Archive for November, 2010

I had intended to try Maggiano’s before, but I’ve found it difficult to get reservations on short notice.  It’s at the Streets of Southpoint, next to Firebird’s and Champs, so I was hoping it’d be the kind of place you could just drop by after a day of shopping.  I guess we were lucky last Sunday, and were able to call ahead for a reservation only an hour later.

Chicken Potato Soup

The interior was very cozy, with dark wood, framed pictures, dim lighting (hence the poor photos), and it reminded me of a Godfather-esque type atmosphere.  We were seated at a nice little booth at the back of the restaurant.  The restaurant was pretty packed for being 5:30pm on a Sunday.

My husband ordered the chicken and potato soup for an appetizer.  They do provide free bread and olive oil to each table as well.  I liked the bread, a good solid crust with very soft starchy goodness inside.  I tried a bit of the soup, it was also delicious.  The soup had a very strong garlic flavor, and the chicken was moist white meat.  It was decently priced at $2.50 a bowl.

Kid's Ravioli

For entrees, my son ordered the ravioli off the kid’s menu, I ordered the beef tenderloin medallions (medium), my mother ordered the grilled salmon lemon & herb, and my husband ordered the veal parmesan.  The kid’s ravioli came with a small drink (he got orange juice) and a small bowl of ice cream.  He usually doesn’t eat food in restaurants besides pancakes, so I was really impressed that he ate all but 1 of the raviolis.  He ran out of room for the ice cream, eating only a few bites before giving up.  Plain vanilla ice cream without any chocolate sauce or sprinkles is pretty boring though.  For $5.95 though it wasn’t bad.

Kid's Vanilla Ice Cream

My husband’s veal parmesan was good.  He’s had it before at other Italian restaurants, and it was up to his expectations.  Served on 2 plates though, even he had enough left over for lunch tomorrow.

I loved the beef tenderloin medallions, but they didn’t seem evenly cooked.  I had ordered them medium, but it seemed one was medium, one was medium rare, and one was rare.  I’d rather have my beef undercooked than overcooked though, so I ate them without complaining.  The mashed potatoes they were served with were very garlicky but I liked them that way, and the mushrooms that came with the beef were perfectly cooked.  There was a ton of fried onions on top, but they weren’t French’s fried onions, they were real, fresh-made fried onions.  I think there were probably too much, but they were so good.

My mother liked her salmon well enough, and she was able to finish it.  It was the side dish that confused her.  It was a few long-stemmed broccoli pieces in butter, with about 20 cloves of garlic.  She ate one of the garlic cloves and wasn’t sure what to do with the rest.  I thought perhaps the garlic butter was just to be poured over the salmon, and the garlic was for flavor, not for eating.

Veal Parmesan with Spaghetti

For dessert my husband ordered a tiramisu.  It was so big enough, we cut it into 3 pieces and shared it.  I can’t imagine one person finishing a dessert that big.  It was really good though.  I’ve made a lot of tiramisu, and it comes close to mine.  They could have used more coffee liquor though.

The veal parmesan was $24.50, the beef medallions were $22.95, the salmon was $18.50, and the tiramisu was $7.50.  At many restaurants the entrees might be considered overpriced, but I thought that given the quality of the dishes, it was worth it.  I was really impressed with the tiramisu too, such a large piece at such a reasonable price.  I can see now why the restaurant is consistently booked.  Even though it is a chain restaurant, I think they do a really good job on the food, the atmosphere is very warm and inviting, and all the servers and staff were very friendly.

Beef Tenderloin Medallions

Grilled Salmon Lemon & Herb


Maggiano's Little Italy on Urbanspoon

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The following is a news release courtesy of Michele McKinley.

Enjoy a truly delicious, local Thanksgiving by shopping pre-Thanksgiving markets on Tuesday, Nov. 23 at five Triangle area markets. The Carrboro Farmers’ Market, Durham Farmers’ Market, Eno River Farmers’ Market in Hillsborough, S. Estes Farmers’ Market in Chapel Hill and the Western Wake Farmers’ Market (WWFM) in Cary are all hosting holiday markets to provide shoppers with the freshest, locally and sustainably grown foods available.

Together, the markets have created a web site as a resource for a local Thanksgiving, complete with details on each of the markets’ hours, offerings, guest chefs and special events, and recipes. Visit http://trianglefarmersmarkets.wordpress.com/ and be sure to bookmark it as recipes will be added over the coming weeks.

Farmers and artisans at each of the markets will feature a variety of seasonal produce, as well as meats, eggs, cheeses, desserts, flowers and more for a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. Shoppers can go local with help from the N.C. 10% Campaign, which is putting together a holiday menu featuring local foods from local farms as prepared by local chefs. A limited number of copies will be available at each of the farmers’ markets on Nov. 23.

WWFM in Cary will be open from 3-6 pm, and special events include a Chef’s Tasting, Herons Gift Certificate Raffle and Gingerbread Houses and Cookies. Martin Sreshta, chef/owner of Martins’ Curry Rice in Morrisville, will dish up samples of a locally-inspired dish that you can make for Thanksgiving. Karen Barlow’s lighted gingerbread houses will be on display, and the kids are invited to decorate gingerbread cookies! Plus anyone who signs up for the 10% Campaign is eligible to win a gift certificate to Herons Restaurant in the Umstead Hotel and Spa.

“The goal is to get more people thinking about our farmers and local food,” said Sarah Blacklin, manager of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. ” We want them to think, ‘Where is my farmers’ market?’ when they are planning their weekly menu and ‘Where is my farmers’ market?’ when they are planning for their holidays. Partnering with our sister markets in the area is a great way to involve the community and get more support for eating locally.”

Most of the markets will be closed on Sat., Nov. 27, for Thanksgiving weekend, but the Carrboro Farmers’ Market will be open.

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I went to Southern Season looking for some good wine.  I asked if they had ever heard of Il Duca Stella Rosa, or had any other sweet blush wines.  They didn’t have the one I was looking for, but it was suggested I try this Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Rose des Glacieres.  I was told it wouldn’t be nearly as sweet, but would be similar in flavor.  I figured at $15.99 it couldn’t hurt to try.

I found the wine to be quite sweet, despite what I was told.  I think it would probably make a good dessert wine, or movie-watching-sipping wine.  It has some delicious sweet fruit flavors like fresh ripe apples or berries.  I don’t think it was as good as the Il Duca Stella Rosa, but it was still really good.

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It had been my intention to try out the Thai China Buffet in the same shopping center, but unfortunately that restaurant is closed on Sundays.  So instead we stopped by Brig’s, knowing that it probably wouldn’t be terrible.  I had been to the Brig’s in Cary and I figured it would probably have the same atmosphere and menu, and my son always loves restaurants that have pancakes.

When we first entered the restaurant there were no hosts in sight, but a large crowd waiting for a seat.  We were just standing around in the for a few minutes before a guy came out and asked if we had signed up yet, and I said no and gave him my name.  We were told it would be about 15 minutes, so we went outside to wait.  Seems they could have a better system for dealing with crowds.

Grilled Ham and Brie

After about 15 minutes we were seated.  This restaurant has pretty much the same decor as the Cary Brig’s.  Not particularly inspired, but not oppressively ugly either.  Pretty much the typical family diner.

My son got the Kid’s pancake as usual, which came with bacon and a scrambled egg.  He doesn’t actually eat bacon or eggs, so I got to have his.  He was able to eat most of his pancake, and he liked it quite a bit.  But he said it wasn’t as good as the blueberry pancake he had at Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe the day before.  It’s his own fault though, Brig’s makes blueberry pancakes but he ordered a plain one.  Maybe it was just the lack of whipped cream he didn’t like.  I didn’t ask if they had whipped cream at Brig’s, but it seems to be the one thing that really inspires him to eat.

I had already tried the breakfast at the Cary Brig’s, so I decided to try something different this time.  I got the Grilled Ham and Brie on rye bread with fries and fresh fruit.  The sandwich was pretty good.  The bread had some great rye flavor and the perfect buttery toasted texture, and brie is always delicious.  I think they really used way too much ham though, it didn’t balance well with the bread and brie.  I think they probably could have used about half the amount of meat they had crammed into that sandwich.  The fries were good, and the fruit was tasty, though it was odd the cantaloupe wasn’t diced, it was just one huge 1/8th chunk of a cantaloupe.


My husband got the B.L.T.C. with fries and macaroni and cheese, which I thought would have just been a regular BLT sandwich with some cheddar cheese slices in it.  But what they brought out was a huge skillet with a roll on the bottom, piled up with lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and melted cheese all over the top.  I don’t even know why this was under the sandwich section at all, it looked nothing like a sandwich.  He didn’t much like the macaroni and cheese; he said it was undercooked.  The B.L.T.C. was “worth trying” but said he probably would stick to a more standard entree in the future.

When my husband finished his meal, the server said “Wow, I’ve never seen anyone finish one of those before!”.  I took that to either mean A. She thinks my husband is a gluttonous pig, or B. The entree is pretty crappy so no one else really wanted to finish theirs.  Either way, she probably should have thought what she was going to say before saying anything.

It’s not a bad restaurant.  The entrees are decently priced, no one got food poisoning, and our time there was somewhat pleasant.  It’s just the kind of place you end up going to when the restaurant you actually wanted to go to was closed.

Brigs at the Park on Urbanspoon

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I stopped by Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe with my son last Saturday.  With no major events taking place that day, I was able to find free parking relatively close to Franklin Street.  It was a cold and rainy day so I wasn’t expecting a crowd, yet when I entered there was a line from the door to the back seating area.  Thankfully the service is fast and people seem to eat and go pretty quickly, so we didn’t have to wait more than about 15 minutes or so.

The interior of this place gives me the creeps.  Tile walls (outside of bathrooms) always make me think of old hospitals, sanatoriums, or basement slaughterhouses.  Luckily we were seated in the back room, where the white stucco and exposed “beams” were probably supposed to be channeling more of a Tudor architectural theme.  The bathrooms were not as horrible as I was expecting.

I ordered the pancake meal with Reese’s pieces pancakes, a scrambled egg and 2 sausage patties.  The sausage patties were dry and hard, like heated, spiced jerky, and the eggs were typical scramble mix.

The pancakes were pretty unique.  I don’t know who thought of putting Reese’s in pancakes, but it probably has something to do with the restaurant being right across the street from a college.  They tasted pretty good slathered up with little “spread” tubs of imitation butter and the pancake syrup.

Hot Cake Combo with Reese's

My son got a stack of 2 blueberry pancakes with whipped cream on top.  They charge $1.25 just for a squirt of Reddi-Whip which I thought was a bit much.  The pancakes were pretty awesome though.  I had to “help” him finish it, and they use some pretty good blueberries in those pancakes.  I liked the blueberry pancakes better than my Reese’s ones.

Service was quick and friendly here.  They need to get people in and out pretty quick to keep the line moving, so you never have to worry about waiting for your bill.  The restaurant is cash only.

Blueberry Pancakes with Whipped Cream

Normally I don’t carry cash with me, so this could have been a very bad thing.  Luckily on this day I had enough to cover the meal and tip.

I’d love to give the place 5 stars, because the pancakes were really great and the staff is super friendly.  But the restaurant building itself is so cramped, outdated and unpleasant to be in that I can’t rate it that highly.

Ye Olde Waffle Shop on Urbanspoon

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