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Archive for February, 2011

Burgers aren’t really my thing, but my husband loves them, and I like to try new beers.  It seems like the Triangle area has more pub food restaurants than any other type, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Cheesy Poofs

Tribeca is conveniently located at the NW corner of High House and Davis, despite the “Ledgestone Way” street name listed.  This is a nice little shopping center with Kilwin’s for my blue moon ice cream fix, Little Toy Shop for awesome kid’s toys, games, puzzles and books, and Stonehaven for longing looks at custom gem settings.  This also means that at the wrong time of day, it can be a battle to find a good parking spot.

We entered the restaurant at just after 5pm on a Saturday evening.  At that time the restaurant wasn’t that crowded, we were able to find a good parking spot, and the upstairs veranda was completely empty.  If you do happen to come to Tribeca on a day with nice weather, I really recommend getting a seat upstairs.  Sure, the view is just the intersection of Davis and High House, but it’s still a really nice spot to relax and enjoy a beer.

Kid's Pasta

Our server was very friendly and spent a lot of time explaining all the items on the menu, where the ingredients come from, all the beer specials, and specifics on particular burgers and appetizers.  From her descriptions it sounds like they really try to use lot of local ingredients.  I’m not a locavore, in fact, I love my French cheeses and Belgian beers.  But I do appreciate a restaurant that knows where their ingredients come from.

I didn’t catch the name of the beer, but I ordered the peach hefeweizen.  It sounded like the kind of beer I would like, and I certainly did like it.  It tasted a lot like the Lindeman’s peach lambic.  I took a brief look at the appetizer list and ordered the cheesy poofs at the same time.  It sounded like the most awesome food imaginable: puff pastry stuffed with brie, chopped cashews and bacon, and a raspberry dipping sauce on the side.  It came out in just a few minutes, and it was almost as awesome as I was hoping for.  The cashews didn’t seem to match well with the brie and bacon.  It would have been better with almonds, perhaps, or maybe no nuts at all.  The brie, bacon and raspberry all went perfectly together though.

The Tar Heel Burger

For entrees my son ordered the kid’s pasta, I ordered the Tar Heel burger, and my husband ordered the Wolfpack burger.  The kid’s meals seemed like a good deal, for just $5 you get the entree, drink and dessert.  I’m not normally into burgers, but since they were Tribeca’s specialty, I decided to go for the one with brie and sauteed onions.  My husband loves burgers and tends to like the ones with fried onions and BBQ sauce on them.  We both got the sweet potato fries with honey rum sauce.

We had the pasta come out early, since my son is a slow eater.  It was an odd shape of pasta, somewhat shell shaped, so that several pieces would stick together in lumps.  I tasted a piece, and the sauce was really good.  My son even ate some of it and didn’t have any complaints.

The Wolfpack Burger

Our burgers came out soon after, and they were huge!  I tried to smush down the bun as well as I could, but even so, I was loosing onions and burger everywhere every time I tried to bite in.  It was a good burger, but far too messy.  I couldn’t even finish it all.  I think I would have been happier if the patty would have been about half that size.  The sweet potato fries were probably the best part of the meal.  The honey rum sauce was the perfect compliment.  More fries, less beef patty, and it would have been a perfect meal.

My husband had no problem finishing his burger.  He said it was pretty near perfect, and liked his fries as much as I did.  He had always been a fan of Tyler’s burgers, but considers Tribeca’s burgers to be superior.

I think we’ll probably be frequenting Tribeca a lot from now on.  I like the beer selection and the fries, and my husband loves the burgers.  We’ll just have to make sure we arrive early so we can get a spot up in the veranda again.
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Vino Ristorante just opened a few weeks back, so I thought I’d stop by and check it out.  I’ve had the opportunity to try a lot of new restaurants in the area within the first week or two of opening, and I know sometimes there are a few kinks that need to be worked out yet.  I figured by about the third week, Vino should be pretty stabilized and I could get an accurate picture of what the restaurant was going to be like.

Spaghetti con polpette di carne

When my family entered at about 5:15pm on Saturday evening, the restaurant had only 2 tables occupied.  We were asked if we had reservations and I said no, thinking it would probably not have been necessary.  We were given the option of where to sit, and we picked a booth against the back wall because the blinding sun was shining in through the full sized windows, making most of the seats out of the comfort range.  They seemed to have a shade drawn over one of the window sets, but I guess they didn’t feel the need to bother with the other sets.  The booth was comfortable, clean and roomy.  Some of the tables in the middle of the room looked a bit small for 4 people.  The bar looked pretty nice, but I usually don’t spend too much time at the bar.  The restaurant’s music was a bit odd.  Maybe they were cutting costs since they hadn’t had a grand opening yet, but they were playing some sort of free music mix with ads in it.  The genres ranged from easy listening instrumentals to 90’s alternative rock to Broadway to jazz.  I’m surprised there wasn’t any country or dubstep thrown in, but maybe we didn’t stay long enough.  The ads really made me laugh though, how cheap do you have to be to have ads playing in your restaurant?

When we were seated and given our menus, we were told that they were out of hot dogs on the children’s menu.  Our son likes hot dogs, but he wasn’t too disappointed because there were some other things on the list he wanted.  The kid’s menu had pasta and sauce, chicken tenders or fries or cheese quesadilla and fries for $5, including a kid’s drink.  I thought this was a good deal and let my son order a kid’s orange juice.  I ordered just water to start out, and asked for a wine menu.  When we were seated we weren’t given a wine menu, just a mixed drink menu.  The wine menu was just a sheet of paper with about 20 different wines listed.  For a restaurant named “Vino” I was expecting a more extensive wine list, but they appear to focus more on their cocktails than their wine.  I ended up ordering a glass of the Lucky Star Pinot Noir based on the server’s recommendation.  It wasn’t bad, but not exceptional.

Costoletta Di Maiale Alla Milanese Con Pomodori E Arugula

The menus are separated into 3 sections, the “Old World”, “New World” and pizzas.  I wanted to try some authentic Italian, so I ordered off the Old World menu: Costolette Di Maiale Alla Milanese Con Pomodori E Argula.  This was described as a pork chop, Milanese style, thinly pounded and breaded, served with arugula and tomatoes.  It sounded a lot like the pork cutlets we get as tonkatsu, or the ones at Klara’s, so I thought it would be good.  My husband ordered Scaloppine di vitello “Saltinbocca” – Veal scallopine topped with prosciutto and sage in a white wine sauce.  My son ordered the cheese quesadilla with fries.  We received some free bread at our table, with some spiced olive oil for dipping.  I thought it was ok, but my son wouldn’t touch it because it looked burnt.

The waiter came back within a few minutes to say that they didn’t have the quesadilla either.  In fact, they didn’t have any items from the kid’s menu.  They said that the kid’s menu was for entertainment only, so the kids could color on something.  Nothing on the kid’s menu was actually served in the restaurant.   This was quite a disappointment to my son.  Really, after 3 weeks of being open, you should know not to have a kid’s menu if you’re not serving those items.  We had to make another choice for him, so we chose the closest thing that he might like from the New World menu: Spaghetti con polpette di carne: Spagetti pasta served with home made meat ball and tomato sauce.  At $11.95, this was quite a bit more than I wanted to spend on a kid’s meal, or for spaghetti for that matter.  But at least it was cheaper than most of the other options, since everything else ranged from about $12-$17.

Scaloppine di vitello "Saltinbocca"

My dish looked very nice when it came out.  A huge plate of pork cutlet, with arugula piled high and a half lemon for garnish.  The arugula had a nice citrus dressing on it, and the squeezed lemon was a good complement to the crispness of the dish.  It was comparable to the pork cutlets I’ve had at Klara’s or Bavarian Brathaus, but the main difference is, at Klara’s I would have gotten some delicious potato salad as well.

My husband’s dish didn’t really turn out as well as mine.  His meat looked boiled, and he said it tasted like it had been boiled as well.  I tried a bit, and I felt bad for him, it wasn’t nearly as good as mine.  He ate it all, but he said it really wasn’t enough to fill him up.  It really seemed like the portions were imbalanced between my entree and his.

My son’s spagetti and meatballs wasn’t very good either.  The sauce tasted bland, yet acidic.  The meatballs were fairly decent, my husband ended up eating them.  But my son wouldn’t eat any of the spaghetti.

Despite the low quality of my husband’s and son’s entrees, I decided to go for dessert.  You really can’t go to an Italian restaurant and not try the tiramisu.  It came out in a small, single-serving dish.  I know that tiramisu is incredibly difficult to slice and serve up neatly, but this is a nice solution to it- just make it in the dish you intend to serve it in.  Quality wise, I think it’s on par with something I would have made myself.  Not bad, not exceptional.  There seemed to be few ladyfingers in it.  But I thought it was good.

Tiramisu

My husband was very disappointed in Vino Ristorante.  He thought it was worse than Bocci, which we had visited just a few weeks before.  I didn’t think it was that bad, but then again, my entree was a lot better than his.  I thought that compared to Bocci, it was better, but compared to Bella Monica or Biaggi’s, it wasn’t as good.  It’s hard to find good Italian in this area, and this restaurant, like many others, doesn’t measure up.  Of course, I don’t think this restaurant is actually going to have any problems.  Its close proximity to RTP, it being within the apartment development of Grace Park, and being visible from Morrisville Carpenter Rd., are all signs that even in mediocrity, this restaurant will probably survive a lot longer than others in the area.  I just hope they can improve some of their dishes to make themselves worthy of it.
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I finally got a chance to try the legendary Angus Barn.  I’ve driven past the restaurant many times since we moved to North Carolina, and learned quickly from the locals that despite its appearance, this was the fancy place to eat in Raleigh.

The parking situation was decent if you park in the lot to the right as you drive in.  Valet parking in a private lot seems unnecessary.  The exterior looks much like a Cracker Barrel type of restaurant.  The interior, at least the main floor, reminded me of an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Wisconsin Dells called Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty, with its checkered tablecloths, oil lamps and old farm equipment hanging from the walls.

We had made a reservation for 3, though I don’t know if it was required.  I noticed the main room was very crowded, noisy and busy for a Sunday at 5:30pm.  We were seated in the far back left corner of the main floor, and it was very cold and dark back there.  My son kept his coat on for the entire meal. The corner we were seated in was fairly quiet, but the tables were still stacked pretty close together.  The lighting was also extremely dark, and my photos all turned pretty terribly.  They did seem very accepting of children, giving him a balloon, coloring book and crayons.

The tables have baskets of crackers and small pots of spreadable cheese, and a plate of various pickled items.  They also brought out buttered, toasted bread later during the meal.  The snacks were nice, but I suppose you could easily fill up before your entree even comes.

French Onion Soup

Since I really wanted the Angus Barn experience, I ordered their signature dish: the Chateaubriand.  It’s a 14oz. tenderloin that comes with roasted fingerling potatoes, sauteed vegetables, bearnaise sauce and red wine jus.  It was $43, the most expensive steak on the menu, but I figured I would go for the best.  I ordered the french onion soup with that, and some thin cut french fries.  My husband ordered the 10 oz. filet mignon with the Caesar salad and the thick cut french fries.  The children’s meals were all $11 each, and they come with applesauce or salad, a beverage, and ice cream for dessert.  My son ordered the cheese ravioli with fries.

Caesar Salad

The appetizers were really good.  I loved my french onion soup, but I was getting pretty full by the time I finished it.  My husband’s Caesar salad was fantastic as well.  He said it much better than most he’s had elsewhere, and he’s eaten a lot of different Caesar salads.

The entrees were brought out on large, flat iron skillets.  For the price, the presentation looked pretty poor.  I suppose they hope with low lighting most people won’t notice, but the plates were put together in a sloppy manner I’d expect from a cheap diner.  The ravioli was just a simple white bowl that looked like sauce, and some fries on the side.  My steak was arranged somewhat nicely, but the veggies were just in a giant pile.  What they called “fingerling potatoes” were just some burnt, soggy, steak fries tossed in with the rest of the veggies.   My husband’s entree wasn’t nearly such a mess.  His steak looked pretty decent, and his thick cut fries were piled up high.

Kid's Ravioli

My husband was really happy with his entree.  He ordered his filet mignon medium-rare, and he said it was cooked perfectly.  He managed to eat all his fries as well.  But the stuffed tomato-type object on the skillet didn’t get eaten.  He tried it, didn’t like it.  I tried it, I thought it was pretty bland and gross as well.  Maybe it was supposed to be for decoration, but it wasn’t worth eating.

Filet Mignon with Thick Cut Fries

My son, unfortunately, didn’t eat most of his meal.  That’s pretty typical for him, though normally I wouldn’t be paying $11 for a kid’s meal.  He wouldn’t touch the ravioli, and just ate a few fries.  He did like making the ice cream quite a bit though.  They took him to the ice cream bar so he could decorate it himself.  I ended up eating the ravioli during the week for lunch, and it wasn’t bad.  Seemed like a large portion for kids though.

I wish my entree would have turned out as well as my husband’s, especially considering it was their signature entree.  I ordered mine medium-rare as well, but mine was quite well done on the ends, and barely medium in the middle.  The bearnaise sauce was phenomenal.  I love getting bearnaise sauce with my steaks, it always tastes so much better than regular steak sauce.  I didn’t like the red wine jus as much, but it would have been decent enough if I didn’t have the bearnaise.  I ordered the Bianchi Cabernet Sauvingnon at the server’s recommendation, and I thought it went really well with the steak.  They do have a very impressive wine list.  As I mentioned before, the “fingerling” potatoes were a disappointment, so I only tried one of them.  The other veggies were very good, but there were really a whole lot more than needed to be included.  I didn’t really care much for the peas.  The fries were tasty, but with so much food already, nearly all of them came home in a doggy bag.

Chateaubriand

We didn’t have any room for dessert, though I hear they’re very good.  Frankly, by the end, I was a bit disappointed anyway.  For the amount of money spent, and the hype of the restaurant, I was expecting perfection, start to finish.  But the poor presentation and inconsistency in the food quality isn’t appropriate when you’re spending $43 on an entree.   I also prefer the spacious, beautiful interior of a restaurant like ãn over Paul Bunyan’s kitchen.  My husband really loved his dinner, so I’m sorry to say I probably won’t be putting this high on my list to visit again.
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