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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Fork in the Road: Capital Club 16 (Raleigh, NC)

Raleigh's Capital Club 16 isn't just a great restaurant with traditional American food, but the building itself has historical significance as well.  It was home to a men's literary and social club in the 1930's (more history here) and has been decorated to reflect the time period.  It is open and airy during the spring and summer and cozy in the winter.

We start the table with sliced bratwurst and a tomato curry sauce with fries.  For some reason, I always love starting a meal with fries and the zing of the tomato sauce was subtle and pleasant.

On to one of my favorite Southern dishes: pimento cheese.  These crostinis featured the spread with figs and Dutch apple jam.  Yum yum!  The sweetness of the jam and figs cut into the rich cheese. 

Arugula salad with local asiago and a lemon-pepper vinaigrette, which surprisingly didn't take away, to the already peppery arugula.  The oven roasted tomato was nice addition.

Chicken Valdostana - rolled chicken with Black Forest ham, provolone over a spaetzle, mushrooms and tomato sauce.  Easily the best dish we ordered and the spaetzle was cooked perfectly.

Local Catch of the Day

The Farmer's Wife - seasonal vegetable dish of cabbage, collards, roasted potatoes and spaetzle.

My 97 year old Grandma who still makes it out to 8pm dinner, Dad and me

Prices are extremely reasonable and atmosphere lovely.  I'd get there before popularity starts driving those prices up!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hudson Common

It had been many, many years since I went to The Hudson Hotel for drinks, much less a meal.  The past few months, the hotel has been testing new concepts such as the Hudson Lodge in the winter and Hudson Tequila Bar (coming this summer).  While the outdoor area was getting utilized, the indoor Cafeteria was undergoing an entire renovation, to be called the Hudson Common.  The concept is a common area with communal tables as well as reserved private tables/booths, but you order your food at the counter.  TVs are hidden in the walls since they did not want this to become a 'sportsbar', although it could be a 'refined sportsbar'.

Hanging lights and Sputnik everywhere

The menu was created with the help of Chef German Villatoro, and he has definitely created one of the best newcoming burgers in the city.  This fairly extensive menu is a variety of upscale bar food.  My absolute favorite item on the menu (and trust me, it isn't because I am a woman who picks at salads) is the kale Caesar salad. 

It has large leafy greens of kale and Romaine hearts with a tangy vinaigrette Caesar, not creamy.  It gives me just the right amount of healthy in a sea of butter, cheese and bread.

Another surprise was the Veggie burger.  When I think of veggie burger, a think, dense disk comes to mind; but not Chef Villatoro's burger that's packed with...ready for this?  Faro, shoshitos, mushrooms, red pepper, cauliflower, tomatoes, edamame, falafel and spices!

Spicy kimchi pickles - though these are quite large pieces, it helped keep the crunchy texture of the zucchini, squash and cabbage.  The uncommon crudite is also something unique with its radishes, beans, kale, and carrots in a ginger-soy vinaigrette.

Getting to the decadent stuff, the French Toast Grilled Cheese is something sent from heaven.  Texas Toast with seven cheeses and maple drizzle is the paragon of savory-sweet foods!

This gem was only available for a week, but I feel obligated to write about it.  The Salted Caramel Angry Lobster Fatty Melt.  The name of that sandwich gets its own sentence.  This red chili-chipotle lobster salad was stuffed between TWO seven cheese (with curds) grilled cheeses topped with a salted caramel drizzle.  Gluttonous, no?  Perhaps if you ate the entire sandwich, but this was split by 3 people, so not too bad.  In fact, it was not as 'Fatty' as I imagined, but instead a damn tasty combo. 

Duck fat thrice-cooked fries
Not-so-favorite items: Peanut Butter BBQ ribs - boneless, but messy and taste of the meat is lost.
Pork Katsu BLT with apple bacon, guanciale, and pancetta - don't know if it was over-porked, the flavors didn't mesh well or the pork was a bit dry.

Great atmosphere and great food that keeps getting better.  Just love the seasonal concepts outside!