Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Fun Food Facts - January 28, 2011

Triangle restaurant news...that not everyone knows. Impress your co-workers at the water cooler.

  • Downtown Raleigh is taking a couple of big blows this week with closings being reported by the N&O's Sue Stock. The popular lunchtime spot, The Brass Grill, has unexpectedly closed according to a sign on the door. If you've been there lately, I don't think you would have seen that coming. It will be missed.
  • Also, in a blow to Raleigh's City Plaza, Krispy Kreme has announced that they will close up that location after this weekend's NHL All-Star game festivities. The store opened in October of 2009 and has a lease that runs through 2014.
  • In better Krispy Kreme news, they are set to open a new store in Fuquay-Varina in April at 728 N. Judd Parkway.
  • And if that is not enough sugar, folks in Fuquay can also get more goodies at the Cup Cake Bite - a new cupcake shop that just opened at 512 Broad Street. This follows the success of Fuquay's Aviator Brewing Company and the soon to open barbecue restaurant affiliated with the brewing company. You've got to love "The Quay" - beer, pig, cupcakes and donuts!
  • A few weeks ago we told you about the opening of Bellini over in Raleigh (former EVOO on Oberlin Road). Well, now those same owners have opened up a new "ristorante | pizzeria" called Vino at the intersection of Morrisville Carpenter Road and Davis Drive.
  • And not far from there, Durham is now home to the Triangle's first location of Jake's Wayback Burgers. It marks the North Carolina's third location and is located right along Highway 54 near the exchange with 540. It is in the same center as the new, gigantic Wal-Mart/Sam's complex.
  • And Durham now has its very own pizza truck - Pie Pushers. You can follow them on Twitter @piepushers.
  • Heading over to Chapel Hill, this past Sunday saw the grand opening of Jahan International Market & Persian Tea Room. They are located in the same strip as The Pig - yet another example of the diversity of Chapel Hill!
  • Back over in Raleigh, Bangkok Thai is now open in Wakefield. The address is 13200 New Falls of Neuse Rd. - which is right next to the Food Lion and in the same strip as Hayashi and the new Wakefield Tavern.
  • Unfortunately, a few more closings to report. 2nd City Grill, located in the Lake Boone shopping center, has closed according to the N&O's Sue Stock. And the Il Forno Italian Grill in South Park Village in Holly Springs has closed.
  • The Triangle is stepping up and quickly gaining a reputation as a destination for craft beer lovers. The N&O's Andrea Weigl wrote a great article on this "bubbling" scene noting the area's nine breweries, five annual beer festivals and even a "brews cruise" tour. Last year, the number of breweries from Durham to Fuquay-Varina rose to 11. Four more are expected to open this year, and another four are within a 90-minute drive. Read the entire article here.
  • In other alcohol related news, this week North Carolina welcomed the opening of its 100th vineyard (Cauble Creek Vineyards in Salisbury). North Carolina now finds itself 7th on the list of largest wine-producing states in the nation (on a side note, I read that we were once #1, prior to prohibition). Keep up with all the state's vineyards at this cool site.
  • The 14 area Moe's Southwest Grill locations are celebrating the All Star weekend in the Triangle by offering 99-cent Joey Junior burritos today (Friday)! Visit here to find a nearby location.
  • Dickey's Barbecue is giving away free samples TODAY (Friday) from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. of it's new Spicy Cheddar Sausage. It will become a menu item next Tuesday, so this is your chance to get a sneak preview. Find a Dickey's near you here.
  • Make a note on your calendar. On Tuesday, Feb. 8th, Bruegger's Bagels will host a "birthday bash" giving away free bagels until 2 p.m. Only catch, a coupon is required that you can obtain by either signing up for their newsletter or by "liking" them on Facebook.
  • Looking for a unique Valentine's dinner for two? PoshNosh Catering is doing a dinner show, cocktails and dinner on Monday, February 14th at Flanders Gallery at 302 S. West Street in Raleigh. It begins at 6:30 and the cost is $150 per person. Contact Coleen at 919.839.6004 to get your reservation.
  • An here are a few more Valentine's dinner options put together for you by the N&O's Greg Cox - a list of "romantic" spots for the big holiday. Check it out here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Fun Food Facts - January 21, 2011

Triangle restaurant news...that not everyone knows. Impress your co-workers at the water cooler.

  • Just a reminder that next week is Triangle Restaurant Week, a great chance to get out and try some new restaurants and new fare. As part of the week, restaurants are offering 3-course meals (appetizer/entrée/dessert) for a fixed price of $15 for lunch and $20 or $30 for dinner. A complete listing of restaurants (74 at this point) and their menus can be found here.
  • The N&O's Sue Stock reported this morning that Greek Fiesta is expected to open its sixth Triangle location in March in the former Pita Delite spot in the Towne North shopping center (8315 Creedmoor Road). Visit their site here.
  • Over in downtown Durham the much-anticipated Old Havana Sandwich Shop opened this past Thursday at 310 East Main Street. Old Havana specializes in authentic Cuban sandwiches, made using local, pasture-raised heirloom breeds of pork. Get more information here.
  • And up in North Raleigh, we've been "watching" this and we can now report (thanks for Julie & Tara) that the Bedford Sushi and Grill is now open!
  • Also on our "watch list" is Streets Deli in East 54 in Chapel Hill. The self-proclaimed authentic Big City Jewish Style delicatessen and fresh market is expected to open on Tuesday, February 1st. I lost count, but I think this is around the 10th "open date" I have seen/heard, but our sources are fairly certain on this one. Keep up with them on Facebook and sign up for their newsletter here.
  • We mentioned this briefly last week, but The Treehouse Café opened this past Thursday near the intersection of Hwy 54 & 55 in Durham. The Treehouse Café is the creation of Jeremy Colon who you may recognize from the area Bear Rocks. The Treehouse features salads, panini's, wraps, sandwiches, soups and hot pastas. Best of luck to Jeremy.
  • The N&O's Greg Cox noted a couple of new eateries this week. The first is The Sahara Mediterranean Restaurant, which opened in the little red-roofed building on 805 W. Peace St. near Broughton High School. The counter service eatery serves Middle Eastern fare - specifically, the dishes of Rania Shammas' native Syria.
  • The other was The Artisan that opened last month on Glenwood South. The Artisian, which features authentic Greek/Mediterranean cuisine, is located directly behind The Diner and offers a daily lunch buffet (brunch buffet on the weekends) and dinner. Visit their site here.
  • The N&O's Sue Stock also delivered some great news this morning. As we reported a few weeks back, the Dairy Queen on Walnut Street in Cary closed. That's the bad news. The good news, according to Stock, is that they will reopen later next month under new ownership as a DQ Grill & Chill with Orange Julius!
  • If you drove down New Bern Avenue in Raleigh (near Wake Med) this past week you surely noticed the line of cars wrapped around the newly opened Popeye's near the intersection with Trawick Road. Maybe there is a reason it is located so close to Wake Med and their new heart center. Just sayin'.
  • There is a new food truck in the Triangle - Will & Pop's. W & P is typically parked at the Short Stop across from the Farmer's Market in downtown Carrboro for breakfast and lunch and at Cliff's Meat Market for late nights. Go here to friend them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
  • And speaking of food trucks, Carpe Durham unveiled a new beta site that tracks all the food trucks in the area telling you exactly where they are at any given moment. Looks like they have a few kinks to work out, but it is pretty cool. Check it out here.
  • Speaking of cool (literally and figuratively), if you're looking to grab a bite to eat before a Canes game, don't limit yourself to the slim pickins' right around the RBC Center. There is now a luxury bus service, the Pepsi Caniac Coach, that will pick you up in downtown Raleigh, Glenwood South and North Hills and take you to and from the game. The schedule and routes are available here.
  • In the event that you were under a rock this week, Starbucks introduced a new concept in coffee consumption - a cup you can crawl in and have coffee poured over you. OK, it's not that big, but they did introduce their Trenta size, which is 7 ounces larger than their Venti. That's a lot of Joe.
  • And in other Starbucks' news, you can now pay for your coffee using your iPhone, iPod touch, or BlackBerry. Now that's pretty cool.
  • Not to be outdone by Starbucks, Caribou Coffee announced this week that all their stores are now offering breakfast sandwiches.
  • Speaking of breakfast, listen up Brigs fans (you know who you are). Brigs announced this week that they are extending the hours of their popular $5.99 weekday breakfast special. You can now get that deal all the way until 11 am on any weekday. Brigs has 5 Triangle locations. Find the one closest to you.
  • The Beyu Café in downtown Durham is expanding their hours to include a brunch on Sunday, starting Sunday, January 30. The café will be open from 9 am until 3 pm. Look for things like French Toast, Eggs Benedict, and Breakfast Crepes. Check them out here.
  • The Angus Barn is hopping with events - two of which we'll mention briefly here. Get all the event information here. The first is this Sunday (January 23) and is a complimentary Italian Wine Tasting in The Wild Turkey Lounge. The tasting will be from 3:30 pm until 5 pm. Reservations are not required and complimentary Wine Cellar tours will be available. And on Saturday, February 12th they will be hosting their Valentine's Winemaker Dinner at the Lakeside Pavilion featuring dancing and music. $95 per person.
  • If you're in downtown Raleigh next Friday and looking for free food, head on over to Dickey's Barbecue on East Davie Street where they will be handing out samples of their new Spicy Cheddar Sausage. This is your chance to get an early taste of this new limited-time product that they'll start selling on Feb. 1st.
  • But if Friday doesn't work for you, head down to Dickey's either of the last two Mondays of January where they are doing their $1 sandwiches again (limit of two per person - so don't be a pig). The good news is you can get this deal at any of their three Triangle locations. Find the closest location to you here.
  • There are new Quizno's coupons out for those of you looking for a lunch deal. The coupons are for a free drink and chips when you buy a sub or salad. But hurry up, the coupons expire Jan. 25.
  • And finally, it is not too early to start thinking about a nice Valentine's dinner. The N&O's Greg Cox has got you covered and has put together a list of "romantic" spots for the big holiday. Check it out here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Fun Food Facts - January 14, 2011

Triangle restaurant news...that not everyone knows. Impress your co-workers at the water cooler.

  • We start out this week in The Quay - Fuquay-Varina to be exact. Looks like they are getting a new restaurant next month - Aviator Smokehouse Barbecue Restaurant - which is an extension of the very successful Aviator Brewing Company launched by Mark Doble. We'll keep you posted once we get an exact open date.
  • Tham Nguyen has announced that he will open his third Triangle-area restaurant in April. Nguyen owns Tasu Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar in Brier Creek (near the Chick-fil-A) and Shiki Sushi in Durham. His third location will open in April in the former Bentely's restaurant location in Cary's Crossroads. That restaurant will also be Tasu Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar.
  • The last retail space in downtown Raleigh's City Plaza has been filled, and by a tenant familiar with downtown Raleigh - Crema. Located in the Bank of America building, getting a cup of mocha just got a little easier.
  • The N&O's Sue Stock is reporting this morning that Sushi Nine has opened at 3812 Western Blvd. in Raleigh. That is the location next to McDonald's and across the way from Amedeo's Italian Restaurant.
  • Listen up kids (and moms and dads). Downtown Apex's 3 Kids Diner and General Store reopened back in December at 775 Center Street. Its initial opening in 2009 only lasted about 5 months, but those that enjoyed a kid-friendly breakfast or lunch there will be excited about this news.
  • Over in Durham, Red Zen has opened on Durham Chapel Hill Blvd. after owner Freddy Lee remodeled the former Pao Lim. Interesting twist, Lee was the original owner of Pao Lim before selling it about 8 years ago. Fans of Pao Lim will recognize some of the more popular dishes on the Red Zen menu.
  • Up in North Raleigh, Bedford Sushi and Grill hosted an "Open House" last Friday, but haven't been able to confirm that they are 100% open for business. Will keep you posted.
  • Over in Durham, in the little shopping center at the Intersection of Hwy. 54 & 55, the Treehouse Café has opened in the former location of The Clay Pit. At this point, I can't tell you much more than that - not much information out there on them.
  • Also in Durham, there is a new chef at The Federal (Main Street in Durham) and Carpe Durham (a Durham food blog) is reporting favorable feedback on the specials being turned out. Worth a visit.
  • Back in December we told you about the restaurant Blue opening up in downtown Raleigh on Davie Steet. Word is that they are now changing their name from Blue to Tuscan Blu. Initial reviews out of the gate are extremely strong.
  • Welcome to Moe's! Looks like the menu at Moe's will get an update in about two weeks. Don't worry, you can still get a Joey Bag of Donuts, it is just that the ingredients will change...for the better. The new menu will feature grass-fed and grain-fed beef, pork and chicken, as well as organic and gluten-free products. The chicken will be hormone-free and the steak will be sirloin. Moe's has nine locations in the immediate Triangle area.
  • In our "bummer" news of the week, Sammi's La Piazza Ristorante Pizzeria in North Raleigh (Bedford community) has officially closed its doors. Best to owner Gianni Cinelli. And over in Hillsborough, Tupelo's has closed their doors after a 10-year run. But word on the street is that the restaurant was sold and will reopen as something else. No word yet as to what that is.
  • In the "that's pretty cool" file this week, I read that Subway is waiving the franchise fee ($15,000) for any honorably discharged veteran who wishes to open a Subway restaurant on a government or military installation. In addition, the franchise fee will be reduced by 50 percent for any veteran opening a Subway restaurant at any non-military or non-government location. That's cool.
  • I often get a little frustrated, as I don't think people have an appreciation for the level of cuisine we are able to enjoy here in the Triangle. I'm glad someone in New York agrees with me. So much so, that a handful of restaurants in Durham landed the city on the New York Times list of the 41 places to visit in 2011 (41 places in the WORLD!!!). Pretty impressive and congratulations to the following restaurants that were specifically mentioned in that list: Scratch, Parker & Otis, Rue Cler, Counter Culture Coffee and Revolution. Here's a neat little article about it in The Independent.
  • Don't forget that the last week in January is Triangle Restaurant Week. This is a great opportunity to get out and try some places you've never been, but always wanted to go. Great prices and special menus are on tap for the week January 24-30th. Check out the most up-to-date listings here.
  • And finally, it is not too early to start thinking about a nice Valentine's dinner. The N&O's Greg Cox has got you covered and has put together a list of "romantic" spots for the big holiday. Check it out here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Fun Food Facts - January 7, 2011

Welcome to 2011! I trust everyone had an enjoyable holiday season. Let's just say things have been busy in the Triangle restaurant scene these last few weeks, so let's jump right into it...
  • Bear Rock Café is making some changes here in the Triangle. First, the Bear Rock Café in University Mall has ended their lease there. That's the bad news. The good news is that they will be re-opening in a matter of weeks over in Durham in the former Rick's Diner location (which moved down the street a few months back) on University Drive behind Sam's & Target.
  • Which means there is a vacancy at Chapel Hill's University Mall. And word on the street, albeit not 100% confirmed, is that a Red Bowl Asian Bistro will be moving into that location. Which is interesting in that it is directly across from Spice Street. We'll keep you posted.
  • In other Bear Rock news, the Raleigh location on Lake Boone Trail and the Morrisville location at the corner of Cary Parkway and Chapel Hill Road have changed ownership. Bart Carmichael and Arthur Page, who own another Bear Rock Café in Greensboro, have purchased those two stores. Look for new and fresh ideas coming out of those stores, including bakery-fresh desserts! Welcome to the Triangle Bart & Arthur!
  • The N&O's Sue Stock is reporting that Wake Forest has landed Matt Naugle's first Triangle-area restaurant - Sambuca Chop House at 11216 Capital Blvd., near U.S. 1 and U.S. 1-A. If you frequent Lake Gaston, you'll be familiar with Naugle's other restaurant, the WatersView.
  • You may remember back in July we told you about the opening of Mangia and Eat on Oberlin Road in the former EVOO spot. Well, if you didn't get by there, too late. After 6 short months, that dual-restaurant concept has closed and a new concept called Bellini is now open there. (And for the bonus points round, here is a list of the most recent tenants in that space - Johnson's Drug Store, The Bulldog, The Raven, Maccini's, Riptide's, EVOO, Mangia Bistro and Eat Kitchen & Bar...and now, Bellini.)
  • Speaking of revolving doors, we've got an update to last month's news that Giorgio's was closing its doors at the corner of High House and Cary Parkway. Turns out former Blue Cross Blue Shield big dog Bob Greczyn is bringing the extremely popular Mellow Mushroom concept to Cary! Expect an opening toward the end of the 2nd quarter. It will be the Triangle's fourth Mellow Mushroom location.
  • The Raleigh blog GoGoRaleigh reported last week that Crabtree Valley Mall will soon be home to a new restaurant called Red Monkey. It looks like it will occupy space on two levels, just to the left of the Belk entrance. Not much else is known about this concept at this time.
  • Speaking of Crabtree, the renovations at Kanki Japanese House of Steaks & Sushi are complete. Check out their new bar and sushi area!
  • The much-anticipated location of Tijuana Flats in Cary has announced that they will open on January 17 and will have a week of "grand opening" events. This location is at the corner of Cary Parkway and Kildaire, in the old Camille's Sidewalk Café location next to Trader Joe's.
  • RDU's Terminal 2 south concourse will open at the end of this month, on January 23rd to be exact. The dining options that will be opening there include - Five Guys (although they might be delayed - no airport pun intended), Flavours, Jason's Deli, Carolina Vintages wine bar and Starbucks (with the new logo, we presume). Plan your flight schedule accordingly.
  • The TBJ is reporting that North Raleigh will be getting a new McDonald's. The newest location will be in the Falls Pointe Shopping Center where the Kohl's store is.
  • Here are a few more openings and renovations thanks to Sue Stock over at the N&O - Fuego Loco Mexican Buffet has opened at 4614 Capital Blvd. in Raleigh. The Dunkin' Donuts on Wilmington Street is undergoing renovations ('bout time). And if we didn't' have enough donut places, another Dunkin' Donuts has opened at 8401 Capital Blvd. in North Raleigh. And over in Durham, Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet has opened in the Oak Creek Shopping Center.
  • Triangle Town Center's Twisted Fork has put a new twist on their dining experience. They have unveiled a 32-foot salad bar that features 24 pre-made healthy salads as well as 48 fresh items to build your own. A new 40-item menu has also been unveiled. Looks like those New Year's resolutions will be a little easier to keep.
  • But maybe not. Here's one that is NOT good for those New Year's resolutions. IHOP has brought back their all-you-can-eat pancakes for $4.99 - available now through February 27th. There is just something cruel about the timing of this.
  • OK, forget what I just told you about IHOP, let's get back to more healthy options. If you're over in Durham, you'll notice something a little different. The former Green Tango, located across Erwin Road from campus, is now Chopped Greens. And to mark their new opening, our friends at Chopped Greens will be offering all their salads and wraps for just $4.99 next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Be sure to drop in next week! Visit them online here.
  • In case you missed it. Downtown Raleigh's Duck & Dumpling closed on the last day of 2010. But don't expect that space to sit empty long. Empire Eats restaurant group will open a new concept in that location this spring. While not officially announced yet, it is anticipated that the new concept will have a "south of the border" influence.
  • For those that traverse 15-501 between Chapel Hill and Fearrington Village / Pittsboro, you'll have to look for a new spot to get your java fix. The little coffee hut Local Latte is all but empty now. It was located in the Cole Park Plaza shopping center near Torero's.
  • Also over in Chapel Hill on Elliott Road, Café Parvaneh, which had been preparing the unique dishes of Persian (Iranian) cuisine for the past 15 years, has closed their doors.
  • Sue Stock is also reporting that the OCharley's restaurant is Wake Forest has now closed. This is part of chain-wide closings that last month closed the Garner location. That leaves just the Cary location here in the Triangle.
  • If you can't get enough of downtown Raleigh's The Mecca, we've got good news for you. They've obtained their liquor license and are now staying open until 11 pm on weeknights, and "late night" on weekends (they used to do this way back when). This also comes with a new late-night appetizer menu.
  • With the new year comes new things and that is no exception for The Diner over in Raleigh. Not only have they introduced a new menu, but they've lowered their prices - including a $4.95 burger!
  • Margaux's Restaurant and Taylor's Wine Shop, both in North Raleigh, are putting on a three-course dinner featuring the wines of Barnett Vineyards. Winemaker David Tate will attend the Jan. 27 dinner. For $75, you get three courses and samples of six wines. For a reservation, call 847-3069.
  • Fearrington House has announced the dates in 2011 for their special dinners. These fill up fast, so you'll want to move quickly with the first one coming up on Sunday, January 16th. Each evening begins with a reception at 6, followed by dinner at 7 pm. The cost is $125 per person. Call 542-2121 to make a reservation. See the year's schedule on Andrea Weigl's blog here.
  • The fourth annual Triangle Restaurant Week is taking place the week of January 24th this year. If you are not familiar with this event, participating restaurants offer special menu offerings and pricing during the entire week. It is a great opportunity to try out places you haven't been to yet. So, squirrel away your dining budget until the last week of the month and have fun! Here is a complete list of participating restaurants and their menus.
  • Chick-fil-A is rolling out a new typical Chick-fil-A fashion. Beginning next Monday, if you have a reservation, you'll be one of the first to try their new Spicy Chicken Biscuit. To "reserve" your biscuit, go here.
  • And finally, with the new year comes nutty calendar happenings - like January 11, 2011 (1/11/11). So to commemorate that, Papa John's has a special offer-a large one-topping pizza for $11 and a second large one-topping for 11 cents more. That's two pizzas for $11.11 that is good for that one day for delivery and carryout customers.