Last call for tickets! On Friday night Steve Martin, Edie Brickell, and Brevard’s Steep Canyon Rangers will play Greensboro’s War Memorial Auditorium. The group is on tour supporting their new album “Love Has Come For You”, which currently sits atop the Billboard Bluegrass Charts.
Tickets are $55-$80 and available thru Ticketmaster.
A couple of years ago, one of Durham’s ethnic gems opened a Raleigh store and it has been a big success. Mami Nora’s, located across from Bali Hai (near Costco) serves a Peruvian take on rotisserie chicken that is unmatched in Raleigh.
The menu is simple: Quarter, Half, and Whole rotisserie chickens with a few sides such as rice, beans, plantains, slaw, salad, fries, and chicken soup. An individual’s meal comes with two sides. Drinks are extra. The sides are fantastic; all of them, especially the black beans. The soup is excellent, though a bit greasy and not quite as good as Zoey’s. The chicken, however is the star. Cooked over charcoal Mami Nora’s chicken has a smokey taste you don’t get in other grilled or baked chickens in the area. The eye-catching heavy smoke output from the restaurant’s exhaust system gives drivers a hint of the delicious product inside.
Mami Nora’s has a great core product, but it fails to have that killer instinct that could make it famous across neighboring states. Here are 5 ways Mami Nora’s could knock them dead:
1. Change the price point
My two-piece white meat meal that came with two sides, plus a Coke totaled $9.49. This is a point that is a dollar too high for a fast-food lunch. I could have backed down to a dark meat meal, but that would have only gotten the price down to an even $9. In addition, the meal was actually too much food. I ordered rice and beans, and the portions were way too big, about a 6 oz cup of each. While rice and beans are not expensive items for a restaurant to make, perhaps backing down to a 4oz serving would allow the restaurant to back the price of two pieces of chicken a dollar. Perhaps offering a breast-only (no wing) option for $5 would also be a big hit.
2. Add color
Everything in the restaurant is either brown or highlighter yellow, but mostly brown. When I arrived at my seat, I realized that the floor, the chairs, the table, the tray, my Coke, my chicken, and my beans were all…brown. My styrofoam cup and the rice were white. The plastic plates at Mami Nora’s are thankfully red, blue, and yellow, however it isn’t enough to get past the visual weight of the food.
Mami Nora’s should dump the styrofoam cups (for many reasons), and go with a branded, colored paper cup. The restaurant should post gorgeous photos of their food on the walls, as Guasaca has done. Also ditch the brown lunchroom trays. They never look clean anyway. Perhaps offer stainless steel trays like Sandwich (in Chapel Hill) and Chipotle have. Finally, the bright yellow menus with brown writing are a big turnoff. That was the signage color scheme at RDU when Terminal A originally opened. It was bad then and it’s bad now. Maybe a chalkboard menu with yellow chalk and drawings of chicken parts, like you would see in Whole Foods, would be more appealing.
3. Offer a taco pack
For my order on Friday, I paid an additional $1 for 4 hot, soft, corn tortillas and they were delicious. I made rice, bean, chicken, and hot sauce tacos and they stand as one of the best taco orders in Raleigh. I pine for the days of El Pollo Asado, however Mami Nora’s chicken product is actually better. A $6.50 “Taco Pack” lunch featuring one breast, 4 tortillas, a small order of beans, salsa (like Armadillo’s), and shredded cheese would have people lined up out the door and talking about it.
4. Offer a sandwich
One of Mami Nora’s shortcomings is the difficulty of eating rotisserie chicken, as one is apt to get both hands involved and make a big mess. This is where a great chicken sandwich would be a big hit. One of my favorite lunches is a grilled chicken sandwich, but Cook-Out is the only place that makes a decent one since Mutter’s in North Hills Mall closed. Mami Nora’s ought to offer a lightly toasted bun with some chicken from a breast, and it would easily be the best chicken sandwich in Raleigh.
5. Add sauces and salsas
Without sauces, the brown and white meal can be dry. Thankfully Mami Nora’s has two sauces, but they are hidden near the condiments and are unlabeled. When I asked the employee at the counter where the “dipping sauces” mentioned on the menu are, she said,”We don’t have salsa”. One is a mild mustard sauce and the other is a green hot pepper sauce. Both are mayonnaise based sauces, and while they may be true to the Peruvian experience, they are far from adequate in an American restaurant in 2013. The above-mentioned tomato-based salsa is a natural addition to the selection, however some other interesting sauces like those at Guasaca (especially the hot, orange sauce) would greatly improve the experience and liven up the oh-so-drab meal expeirence at Mami Nora’s.
Mami Nora’s business is apparently going well, considering the number of cars that are in the parking lot upon occasional inspection. The core product is outstanding, and with a little bit of fine tuning to their presentation, they can be an runaway success.
On June 5, the North Carolina Symphony will present a mashup of old and new, intertwining Brahms’ First Symphony (1882) with music from Radiohead’s “OK Computer”. In addition to all four movements of the Brahms, eight “OK Computer” songs are performed by three vocalists, both in solo and harmony. Steve Hackman created the mashup, and will conduct the performance. To complement this musical synthesis, an assortment of area food trucks will be present.
Tickets are $20 in advance and available thru Ticketmaster.
Here’s the official press release: read more…
The next design phase for the bombastic Union Station design comes with a public meeting on May 1 at 6pm. The public is invited to attend this meeting at Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum and offer input regarding program elements. There will be conceptual plans on site for review, too.
Raleigh’s Union Station concept aims to use an existing Dillon Supply warehouse as the new passenger rail station for existing AMTRAK trains as well as the federal government’s proposed Higher Speed Rail and the area’s proposed light rail lines. Design challenges exist because of the site’s mix of freight lines, rights of way, and cost constraints. Current designs show a grade level car access with a grade changing pedestrian access. Solving this problem won’t be easy and the city needs our help!
Congratulations to Elon University for being named #1 in the Top 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses by thebestcolleges.org. Other area colleges were named to the prestigious list, too:
- #49 Wake Forest
- #35 Duke
- #27 UNC
- #1 Elon
Note to NCSU’s designers and planners: Plenty of these universities have new campus areas featuring modernist buildings. Get your act together and make that campus attractive!
Summer is just around the corner, and that means another great concert season in Raleigh. From now until the end of September, there is a slew of music and comedy shows guaranteed to ramp up the fun rate in the area. Once again, there are very few dates between now and mid-June that have no event scheduled, so save up, and get out of the house!
There are 100s of good entertainment options coming this summer. The best 85 of the music options (as of today) are assembled below. All of these events appear individually in the gogoraleigh Do-It Calendar with venue information, so you can easily add any event to your personal calendar.
|Bob Mould Band
|The Marshall Tucker Band
|Styx/REO Speedwagon/Ted Nuget
|Lyle Lovett/Delta Rae
|Airborne Toxic Event
|Band of Horses
|Imagine Dragons/Paper Route
|The Postal Service/Ra Ra Riot
|The National/Dirty Projectors
|Lumineers/Cold War Kids
|Warren Haynes/NC Symphony
|Zac Brown Band
|Gladys Knight/The O’Jays
|Big Time Rush/Victoria Justice
|Harry Connick, Jr.
|Black Keys/Flaming Lips
|Black Crowes/Tedeschi Trucks
|Barenaked Ladies/Ben Folds Five/Guster
|Goo Goo Dolls/Matchbox Twenty
|Miranda Lambert/Dierks Bentley
|Hopscotch Music Festival
|John Mayer/Phillip Phillips
|Hopscotch Music Festival
|Hopscotch Music Festival
|Hopscotch Music Festival
|Maroon 5/Kelly Clarkson
|Mary Wilson of the Supremes
|City and Colour
|Fun/Tegan & Sara
|IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass Festival
|Rascal Flatts/The Band Perry
|IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass Festival
A couple of weeks ago Food Network’s “Chef Wanted” series featured the selection of a chef at Raleigh restaurant Coquette. The show’s framework features four chefs applying for the Executive Chef position at the featured restaurant. The contestants prepare a course, and one is eliminated. The process is repeated, and the two finalists each have the opportunity to run the restaurant’s dinner service to show their mettle. At the end of the show, one contestant gets their “dream job”, and the three losers ride off in the sunset seeking another opportunity elsewhere. It all makes sense, doesn’t it?…But it doesn’t.
(spoiler alert) As with every episode of “Chef Wanted”, both Coquette finalists find themselves “in the weeds”, lagging behind in the dinner service. Customers waited inordinately long for items as simple as salad. Contestant Michael Bryant is challenged by the show’s host, Chef Anne Burrell, because he is dying in the salad and soup course. The show’s typical storminess reaches a record high, however, with the other finalist, Pippa Calland. Her success begins to waver with the creation her duck-heavy menu. Not only does Pippa lag behind in the show’s typical fashion, one of her dishes becomes a jar of duck fat mixed with a scant amount of duck meat by the time it is served. The show portrays the service to be such a disaster that owners Stacey and Kevin Jennings cancel the service and disqualify the finalist.
As it turns out, the winning chef for this episode filmed in January was unable to relocate to Raleigh and did not take the job at Coquette. According to the restaurant’s website, the Executive Chef remains Beth LittleJohn. Too, Andrea Weigl’s column in the News and Observer says that the restaurant was never intending to move Chef LittleJohn and place the show’s winner at Coquette, but rather place him somewhere in their Urban Food Group restaurant family.
Curious, as well, is the reaction of the embattled contestants on this show. Kitchen staff members, the show host, and the restaurant owners literally scream and belittle the contestants, creating an embarrassing situation. Yet the contestants, especially the embattled Pippa, show a disturbing amount of poise not only during the service, but also in the exit interviews (that were presumably filmed after the belittling display). Many in Raleigh know about the contrived confrontation that was portrayed on the Ludo Bites episode filmed in Raleigh, and the behavior of everyone on “Chef Wanted” makes me even more suspicious about the honesty of this show, too.
It’s all entertainment, right? Obviously we don’t patronize expensive restaurants for sustenance alone, so the dining experience in America has always been a form of entertainment. Food Network’s mission of high brow instruction seems ever-distant as the network has opted for drama instead. It isn’t enough to show a straightforward interview process, we apparently have to have fireworks in every episode.
Some say the show is good advertising for the restaurant, right? Who doesn’t get excited to see a beautiful production on national TV from a setting we know and love just a few blocks away, right? I’m not so sure. Were Todd English’s sneers at the imbeciles applying to work for him good for Olives? Is it good for Urban Food Group when Raleigh residents see one of the owners pounding her fist on a countertop, screaming at the top of her lungs like a 4 year old? Is the image of the restaurant’s presumed chef smoking in the service area the image that will bring in more business?
I’ve been to dental school and I’ve spent enough time around culinary education to know that the education process in many institutions is the antithesis of “collegial”. Tempers may flare in the real world, too, however I have a hard time believing that interviewers act this way with mere applicants. If anything, this is the phase where the interviewers display an artificial amount of respect to their potential employees.
It isn’t entertaining to watch “reality” shows like that seem so scripted and send a bevy of unfortunate messages to the viewer. The intellectual dishonesty of shows like “Chef Wanted” aren’t improving the state of American cooking and are putting a once-loved cable channel into the weeds.
Good news, Durhamites! Southern Living concluded its voting for the Tastiest Towns contest, and you won! Author Paula Disbrowe describes the city as “A scrappy scene of artisans devoted to coffee beans, brews, and the craft of humble foods.” Congratulations!
On Tonight’s episode of Chef Wanted, CIA grad Anne Burrell will help Kevin and Stacy Jennings hire a chef for Coquette. Act One of the show features four applicants making dishes in the same time until two applicants are successively eliminated.
Act Two features each of the two finalists running the kitchen for a night. That’s where the show get’s hairy. Applicants commonly appear to get overwhelmed by the service, have expectations changed at the last minute, and usually end up screaming at people, especially when prodded by the host. It’s sometimes difficult to tell how much of the anxiety is real or just trumped up theater (like we saw on the Raleigh episode of Ludo Bites).
Chef Wanted airs on Food Network at 10pm tonight (Thursday).
Growing up in Raleigh I’ve had several occasions to do things in Greensboro, especially in the Coliseum area. During my lifetime Greensboro seemed to get all of the great concerts, got great stores before Raleigh, and got to host the ACC Tournament. For many, many years there were real reasons to not only visit Greensboro, but to live there over Raleigh.
Greensboro was a thriving mill town in the first half of last century, which led to the prolific growth of gorgeous classic neighborhoods. Hayes Barton is the bastard child of Irving Park in that regard, but even in the middle income areas there is a prodigious number of houses that were built before Suburbia kicked in. In that era Greensboro invested smartly in their road system, implementing many Wade Avenue type arteries around the older parts of the city. Around Greensboro’s city streets, traffic problems really only exist out in the Suburbian Battleground Avenue, a US1 North-esque sole artery north out of the city. When I-85 was planned, it was a no-brainer to include Durham and Greensboro, as they were thriving, productive cities, unlike Raleigh, the sleepy government town. As Raleigh quickly grew through the 70s and 80s, the two cities were relatively the same size and seemed to have a remarkable number of similarities.
We went to Greensboro for the Friday evening session of the ACC Tournament. Knowing that the Coliseum food is expensive and terrible, we opted to stop at a gas station for beer and stop at a downtown restaurant for take out before tailgating before the game.
While driving around downtown on a beautiful Friday afternoon we got to see downtown Greensboro at its most vibrant. “Dull” probably exaggerates the experience. I was stunned by the comparative lack of interesting restaurants, the lack of downtown bars, and the overall lack of people. There is definitely a vibe in downtown Raleigh, and there is definitely no vibe in Greensboro. This was the first time that it really struck me how much further along downtown Raleigh’s vitality is than Greensboro’s. The number of young people making something to do, creating a sense of place, and moving the city forward is just, scant. The difference is quite palpable.
The point isn’t to beat Raleigh’s chest and flame Greensboro at all. Rather, it struck me on this trip; where is Greensboro headed? Ultimately the I-85 spine will keep all of the cities on the string in fabulous shape. Asheville and Wilmington will exist as creative outposts, and the rest of the state will become severely depressed. I like to call the string of cities the “Carolina Crescent”. Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, and Raleigh will be linked by better and better rail service, and the spine will be a magnet for all important growth moving forward. Much like our current thinking of the Triangle, the crescent will eventually be thought of as a “macrometro” as transportation improves.
So Greensboro has that going for it. The tech and information job push that is filling Raleigh’s sails currently will continue for a good while, but we have to be prepared for another wave; a wave that could change the economics of the city as much as the exodus of the textile industry changed Greensboro and Burlington.
The Triangle is the educational and technological center of the state. It has a strong Liberal voice with a strong interest in environment and humanism. Charlotte will continue to be the strongest financial center in the state, and seems to be the Conservative core of the state. What identity will Greensboro develop? Will industries polarize their presence in North Carolina to Charlotte and/or Raleigh and skip Greensboro even more than ever? It’s looking that way, and the lack of an interesting market sector to ages 25 to 35 has to be the deepest concern for Greensboro in the next 50 years. Much like Richmond, Greensboro stands as a city of yesterday, with no ascertainable uniqueness to tomorrow’s economy. Its future is seemingly more loaded with questions than with answers.
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Oh, BTW, we got food to go from OPA!, the Greek restaurant. The lettuce from the salad was basically from a food service, the olive oil they used was cheap, the pita bread for my wife’s sandwich was stale, the marinade for my chicken kabob was extremely uninteresting, my accompanying vegetables were bland, and my platter did not come with pita bread. This restaurant definitely needs to pick up a copy of The Grecian Plate (Durham Greek Orthodox Church’s cookbook)! An astonishingly better meal for the same price can be had a Taverna Agora; just so you know!
Last year Lilly brought grace to the bicycle, and they are at it again. As part of their expanding Outdoor Girl collection, Lilly announces the release of their new Archery Target. The Hunger Games made us hungry for archery, now Lilly’s daring designers have combined that thrill with the colorful engineering and grace archery experts have craved!
If we had to pick one archery target for the rest of our lives, this would be it.
Breaking News: One of our readers named “Arapahoe61” has informed us that Camp Seafarer will be featuring the Lilly Archery Girl targets during the 2013 summer sessions.
Today the Raleigh City Council approved a plan that will bring dramatic changes to Raleigh’s Western Blvd. Citing the need for better pedestrian safety between Western’s intersections with Dan Allen Drive and Avent Ferry Road, engineers have devised a plan to replace the westbound side of the divided boulevard with a stream (see attached rendering). Officials say the stream will contain many logs and turtles which will offer NCSU students a safer way to get to class.
One engineer told the council,”We found that students completely ignore crosswalks and street-crossing guidelines taught in kindergarten, so instead of inventing the wheel, we went with a tried and true model”.
Engineers say that the changes comprise one of two phases for the area. Phase II comes in Fall 2015, when the city will shut down Western Boulevard in both directions during the hours that any NCSU classes are in session.
Raleigh’s Meymandi Hall, home of the North Carolina Symphony, is about to take on a new name. The twelve-year naming rights deal on the space expires on June 30 this year, and officials announced today that a new naming deal with Duke Energy has been completed. Beginning July 1, the hall will be called the Duke Energy Performing Arts Chamber. Officials say for convenience and clarity, the marketing department has advised that all marketing and publications will simply refer to the faculty as “the DEPAC”.
- North Carolina Loses The Great Teacher February 9, 2015
- City Lays Markings for Currituck Obstacle Course February 4, 2015
- History Making Heels and Wolfpack Prepare for Battle January 14, 2015
- 25 Predictions for 2015 January 5, 2015
- Raleigh’s 10 Biggest Stories of 2014 January 2, 2015
- 2014: The Rain Year January 2, 2015
- Tupelo Honey Sets New Casual Standard December 1, 2014
- 2013 Predictions. A Look Back November 18, 2014
- Wicked Taco Bringing Fresh-Mex to Western Blvd November 17, 2014
- DOT Unveils I-440 Widening Plans November 12, 2014
- County Power Shift Brings Major Changes to Raleigh’s Future November 5, 2014
- Jarrett Bay Store Coming to Crabtree September 25, 2014
- FirstWatch Coming to Glenwood Avenue September 9, 2014
- Big Shindig Releases Set Times September 5, 2014
- Appearance Commission to Review Residence Inn September 3, 2014