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10 Oct

If you are pro-downtown Raleigh revitalization – it’s only natural that you pay tribute to Sitti. Summary: Greg Hatem is the real estate guru responsible for the majority of downtown Raleigh’s transformation; Sitti Restaurant honors his Lebanese heritage and grandmother (‘Sitti’).

You’ve got two seating options here: (1) hustle & bustle of the minimalist interior room or (2) the tranquility of the outdoor open-sky courtyard. Really depends on your mood &/or your company. {Tip: Beware of the outdoor rocky table — I loathe a table that dips back & forth.}

We began with Sitti’s Hommos (chickpea/garlic/lemon/tahini purée) & an endless supply of freshly baked, still-puffed pita. Sitti’s pita was intensely good & unique because neither my dinner mate nor I had eaten oven fresh pita – note to selves: the grocery version fails miserably in comparison.

For dinner, I was a bit intimidated by the menu and my unfamiliarity with the traditional entrees. So I played it safe with the mixed kebobs. Fantastic decision: Flawlessly seasoned and grilled assortment of chicken, kafta (beef and lamb) and filet kabobs. The rice pilaf, vegetables, and garlic whip easily disappeared as well.

The only word to describe the food and experience is “perfect” or كمال. Hatem’s Sitti is surely proud.
Sitti on Urbanspoon

Market Restaurant

17 Sep

Let me first dispatch location – For two failed attempts, I assumed Market Restaurant (MR) resided inside City Market secondary to their shared Blount St. addresses. FYI for future patrons: This is totally incorrect– It’s on the north/opposite end of Blount St, located adjacent to the Escazu Artisan Chocolate store. Yeah, I didn’t do my research = transit glitch. Thanks to my directionally-advanced companion that noticed 938 N. Blount was nowhere near city market… we finally made it for lunch.

Once you know where you’re going, MR is actually an easy visit, especially with its own parking lot right outside (no parking deck fiasco, okay!). The entrance signage gestures that “West Coast” inspirations await indoors…
I dug it – with clean, fundamental interiors consisting of an exposed kitchen, cool bar/tables, and a chalkboard menu. I suppose it’s all characterizing the simplicity of the west coast and green living.

The menu: My guess is that a plate incorporating the illicit drug “Crack” in its name would certainly be a crowd favorite. So, we started with a mountain of Crack Fries (hand-cut potato, truffle oil, herbs, asiago cheese, homemade ketchup). This medley is surely addictive and deserving of its popularity.

(the only R.E. photo taken secondary to extreme hunger & good conversation)

I was aiming for a light lunch and ordered the turkey croissant (turkey, cheese, bacon on croissant w/ sweet potato chips). It was light in mass – but not calories… the combination of the too-buttery croissant and the too-fatty thick bacon left me feeling a bit guilty and needy for a napkin. The sweet potato chips were unique and enjoyable.
The market meat-loaf burger was also ordered. My lunch mate semi-frowned at the size of the burger patty, but was soon distracted with its satisfactory flavor. He substituted the side of fries with a salad, to learn that only vinaigrettes are available here.

Market Restaurant is prime spot, especially for lunch (tues-sat). Their menu is diverse and always changing. Check out their comprehensive website for menu updates and events (i.e. occasional Sunday brunch – which I plan to catch)

Market Restaurant Website

Market Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Beasley’s Chicken & Honey

12 Sep

Ashley Christensen was in full throttle this past weekend @ Hopscotch Music Festival, with Beasley’s Chicken & Honey (BC&H) being an official festival sponsor, A.C. restaurants showcasing their food at the Lincoln Theater Day party, as well as Christensen being repeatedly named-dropped by several artists & bands as the Raleigh “it” cuisine.

Beasley’s Chicken & Honey = KFC Original recipe on steroids … and I loves me some KFC Original.

BC&H is all about fried chicken, and you’ll praise your southern heritage that such goodness exists. A concise menu of three entrees (quarter chicken, chicken biscuit, chicken & waffles) and an array of southern sides and desserts are displayed on a chalkboard menu posted above long communal tables and bar stools. Ashley Christensen loves that diner atmosphere – with décor faintly reminiscent of BC&H’s predecessor, Poole’s Diner.

For starters: my dinner mate & I had Mason jar housed signature cocktails (I cannot recall their clever names) – both were tasty and excellent kick-start beverages for Hopscotch Music Festival.

Our dinner included the Quarter fried chicken- dark meat secondary to A.C.’s recent interview describing dark meat as the only meat for fried chicken. The chicken’s breader does not fry overly crispy, hence my KFC original remark – but it was the definition of how fried chicken should present (a la photo). The addition of drizzled honey adds a delicious highlight of sweetness to the subtle salts of the fried chicken. It was unquestionably great.

The chicken biscuit was a hefty fried cutlet atop a cornbread-textured biscuit dressed with honey and picked green tomatoes. Reading this description should be enough… (Just in case: it was incredibly delicious)

We chose three sides: the Mac & cheese, potato salad, & sliced tomatoes.
I personally did not enjoy Poole’s Diner’s mac – but BC&H mac & cheese is definitely fantastic, with a much more creamy consistency and restrained addition of pimentos – upgrade! The potato salad has its fair share of smoky bacon; therefore it delivers a unique, robust flavor. Lastly, the light side of sliced yellow tomatoes with hollandaise/ranch-style sauce was a delicious balance to our heavier carb sides.

Dessert descriptions are very enticing – We didn’t partake, knowing it would incapacitate our festival energy- maybe next time.

[Additional note: BC&H’s staff turns the tables with quickness; I was pleasantly surprised to receive our entrées within fifteen minutes of ordering and they were fresh & hot. Either they turn the food just as quickly or have ingeniously mastered the heat lamp.]

Not to continue to compare apples to oranges, but my previous review of A.C.’s Poole’s Diner fried chicken was a mediocre experience at best… In this review, I’m sort-of eating my words with an enormous preference and admiration for Beasley’s Chicken & Honey.

Official Beasley’s Chicken & Honey website.
Beasley's Chicken & Honey on Urbanspoon

Hopscotch Music Festival NEXT week!

1 Sep

Hopscotch Music Festival is Next Week!! I’ll be thriving in downtown Raleigh all weekend — I’m dedicating the days to lots of music & reviewing as many new places as time permits! stay tuned! -R.E.

Spize Cafe

4 Aug

Review in progress

R.E., Phone Home…..

19 Jul

Typical Summer Delays… stayed tuned! Many reviews to come!

The Remedy Diner

20 Jun

The combination of the 2011 Indy Weekly ‘Best of the Triangle’ and Triangle Restaurant Week has provided a ‘for the people, by the people’ directory of restaurants deemed relevant to try. I recently visited The Remedy Diner (RD), the Best of the Triangle 2011 winner for Vegetarian friendly in Wake County. RD exudes such enormous eccentricity that it’s begging to be an early 90’s movie cliché’ via Reality Bites or any other Janeane Garofalo film. The ‘way out’/anti-conformist motif, staff, and clientele really add to this interesting impression. Let’s be fair…our waitress was very engaging and menu-helpful; but be wary: the slogan of ‘curing what ales you’ is no joke; the booze is stiff and is sure to sanitize your inners.

The 2-sided menu is ~75% vegetarian, so you can bring that inflexible, carnivorous date in for a bite, while accomplishing one’s own veggie interests. To start, we had the Buffalo Non-Chicken Wings with vegan ranch. This is the most deceptive soy meat substitute I have ever eaten…it was amazing. The texture and flavor was extremely close to the real deal. The buffalo sauce was spicy (as it should be), and the vegan ranch tasted more like a dill-y yogurt sauce, but was complimentary. For entrees, we sampled the herby non-Meatball Sub (vegan “meatballs”/mozzarella/marinara). The texture was not as moist as beef, so I did have to request additional marinara to dress it up for finishing. The Under the Volcano (buffalo non-chicken, gorgonzola, veg’s on Kaiser) was also ordered. The Buffalo non-chicken appetizer is by far the best thing on the menu – so why not just get it on a sandwich. I recommend RD do more entrées with this chicken substitute. With different marinades – imagine the menu possibilities… Lastly, we gave a meat entrée a spin, the most popular, according to the waitress, being the Turkey Pesto (turkey, bacon, avocado, pesto, sourdough). You’ve got Boar’s Head, you’ve got my attention. I love their product. I think it’s very ironic that a vegetarian restaurant has such robust, flavorful bacon…it was a delicious medley (but it is bacon). Also, the majority of the menu is editable by an ingredient or two to meet vegan dietary needs without compromising the intended flavor.

All in all, RD deserves their award. As a vegetarian/vegan, you’ve got a variety of entrees ready made for your enjoyment without having to cross your fingers the staff remembered to omit the cheese or substitute this with that. As a relapsed carnivore, I was content with my overall experience. Give soy a chance, man.
The Remedy Diner on Urbanspoon