The Carolina Inn is a beautiful, historic inn in the center of Chapel Hill on UNC’s campus. In the summer they have a lovely tradition of ‘Fridays on the Front Porch’ in which they have a local bluegrass band playing outside and offer food and drinks for purchase. It is such a fun, relaxing afternoon. I have wanted to go all summer long and between the ridiculous heat, the thunderstorms, and our own travel we finally managed to go a couple of Fridays ago. We decided to make an evening out of it and enjoy dinner at the inn’s restaurant, Carolina Crossroads. We headed to the inn around 6:30pm and enjoyed the music for about an hour and then made our way to the restaurant. It is an intimate, charming space with French country decor. The light yellow walls are accented by crisp white table clothes and tarheel blue upholstered chairs and banquettes.
After we ordered we were brought a delightful amuse bouche of a salted cod mixture on a delicate pastry. For our meal, we started with two appetizers and shared an entree. The crab cake appetizer came with two nice sized cakes with lots of delicious crab and not much filler at all. They were simple and clean. However, I was disappointed with the curry sauce that it was served with. It was quite sweet for my palate and rather than compliment, detracted from the sweetness of the crab. The shrimp and grits appetizer was much better with a nice combination of flavors. The shrimp we just plump without being chewy and the bacon added a saltiness which was needed for the somewhat under-seasoned grits. The highlight of the evening was the braised spring lamb ragout which was delicious! The lamb was spoon tender and richly flavored with Middle Eastern spices and automatics. The lamb was cooked with carrots, zucchini, and lentils and served with rice. My only complaint is that it was a huge portion. We shared it and only managed to finish half of the dish, though we enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the following day. We were just too full to even consider looking at the dessert menu.
The service was wonderful and comfortably formal. The hostess and wait staff all greeted and addressed us by name. The meal was served with an amuse bouche and also we were given two petit fours when we were done with our meal. The space, while full, was quiet and allowed for pleasant conversation without needing to yell. The Carolina Inn and it’s Carolina Crossroads is a wonderful, traditional venue in the heart of Chapel Hill.
Carolina Crossroads (Carolina Inn)
211 Pittsboro St
Chapel Hill, NC 27516