Cypress on the Hill — New Chapel Hill Restaurant

cypress2Damn it, Chapel Hill gets all the luck.  This small town is already full of great chef-driven restaurants.  Places like Lantern, Bonne Soiree, and Elaine’s.  Then there are the old, great stand-bys like Crooks, La Residence and whatever they’re putting out at the Siena.  And now there’s a new kid in town: Cypress on the Hill.  I just learned about this place today thanks to a tip from one of my readers, and based on the menu, I’m looking forward to a trip to my old college town to give it a try.  Chef Alex Gallis has been Chef de Cuisine at Magnolia Grill for the last five years, and his menu shows his training under Ben Barker: locally-sourced ingredients prepared with a Southern touch.  But I also see that Gallis isn’t afraid to explore new concepts, using Asian ingredients (soba noodles, mizuna, pickled ginger) and techniques, too.

Restaurants with a Southern cuisine have struggled a bit in the Triangle lately, but I’ve come to believe that college towns are where they will still work.  If the food is as good as it appears, I suspect that Cypress on the Hill (COTH? — er, maybe not) will be hanging around for awhile.

Cypress on the Hill is in the old Trail Shop on West Franklin Street, next to Ham’s.  They’re open for dinner Monday through Saturday.  Dinner and dessert menus, which change weekly, are available online.

308 West Franklin Street

Chapel Hill, North Carolina



17 Responses to Cypress on the Hill — New Chapel Hill Restaurant

  1. O M Nicely says:

    i am excited to see more interesting restaurants opening in the triangle area. i think that we can expect great things, too, from someone with a background like chef alex’s. i do have one little criticism. why do people choose to hang the “local” banner so prominently, and still openly flaunt the sourcing of niman ranch products? no disrespect to niman ranch or the chefs that choose to use their products (’cause it is good stuff), but it is definitely not local. there are, on the other hand, many amazing local farms that sell incredible lamb, chicken, beef & pork all in the central NC area. it’s readily available, of very high quality & consistency and no more expensive than niman. one thing that is available locally in this area all year round is MEAT! i simply wish that people would use the resources we have here & if you’re going to claim to use the local stuff go all the way. “local” isn’t a word to be exploited for profit; it’s a real movement with people working really hard to make the option to buy good food created near our homes a reality.

  2. burgeoningfoodie says:

    I noticed that too and I’m not really at a place where I could comment on that aspect. At least, it gives people another place to impress a date if they’ve already tried a few of the other establishments. I must say that I’ve been in the area for about 3 years and in all that time I’ve only been to 2 nice restaurants in Chapel Hill those being Il Palio and Bonne Soiree For shame I know. I guess since I spend most of my time in this area, when I go out for a nice dinner I want to travel a little bit. I should explore the places close to home like Elaine’s and Lantern.

  3. chops says:

    I agree with the Niman Ranch comment. Why call out the farm if it is not local? They are also using Kurobota pork, which is not local. Good stuff, but not local. I wonder if it is just too hard to get consistent volume from the local farms.
    I would also say the prices seem a bit high. I typically do not complain about this, but short ribs, mashed potatoes, and chard for $28? Pushing it… even for Chapel Hill. Other than that the menu looks quite tasty…….

  4. alex gasllis says:

    In response to this apparent stigma against Niman Ranch, there are not local nor does Cypress claim to use only local farmers. Bill Niman started a movement in this country and I chose to use their products when they are affordable. Just yesterday Eliza McClean called me and we’ll have her pork and beef on our menu this weekend, but understand this, she was mentored by Bill Niman himself. Some of our farmers are too small to support all restaurants wanting to use them, so don’t rush to judgement until you brave our market and go up against all my fellow chefs vying for local product.

  5. alex gallis says:

    We do not exploit the word local for profit and I take exception to that broad generlization. Relationships with farmers take time to cultivate and I have been out of the CH market for five years. I am member of the Slow Foods movement as well as the SFA, I take local product very seriously. Eliza McClean called me yesterday and is bringing in pork and beef for this weekend.

  6. Varmint says:

    Thanks for joining the discussion, Chef. I don’t think that anyone is complaining about the use of Niman, but there seemed to be a disconnect over the restaurant’s statement on its website and the fact that you are using Niman Ranch products. This is what’s on your site: “All of our products are prepared with ingredients from local purveyors creating sensations which excite all the senses.”

    I wouldn’t get overly concerned over these comments, as it has nothing to do with what gets put on the plate. Folks will give you tons of credit if the food is as exciting as it sounds.

  7. Whatever says:

    I went here with my boyfriend for his birthday. I called a week in advance and told them that it was for his birthday and specifically asked for a booth. When we got there, they sat us at a small table and had no idea that it was his birthday. I wasn’t expecting a free dessert or anything – just a simple happy birthday would’ve sufficed. Unfortunately, they had NO IDEA and had the NERVE TO GIVE THE CHECK TO MY BOYFRIEND.

    The waiter was rushing us to order and he rushed everyone else he was serving (ended getting a complaint from another table that he was rushing them). The kitchen staff were not dressed to impress AT ALL – which was inappropriate since they had the kitchen viewable to the us all.

    The food was mediocre at best (appetizer AND entree) and definitely overpriced for the quality. The desserts were OK – the only part of the dining experience that wasn’t pathetic. Should have known better since the executive chef started at FOUR CORNERS which is pretty much a dive on Franklin st.

    Overall, we were not impressed and saddened by the experience, especially since it was for a birthday. Unless you have money you want to burn for a mediocre night with a mediocre experience, don’t go. My boyfriend and I are planning on going there one more time just to see if the next experience can salvage what occurred last night. Probably won’t, but we’re game to try it out one last time.

  8. DCWill says:

    I ate at Cypress this evening with two guests. All of us agreed that the food met our every expectation. Each plate was not only enjoyable, but also culinarily interesting. The pork cheek and risotto appetizer and unctuous creme brulee with blood orange sorbet both fell into the “memorable” category.

    As to the service, I can’t help but agree with the above comment that the staff tends to rush the customers and is perhaps overattentive. Graduation weekend may account for this, but it’s still unsavory to have a waiter constantly asking you for feedback before you’ve finished a bite of each course. They also serve and clear from odd angles, which grew a bit disconcerting. As far as food goes, however, I haven’t had a better meal in three years in Chapel Hill. They blew the more highly-priced Elaine’s out of the water.

  9. Lost_Arkitekt says:

    Haven’t been back to Chapel Hill in years, so I can’t comment on this restaurant. It’s nice to see someone using the property for something decent since I left the Trail Shop. I’m sad to see the Trail Shop go, but I also am amazed that Joe either sold the property or let someone fix it up and put a restaurant in there. Kudos! I plan on coming to Chapel Hill soon, and I can’t wait to see what the old place is like now.

    Good Luck!

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