Published on August 11, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

I had a genuine reaction to the ordinary. I slurped down a delicious Broiled Oyster in “hotel butter” and Parmesan and it was good. So good that I gave it the ultimate middle class compliment, “This is Red Lobster good!” Stunned? Don’t worry, so I was I!

Let’s start at the beginning. Charleston talks about The Ordinary like it’s a historical monument not to be missed, “Well you’ve got to go to The Ordinary.” To a refurbished Bank of America that is now a James Beard winning oyster and espresso bar? Hell yeah!

We ordered everything the waitress suggested: Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar, Crispy Oysters and Beef Tartar, and Head-on BBQ Shrimp.


The seafood had a delicate and delicious touch that should go without saying. The Yellow Fin Tartar was by far the best bite of the evening. The tuna was so fresh that it could have been eaten plain, but the cream sauce decorated with some radish shavings was cocktail worthy and highlighted the fish perfectly. Just the right amount of cream and citrus to make me want more.

For my entree, I ordered the NY Strip Steak which was the special of the day. I was thinking this might be a mistake, ordering steak at a seafood place, but why would a James Beard winning restaurant have steak on the menu if it is not going to be a damn good steak? Or at least a steak better than someone could make at home?

Even before my plate arrived, the seas were rocky. My salad was nothing but green lettuce and a flavorless buttermilk dressing. As luck would have it I had the parmesan oysters during this course so everyone knew I’m not a square.

When my plate arrived, the sides were nothing short of depressing. The picture says it all. I guess Charleston is on a diet, possibly famine induced. I got three 10 cent potatoes and some yellow green beans that are in desperate need of a friend.


The waitress suggested I order the steak medium rare, which is cool that’s my favorite temperature anyway, but when I pointed out that my steak was medium well she said, “Yeah, that’s what medium rare is looking like tonight. The steaks are a little tougher due to the dry aging so we’re cooking them longer.” If that’s true, then why not tell me that during your recommendation? Our steaks are going to be overcooked and tough. Sold! If only she could have warned me that the steak would be unappitizingly salty and bested by the worst steak you could find at Outback, she would be batting a thousand.

While I’m gnawing on my steak and rationing potatoes, my friend bit down hard on two pearls in his fried oysters. Should we complain about that? One of the pearls was Gobstopper big (Hello friendship bracelets!), so we complained lightly.

The overcooked, salty steak and dental damage from jewelry in the fried oysters landed my friend and I a discount on our check and a free taste of one of the worst appetizers I could ever imagine: the Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Louie, which had the culinary forethought to put mayo and crab together on lettuce with saltine crackers on the side…I’m thinking they ripped this item off of Shoney’s menu, but don’t quote me.

Low and behold they were holding back some aces for the dessert round, which was panna cotta made fresh daily by some Earth stranded angel. This was unreal. It hit the happy gelatin medium that lands somewhere between Greek Yogurt and Flan, but tastes like God’s best rice pudding. It was served on top of a berry sauce that I wish I still had some saltines leftover from the Crab Louie for.

Overall, this place was a huge letdown and even though the manager gave us her card and said she would take care of us the next time we come in…I’m not going back! When Red Lobster is your competition…you’re losing.

The Ordinary on Urbanspoon

Published on July 14, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

The new location is fabulous! The refurbished inside definitely connects modern remodeling and classic sentiment – look closely and you may just find their original awning! History is on the walls and so is a new coat of paint. I won’t give away too many secrets, because if your experience is like mine, after you get seated, you will have plenty of time to take all of this in. Both times that I have been to their new location, I have had to wait around 10 minutes for our waitress to come over for the drink order.

After the drink orders are taken, I still feel the wait for food to arrive is a little long, but it’s hard to complain because you are treated to trays of freshly fried pork rinds and delicious hush puppies.

If you are going for the first time, be ready for some real North Carolina, vinegar-based que! This stuff is for real and if you don’t go easy on the sauce and prepare yourself accordingly, the sour heat may take your breath away and you will definitely want some sauce on the que, which needs some flavor and on some occasions moisture as well.

Their BBQ is odd in texture due to an extremely fine chop so that it comes out looking pre-chewed, similar to canned tuna, and could easily be eaten with a spoon and probably without chewing.

Clyde is missing some pretty clutch side items on the menu, no mashed potatoes, baked beans, mac and cheese, or side salad. They are trying to keep it southern and their southern cole slaw perfectly dressed with mayo and vinegar is more than I could hope for, the collards are very standard and the brunswick stew shouldn’t have many people asking for seconds, and I hope anyone who orders the boiled potatoes is already depressed.

In the end, I gave Clyde Coopers a thumbs down overall, but their Fried Chicken was nearly a saving grace. The skin is great and the chicken is so juicy and flavorful you do not need skin or a sauce to enjoy it (a rare compliment).

I have made banana pudding one time in my life following the instructions on the box and the haphazard mess that I came up with was just as good as Clyde Cooper’s.

This restaurant does seem a bit like a sabotage. Every lunch that I have here, there is at least one person at our table who cannot pay because they do not have cash and unless they want to pay the ATM fees they have to panhandle for cash. I have run into some financial issues with this restaurant over a catering order that has convinced me to never return.

Clyde Cooper's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Published on February 3, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

Chapel Hill may have Chipotle, but two block overs, Carrboro has Carrburritos. Before I had moved into town, I was told that I need to eat at Carrburritos, and before all of my boxes were unpacked, I ate there; it was the perfect introduction to Carrboro. Privately owned, probably 10 employees to it’s name, an atmosphere that encourages Summer breezes and tan cervezas. There’s an outdoor patio for your friend or your book and if you dine in, that salsa can be all yours!

The setup is very similar to other “build your own ____” stations. Pick your choice of entree (taco, burrito, bowl, etc.) and go through the line filling it with whatever you want/are willing to pay extra for. I always went for the burrito. And their meats are the best in the business. Perfectly seasoned and grilled, especially if you can get there at a decent time so they haven’t dried up, because that is the only problem with Carrburrito. They have a reliable lunch clientele, but grabbing an afternoon snack or an early dinner might lead to some dehydrated rice that, though dehydrated, is still teeth cracking good.

However, the headliner at this place should be their salsas. They have six options to choose from, and as they say on their menu, every salsa has its own fan club. Their salsas are all made in house and taste incredibly fresh. If you have an inkling to venture out, their Salsa Frutas may quickly become your number one goto, happened to me. In fact, the last time I visited, I was pouring that rich salsa on my burrito until it was leaking through the tortilla. I’ll never apologize.

Sure, I would encourage you to pour salsa on your burrito, but, fret not, they give you some amazing chips and all flour chips so no salsa will go to waste. Unfortunately, if you get your order togo, you may feel salsa jipped, so I will encourage you to dine in and open the salsa buffet.

Their margaritas are pretty standard, but you always know what you are going to get when you grab a bottle of Corona.

Don’t wait for Summer to give Carrburritos a try. In fact, don’t wait another minute.

Carrburritos on Urbanspoon

Published on January 17, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

Finally! A restaurant the lives up to its name! Baja Burrito or “Short” or “Lower” Burrito is definitely a poor-man’s lunch, falling WAY short of even my most modest burrito expectations. The burritos at Baja are the equivalent of a sandwich with just meat and cheese. There are no veggies to add taste or, most importantly, add texture and if you agree to adding cheese and sour cream, you can’t taste anything else in the cream filled tortilla, and opening it up can be nauseating to look at. I did manage to dig through the white pond and fish out a piece of meat and it did taste well cooked. So I hope I just got a bad composer. Burritos need rice and beans to make them filling (I say that as literally as you can get).

What is rocking and rolling here are the sides you can get with some of those deliciously fried nachos. The salsa, queso, and guac are all highly respectable items and I would go back just get some of these for the road.

What is definitely talking me out of returning (quite literally) is the staff. I showed up at 3:30 in the afternoon. No other customers in sight and the person taking my order was incredibly hasty. Her demeanor was so frigid I was half wondering if she was robbing the place and needed me to leave in the next two minutes or kill me if her plan was to work. She would cut me off, rush my order, didn’t smile once. I guess I made the rookie mistake of showing my coupon too early, but who knows.

Either way, not great food, crude services…I mean…yeah, I would need another very generous coupon to consider returning. As luck may have it (for better or worse), I do have another coupon, so returning is on the agenda and I will leave my final verdict for another day, but this is a grim outlook.

Baja Burrito on Urbanspoon

Published on December 31, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

Want to take you Beer Run to a whole new level? Find a gift for that impossible aunt? Or treat your friend to a special treat? Out with Sam Adams and in with craft beer. This article is my breakdown of my favorite beer stores in Raleigh (in no particular order).

Bottle Revolution
4025 Lake Boone Trail #105, Raleigh, NC 27607
(919) 885-4677

Bottle Revolution is a great place for anyone interested in beer to star. Every beer is sold individually. Not to say that you can’t get 6 or so bottles of your beer of choice (if it’s not limited), but traditional packs are out the window and the idea is to try new things. The shop is small, but entirely dedicated to beer, making their selection competitive, however, it is all organized by brewery so if you are looking for a tasty tripel or a seductive stout, you will need to have an idea of what you want or ask for help. I have to give a round of applause to Bottle Rev, because they are the most reliable and dedicated Twitter posters that I have found when it comes to announcing new arrivals. They have a membership program which allows for holdsies, a beer of the month, members-only parties, and lotteries for those hard to find beers.

What’s the best feature? Off all the beer stores that I go to, this is probably my favorite to have a pint. The outside patio has a nice view and provides access to two pretty great takeout joints that can load you up with carbs for the ride home. This space is also great for when they have tap takeovers or parties like their International Stout Day.

What I would change? Prices, namely on those cherished 4 and 6-pack items that can rise a few dollars above other stores. Another store that I like (Bottle Mixx) sells everything by the bottle and offers a price break on 4 or 6 packs.

Bottle Mixx
8111 Creedmoor Rd #153, Raleigh, NC 27613
(919) 615-1703

This is the store that is closest to my pad and therefore the one that I wish I desired to shop at the most, especially since the owner has always been an incredibly nice guy and makes nothing but the best recommendations. The store is an even mix of beer and wine, both on the shelves and on tap, which may cause some tension between wine snobs and beer drinkers, neither band willing to understand the other, but the beer selection is competitive and organized by type. Bottle Mixx doesn’t offer a membership program so everyone has a first-come-first-serve chance of getting non-holdsies, limit-one-per-person, rare releases, HOWEVER, I must warn you that sometimes you will get mixed messages from the staff on how the release will work (line, counter, who cares, etc.) only to have things change and someone who just walked in is at the front of the line. Obviously, this has lead to me feeling cheated a few times.

What’s the best feature? Definitely the staff. They never lose their patience with my friends calling to ask about beer, they always take the time to talk about beer, and the staff is well educated on their beverage of choice. Great place to go if you want a last minute gift.

What I would change? PRICES! I started out frequenting this shop and spent a few dollars more on some bottles than I would have at some other places and when I am buying two or three bottles at a time, a higher price tag really means something.

Ridgewood Wine and Beer
1214 Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607
(919) 832-5232

Speaking of prices, this place hands down has the best prices of all the shops. Bottles are anywhere from one to two dollars cheaper. Their beer selection is probably the most narrow of these shops, because 2/3rds of this location is dedicated to wine. Unfortunately, this place doesn’t get rare beers like some other stores (possibly because their selection is so small), but when they do get it, it is all on a first-come-first-served basis. Not a problem for me, but some of my friends have mentioned that Ridgewood does not offer individual bottle sells to make your own case.

What’s the best feature? This place has an incredible tap selection! What they don’t get in rare bottles, they make up for on their keg lineup.

What I would change? This location needs to work on customer facing. My friends agree that Ridgewood has the best prices, but they refuse to shop there because of how they have been treated. I have found one or two friendlies who work there, but some are so sour, they definitely make me feel like an unwanted customer.

Total Wine
Locations in North Hills, Brier Creek, etc.

Don’t knock it till you try it. Total wine has HUGE stores and a constantly revolving selection of beer (if you know where to look). This place also has some of the best prices and if you get on their mailer, I hear they save you even more money. Does this place get limited releases? Somewhat. The problem is that not all employees know what to do with it when they get it, so it may be out on the shelves baring the cold or it may be under a desk waiting for someone to ask about it. This store has bottles by the style, packs by the brewer, and seasonal/limited releases spread all over.

What’s the best feature? If they get something you want, they have many locations where you can try to get more and they also have deep discounts on beers that are ripe for aging, but maybe not great on the shelf. These beers will be two dollars off a price that is already lower than most.

What would I change? They have so much product that finding what you want can take a little digging, but this also helps me find some hidden treasures, so I take the good with the bad.

Tasty Beverage
327 W. Davie St.
Suite 106
Raleigh, NC
919 828 2789

This is probably my favorite shop as a whole. It has a great staff, friendly clientele, competitive prices (occasional deep cuts), and a great selection. The shop has one little rack dedicated to wine, but the rest is all an impressive beer selection. This place gets all the great releases and they have incredible tap takeovers, which can be a problem as the shop itself is very small.

What’s the best feature? This is a great place to take out of town guests. Tasty has a good tap selection, and after your pint you can visit The Pit, a chocolate factory, brewery, or grab some roadies and take the party elsewhere.

What would I change? I have seen 100 people in a store that should have no more than 20. For the tap takeovers and release parties, this place needs to rent out one of the neighboring restaurants.

Published on December 14, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

It was a Sunday morning and I had a Groupon in my pocket for a brunch that I don’t think anyone was too excited about. The restaurant was 30 long minutes from opening and it was too cold, boring, and depressing to wait outside for a buffet to open. So I bebopped down South Wilmington Street and found an energy in the walkway windows of Joule Coffee, where customers sat at bar-top tables, eating, talking, drinking coffee, and everyone of them looked model quality happy. I decided this would be a great place to kill 30 minutes.

Joule is a step in the direction that all restaurants should be taking. The location is small but feels open, and it is guided by the best sentiment of a traditional cafe: put an emphasis on quality coffee and food to bring people together. Joule hosts a talkative clientele that doesn’t need a radio playing or iPads to hide behind, and most conversations seem open to nosy or opinionated neighbors who may want to make a friend or start a war. This is the place that I wish Starbucks was, a real cafe that invites discussion. And if you don’t have anything to talk about, you can find something on the menu well worth discussing. How about a coffee with a sour note? Can’t possibly be good, right? Try it and find out. Or what do you think about biscuits and gravy made with short ribs? Naturally, a hipster waitstaff of 20-30 somethings is a must and having signature drinks inspired by cult movies like The Big Lebowski makes too much sense. And if the atmosphere reminds you of Beasley’s, you have a great sense about you, because they are driven by the same chef, Ashley Christensen, who may be one of the south’s most daring geniuses in the kitchen.

I was sipping a very complex coffee at the bar and taking everything in, when all of the sudden a provocative plate of food passed by me that was so pretty I was surprised paparazzi weren’t following it. The food’s name was Juevos Rancheros and they had never looked better. It was a hearty picture vibrant and luscious colors. Why it had to be ordered by the person next to me was a cruel act of fate, as I had brunch plans that could not be altered, but I swore to the Gods that I would return and the next weekend, I did.

I ordered the Juevos Rancheros. Why not? I had only been dreaming about them for the last two weeks and, I hate to say it, but I was disappointed. The flavors all fell a little flat for me. The strong coffee may not have helped things, but after a while, all I was tasting was sour cream and the red sauce that the eggs were dressed with with had almost a pasty quality.

My girlfriend ordered Eggs Benedict. We are both huge fans of this classic dish and, though she really enjoyed it, I have some complaints. My main complaint is that the portion is a little stingy for the price, and the overall plate would fair a lot better if it was served with some breakfast potatoes or a side of fruit. You can order potatoes for $4 (and we did), but by that time a bill for two people will easily cross the $40 mark. I wish that I could say the plate was overpriced, but tasted good, but I can’t even say that. I thought the hollandaise sauce was oddly sweet and zesty and reminded me of a key lime pie filling, which wasn’t for me, but the rest of my group seemed to like it.

The all star of the evening was definitely the biscuits with a short rib sawmill gravy. This is a very good dish, well worth the price and the serving size is impressive. I wish I could get this as a side item, because I wouldn’t want to make a meal of it. The salt shaker was a little heavy on this dish, but overall, I don’t want to complain and I want to recognize this dish as being nothing short of genius.

Overall, I really like Joule and it is definitely one of those places I will be taking guests from out of town. As with all downtown locations, I wish parking was a little more manageable, but going early in the morning makes things easier. This place can get packed in a hurry, but there is ample bar seating that you can try to snatch up.

Taste/Variety = Decent
Portions = Low
Price = High
Service = Low (slow and orders were mixed up)
Atmosphere = great
Quality = Above Average Total Value = Pleasing

Joule Coffee on Urbanspoon

Published on August 11, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

I want to start by saying that Rise is exactly why I love not just food but the food INDUSTRY. Cutting the tape to open these doors was probably the last pair of hands I would have expected. The owners of Rise knocked a ball out of the Research Triangle Park when they opened their food truck, Only Burger. Only Burger has received a loyal fan base and plenty of publicity. When I heard they were opening a brick and mortar location, a burger joint is naturally what comes to mind, but enter Rise, a donut shop with a lot of attitude and a daily menu that makes skipping a day difficult.

My girlfriend first introduced me to Rise on a late Friday evening. I was going to a concert with Joey, who has been my best friend to get in trouble with since Kindergarten, and surprised that Joey and I could still stand when we got home, my girlfriend shared a treat with us. I thought that I would need a few hours to sit down, but once my girlfriend turned the corner with a platter of pastries, my disposition quickly turned. I almost started cheering at the sight of maple bacon bars, apple fritters, banana pudding donut, Creme brulee donut. My sweet tooth has never been more fulfilled (especially with the apple fritter and banana pudding donut) We all shared everything and it was all gone in a matter of seconds.

Luckily for me, this would become a Friday tradition in my household for the next few weeks. Every Friday, my girlfriend would bring home three or four donuts and every Saturday she would complain that I’m not losing any weight. I have waited so long to review Rise because I have always had my donuts at least 12 hours after they were made. For my review of the restaurant, I wanted to have some fresh. Will visiting Rise become my new weekly tradition?

I want to say that I really like Rise’s store. There are some fun decorations around like a mounted pig puppet head, some cool looking t-shirts, and the staff is very friendly. That being said, when 10 people are inside waiting for food, it definitely feels crowded. The nice thing is that most people are taking their food to go, but for those of us who want to stay, there are a few tables outside, a bench inside, and a 4-person counter top. Rather than eat in the car, I stood and ate.

The first thing that I ate was a Country Ham and Fried Egg biscuit. This biscuit was really missing something. The ham was incredibly salty and the egg was fried to a turf, yes sew some of these eggs together and you have a football field. The biscuit itself had good flavor, but was not as fluffy as I would have liked. If my egg had been runny or if there was cheese, I would have liked this biscuit a lot more.

If we ever have the opportunity of meeting each other, I will probably bring up the fact that I like biscuits and gravy within the first 10 minutes of conversation. Because I LOVE biscuits and gravy! That being said, I can make some great biscuits and gravy! Finding  some street savvy B&G is nearly impossible. I am happy to say that Rise has the best biscuits and gravy I have ever had outside of my grandmother’s kitchen. Their gravy was creamy and extremely flavorful without feeling heavy. This dish nearly receives a standing ovation. If I could have ordered it as a platter (with eggs and bacon), I would have started clapping and crying.

For my choice of donut, I got a a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Donut. After months of eating 12 hour old donuts, I was really hopeful that eating this one in stores would give me that pillowy bite that I get at (hate to say it) Krispy Kreme. Unfortunately, I still have yet to bite into a Rise donut and be blown away by the dough itself. For me it’s in this awkward texture area of muffin meets scone. I want my donut to have some give when I bite into it and if I were to pull or bend it, I don’t want it to crack or break instantly and that’s the problem that I have with Rise.

Their coffee tastes like McDonalds (which is not great for me). The secret item on their menu is their potato hash cakes, which are a heavenly side item.

This is a great place to take out of town guests, because it is serving food you literally cannot get anywhere else. Though I can’t say that I am a Rise fanatic, at least I am dating one and if the Bluth’s Frozen Banana donut ever returns, I certainly hope to get my hands on one.

Taste = Mid high
Portions = Fair
Price = Reasonable
Service = Friendly and hard working
Atmosphere = Fun but lacking indoor seating
Total Value = Worth it!

Rise on Urbanspoon

Published on July 16, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

Have you ever taken a break from a good thing? I hate unintentional hiatuses. Growing up in TN, Greek food came out of nowhere to get my taste buds in line and teach me that salads don’t need ranch dressing, sandwiches don’t have to come on bread, and pizza does not have to be deep dish. My favorite Greek restaurant is Mad Greek near the famous Bristol Motor Speedway (you can read my review here). Funny thing is, I ate Greek food as frequently as I could when I was a teen, but I did not eat Greek food again for 15 years. Lucky for Greek Fiesta, when I returned to the Greek Arena, it was with them. Unfortunately for Greek Fiesta, I went back.

The first time that I ate at Greek Fiesta, I ate with someone who had never eaten Greek food before and we were both so happy! We ordered hummus, skewers of meat, salads, and, of course, enough tzatziki sauce to scare some of the other diners. We were so happy. The food tasted good, the meats had good seasoning and had the taste of coming off the grill, but it was not dry. The hummus was velvety. Our only complaint was that we ate too much, but Greek food does not have the quantity of cheese or carbs that make me feel like I need to fast for a few weeks.

This trip inspired me to try other Greek and Mediterranean restaurants in the area encountering several hits and misses along the way. Eventually, I went back to Greek Fiesta, anticipating a strong return to form, and I honestly wish that I never had.

My first problem with Greek Fiesta was the price. If it had better quality food, aka not ice-burg lettuce and maybe a cut of steak that has a name, I might not complain. But, when they count tzatziki as a side item, I really feel like I am getting a pita sandwich and a side salad that should not cost over $8 and I am paying closer to $12. By the time I get some hummus and a drink, it is a $20 lunch that leaves me feeling like I got robbed.

Also, either my taste buds have changed or Greek Fiesta’s recipes have taken a nose dive. The meat that I thought was so well cooked on the first visit has turned dry or rubbery. Most disappointingly, the hummus that I was holding up as the best hummus I have ever had, has dried out and taken on the texture of play-doh and the last time that I ordered it, it smelled so bad that I actually threw it away.

What surprised me the most was Greek Fiesta’s falafel. I am a baby in the world of falafel and have only had it at a few places, but I enjoyed it. I can say with an honest heart that if I first tried falafel at Greek Fiesta, I would never try it again, I would ask to be put in a basket and sent down river. If the falafel had not been burned in ways that would make Smokey the Bear cry, I’m still convinced that it would taste very bland.

Unfortunately, for the good experience that I had at Greek Fiesta, I have had three horrendous experiences, and after the last visit, I swore that I would not go back. Though I will always thank me for getting back into Greek cuisine, there are too many places to get pita and meats that have a great idea of what good service and quality means to waste time here.

Taste = Low
Portions (based on price) = small
Price = High
Service = Friendly
Atmosphere = dull
Total Value = bottom of the barrel

Greek Fiesta at NC State on Urbanspoon

Published on June 14, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

Busy Bee Cafe did me a huge favor, it made deciding where to take my mother for her birthday a no brainer. When Mom is not climbing mount Kilimanjaro, helping kids get through school, traveling Europe, swimming with dolphins, falling asleep before 9 o’clock, taking yoga classes, quitting yoga classes, calling herself a golden indigo, learning French, traveling to France, or deciding whether or not she is a druid, you can find her doing her latest hobby, which for the time being is bee keeping. Even though she has more hobbies than there are hobbies to have, she is exceedingly difficult to shop for. So lately, I have been buying her dinners, but where to take the mother who has eaten it all?

I read that the Busy Bee was a landmark of Raleigh, that it is nationally renowned as a great bar for beer because of their aging process, and it has a good score on UrbanSpoon, so I figure why not. Bee is in the title, Mom will love that. When I got there, I realized just how much of a bar it was. Lines of beer taps, a bar long enough to house 4 bartenders. Limited seating towards the back, but an entire upstairs for large and loud parties. When I think of “Busy Bee” as a restaurant title, I think of a place that probably sponsors NPR, hosts book clubs, and has one little old lady running the place with experience that longer translates to impressive speed, but this place is a legit bar ready for the working class to buy quality beer, wine or liquor.

After reading more about this place after my first visit, I guess their stand out item is their aged beer. I don’t think I have ever tasted aged beer. I have a can of beer that has been loitering on my back porch for a little over a year, but I think Busy Bee has a better system than that. Sadly, I cannot talk about the beer today, just the food and their signature Queen Bee martini, which my girlfriend agreed must be for the Disney princesses in the audience. This drink was so sweet that I think most kids would have a hard time finishing it or getting drunk off of it.

Bars that are known for their spirits rarely lend themselves to an expansive or entirely appetizing menu, and in this case, their menu has 4 salads, 6 entrees, and 9 burgers to chose from. Maybe the left the old lady in the kitchen to satisfy the one customer looking to order food for their meal and not an imperial stout. Either way, it is clear that they did not want their menu to become a formidable read for any drunks in the house.

For the food, my mother, who insisted that I call her Golden Indigo for this review (she assured me that my readers will know what that means), ordered the Arugula Salad. She wants you to know that she gives it an A, but she had a list of complaints that made me curious why she ate as much of it as she did. I think she was just happy to be at a restaurant that had goat cheese, but she wants everyone to know that the salad needed more goat cheese. I think it needs a dressing that is worth a damn, but that’s just me. We all agreed that the lettuce to toppings ratio was dreadful. I will never pretend to like salads built off of a fruit and a vinaigrette, so no one should be offended that I would give this salad a 1/5. HOWEVER, my girlfriend who said she would give it a 2/5…that’s a fruit and vinaigrette expert.

Let’s get to the meat of the matter. I ordered the drably named American Burger. Saying my order out loud almost depressed me. I thought American Burger as a name was out of fashion, kind of like…Chicken Nuggets. I expect my burgers to have no less than three adjectives in their name: “Blue Cheese and Bacon Burger” or the “Zesty Kung Pow BBQ Burger”. If that fails, give it an exotic name that sparks interest like the Skinny Dip Burger, the New Mexico Burger, or the Golden Indigo burger, that sounds…nevermind, I would never order that (what the hell’s a golden indigo?). I am slowly beginning to realize that a name means nothing in the food industry, because this burger rocked my world!

I want everyone to know that there have been times in my life where I have ordered a burger and wanted my first bite to consume me in a Jimmy Buffet song. Dear readers, I am happy to report that this burger has done just that. In my first bite, I was eating the burger that I have hoped for at every burger joint I have encountered. I found the meat incredibly flavorful, the bun perfectly toasted, and it was of such a size that I could easily eat the thing without 1/2 of it falling on my plate, but it was incredibly filling all the same. I’m dropping an extremely satisfied 5/5 on this burger. It’s definitely in the top 5 best burgers I have ever had.

My girlfriend’s Chicken “Philly”, had everyone’s senses aroused. The cheese was oozing off the bun, there were hearty chucks of meat and vegetables, and it was partnered with a polite mind of well seasoned and crisp, but not greasy, fries. I need to wipe my brow just thinking about it. Unfortunately, my girlfriend got pretty stingy when it came to sharing this dish. I managed to get one bite and though it tasted good, I had some portion problems, so I’m giving this sandwich a 4/5. My girlfriend would give it a 5/5. And Golden Indigo judged us harshly for finishing our meals of blubber instead of ordering salads.

Was there any trouble in the hive? Quite a bit: First of all, the service was embarrassingly absent, and I say embarrassingly because we were there at two in the afternoon. Competition for our server’s attention was not an issue. Now, to be fair, our server could have been trying to avoid Golden Indigo. After hearing that I had a food blog that was doing well, Golden Indigo must have concluded that I inherited the skill from her, because she became a geyser of suggestions. When I’m tuning someone who is talking about food out, we have a problem. At one point, I think Golden Indigo brought up ice cubes…so I retract my statement. Stay gone waitress.

That being said, several of Golden Indigo’s complaints were valid. For instance, I got fried green tomatoes as my side item, thinking Golden Indigo would like them (she normally does). These were inedible. Plain and simple. They were way too tart. And when they got poured from the fryer, I don’t think there was enough oil left behind to submerge a pickle chip. These tomatoes get a first ever 0/5 and between the three of us we could not finish one and when the server came by we told her she could take them. As someone who worked as a server, I just want to say that when I saw something like this or when a client asked me to take away an item that had three bites from it, I always offered to get the customer something else, but I was never an attractive blonde.

UPDATE: Since the first visit with Golden Indigo, I have returned to Busy Bee and I was yet again faced with an unsavory side item, this time in the form of broccoli potato salad. I would give this a 1/5 and, yet again, the waitress took it back largely unfinished. When she asked how it was and I told her that it was not very good, she asked if I would like something else.

I do want to thank the service at this bar, because a group of drinkers with a teenager’s mentality and a child’s ability to control their voice was causing a scene and this is not that type of a bar. They are not playing techno, they don’t cater to loud groups. Thankfully, the staff asked this group to keep their voices down and eventually the group left, before too many diners could beat them to it.

This time, I ordered the Fish Tacos and I was pretty letdown. They carry less flavor than most fish tacos and less fish for that matter. So they get a solid 2/5. There was no appropriate side item to order with them (fries, tots, potato salad?) and my $11 plate only came with two tacos. So we are talking tapas portions here.

My girlfriend ordered the Bacon Jam Burger, or something similar in name, and it was pretty good. Topped with a hearty onion ring, bacon, and jam. I still maintain that these burgers are the perfect size, only this one (in the few bites that I had), definitely could have used more jam, because the bites that I got were pretty one note.

My girlfriend wisely ordered Tots with her meal and they were damn good tots. Very crispy, well salted. I mean, I didn’t think the day would come where I would be impressed by potato tots, but here we are: 4/5.

Taste = 4/5
Quality = 3/5
Portions = 2/5
Price = 2/5
Service = 3/5
Atmosphere = 3/5
Total Value = Definitely worth a try

If Busy Bee’s Chicken “Philly” got you hot and bothered, let me save you a trip to downtown Raleigh. My friend Torre has a recipe for you!

Published on June 14, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

A philly style sandwich doesn’t have to always be a greasy meat sandwich smothered in cheese. And don’t get me wrong, very few things go better with a cold beer, a good football game, and a rowdy group of friends on a football Sunday in the Fall than a greasy meat sandwich that isn’t shy on cheese. This take on the chicken philly however, amplifies the great flavors of the classic philly sandwich ingredients and slightly re-imagines the presentation. Chicken is the perfect protein here as it binds perfectly the tangy, spicy, sweet and cheesy flavors of this sandwich.

Total Time: 40 minsIMG_20130525_160738_230 (1) Prep: 20 mins
Cooking: 20 mins Level: Easy
Servings: 6
Price of Ingredients: $




      2 lbs Skinless & Boneless Chicken Thighs (for white meat version use chicken breast tenders)
      1 Green Bell Pepper
      1 Red Bell Pepper
      1/2 Yellow Onion
      2 Cloves Garlic
      1/4 cup vegetable oil
      1/4 cup ketchup
      1/4 cup white vinegar
      1/4 cup soy sauce
      1 cup mozzarella cheese
      1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
      Poultry seasoning
      Italian Hoagie Roll
    Optional: Your favorite vinegar based hot sauce. I use Cholula.

1. Season chicken thighs then slice into thin strips.

2. Thinly slice peppers and onions.

3. Finely chop garlic cloves then crush into fine paste. You basically want the garlic to melt away but leave it’s great flavor when added to the pan later.

4. Add vegetable oil, peppers, and onion to pan. Let simmer on medium high heat for about 7 mins.

5. Add crushed garlic and let simmer for another 5 minutes.

6. Add sliced chicken to the pan and let simmer until chicken is cooked through.

7. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and ketchup. Let simmer 5 minutes.

8. Add cheese to thicken sauce when melted.

9. Serve on warm hoagie, finish with a few splashes of hot sauce. Enjoy.

Note: Use hearty bread –like an Italian, French, or brioche –that can stand up to a sandwich with a little moisture.