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Archive for the ‘Morrisville’ Category

I had been meaning to go to Mawa’s for a while now.  I had stopped by two Saturdays in a row finding the place closed, before finally going to the website and realizing they’re closed on Saturdays for lunch.  I did find that unlike many restaurants in the area, they were open for Sunday brunch, so last Sunday I finally got to try Mawa’s food.

Upon entering we were invited to seat ourselves at one of the booths near the windows.  There was a cool area with a small table with pillows to sit on, but I figured that was probably for someone with reservations.  I was happy enough in their booths.

For drinks I ordered the Sweet Morrocan Mint Tea because it sounded interesting, and because it was one of the few drinks that came with free refills.  My husband got the mango drink, which had no free refills.  My tea was served on ice and was quite refreshing.  My husband’s drink reminded me of a mango lassi, without the yogurt.  I guess just mango juice.

It took me a while to figure out what to order.  Everything looked really appetizing, especially the brunch platters.  But I finally decided on the croissant bechamel sandwich with chicken, egg n’ cheese.  It was served with African fries and a choice of side, either Lakh (millet and yogurt), beignets (your choice of 1 kind), and African fries.  I figured if it already came with African fries, I would get a side of the Merveilles beignets. I don’t know how to speak many French words, so unfortunately my ordering experience consisted of a lot of pointing and trying to explain the English description of the food.  They could really use some alphanumeric (A2, G9, C3) labeling on their menus.

My husband ordered the Lamb Shawarma.  It sounded really good as well.  For my son we got the Pet de None, which were 6 pieces of beignets with chocolate sauce.  At $5-$8 per entree, all the dishes seemed really reasonably priced for a Sunday brunch.

Croissant Sandwich - Chicken, Egg n Cheese

When the dishes came out, it was my husband’s dish, and mine.  The waiter mentioned something about more food coming later.  I asked if my son’s dish was coming out soon, and he seemed confused.

We started eating, and I have to say, the food was wonderful.  Though not what I imagined a croissant would look like, it was rectangular and filled with chopped chicken and egg, and had a very mild spice to it.  I knew bechamel was a white sauce, but didn’t find anything resembling a white sauce on the dish.  I didn’t really see any cheese either.  Despite it being dry and not drenched in sauce as advertised, it was still a fantastic sandwich.  The small fried plantains were delicious as well.  I could have probably eaten 30 of them.  I was also a bit confused about the beignets I got, as they appeared to have apple in them, and weren’t orange flavored at all.  Perhaps the waiter had misunderstood my pointing and attempt at the French word.  I wasn’t too disappointed though, because the food was so good anyway.

Other Half of My Sandwich

I had a taste of my husband’s Lamb Shawarma and it was awesome.  He didn’t get to choose his beignets so I think they were just plain, but they came with some little flavored dipping sauce.  He thought the fries were excellent as well.  But he really loved that lamb shawarma more than anything.

Another waiter came out to try to make sense of our order, and I explained that I had ordered the croissant sandwich with the orange beignets, my husband ordered the lamb shawarma, and my son got the beignets with chocolate sauce.  10 minutes later they did finally bring out the other half of my sandwich, as well my son’s beignets.  The original portion seemed big enough, but I welcomed more food because it was so tasty. My son didn’t appreciate his beignets, even when we told him they were donut holes you could dip in chocolate sauce.  So instead my husband and I ate the chocolate sauced beignets as our dessert.

Lamb Shawarma

I’d love to rate Mawa’s really highly, since the food was excellent.  But I didn’t get the beignets I ordered, the sandwich came out in 2 parts 15 minutes apart, and wasn’t really at what was described on the menu, my son’s order came out 15 minutes after ours did, and my mint tea never got refilled.  I’m assuming most of this was because of a language barrier, and I think giving each menu item a letter and number would really help keep things straightened out.  Despite all this, I look forward to coming back sometime during the week to try out their regular menu, and maybe brush up on my French so I don’t embarrass myself trying to pronounce the menu items.
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We stopped by Neomonde on Sunday afternoon for lunch and some sweets.  I understood before stopping by that it wasn’t going to be a traditional deli, and that it would have more of a middle-eastern/Mediterranean focus.  Indeed, instead of club sandwiches and chips, you’ll find kabob and couscous.  The restaurant also has more of a small grocery vibe, with pre-packaged goods from around the world stacked up on shelves.

Small Platter with Chicken, Couscous and Tabouli

Upon entering for the first time, the newcomer might feel a bit overwhelmed.  There are a few different boards with the menu items and prices, no hand-held menus that I could see, and you really have to get up and look at many of the items to get a description of what’s in them.  My husband ordered the Large Kebab Platter with chicken, beef, pasta salad and potato salad.  I wanted go a bit more authentic, so I ordered the Small Kebab Platter with chicken, couscous and tabouli.  The only difference between the Large and Small is that the Large has 2 kebab sticks instead of 1.

Large Platter with Beef, Chicken, Pasta Salad and Potato Salad

We also wanted to pick up some desserts while we were there.  While looking at the dessert case, I explained to the cashier that it was our first time there, and I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to have a tray or something (there were large metal trays sitting on the counter) and if we were supposed to get our food before paying for it.  He said since it was our first time there, we would get 3 desserts – a walnut baklava, a pistachio baklava, and date mamoul.  We also ordered a lady finger, walnut mamoul and namoura.  All the desserts looked so good, and they were cheap too, only about $1 each.

We paid for our food there, and were directed to the soda fountain around the corner where we could get some water.  Within a couple minutes our food was brought out on paper plates, no forks or spoons.  I got frustrated looking for utensils around the soda area and just asked my husband to ask the cashier for some.  I was hungry and in no mood to find a fork.

Walnut Baklava, Pistachio Baklava, and Date Mamoul

The food was messy and on paper plates, but it was delicious.  I ate my chicken kabob pieces with huge forkfuls of couscous and tabouli.  I even ate the lettuce it was on, and the pickled peppers.  My husband was pretty impressed, I usually don’t wolf down my food that fast.  I guess I should have gotten a large platter instead.  He didn’t eat his pickled peppers so I ate those too.  My husband liked the meat pretty well, but he didn’t like the potato salad and pasta salad as much.  He liked the baklava pretty well too.

I was still pretty hungry after my plate, so I ate the date mamoul, the other baklava and the namoura.  I thought the date mamoul was the best something like a shortbread cookie stuffed with dried date, but the namoura was pretty amazing too.  It had a really weird taste and texture, something like a coconut cornmeal, but it was still good.

I think Neomonde would be a great lunch restaurant.  Once you know what you’re going to order and understand the process, I think it would be a lot easier than the first time there.  The portions are really good for a light lunch too, and at $8-$9 an entree, it’s pretty decently priced.

I don’t think it would be as good for a dinner restaurant.  I prefer table service and real plates and silverware if I’m going to go out for dinner.  Also, if I had to pick between Bosphorus and Neomonde, I would pick Bosphorus every time.  But I know that’s a bit out of driving distance for those that work around RTP.
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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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Tower Indian is located in Morrisville Square off of Morrisville-Carpenter Road.  I don’t think the place could get any drive-by customers because it’s not visible from the road, and it’s not a terribly well-visited strip mall.  Yet somehow the restaurant is always busy for lunch, and I think it’s because the food is just above and beyond most of the other Indian restaurants in the area.

The restaurant is completely vegetarian, so those looking for chicken or lamb dishes will be disappointed.  But I think the fact that it is vegetarian gives it a higher level of authenticity over other Indian places.  The lunch buffet has always been well-stocked with a huge variety of different dishes.

When  you first enter the restaurant, you’ll probably wonder what kind of cheap, crappy restaurant you just walked into with its white, undecorated walls and its white paper tablecloths.  A waiter may or may not seat you.  Just try to get a table away from the door in the winter time.  I don’t think I’ve ever been offered a menu, and I don’t know if ordering off the menu is possible.  I’ve always just walked up to the buffet and started filling my plate.  Drinks such as mango lassi are available, but good luck trying to get a waiter to take your order.

So the restaurant looks like crap, there’s no service to speak of.  So why do I love it so much?  The food ROCKS!  I’ll fill up my plate twice, as much food as I can carry, all different kinds of veggies and sauces and spices.  Each spoonful is like a double rainbow of flavor in my mouth.  I can’t identify what half the food is, but I’ve never been disappointed by anything I’ve tried.  One dish looked like the stuffing for stuffed peppers, and when I tried it, it tasted like candied shredded carrots.  I love happy surprises.

None of the buffet items are very spicy.  You’d think they could put at least one entree on the buffet that was super spicy and label it as such, but I guess they want to cater to the lowest common denominator.  I do see a lot of Indian families bringing their children here, and perhaps it’s for the kids that they keep the spiciness level down.  Regardless, what the food lacks in spice, it makes up for in unique and diverse flavor.  I would certainly not call any entree they serve “bland”.

They also bring out some stuffed dosai, but if you’re as enthusiastic about the buffet as I am, you’ll probably be done eating before you get your dosai.  Save some room though, it’s delicious too!  Perfectly crispy and warm.

There was one major disappointment when I went on Monday.  They didn’t have any of the warm Gulab jamun (donut holes) for dessert.  I hope that isn’t a new thing.  Next time I go they better have the donut holes back on the buffet.

When you’re done eating, don’t bother waiting for a check.  Just go up to the register and pay.  It’s one of the cheapest lunch buffets in the triangle at only $8.
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I used to go to Saffron for lunch a lot back when I worked in RTP.  The buffet was nicely stocked and always had a good variety of hot dishes, some meat, some vegetarian, and always that mango mousse for dessert.  It was usually extremely busy though, so it was always difficult getting a table for a group, and paying at the end of your meal meant waiting in line at the cash register.

I don’t get to Saffron often enough anymore, but I did get a chance to go there last weekend for dinner.  Since it was my birthday, we decided to try something unique and order the Chef’s special dinner for 2.  It included naan and spicy chicken sausage (Reshmi Kebab?) for appetizers, some raita, and the entrees were lamb rogan josh, saag paneer, dal bukhara, channa masala, and chicken tikka masala.  They also included rice, and the their mango mousse for dessert.  We also ordered mango lassi for drinks.

I was just amazed by the amount of food that was brought out.  All the entree dishes just filled up the table.  And the smell was wonderful!  First I tried a bit of everything.  the lamb rogan josh was good and spicy, but I left most of it for my husband.  He’s always loved this dish.  The saag paneer was lacking in spice, but was still good and flavorful.  I love the texture of their paneer.  The dal bukhara had a nice smokey flavor to it, and was excellent for dipping the naan.  The channa masala could have used some more spice, it was a bit bland.  The chicken tikka masala also could have used a bit more spice, but it had a really good flavor regardless.

The chef’s special for 2 is $55, but we both ate dinner until we were full, then I ate the rest of the saag paneer for lunch the next day, and then we both ate big meals of the other 4 entrees for dinner the next day.  So when you consider you’re really getting about 5 meals out of that $55, it’s not so bad.

I think the service is much better when you’re dining in the evening.  Perhaps the lunch crowd is just too much for them to deal with well.  I really like the food here though.  You just need to remember which spice level is appropriate for you and try to order it that way each time.  As typical for the area, the lunch buffet is pretty mild, so if you really want to sweat you’re going to have to order off the menu.


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I went to Buffalo Wings and Rings yesterday evening to meet up with some colleagues.  I ordered a chicken tenders dinner basket, which came with 3 chicken strips and 2 sides.  I chose the fries and cole slaw.  I thought the chicken tenders were very good with the honey mustard sauce, the fries were decent, and the coleslaw wasn’t my favorite but certainly edible.  The price was $8.99 in the menu but I was charged $9.49 on the check.  I didn’t want to argue it since I was in a group, but I think they charged me the 50 cents just for the honey mustard sauce.  It wasn’t itemized on the bill.  Probably something to look out for in the future.  The food was more than enough for one person though, so the portion sizes are great for sharing.

The prices on the rest of the food seemed decent enough.  But I did notice another charge of $1.00 on the bill for bleu cheese dip that someone got with their poppers.  Do they not include any sauces with their food?  Who wants to eat chicken strips and poppers dry?  Seems they like to nickel and dime over every little thing.

They sell beer by the “tube” here instead of by the pitcher, which was decently priced at $19 a tube for Hoppyum IPA.  The beer selection they had their was very limited, with mostly the typical Bud/Miller/Coors, but I think we lucked out with a decent beer on tap.  If you’re looking for a good place to get beer, I think I would choose Tyler’s or Carolina Ale House over Buffalo Wings and Rings.

The single serving drinks were a lot more expensive than the tube.  They charged $3 each for bottles of Bud and Miller, and $5.50 each for shots of Cuervo.

I thought the atmosphere was a little cramped.  It’s like they wanted a Sports-bar type atmosphere but no standing room, and the tables were very tiny.  We had arranged for the “yellow room” for our group, but while we were waiting for others to arrive they had filled the room with others so that we lost our space.

I liked my food, it was good for pub food.  The beer was great too, but I think that was luck, there are no good beers on the menu.   The prices for single drinks were steep and I don’t like the idea of having to pay for the sauce to dip your food in.  I don’t think I’d come back again for lunch or dinner or anything, but it would be a good place for groups if they’d actually save the room they were supposed to instead of filling it up before everyone arrives.

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Teriyakin’ is a new Japanese restaurant in Morrisville.  It features casual Japanese cuisine that they call “Matsuri”, the food commonly found at festival vendors.  The restaurant does have the atmosphere of a fast food place, with seating for maybe 20 to 40 max.  The prices are very cheap, with all the entrees between $4.49 and $9.99.


Tamagoyaki

I got the tamagoyaki for an appetizer, though with the amount of food you get you really don’t need to order appetizers.  I got the rib plate as an entree, which comes with rice, a small cabbage salad and macaroni salad.  My husband got the steak plate which comes with the same.  After you order and pay, you take a seat somewhere in the restaurant and wait for your food to come.  They also have sauces, plastic ware, chopsticks and napkins up near the front you can help yourself to.  The wait is a few minutes, but I don’t mind since that means all the food is made fresh, and not sitting under some hot lamp.

Rib Plate

I love tamago sushi, so tamagoyaki sounded awesome.  I didn’t realize it would be served hot!  It was great, I love the way the Japanese make their eggs.  I just wish there was some soy sauce to dip it in, they only have teriyaki sauce and hot sauces.

The cabbage salad was pretty good.  I’ve always liked cabbage salads better than lettuce salads.  I think the dressing was some kind of ginger flavor.  The macaroni salad was mediocre.  I asked my husband if macaroni salads were actually in Japan, because it didn’t seem to go with the dish at all, and he said he had never seen them there.  The macaroni salad was the only thing really out of place here.  The ribs were fantastic, though difficult to eat.  I had to use my fingers to grasp the ribs and chew off the meat.  It’s a sloppy meal, but delicious.

Steak Plate

I tried some of my husband’s steak, it was tasty.  Not as good as the rib meat, but at least it didn’t have any bones in it to eat around.  We both ate all of our entrees, even though they were huge.

Overall I think this place makes for a fantastic lunch restaurant.  With the fairly quick food preparation and cheap menu, this would be an great place to stop by at least once a week.  It’s very conveniently located near RTP, just south of the Chapel Hill Rd. exit off 540.  It’s set a ways back from Chapel Hill Rd. though, so it may be hard to see if you’re not looking for it.  I was also impressed with how authentic the food was here.  Japanese was spoken by the kitchen staff and the customers, and my husband said everything but the macaroni salad was just like what you’d get in Japan.  I imagine 20 years from now this Teriyakin’ place could be a very successful chain.

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