolls, filled with steamed shrimp, pork, vermicelli, mint, lettuce and bean sprouts enveloped in thin rice paper. Be sure to dip the rolls in the house-made peanut sauce served on the side.

Barbecued beef short ribs are as tender as you’ll find anywhere. Equally juicy grilled pork erupts with tanginess.

While the restaurant’s simple, airy dining room decor is still evolving, service is already rock-solid and enthusiastic. Daily specials are available. Taste is open for lunch daily, while dinner is served Wednesday through Monday.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Taste Vietnamese Cuisine on Urbanspoon