Welcome to the non-Roadfood portion of this trip report.
We were very fortunate to arrive in Raleigh the week of the Winter version of Triangle Restaurant Week
. With 79 different restaurants participating, we spent the week before our trip looking at online menus before making reservations. We focused on what we later learned is called Contemporary Southern Cuisine. The way I figure it, CSC means that each dish will include greens, grits, a root vegetable (usually sweet potatoes), something pickled, and/or pork. We made reservations at Lucky 32
, Porter's City Tavern
, and Weathervane
. We were both especially excited about the menu at Weathervane, which they described as "This menu was created for the "Got To Be NC" Competition Dining Series, and was voted "Best in the State" at the Final Fire-Battle of Champions." Read the descriptions below and view the pictures and see why they won..
First up is the meal at Lucky 32
, Bobbi's starter was the Creamy Parsnip Soup with crispy garnish
For my entree, I had the Crawfish Etouffee, American crawfish tails in a rich brown gravy over rice
. This breaks from my Contemporary Southern Cuisine definition, but I have an exception for Cajun and Creole cooking.
Bobbi loved her Smoked Turkey Breast with bourbon cream sauce, dried cranberries and sweet potato dumplings
. Lucky 32's
beautiful interpretation of these ordinary ingredients made this an exceptional meal.
For dessert we each had the Coconut Chess Pie with citrus syrup
. Not exactly what a certain Roadfooder would expect when he orders this favorite pie. Very good!
Day 2 was Porter's
is omitted from this report because they changed their menu and raised their price after we made reservations. We ate from their regular menu and enjoyed it, but their food did not measure up to the other three restaurants.
on Day 3 Bobbi had the Cast iron Ashley Farm chicken, creamy polenta, braised greens, chicken jus
. They are very proud of their locally sourced poultry, meats and vegetables in the Triangle. The vinegary greens were perfect with the crisp chicken and grits ("polenta" my butt!).
I enjoyed the Slow braised Harris-Robinette grass fed beef short ribs, sweet potato puree, crispy onions, pan jus
(although the menu at the restaurant described this as beef Osso Bucco). No matter, it was wonderful and we both loved Piedmont's
combination of flavors.
For dessert, Bobbi ordered the Butterscotch Pot de Crème – caramel, whipped crème fraiche, grey salt
, which we shared. I enjoyed this more than my beignets, which were also good. Weathervane
for Day 4, where I developed my definition of CSC. Bobbi started with Bourbon-Spiked Sweet Potato Bisque, pulled pork shoulder, pickled peppers
My starter was the Sweet Potato Raviolo, confit pork jowl, Pepsi-sage brown butter, balsamic-Pepsi syrup
. What more can I say to add to this picture?
Bobbi's entree was the Sweet-Potato-Glazed Pork Belly, braised collards, sweet potato grits, duck fat sweet potatoes
. Another gorgeous presentation by the chef at Weathervane
. The pork belly was a bit fatty for her, but I was happy to help Bobbi finish the smoky belly.
This entree at Weathervane
may have been the highlight of the week. Korean BBQ'd Pork Shoulder, blue cheese grit cake, confit tomatoes, crispy jowl bacon
had a lot going on with it. I worked my way down through the entree and hit another treat with each layer. The confit tomatoes were fantastic, then I came upon the crispy jowl bacon bits. I shared this entree with Bobbi, she liked this much more than her choice. She even enjoyed the blue cheese grit cake, with blue cheese being something she usually avoids.
My dessert was the Pork Fat Funnel Cake, buttermilk cake, Pepsi-apple ice cream, candied pork jowl, cherry Pepsi syrup.
I really liked the Pepsi ice cream and syrup. This was a plate licker, too bad I wasn't at home.
Bobbi's Sweet Potato Twinkie, sweet potato butter cream, praline brittle, sweet potato ice cream
was fun and tasted great. The Twinkie was not filled, the butter cream was deconstructed and put along its side. We both loved the praline brittle.
End of report. Caio!
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