The latest brand to jump on the wave of nautical-themed clothing comes from yachtmaker Jarrett Bay. The company will open a pop-up store for the holidays on October 3rd in the area of Crabtree Valley Mall’s food court. The store will carry merchandise similar to their popular Beaufort store (shirts, jackets, bags, gifts, and more).
In a few months the state’s first location for FirstWatch will open in the former Boston Market location on Glenwood Avenue. The 126-store chain features a fresh selection of breakfast and lunch options including omelets, “Power Bowls”, waffles, eggs, soups, sandwiches.
The “daytime café’s” branding is upscale, somewhat along the lines of Panera Bread and Corner Bakery, so don’t confuse this place with Waffle House. The restaurants’ hours are 7am – 2:30pm, so the help wanted pitch is “No night hours, ever!” The store space is currently gutted so it looks like a project that will likely open late in the Fall, perhaps.
Today’s Food Porn excursion takes us to the home of Raleigh’s best dinner deal, Torii Noodle Bar. Torii sits next door to P.F. Chang’s at Crabtree, and at first blush was built to catch runoff from the neighboring restaurants’ long wait queues. In fact, Torii is more of a casual extension of the Kanki.
Torii offers multiple noodle dishes and sushi items. I am quite fond of the Wantan – Men Ramen bowl as well as the TonkoTsu pork noodle bowl. This is great cold weather food, especially the Katsu Curry (pork curry rice).
Recently, though, I discovered that the rice bowl dishes are almost exactly the same dishes that people are being served downstairs at the Kanki. The dish is a heaping portion rice, your choice of meat, and some broccoli. The rice bowl comes with a side of either Japanese soup or ginger salad, which are exactly the same dishes as those downstairs. The meat choices are Chicken, Steak, or Shrimp, but the prices are what blew me away: Chicken is $8 and the other two are $10. Yes, that dish pictured, with an appetizer salad with Kanki’s delicious ginger dressing was eight dollars. There isn’t a better deal in Raleigh, and given the recent changes for the horrible at Sarku (in the food court), there isn’t a more convenient way to get a quality serving of Japanese food for a modest price.
It’s been a tough spring for food lovers in the area. Of course today marks the retirement day of the Triangle’s best restaurant, Magnolia Grill. However one of Raleigh’s best-kept secrets will dim its lights in favor of retirement, too, for two weeks from now.
Walid Sadak was a visiting student from Lebanon when he first took a job at Hector’s in Chapel Hill. Sadak’s dream was to go to dental school, however he eventually concluded it wasn’t for him. At the time Hector’s owner Nick Galifianakis (uncle of actor Zach Galifianakis ) had opened a second Hector’s location in Georgetown when he decided to give Sadak the rights to a Raleigh store as a graduation gift.
Sadak selected a space in the new Crabtree Valley Mall that would serve as the restaurant’s dedicated home for over a decade. (the space is to the right of the Kanki’s mall entrance). The store featured Hector’s trademark look: beige and brown mosaic tile walls, bright orange countertops, terra cotta triangle floor, and a pen and ink frieze depicting a Hector’s stand at a small carnival. The menu was exactly the same as the Chapel Hill store: skewered beef and chicken, a “Hero” sandwich on pita bread, hamburgers, and french fries.
Sadak was happy with the space into the 1980s, but the mall management wanted to consolidate its informal food vendors into one place with a common eating area. The “Food Court” craze was taking American malls by storm, and Sadak reluctantly moved his operation to the new space.
Three decades later Hectors stands as one of the mall’s few original tenants. While the Georgetown and Chapel Hill stores changed hands, moved, and eventually faltered, Sadak’s version of Hector’s grew into one of the best sources of ethnic eating in the Triangle. Along the way Sadak opened a Sutton Square location, a night club, The American Grill, and a phenomenal full-service restaurant on Hillsborough Street. None of them stood the test of time, however, and Hector’s remained Sadak’s primary focus,. He added excellent items through the years such as Raleigh’s first Greek salad and a falafel, and Raleigh’s best baklava, hummus, and tabouli.
Take time in the next two weeks to visit Hector’s for the last time. It will be sorely missed. I highly recommend the Greek salad, tabouli, hummus, chicken kabob, steak & cheese sandwich (with greek salad dressing), and the baklava.
Hector’s is located in the Crabtree Valley Mall Food Court.
A new restaurant called Red Monkey is now showing on Crabtree Valley Mall’s map. Apparently it will occupy space on both levels, just to the left of the Belk mall entrance. No word on what the restaurant is about. There is a Red Monkey in India, but unless this is a high-end, chic Indian restaurant, there probably is no relation.
The City of Raleigh is accepting nominations for the 2010 Sir Walter Raleigh Awards for Community Appearance. The annual awards recognize outstanding new development, building rehabilitation efforts, and natural resource conservation within the Capital City. The awards program was established in 1983 to commemorate exemplary achievement in enhancing the city’s appearance. More than 200 projects, sites, and individuals have been honored.
Awards are offered in 11 different award categories, including new residential, commercial, or institutional construction, plus historic preservation, sustainable design, and tree and landscape conservation. The award for “Maintained Outstanding Appearance” honors appearance contributions by projects 5 years old or older. The “Individual” award is presented to a citizen who has consistently worked to preserve or improve city appearance.
The deadline for entries for the 2010 Sir Walter Raleigh Awards is Friday, July 9. Nominations for the can be made online at or by completing a printed form available at City government offices. In addition to project information, six or more digital photos of each nominated project or individual, submitted on CD or flash drive, are also required.
An independent jury will meet in July to review the nominations. Award winners will be selected based on specific criteria, including exhibition of a new standard of excellence, awareness of land stewardship, innovation, conservation of natural and/ or historic resources, and exceeding applicable ordinances. The Raleigh City Council will confirm the jury’s selections in August. Awards will be presented in October.
Varsity Mens Wear, one of the only remaining non-anchor tenants in its original space in Crabtree Valley Mall, is closing up shop and moving to North Hills
East in the space next to Charlotte’s. (That sure is close to Lile’s) Hopefully they will bring back the tartan carpet!! (not likely)
I am certainly more out of touch with Crabtree than ever, but I can only think of Hudson Belk, Kanki, Merle Norman, and the Hallmark store as being the only remaining original tenants in their original spaces. Is there one I’m missing?
Tucked behind Crabtree Valley Mall is a free-standing restaurant site which almost clicked in two previous incarnations. Owners of the former Tavola Rossa converted the restaurant to the Crabtree Tavern hoping that the third would be the charm. The Crabtree Tavern is a sports-themed restaurant with an upscale tavern menu.
Diners who frequented the belated Cactus Flower and Tavola Rossa restaurants will be surprised at the amount of renovation that went into the Crabtree Tavern. Gone are the numerous level changes throughout the restaurant, as is the carpet (replaced with a black and white tile floor). The bar area now sits in the former dining room, opening the P-shaped restaurant as one large cohesive room. A plethora of TVs hang throughout the restaurant, and offer diners (especially on Sunday) a chance to get a view of all of the televised games. Excellent music from a satellite service creates a nice noise foundation. However all of that is destroyed when an internet jukebox goes to work, overwhelming the experience at stomach-churning volumes.
The Tavern’s dinner menu (.pdf) selection is excellent. There are numerous appetizers that are perfect for community feeding, including the excellent beef brisket nachos. Higher quality tortilla chips would take this dish to the forefront of the Raleigh "nacho scene". To be avoided is the chili, which pales to Wendy’s and Sweet Tomatoes’ average offerings.
A popular item in the bar is the Beer Tower, a 3’ tall test tube holding almost two pitchers of draft beer. To keep the tower cold the bartender drops in a frozen, non-melting ice torpedo. The towers are priced in the $20-$25 range.
There is a fascinating selection of burgers, all offered on homemade buns. We tried the excellent Mountaineer which creatively marries a smoked tomato slice with barbecue sauce and goat cheese on a solid hamburger patty. Also good, but not as interesting as it sounds, is the Down Home Southern Burger. It features fried green tomato, county ham, pimento cheese, and mustard aioli. For some reason, though, the interesting ingredients get dominated by the beef flavor. We had good buns on one night, but on two other occasions the bread was noticeably firm.
The Entrees section of the menu is where the tavern has a real chance to make some noise in West Raleigh. I tried both the Shepherd’s Pie and the Chicken Pot Pie, and both were outstanding. The Shepherd’s Pie has a nice kick of ground lamb flavor, while the pot pie is extremely well blended, and stands as the best item on the menu.
We also tried the BBQ Brisket sandwich which was very good, but probably not better than the Q-Shack’s.
Where the Crabtree Tavern gets a failing grade is with the kitchen’s efficiency. I have dined in the restaurant three times now and it took 30, 40, and 45 minutes for our entrees to reach our table. With dining times climbing to one and a half hours for fairly simple food, I have to wonder how many diners are eager to return.
Crabtree Tavern has a very good chance to finally bring West Raleigh what it misses most: a reasonably priced, fairly quick restaurant that appeals to a broad range of palates. Ever since General Mills began screwing up Darryl’s, there has been a tremendous void. With the tavern’s location near the RBC Center and on Crabtree’s doorstep, a little bit of efficiency can take this restaurant where it wants to go. The question is whether or not they can step up to the plate.
Golden Corral is currently working out plans to raze and replace their store on Glenwood Avenue (across from Pleasant Valley Promenade). The Raleigh-based chain with around 500 stores nationally will replace the building with a new Golden Corral concept design they call “The Pavilion”. The concept features home-style cooking. Unlike the current open-a-can approach, though, the Pavilion concept puts a heavy emphasis on freshly-cooked, labor-intensive food. There will be “food stations, display cooking, and fresh food preparation” according to franchising.com. The restaurant has rolled out about six of these stores nationally. However if the concept is successful, the sites in Mini City and Garner are penciled in for replacement.
The location will continue to be a training site, with the company headquarters located at the base of the Glenwood Avenue hill, in the shadows of Crabtree Valley Mall.
The owners of Tavola Rossa, the free-standing restaurant across the creek from the back of Hudson Belk, have converted the restaurant to the Crabtree Tavern. The new restaurant features a family-friendly sports bar theme with upscale food.
The chef, Aron Cremeans, comes from Restaurant Bateux in Beaufort, SC, and most recently Vines Bistro in Cary. The dinner menu (.pdf) features standard upscale tavern fare, but has enough range to be potentially a regular favorite. Prices are in the $8-$17 range, which is a price point for which this area, in this economy, is dying.
The restaurant will also host trivia each Tuesday (beginning 1/5) as well as competitions with Playstation and cornhole (I’m afraid to ask).
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