Weekly Roundup: Edible Adventures in Raleigh (06/10 – 06/14)

One of the great things about being back in a “real city” again, is that Raleigh is not only chock-full of adventures, but it has spectacular farm-to-table food. Being in the South, one is inherently closer to one’s food source, and having an open-daily Farmer’s Market is a definite contribution.

I will try to write, either on Saturdays or Sundays, about the fun food & drinking adventures (hopefully provide some recommendations) around whatever area that I am at at the time.

I have had the fortune of meeting like-minded and like-palate-minded friends and individuals. One girl also interning with me this summer, HB, is from Rutgers; she and I share a very similar palate in food and have not only gone on quite a lot of adventures together, but because of our eating habits, have been able to share a load of food (thereby allowing us to try everything)! My roommate, AL, is also very keen on different types of foods.

This will only cover the weekdays of Monday (06/10) to Friday (06/14).

Disclaimer – Lots of pictures included. Please contain your salivary glands, thank you. Any malfunction of keyboard or mouse, along with discoloration of tables should be towards the Man-in-the-Yellow-Hat.  Thank you.

On Monday (06-10), the food adventures began with a cup of coffee per BenBen’s suggestion from Raleigh-local Cup-A-Joe [Yelp link ; website link]. Located on Hillsborough right near our house, it is a fantastical coffee shop that not only serves delicious pastries, but has excellent coffees, lattes, and teas.

Whenever an individual orders a drink (with flavoring, or additional milk, or whatnot), the drink is prepared and then served with a spoon. You still see the separation and are in charge of your own “mixing”. It’s quite cool!

Additionally, for those of us who are lactose intolerant and would prefer to avoid drinking soy milk, Cup-A-Joe serves their beverages with almond milk! Super fantastical! Their syrups and sauces are varied and quite good. Thus far, I have tried:

  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Caramel Syrup
  • Twix Bar = Half Chocolate Half Caramel
  • Asian Milk Tea

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This is how one of their delicious caffeinated drinks come to you served like! 🙂 Drink up and enjoy!

For lunch, AA/MC – friends who were once my students back at VTech but now having relocated to Raleigh for work and school – we headed to one of the best Mediterranean / Lebanese restaurants in Raleigh, Neomonde Bakery & Deli [Yelp link ; website link] on Baryl Street, right near the office. All the food was housemade; the pastries were delectable. Per Ben Chapman’s suggestion, I ordered a Lunch plate which comes with 1/2 a “Sandwich”, two sides, and a dessert.

I ordered the Chicken Shawarma Sandwich. The garlic paste was luckily, not overpowering, and their lemon-tahini sauce was just the right acidity to balance the chicken. (If you know me, you also know that I greatly dislike eating chicken; however, this was a “sandwich” to be enjoyed). The pita bread, thank goodness, was also not super thick and fluffy.

For the sides, I ordered their Hummus and Couscous. Their hummus was actually a bit too garlicky for my liking, and I had to continuously eat bites of couscous or sandwich to even out the flavor. The couscous, on the other hand, was absolutely perfect; it even had chickpeas which makes everything infinitely better. For dessert, I ordered a bakalva – I haven’t eaten it, yet. It’s still in the refrigerator. Haha. Everything was served on biodegradable wares; how consumer friendly!

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As there are many farm-to-table restaurants, the most famous, well-known culinary chef in Raleigh is Ashley Christensen. She has opened three popular restaurants: Poole’s Downtown Diner, Beasley’s Chicken & Honey, Chuck’s, and Fox Liquor Bar. Christensen is very committed to bringing community together through local foods; she has also been a three-time semi-finalist for the James Beard “Best Chef: Southeast” and has been on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America. Here [link] is her bio.

Wednesday (06/12),

HB and I, on a whim, decided to make our way over to Beasley’s Chicken & Honey [Yelp link ; website link]. It is supposed to be Christensen’s ode-to-Southern-cooking. With floor to ceiling windows and exposed beams, this establishment was just like walking into any Bay Area (California) hipster restaurant joint. We were immediately in love!

As we’d come to discover – as would be most sensible with an ever-changing seasonal menu – the menus for Christensen’s restaurants are all written on the spray-on-chalkboard walls.

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The food menu is on the purple wall; the drinks menu spanned the entirety of the bar wall.

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Since neither myself nor HB really eat much meat; we opted instead to skip all the famous chicken and waffle type dishes and instead order 6 different side dishes to split.

  • Baked Beans – these were very South-Eastern style and weren’t as sweet; instead, they were more smokey. HB, who is originally from Oklahama, preferred hers much sweeter. Upon discussing with the waitress, it was agreed that we were not the only ones to feel this way about this specific type of beans. Apparently the last batch had been made with a molasses-tomato base and had been more widely accepted.
  • Heirloom Green Tomatoes with Sauce – very delicious (off the menu)
  • Baked Mac-n-Cheese “Muffin” Square – creamy and rich (we each only ate 1/3 of a piece). The Mac-n-cheese was not overly cheddary (as can be a fault with many restaurants). The egg presence bringing the entire dish together was light enough as to be a non-issue. We both loved it!
  • Roasted Beets with Balsamic Vinaigrette – At first, we had been hesitant to order this because we all know that beets don’t taste like anything, right? We couldn’t have been more wrong. Neither of us had ever seen beets in another color other than red. That definitely was surprising. While we stared at it and took our first bites, both our eyes lit up! The beets were prepared deliciously. The sauce was creamy – and sticky from the starch – but having absorbed the balsamic vinaigrette, also brought out the inherent sweetness of the beets.
  • Creamed Collard Greens – Soft, non-fibrous. Very delicious!
  • Biscuits drizzled with Local, Raw Honey – This was the best part of the entire meal. The biscuits were rich and thick (as would be expected from Southern biscuits). The complement of sweet and salty was just right; without leaving a sandy or gritty texture in the mouth! The honey, on top, was an added treat!

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Thursday (06/13)

As part of our plan to explore more of and eat more of Raleigh, and because we have the ability to work-from-home, HB and I decided to find a fun coffee shop to work at in the morning! After much back-and-forth and narrowing down of choices, we settled on The Morning Times [yelp link; website link], which is right next to the well-known (same owner) The Raleigh Times 

Walking into The Morning Times, it first appears very small (and again, hipster-ish, there is a theme here. Haha) space. However, once we grabbed our drinks and went upstairs, we immediately decided this would be the place we would come to for future work times. Additionally, it is located in the heart of downtown and close to all the delicious restaurants.

The various coffees are all sustainability sourced and appeal to variety of palates out there. I opted for a cold-brewed coffee; but as they had just run out of cold-brew coffee, I received a Japanese cold-brew method which is poured across ice as it is brewed. Absolutely delicious. I wish I had taken pictures. The food here is also supposed to very good (both on Yelp and on Foursquare). We also kept smelling and seeing the delicious foods there, and mmmm. Please remember to bus your own table, though! Thank you!

For lunch, we decided to venture around again. After adding more $$ to the parking meter, we set off on foot by choosing random directions. We found ourselves heading toward Poole’s Diner (only to find that it was closed). Many hot minutes later, and trudging up and down semi-hills, we found ourselves in front of Buku [Yelp link ; website link].

Buku is an Asian Fusion (Vietnamese – Thai Asian) semi-tapas restaurant. The interior was very open, but decorated in the expected (and very cliche) Chinese – Vietnamese – Middle-Eastern Fusion Lounge Style. Granted, this was probably geared more towards the specific clientele it was supposed to attract; however, despite this mish-mash, the food was actually EXCELLENT! To be honest, I didn’t know quite what to expect…especially when the waiter started talking about Pho (and all I could think of was, “really?”)

We ordered the Hot Pot Tam Talay with seafood (prawns, sea scallops, mussels, coconut milk, mushrooms, cilantro and red curry). Yes, we know, it’s super hot outside; but the absolute best time to eat hot stuff is on hot days! Is that weird logic? Buku did not skimp on any of the seafood; there was at least 3 prawns per person, 4 – 5 mussels per person, and 2 scallops each. The soup base was rich and creamy but not overpowering. There seemed to be a sparseness of cilantro, though … which given all the positive aspects of the Hot Pot, was okay. Indeed, the soup base was so rich that we ordered an extra bowl of rice to pair with. Due to its incredible richness, if the Hot Pot had more vegetables – or was originally paired with rice or noodles within – besides just seafood, it would definitely have been even more superb. As it stands, however, this was a fantastic and would recommend item to order if you are to visit!

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We also ordered their House-Cut French Fries. I would rate it a 3.5 / 5.

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But of course, you can’t have fries without all the delicious condiments (Mayonnaise, Ketchup, and Siracha).

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On Thursday evening, Raleigh was to be hit by a gigantic flood-warning thunderstorm. AL was on her way to work when she called me to ask to let Bella (the other dog) out before the storm. Well, yours truly stepped out with Bella and immediately shut the door only to realize the moment the door closed that I did not have keys (door was locked), shoes or anything else except a phone. A frantic 30 minutes later – with the rain and wind coming down from all directions – HB picked us up [she is seriously so wonderful!] and we headed to her house.

Here is Bella looking forlornly at our door wanting to be let in. I am a retard. 😦

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HB, being the awesome girl she is, also lent me a pair of, as she calls them, “Minnie Mouse Slippers”. They are absolutely adorable!

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Along with her roommate and her roommate’s friend, HB and I ventured Downtown again to find the next new adventure!

Our first stop was the Deep South: The Bar [Yelp link ; website link]. When we first arrived, there was a live band playing country-rock. We were given a few free beers and HB’s roommate ingested a few cold sandwiches offered for free to attendees. Being the food safety kids, however, HB and I stared at all of that warily. This bar was definitely a dive bar. 

The whole time, however, all I could think of was how much the situation reminded me of a scene from a TV Show or a movie. For HB, however, this was how she distinctly remembered and loved OK. Not going to lie, I definitely felt very out of place; but, it was a very good experience! 🙂
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After much “derping”, we finally made it to our dinner destination: Poole’s Downtown Diner [Yelp link ;  website link]! I didn’t really take very good pictures, so I won’t really talk about the food all too much…other than…they weren’t lying when they say it is amazing! This place is a have-to joint for food if ever you are in Raleigh!

Like the rest of Ashley Christensen’s restaurants, this one finds the food all locally sourced and organic! Well prepared and beautiful layout.

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About floatingsheep
Recently moved to Blacksburg, Virginia (Virginia Tech) for graduate school from good ol' sunny California. Wanting to share my (mis)adventures around the East Coast and in general. :D

One Response to Weekly Roundup: Edible Adventures in Raleigh (06/10 – 06/14)

  1. Anna Korn says:

    Fascinating! I love to hear your food adventures.
    Were the tummy aches you’d get with lattes due to lactose intolerance? Almond milk sounds yummy. Goat cheese goes well with beets. A very enjoyable read.

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