Saturday, December 13, 2014

Smashburger to Open in Raleigh

Among the nation's fastest growing fast-casual burger restaurants, Smashburger will open its second Triangle-area location Wednesday, Dec. 17 in the Shops at Falls Village in North Raleigh. Thankfully, Lunchboy will get a chance to check it out at a invite-only event on Monday night!

According to Smashburger reps, the community is invited to opening day for a taste of the "smashingly fresh food, fun onsite activities and a celebration for the season of giving by helping raise money for Communities in Schools of Wake County." The Raleigh eatery's proprietors are donating 10 percent of total proceeds from opening day through Friday, Dec. 19 to the local nonprofit.

Smashburger's claim to fame involves smashing fresh certified Angus beef on a 400-degree flattop grill to sear in the juicy flavor. The "better burger" experience extends to toasted artisan buns, savory sides including rosemary and garlic-seasoned Smashfries, haystack onions and veggie frites (flash-fried, seasoned green beans and carrot sticks). Beverages range from hand-spun milkshakes to root beer floats and craft beer. 

Here's an insider tip: The forecast is calling for a 100 percent chance of snow on opening day. You don't want to miss the flurries along with fun games and tasty giveaways throughout the day. 

Here's a link to the menu:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sip Covers All the Bases

These days it’s great to find a relaxing place to unwind and enjoy good food and drink. Sip Bistro in Holly Springs provides guests just such a welcome refuge for hanging out and experiencing a sense of community.
This distinctive wine bar, coffeehouse and upscale eatery all in one is owned and operated by Sarah and Justin Hummell, who formerly ran a successful coffeehouse in Winston-Salem before relocating to the Triangle and opening Sip in 2013.

Since its genesis, Sip has become a popular spot to frequent any time of day. The signature Sip breakfast sandwich comes stuffed with melted provolone, an over-medium egg, bacon and cream cheese on a ciabatta roll. Hawaiian Sunrise features two scrambled eggs with pan-seared ham, red onions, Swiss cheese and mango habanero chutney wrapped in a sun-dried tomato tortilla. The crowd-pleasing fireman’s breakfast platter shows off Justin’s flavorsome espresso-rubbed pork loin with two eggs over-easy, bacon, hand-shredded hash browns and fresh fruit with a warm buttered French baguette. Pancakes of the month may feature anything from blueberries to blood orange. If you’re not in the mood for a big breakfast, locally made pastries and muffins are readily available.

At lunchtime, you’ll find a variety of creative gourmet sandwiches and salads. Pressed in a panini grill, Justin’s tri-tip steak sandwich is simmered in red wine and topped with balsamic caramelized onions and goat-cheese mustard spread on sourdough bread. An intriguing fig and fennel salad includes black mission figs, cranberries, almonds, fennel and goat cheese over a bed of mixed greens.

The eclectic Sarah sandwich combines Havarti dill cheese and roasted turkey with house-made hummus, balsamic-drizzled mixed greens, roasted red peppers and basil pesto on a toasted ciabatta roll. Proteins range from Boar’s Head brand turkey to grass-fed chicken from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem.

When it comes to java, Sip offers a wide assortment of traditional, signature and international offerings. Product is locally sourced from Boogie Bean Coffee Roasters in Holly Springs and Full Bloom Coffee of Garner.
While you can certainly get your fill of conventional cappuccino, latte and mocha drinks, be sure to explore one of the select specialty coffees. Consider, for instance, the curiously titled super-sweet Sexy Modias with Ghirardelli white and dark chocolate melted by espresso and steamed milk topped with house-made whipped cream. For something totally unexpected, try the Spicy Mayan Mocha. Sip’s twist on Mexican hot chocolate involves Ghirardelli chocolate and red-hot cinnamon topped with cocoa, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. 

Among the nine choices on the global espresso flight are Italian-roasted espresso, Latin American café con leche, and Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk. Alternative beverages extend from loose-leaf tea and chai latte to crème caramel and Italian soda.
Since both Justin and Sarah are sommeliers, the wine selection at Sip covers the bases of Old- and New-world varietals with labels from award-winning wineries as well as interesting finds from off-the-path boutiques.

Whether your love for the vine resides in the heart of Napa, the terroir of Bordeaux or the tradition of Romania, Sip offers something for all ranks of the wine enthusiast. Along with your wine, order the charcuterie platter with chef’s choice of three meats, three cheeses, seasonal fruit, olives, mixed nuts and toasted artisan bread. Small plate possibilities include crostini, pistachio pear, spinach and artichoke dip and hummus.
A spacious bar features an abundance of taps dedicated to local craft brewers. Fresh pints from Raleigh Brewing Company, Carolina Brewing Company and Holly Springs newcomer Bombshell Beer Company are readily available.

Décor at Sip is warm and inviting. A centrally located stone fireplace and high ceilings provide an airy, laid-back vibe. A cozy patio out front is perfect for al fresco dining or savoring your beverage of choice.


SiP Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 1, 2014

Patrick Jane's Committed to Sourcing Local Ingredients

It’s hard to imagine anyone more committed to sourcing local and North Carolina-produced ingredients than Kevin and Ngiare Hubbard, husband and wife proprietors of Patrick Jane’s Gourmet Pizza at the Shoppes of Kildaire in Cary. The restaurant’s comfortable, contemporary space offers a fresh alternative to typical pizza joints.
Certified organic flour for the pizza crust comes from Lindley Farms in Graham. Herbs are provided by Fuquay-Varina’s Green Bee Farms. Goat Lady Dairy in Climax furnishes the goat cheese, and First Hand Foods in Durham supplies antibiotic- and hormone-free pork and beef. The Hubbards even grow basil, rosemary and mint onsite. 

Among the restaurant's eclectic menu selections is zucchini flower pizza, which features a roasted garlic base with aged mozzarella, goat cheese, zucchini, zucchini flowers and pine nuts. Deliciously robust asparagus pizza comprises pecorino Romano cheese topped with fresh asparagus, ricotta and lemon saffron aioli.

My favorite pie is the savory-and-sweet bacon and blueberry jam. Created with a mascarpone cheese base, it’s topped with aged mozzarella, house-made blueberry preserves, bacon and dollops of ricotta cheese. 

Pizzas take approximately five minutes to cook, and the addictive crust is always crispy. Gluten-free and vegan pies are also available.

Photos Courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Patrick Jane's Gourmet Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bellini Excels in Italian Fine Dining

Since opening its doors in 2010, Bellini Fine Italian Cuisine has become the most highly favored restaurant in Fuquay-Varina. That’s not surprising, especially since everything is executed with aplomb: irresistible food, polished service and classy ambiance.        

If you’re wondering how this delightful, strip-mall-situated restaurant became so fine-tuned, it’s all thanks to unpretentious chef/owner Abel Atauchi and his equally modest brother, Adan.

The two natives of Ecuador work long hours each day in Bellini’s kitchen, churning out soul-satisfying dishes at lunch and dinnertime. Solid front-of-house management also ensures customers’ expectations are met and exceeded.

Among the array of menu standouts include über-rich lobster ravioli brimming with a pink-hued vodka sauce and house-made gnocchi bolognese incorporating mascarpone cheese, potatoes and meat sauce. The crowd-favorite lasagna abounding with ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses is as luscious as you’ll taste in any Italian eatery. What's more, most pasta dishes are fashioned from scratch. 

Additional selections not found on the printed bill of fare: braised lamb shank, veal osso buco and pan-seared yellow fin tuna with balsamic glaze. Weekend specials like mixed grill platters with rib eye steak, lobster tail and pan-seared jumbo shrimp are often determined by the availability of fresh fish and other proteins.

Superb hand-tossed pizzas, most popular at lunchtime, are available during the evening as well. During lunch hours, pies are offered on a buy-one-get-one-free basis (toppings are extra). Also well- liked during the midday meal, calzone and stromboli will satisfy the hungriest of eaters.

Be sure to save room for dessert. Among the can’t-go-wrong options: apple crumb crowned with brown sugar and raisins; the house-favorite classic crème brûlée; and a decadent chocolate soufflé that’s cooked to order in a convection oven and served warm. Most desserts are accompanied with a scoop of ice cream.

Decor at Bellini is warm and inviting. Buttercream colored walls, dark wood furnishings and white table linens provide a casually elegant vibe. The main dining room is split into two equal sections, making the restaurant flexible enough to accommodate larger group events. A small, easily accessible bar is situated near the kitchen.

Bellini is located at 1436 N. Main Street (Sexton Commons Shopping Center) in Fuquay-Varina. Reservations are highly recommended on weekends. 

All photos courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Bellini on Urbanspoon 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Get Your Burger Fix at Bad Daddy's

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar has been on my radar screen for a while. After a recent visit to the Morrisville location at 3300 Village Market Place, I only wish I had gone sooner!

Bad Daddy’s specializes in high-quality burgers with tantalizing toppings. It’s hard not to be impressed with burgers made from chuck and brisket. Burgers run the gamut from basic to “Bad A**.” A create-your-own option starts with a 7-ounce patty and includes your choice from 10 varieties of Boar’s Head cheese plus premium toppings such as avocado, buttermilk fried bacon and rosemary ham.

Among the various specialty burgers, I recommend the classic Southern burger with American cheese, chili, slaw, mustard and relish. It’s a messy proposition, but thankfully there’s a roll of paper towels on the table. For something decidedly different, try Mama Ricotta’s burger with fresh mozzarella, pesto, tomatoes, pepperoncini and extra virgin olive oil. 

Standout side items include hand-cut French fries, onion straws and house-made potato chips. I opted for sweet potato fries served with chipotle ranch for dipping, which were as tasty as I’ve ever encountered.

Décor tends toward modern casual. High ceilings with exposed ductwork work nicely with the wide-open dining room.  Service is friendly and efficient, and I would have been even more impressed if a manager had come by the table to ask how everyone enjoyed the dining experience.

A meal with drink at Bad Daddy’s will set you back about $15. That's somewhat pricy, but it’s well worth the investment. 

Bad Daddy's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon 

Image courtesy of Bad Daddy's Burger Bar

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wingin' It Offers Locals a Welcome Addition

When Tom McGrath and Cory Ellsworth joined forces earlier this year and opened Wingin' It Bar and Grille, they brought food service experience and stability to a location that lacked solid direction. The restaurant that previously occupied the space on Main Street in Fuquay-Varina closed its doors after operating for more than five years.

“We’re committed to having a regular presence out on the floor,” McGrath told me recently. He also owns and runs the successful Assaggio’s Pizzeria & Ristorante in the Quay. “We get the food out as fast as possible so people don’t have to wait.” McGrath "gets it" when it comes to customer service.

Menu starters like nachos, bacon-infused potato skins and fried jalapeños kick things off nicely. Burgers and chicken wings are crowd-pleasing favorites. Be sure to order the sugar-glazed sweet potato fries as your side.

With 18 varieties of traditional and boneless wings, sauces range from garlic Parmesan and backwards ranch to Thai peanut and Jamaican jerk. Try the tasty "gold rush," which has a seasoned honey-mustard base.

If you’re in the mood for red meat, go for the satisfying fried egg bearnaise burger or a succulent French dip sandwich. Be sure to watch the large-scale toy train run overhead as you enjoy your meal. 

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Wingin' It Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 27, 2014

Get Your Fill of Pub Grub at Brewster's

The first thing you notice upon entering Brewster’s Pub is the inviting horseshoe-shaped bar. It practically beckons each patron to pull up a stool and chill.

The pub is owned and run by former musician Seven Morello (yes, "Seven" is his real first name), who shares proprietorship with Jim Cassese. It's open for lunch, dinner and late-night service seven days a week.
While you’re there, chow down on a fried bologna and cheese sandwich or some loaded nachos. Even better, build your own creamy mac and cheese (think blackened chicken, bacon and jalapeños).

A messier but no-less-filling proposition, the Brewster Bomb burger arrives crowned with bacon, mushrooms, grilled onions and Monterey Jack cheese. It’s accompanied by waffle fries or house-made chips.

 Photos courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Whether it’s the weekly indoor cornhole tourney on Mondays, team trivia on Wednesdays or a competitive game of darts anytime, there’s plenty of fun to enjoy. Circle Thursday on your calendar, as that’s steak night. Starting at 6 p.m., you can score a 10-ounce Omaha ribeye with baked potato, steamed veggies and, if you're inclined to imbibe, a Samuel Adams seasonal draft for just $15.99.

Brewster's Pub on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Craft Public House Serves Up Great Fish & Chips, Burgers

Craft Public House may be Cary’s first farm-fresh sports bar. Consider this: The restaurant's freezer is completely empty.

According to co-owner Brian Cordileone, Craft makes everything from scratch using high-quality ingredients like grass-fed beef and cage-free chicken. Robust offerings like slow-roasted baby-back ribs, cast-iron steak and artisan pizzas are all legit. Never mind the chicken Parmesan and baked lasagna, both of which are made from Cordileone's grandmother's recipes.

Don’t miss the Yuengling beer-battered fish served with hand-cut fries and Creole tartar sauce. Or feast on a succulent Southwest burger (pictured below), a hefty eight ounces of ground chuck topped with Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeño peppers, avocado, onion straws and ranch dressing.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

When it comes to libations, an ample selection of craft brews is available along with domestic and premium bottles. White and red wines are offered by the glass or bottle, and various specialty cocktails give you plenty of alternatives.

Service is mostly efficient and friendly, although the last time I visited it took a while for the waiter to take my order. A spacious dining room with two dozen high-definition televisions provides plenty of opportunities to view a big game.  

Craft Public House on Urbanspoon 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Much to Like with Big Mike's BBQ

Mike Markham's secret to making great BBQ involves employing a low-and-slow cooking process and using natural wood as the only fuel source. The result is fork-tender pulled pork, succulent beef brisket and stellar smoked chicken.

For something decidedly different, try the Redneck Nachos with Fritos, pulled pork, baked beans and a delectable bleu cheese slaw. It's topped with Big Mike’s sweet vinegar and hot mustard sauce.

 Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee
Side items like mac & cheese and smoked potato salad are solid options to consider. Dry-rubbed smoked chicken wings make for a can't-go-wrong starter. 
Big Mike's portable red barn can be found around the Triangle during the week and at food truck events on the weekends. Check the website or follow the truck on Twitter (@bigmikesbbqnc).

Big Mike’s fare is also available at View Bar in Raleigh’s Glenwood South district.   

Big Mikes BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 8, 2014

American Meltdown Ups the Ante on Grilled Cheese

Since its inception in 2012, local food truck American Meltdown’s approach to gourmet grilled cheese has drawn a devoted following in the Triangle area. Patrons queue up early and often for inventive delicacies such as the Pigs ’n’ Figs with sourdough bread, goat cheese, speck (smoky prosciutto) and black mission figs drizzled with a balsamic reduction; Beer and Bacon (Welsh rarebit infused with local beer, cheddar, bacon and arugula); or a classic patty melt.

Owner Paul Inserra.uses a butter and oil mixture on the bread to give it a nice, crisp texture. Ingredients are sourced from independent purveyors like Guglhupf Bakery in Durham and Holly Grove Farms in Mount Olive. 

Be sure to try the signature side item deep-fried Brussels sprouts, which will explode in your mouth with abundant flavor. Follow American Meltdown on Twitter @AmericanMLTDWN.


American Meltdown on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Escazu Churns Out Artisan Chocolates

Named after a town in Costa Rica visited by proprietor Hallot Parson, Escazu Artisan Chocolates has been churning out otherworldly concoctions since 2008. Parson works alongside the talented Danielle Centeno, a native of Venezuela and Culinary Institute of America trained chef.

Escazu employs traditional methods of sorting, winnowing and grinding and uses a vintage 1920s roaster and stone grinder imported from Spain. The grinding process lasts four days, allowing for sugar crystal reduction and evaporation of volatile flavors. The result? Superior handcrafted bars and an ever-evolving assortment of confections.  

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Besides eclectic truffles and confections like clove orange and honey chamomile, popular bars include the best-selling 65% dark chocolate with sea salt and 74% chipotle chili. Decadent hot chocolate is prepared drawing from rare recipes of yesteryear. 

Despite cramped production space and limited seating capacity, the business boasts wholesale accounts coast-to-coast, including all Whole Foods locations in the Southeast.

Confections range from $1.65 to about $2 apiece. Chocolate bars cost $6.50-$6.99.

Escazu Artisan Chocolates on Urbanspoon 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Brunch Box Rocks

If you don’t go anywhere else for breakfast, brunch or lunch, here’s a locally owned fast-casual hideaway worth seeking out.

Sausage gravy biscuits at The Brunch Box will not disappoint. The satisfying Carolina Eye Opener features roast beef, egg, pepper jack cheese, sweet-and-spicy pepper relish and chipotle ranch on flat bread all for less than $5! Order the French toast and you’ll get three thick-cut slices of sourdough bread soaked in eggs, cream and spices. Build-your-own breakfast is also a solid option.

 images courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

At lunchtime, consider a Tuscan chicken melt, a jalapeño-infused fajita bacon melt or tomato bisque. The Friday seafood special varies from a shrimp Philly sandwich or fish and chips to Cajun mahi mahi or Ahi tuna wrap (side and drink are extra).

Side items like broccoli salad, twice baked potato salad and deviled eggs are transcendent. Save room for at least once piece of thick-cut French toast candied bacon ($1.50 a slice), which may be the best sweet-and-savory treat ever concocted.

The Brunch Box on Urbanspoon 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mesa Fresca Shines

You might think a counter-service restaurant attached to a convenience store would be a risky proposition, but Mesa Fresca dishes up seriously legit tacos, breakfast grub and daily specials. This place may be Apex's best kept secret.

Chef-owner Roberto Galvan’s impeccably seasoned pork carnitas are presented on soft corn tortillas with fresh cilantro, onion and a lime wedge. Pineapple chipotle chicken and grilled steak and bacon tacos are equally rewarding. 

 Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Also first-rate are the sweet and tangy BBQ chicken quesadillas and the 3 Piggy sandwich comprising shredded pork, ham and bacon with mozzarella cheese, tomato, banana peppers and honey mustard.

Breakfast is served all day. Requisite favorites like pancakes, biscuits and omelets are all well-represented. Order the eponymous burrito loaded with two over-easy eggs, beans, potatoes, cheese, salsa and bacon. It's massive, explodes with flavor and will fill you up. 

Mesa Fresca is quite possibly the cleanest diner you'll ever see. Floors are spotless, and tables are always sparkling clean. Never mind the prices are easy on the wallet. Check it out soon!

Mesa Fresca Diner on Urbanspoon 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An Offers an Exquisite Dining Experience

From coat check upon arrival to the presentation of each dish served, modern Asian restaurant An exudes a commitment to providing an extraordinary dining experience. Executive Chef Steven Devereaux Greene and a talented support staff have helped An become one of the Triangle's best restaurants.

Greene’s global travels, particularly to Malaysia and Thailand, inspired him to begin putting an innovative spin on Asian-influenced food. Among the chef’s most imaginative creations is the Salmon Tartare starter. Precisely prepared using a blowtorch for charring, the tartare contains Kobocha squash, shiso, coconut, burdock root, Japanese sudachi fruit and barrel-aged maple syrup.

Elsewhere on the menu, eclectic fish entrée marinated Hamachi is artfully composed with bamboo rice, almonds, house-made preserved lemon, lump crab and green curry. Berkshire pork features a no-holds-barred ginger-glazed loin and belly amid smoked apples, sweet and sour eggplant, gai lan (Chinese kale) and purple kimchee. Sushi selections are also first-rate.

An’s bill of fare changes with the seasons. Some menu items such as pan-fried pork potstickers and Thai osso buco wings with toasted cashews are popular year-round staples. Ingredients are sourced from around the world and down the street.
It should come as no surprise that An’s décor is posh but accessible. The dining room’s lofty ceiling is reinforced by striking mahogany columns. Softly illumined contemporary fixtures create a casually romantic vibe. A vintage canoe hovers above the bar area. Fresh flowers appear on each table, and imported tableware enriches the overall ambiance. 
 A spacious outdoor patio with stone fireplace provides an informal alternative dining spot. Reservations are recommended. 


An Cuisines on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Find Passion for Chocolate at Videri

At this downtown Raleigh bean-to-bar haven, each chocolate bar is hand-wrapped with love. Gracious customer service, social responsibility and attention to detail are fundamental tenets at Videri Chocolate Factory, which opened in December 2011 in the former Raleigh train depot.

Endeavoring to source fair-trade, organic ingredients whenever possible, Videri uses select cacao beans from Central and South America. Employees hand sort the beans before winnowing, roasting and grinding. Self-guided tours of the factory are available anytime the doors are open. Husband and wife owners Sam and Starr Sink Ratto have teamed up with Chris Heavener, and you’d be hard-pressed to find three nicer people to sell you chocolate.  


Enticements range from pepper-infused chocolate to smooth-tasting 90 percent dark. Be sure to grab a cup of Stumptown Coffee Roasters robust java to pair with your sweet treats. 

In addition to selling chocolate at their store, Videri services wholesale accounts nationwide, including Whole Foods; Whisk, a kitchenware outfit in Cary; and Parker and Otis restaurant and gift shop in Durham. 

 Videri Chocolate Factory on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dean's Hooks Patrons with Fresh Seafood and More

Fresh is best. That’s essentially the credo at Dean’s Seafood Grill & Bar, Cary’s newest outpost for well-prepared fish and other sea-centric fare that was likely hauled in just days before being served.
The restaurant’s primary hook? An impressive seafood menu that changes weekly and features seasonal offerings from around the country — including Alaska and Hawaii — and beyond. Whether it’s mahi mahi, Corvina sea bass or Opelu Kala (unicorn fish), variety abounds. Of course, then there are selections like rainbow trout and bigeye tuna caught right here in North Carolina.
Seafood and shellfish are available grilled, pan-seared or fried — or, in the case of oysters and clams, raw or pan-steamed. Oyster enthusiasts would be well served to order the sampler, which features bacon-wrapped, casino, Rockefeller and buttermilk-fried.

Standout seafood specialties include pistachio-encrusted salmon served alongside impeccably grilled asparagus; shrimp and  scallop gnochetti suffused with sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, capers and prosciutto; and blackened fish tacos containing chipotle ranch slaw and tomatillo-cilantro salsa.

More than a dozen distinctive “accompaniments” range from Thai peanut sauce and lemon-tarragon aioli to mango chili sauce and cumin-tinged spicy harissa garlic butter.
Salivating yet?
If you’re not in the mood for seafood, a “food without fins” menu section offers tantalizing choices such as the wood-fired filet, ribeye, New York strip and even a double bacon burger with smoked blue and hoop cheddar cheeses. An orange-mint-marmalade-infused pork chop is another winning option.
Save room for dessert. Among the nine irresistible choices, you can’t go wrong with white chocolate banana bread pudding, peanut butter brownie cake with warm chocolate ganache, or the vanilla bean crème brulee.  Most desserts are sized to share, especially the indulgent chocolate sampler with enough goodness for two people or more.  
Proprietor Dean Ogan, owner of Rocky Top Hospitality, which also runs local establishments Twisted Fork, The Daily Planet Café and Rocky Top Catering, opened Dean’s in January 2013 and considers his newest establishment a comfortable place with something for everyone to enjoy.
When it comes to libations, 14 craft beers are presented on tap, and more than 80 wine selections plus a signature cocktail list vie for consideration. Nightly specials are an attractive draw, including happy hour in the bar from 5 to 6 p.m., with half-priced oysters, shellfish, appetizers and $5 burgers. A tempting Sunday brunch buffet, which is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., features all-you-want oysters and peel-and-eat shrimp.
An upscale casual décor features deep ocean blue walls and attractive earth-tone striped banquettes. Custom aquatic-themed sculptures created by local metalsmith Nelson R. Smith are showcased in the center of the dining room. What’s more, the walls are adorned with black-and-white framed photos from Ogan’s various globetrotting excursions.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Dean's Seafood Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sushi Nine Offers Legit BOGO Sushi

I’ve always been suspicious of “buy one get one free” sushi restaurants. Here’s my rationale: If the sushi is good, why do you need to give some of it away?

But then I tried Raleigh’s Sushi Nine on Western Boulevard. Turns out you can get quality BOGO sushi after all. What’s more, it’s BOGO all day every day.

Among the more than 40 available rolls, standout selections include the hurricane roll with spicy tuna, avocado and a fiery Sriracha sauce and the North Carolina roll
(salmon, eel and cucumber topped with yellowtail and spicy kimchi sauce). Sashimi and nigiri varieties, while not as economical as the rolls, are fresh and flavorful. 

Not a big sushi fan? No worries. Consider ordering an entrée instead. Whether you choose the Thai green curry chicken, drunken noodle or pineapple fried rice, you’ll get a generous portion of tasty pan-Asian fare.  

Service is efficient though it was not particularly friendly during my recent visits. Typical Japanese décor abounds, including a large, centrally positioned sushi bar. 

Strangely, some assorted bottles of cleaning products appeared in plain view on the men's restroom floor. Perhaps someone had just scrubbed the facilities, but it seemed odd that the supplies would not be housed in a bucket or – better yet – a closet. This peculiarity notwithstanding, Sushi Nine ranks among the best BOGO sushi joints in the Triangle. 

 Sushi Nine on Urbanspoon