Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dining in Raleigh, North Carolina

I want to take an opportunity to give y'all a rundown of the type of food I've enjoyed during recent work visits to Raleigh, North Carolina. Some restaurants will get their own blog post. Other visits will be combined into omnibus type posts, where I will fly through some of the different dishes I've enjoyed and locations that I've visited.

If you were to visit the official Travel & Tourism website,  then you would learn that North Carolina declares itself to be the birthplace of Pepsi cola and home to Krispy Kreme doughnuts. These are odd facts to be promoting when North Carolina is in fact home to lots of microbreweries, wineries and good restaurants.

North Carolina is at the beginning of the South, where men are gentlemanly, accents are drawling and everything is picture perfect. I've been based in Raleigh, which forms part of the Triangle, an area full of high-tech companies, universities and research institutions. As a result, Raleigh is an affluent city with plenty to offer.
Stitch and Bear - Raleigh - Bang Bang shrimp at Bonefish Grill
Bang Bang shrimp at Bonefish Grill
A lot of restaurants seem to offer some form of Bang Bang shrimp (aka Dynamite shrimp or Boom Boom shrimp). These are crispy fried shrimp, tossed in a spicy, creamy sauce. The shrimp at Bonefish Grill come piled high and taste good. On Bang Wednesdays, they are the star attraction, costing just $5 per portion at the bar. An "American Style" Kobe beef burger was spot on with medium rare beef. Seafood is popular in Raleigh and the Bonefish Grill has daily changing fish specials. 
Stitch and Bear - Raleigh - Seabass at Buku
Plaintain encrusted seabass at Buku
Buku is a bizarre restaurant. Inspired by street food from around the world, it serves a wide range of cuisines. However, it's not charging street food prices and the dining room doesn't feel in any way ethnic. However, if you can't make up your mind what cuisine you'd like, then Buku could be the spot for you. I dined as part of a large group where we shared many different starters, all pretty good. My main of plantain-encrusted Chilean sea bass was served with caramelised noodle squash, mango salad and warm passionfruit citrus vinaigrette ($29). The encrusted sea bass was lovely, but the sauce proved too sweet and overpowering.
Stitch and Bear - Raleigh - Hurricane burger at Draft
Hurricane burger at Draft
Draft is a Raleigh tavern that serves up the 3 Bs - beer, burgers and billiards. I stopped here one night on my way to a concert, where I ordered the Hurricane burger ($13). My burger arrived topped with BBQ pork shoulder, cheddar and coleslaw. It's generally quite hard to get a bad burger in the USA and Draft was no exception. The only let down were the sweet potato waffle fries, which didn't have the taste of regular sweet potato fries. Still though, good burgers and lots of beer on draft make this an easy going and fun spot.
Stitch and Bear - Raleigh - Texas Tumbleweed CheeseSteak sandwich at Gypsy's Shiny Diner
Texas Tumbleweed CheeseSteak at Gypsy's Shiny Diner
You probably haven't experienced Americana until you've eaten in an honest-to-god diner. Gypsy's Shiny Diner is an amazing sight, glittering silver in the sunlight. It took many tries for owner Gypsy Gilliam to get this gleaming diner open, but the end result is amazing. Constructed in Florida, the building was trucked to NC on 6 over-sized trailers. Once the convoy passed over NC state lines, it was escorted by the Cary police department, who halted traffic while a crane settled the diner onto its final location.

The food at Gypsy's is no-frills diner food. The staff are friendly and the portions are generous. I went for a late breakfast/early lunch on a Sunday. My food of choice was a Texas Tumbleweed CheeseSteak fried sandwich with thin slices of steak, smoked bacon, melted cheese and sautéed onions, served with grits, homefries or hashbrowns ($8.99). What emerged from the short order cook pass was a sandwich of epic proportions. I managed to each about a half, and then started to sweat while looking at the other half. This definitely isn't heart-friendly food, in fact, you could imagine The King wolfing this down along with his fried Peanut Butter sandwiches, but it was good.
Stitch and Bear - Raleigh - Pulled pork sandwich at the Q Shack
Pulled pork sandwich at Q Shack
North Carolina is all about BBQ, and the Q Shack is a local fast food chain that sources its ingredients from local farms and producers. I visited their restaurant in North Hills where I ordered the hickory smoked pulled pork sandwich, served with fries, coleslaw and hush puppies ($5.69 for the sandwich with one side and hushpuppies). The pork was juicy and tender, with not too much vinegar flavour (an important aspect of Carolina BBQ is the use of vinegar, something that took me a while to get used to). Amazing value and delicious BBQ.
Stitch and Bear - Raleigh - Ruckus
Ruckus Philly Brisket at Ruckus Pizza, Pasta & Spirits
My last feature in the blog post will be Ruckus Pizza, Pasta and Spirits located in Cary, next to Raleigh. It's a popular spot which is famous for its large and creative pizzas. Despite that, I chose to go for the Original Ruckus Philly which featured moist home cured brisket, onions and mushrooms on a toasted hoagie roll ($7).  Very tasty and cost effective in a lively location.

Keep an eye open for more posts featuring highlights from Raleigh and North Carolina dining.

No comments

© Stitch and Bear | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Developed by pipdig