Bull City Burger and Brewery, Durham

Ok, I must admit, it is more difficult than I anticipated finding time to blog with a newborn and a full time job but I’m trying. Needless to say it is more appealing to spend the limited down time trying out new places than it is to sit down and write about them! We have been able to try a few places so the posts will roll out slowly but surely.

A few weekends ago when the weather was nice we took the opportunity to take a walk in Duke Forest and try Bull City Burger and Brewery (BCBB).  This is a cool burger joint right in downtown Durham. It is a casual, comfortable space with communal wooden picnic benches and floor to ceiling glass windows allowing visitors a glimpse into the brewery. They also have a nice covered outdoor space behind the restaurant for warmer days. Though casual in feel they are serious about their product. They use North Carolina pasture-raised beef, bake their own buns and make their own condiments. They also offer a nice choice of atypical beverages; in addition to their own beers, they have a self-serve wine dispenser, and a Boylan fountain soda machine.

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Top of the Hill, Chapel Hill

Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill is an iconic local joint with a premier location right on the center of Franklin Street.  Every college town seems to have one of these places that is the go-to place for students to take out-of-towners who come to visit.  For some reason, I haven’t really had to the urge to try this place since it always seems so packed and such a scene.  We decided to finally try it during the summer when the students were out of town and it was relatively quite.

It has a nice atmosphere with a great balcony that overlooks Franklin St.  It was a hot night so we opted to sit indoors.  It was a busy Friday night and it took our waiter awhile to get to us.  We weren’t too hungry so we decided to share an appetizer and an entrée.  We started with the Polynesian Calamari which is crispy fried calamari rings, pineapple, sweet onions and poblano peppers with chipotle remoulade. It was a tasty rendition and I did enjoy the sweet touch of the pineapple.  For our entrée we split the Locavore Burger which was served with bacon, smokedgouda, garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato, red onion on house baked roll and beer battered fries. It was a very good cooked-to-order burger and the fries were deliciously addictive.  We enjoyed it and were happy that we decided to share since it was definitely enough food.

The food was good, not great, and generally what you would expect from this type of establishment.  However, the service was apathetic; the waiter never told us the specials (the table next to us was told) and it took two requests to get some water. It is a good place to go with a large group, share a few appetizers, and enjoy a beer and the scene.

Top of the Hill
topofthehillrestaurant.com
100 East Franklin Street
Chapel Hill,NC27514
919-929-8676

J. Betski’s, Raleigh

Our April NRT outing was to J. Betski’s in Raleigh.  The restaurant is located in the Seaboard Station Plaza.  It seems like a fairly new development.  It was a nice warm evening so we opted to sit at the tables outside so I can’t comment on the atmosphere inside the space.

The first thing that impressed me was the fact that the beer and wine menu featured primarily German offerings.  It was nice to see that the entire menu focused on the region rather than just the food menu.

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Summer of Lobsta

Well summer in New England is just not complete without lots of seafood, lobster in particular! We have had a lovely summer trying some seafood shacks that we haven’t tried before. A couple of weekends ago we tried the Lobster Pool in Rockport, MA. It is gorgeous setting right on Ipswich Bay on Cape Ann. It is a causal setting where you order your food and then take it to one of the tables inside or the picnic tables outside. We ordered our staple fried shrimp and a 1.5lb lobster. It was a little crowded so we sat on a blanket in the grass, overlooking Folly Cove. The shrimp, though a little small, was delicious. The batter was not as delicate as the shrimp at J.T. Farnham’s but still tasty. The lobster was wonderful! Perfectly steamed and very sweet! It was a nice treat after so many lobster rolls. The restaurant doesn’t have a liquor license so they allow you to bring your own drinks. We brought a bottle of white wine and had a lovely picnic! Though the food was not as good as J.T. Farnham’s the setting and atmosphere was definitely better! What a wonderful way to spend a summer evening watching the sunset (picture) and eating lobster!

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Kelly’s, Revere Beach

A couple of weekends ago took a drive to Revere Beach since the weather was great! We decided that while we were there we should try Kelly’s as it is an institution. We tried the lobster roll and a basket of fried shrimp. We love shrimp so that is a default for us and gives us a point of comparison for all of the seafood shacks. Anyway, in a nutshell they were both disappointing! The lobster in the roll was watery. It didn’t have the nice firm texture and all of the pieces were just too small. The shrimp too was a complete disappointment. They were rather bland. Also, they were all so perfectly uniform it made me suspect that they were frozen. It may be nostalgia which keeps people coming back but I won’t be going back anytime soon.

Kelly’s Revere Beach
http://www.kellysroastbeef.com/
410 Revere Beach Blvd.
Revere, MA 02151
781-284-9129

J.T. Farnham’s, Essex

A friend of ours was visiting over the July 4th weekend and this was his third visit to Boston so had done all of the major touristy things in the city and wanted to explore more New England specialties. As it is the summer, we thought it was necessary to visit a clam shack. We have been to Woodman’s and the Clam Box so decided to try J.T. Farnham’s. None of us are fans of clams therefore we tried our essentials; fried shrimp, fried haddock, and the lobster roll. Just perfect! The shrimp and haddock were perfectly fried without too much breading and were surprisingly not greasy (that is, for fried food!) The lobster roll was also delicious with large pieces of lobster which weren’t drenched in mayonnaise. The bread was toasted just enough to support the lobster and wasn’t too buttery. The service was a little slow but we were there near the end of the night, at 8pm and they close at 9pm. While I am not sure Franham’s was better than the Clam Box, it is very close second and it far surpasses Woodman’s. In the end, the simplicity and quality of the food seemed to surprise our friend who declared it his second favorite meal of the trip (after my eggs, of course!).

J.T. Farnham’s
88 Eastern Ave
Essex, MA 01929
978-768-6643

Sabur, Somerville

This past Wednesday the weather was gorgeous and one of the only days without the threat of rain that we have had in quite sometime so after a long, late day G and I decided we wanted to have a relaxing dinner outside. We walked to Orleans in Davis Sq and the wait for a seat outside was 45 minutes so we continued up Holland St to Sabur. They had plenty of outdoor seating available. G started with a martini and I had a nice glass of Shiraz. We decided to share a few appetizers. The Warm Goat Cheese with Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Dip was delicious and spicy. Wood Fired Portabella and Roasted Vegetable Polenta Stack with Eggplant Demi was a really nice combination of flavors. The homemade polenta paired well with the portabella. There was a drizzle of a sweet sauce, maybe cherry, which didn’t match too well with the other flavors but otherwise, it was a nice dish. We also tried the Hand Stretched Burek with Beef, Potato & Onion. This is a simple meat pie and was served with a cucumber yogurt sauce. It was a little bland but very comforting. Our favorite dish was the Grilled Balkan Sausages with Yogurt Sauce & Thick Pita. These sausages were similar to Middle Eastern kabobs and had a great flavor! We were enjoying sitting outside so we shared the Chocolate Tort with Raspberry Sauce and Warm Caramel. This was a nice rich, dense flourless chocolate tart. Overall, the food was lovely and well prepared. The service was friendly and the attentive. The outdoor seating was very relaxing. The outdoor seating was almost full but the dining room was almost empty. We were sad to see that on a nice weekday night there wasn’t more traffic when restaurants in Davis Sq. were packed.

Sabur Restaurant
http://www.saburrestaurant.com
212 Holland St
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 776-7890