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

The Cookie People, The Carrot Cake Lady, & La Farm Bakery via Raleigh Farmers Market

3 Aug

It’s a given that one will find an abundance of produce at the Farmers Market, but have you paid attention to the vendor area where all the carbs sit? Even if my arms are full with fruits & vegetables, I can’t resist stocking up on the breads and sweets that local bakers are offering there. Sure you can find these products at your nearby Whole Foods/Fresh Market, but its ‘all the rave’ to be shopping locally & why miss out on these deliciousnesses.

The Cookie People:
These folks are the definition of small business – marital couple churning out a magnificent product from their home kitchen… These cookies are worthy of conveyor belt production, or at least local market distribution. I tried 8 varieties: Chocolate Chip, Triple Chocolate, Oatmeal Golden Raisin, Molasses Crinkle, Peanut Butter, Sugar Cookie, Mexican Chocolate, & Lemonade.
Each was fantastically perfect in moisture & flavor.
My suggestions is to up your marketing & distribution, Cookie People: sesame st. logo, website, product packaging, etc. The cookies are so moist they crumbled in the paper bag & the logo/site are elementary — but then again, who is a cookie’s target consumer: the same folks watching sesame street : ) Load up on your next farmer’s market trip.
The Cookie People on Urbanspoon
The Carrot Cake Lady:
If you’re dubbing yourself THE carrot cake lady, its an assumption you’ve mastered this spiced confection. Safe bet: She has, and you’ve got options: mini cakes, large cakes, cupcakes (with, without nuts) — The Carrot Cake Lady is distributed throughout the triangle (Cary, Chapel Hill, Raleigh) & also has an order form online.

La Farm Bakery:
Fancy, fancy bread – locally baked. You can find LFB products at the Farmers Market, as well as at their store in Cary, NC.

R.E., Phone Home…..

19 Jul

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