Restaurant Roulette: 618 Bistro

February 24, 2010

Greg Cox of the News & Observer reviews 618 Bistro this Friday.  How many stars will it receive?  Frankly, folks, I wanted to like this restaurant, as it is next door to my office, but it is laughably bad.   You may notice that I generally don’t write about restaurants I don’t like, as it’s really not what I do, so I wonder what Mr. Cox has to say.

If I had to set odds, I’d go with the following:

5 stars — 100,000 :1 (Hell, it could be 84 quadrillion to 1)

4 stars — 40:1

3 stars — 5:1

2 stars — 3:2

1 star — 6:1

What’s your bet?


Edit (February 26, 2010): Ouch.  Greg Cox gave 618 Bistro a mere one star.  I can’t remember the last time the N&O knocked a restaurant so badly, but honestly, that rating is very appropriate for this restaurant, which is a damn shame.  If you bet a buck on a solo star, you’ve made a good investment.  Which might be the only good investment you could make in this establishment.


Locals Well-Represented in 2010 Beard Award Semi-Finalists

February 18, 2010

Lots of local chefs and restaurants are represented in the 2010 Beard Award semi-finalists that were announced today, including Crook’s Corner, Magnolia Grill, Andrea Reusing, Ashley Christensen, Bill Smith and Scott Howell.  The finalists in each category will be announced on March 22.

The full list of semi-finalists are after the break.  Thanks to Andrea Weigl of the N&O for the info!

Read the rest of this entry »

Restaurant Review Prognostication

February 17, 2010

Let’s start something really silly for the area.  Each week, the News & Observer tells us in its Wednesday edition what restaurant will be reviewed on the following Friday.  Greg Cox’s review of Durham’s Guglhupf will be published on Friday, and it’s time for us to guess how many stars he’ll give it.

As you know, the N&O has a 5 star system, and only the best of the best get all 5 stars.

So, how many stars will Guglhupf get???


Edit (Feb. 19, 2010) —  Guglhupf received 4 stars from Greg Cox, making it the highest ranked German/Eastern European restaurant in the Triangle, surpassing J. Betski’s.  Wow.   Congratulations to Drew and Smily, who nailed it.  You have the admiration and respect of the Greater Triangle Blogosphere, but alas, no tangible prizes are coming your way.

My Kind of Toothpaste

February 11, 2010

Whiskey-flavored toothpaste.  Now that’s a way to get folks to brush three times a day.

From a 1961 issue of House and Garden, courtesy of

Frazier’s To Close and Reopen as Food-Centric Wine Bar

February 6, 2010

Frazier’s, the crown jewel of Hillsborough Street dining and the original restaurant of the Urban Food Group, will be closing after Valentine’s Day.  After suffering through some recent chef changes, compounded by the double whammy of the bad economy and the Hillsborough Street construction project, Kevin and Stacey Jennings have decided to close Frazier’s and re-open as a wine bar with a substantial food focus.

The wine bar, which does not yet have a name (let’s have a contest!), will serve many small plates with a menu that changes frequently.  The wines on the list will drive what’s on the menu, rather than vice-versa.  Urban Food Group will have an enomatic or cruvinet, with the hope to pour 20 wines by the glass.  The atmosphere of the place will be very casual.  With wines and craft beers selected by Scott Luetgenau, I’m confident that there will be many offerings here that are not available anywhere else.

Although many foodies claim that the small plate concept is passe, it is actually thriving, especially for the younger diners that enjoy going out in crowds.  The inspiration for this new wine bar is New York’s The Ten Bells, which has been quite successful since opening in May of 2008.

Personally, I’m sad to see Frazier’s go, and I wish I could get over there one final time before it closes.  I always felt as if it were the poor stepchild in Raleigh’s fine dining scene, which is completely undeserved, as it’s been a great restaurant.  The space is awkward, however, and I sense it sort of got lost in the Hillsborough Street scene.  I suspect the wine bar will be a bit of a place to be seen, which Hillsborough Street is lacking.  Many a wine bar has come to the area, and many have failed.  Fortunately, for us, I suspect this new Urban Food Group venture will do just fine.

Grab a Glass of Wine at Fleming’s & Support the Lucy Daniels Center

February 4, 2010

Come join me at Fleming’s Steakhouse at the Crabtree Valley Mall next Wednesday, February 10, from 5 to 7 to drink some wine, eat some appetizers, and support the Lucy Daniels Center.

I know, I know, Fleming’s is a chain restaurant.  And it’s a steakhouse.  But geesh, they really do give back to the community with their  “Wine Wednesdays” that support a different charity each month.  This month’s designated charity is the Lucy Daniels Center, the area’s largest non-profit provider of mental health services to children (and I’m on the Board).

Here’s the deal: Fleming’s will have 5 different wines available by the glass at the bar.  A glass of wine will cost you 10 bucks.  You’ll also get some complementary appetizers.  And 100% of that 10 bucks goes to the Lucy Daniels Center.  Sooo, if we get 100 people there, each buying 2 glasses of wine, we just raised a couple thousand bucks for this extraordinary organization.

So, come on out.  And bring your friends.

bu•ku to Open Today

February 3, 2010

bu•ku, the new “global street food” concept of Chef William D’Auvray, will open today. The menu is an eclectic assortment of exotic soups, breads, and other street foods, focusing primarily on Asia, but with a great mix of other regions including Eastern Europe (pierogi), South America (empanada), and Mexico (cochinita). Everything is made in-house, including the fantastic cha siu bao, the steamed barbecued pork buns from China, and the paneer, served with kale, sweet onion and cardamom. Indian chapati and papadum are also made fresh, in house.

Fortunately, for those who were fans of Fins, you can still get a lot of D’Auvray’s signature dishes, including his Indonesian style snapper and the best sashimi in town.

The restaurant’s decor has not changed. It’s the same big space, with some additional prints added. This type of more casual dining, however, should transform the restaurant. Whereas Fins was a place you went to on a special occasion, bu•ku will be a place for a group to get together for drinks and lots of great snacks. It’s a festive place, with flavors from across the world. And if you want that special meal, you can still get it at bu•ku. We certainly know that with William D’Auvray heading up the kitchen, the food will be excellent.

bu•ku will only be open for dinner this week, but I suspect lunch service will begin next week.

110 East Davie Street
Raleigh, NC 27601