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May 2015



Kamado Grille

Written by , Posted in $$$ - Better budget a little for this, Bar and Grills

Located at 832 Springfield Commons Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609, Kamado Grille is brand new to the North Raleigh restaurant scene. Previously inhabited by Lucky 32, business partners, Tom Allen and Joe Dunn got the inspiration for Kamado Grille from their own backyard cookouts. As such, the fresh-faced restaurant features food cooked on “highly efficient, lump charcoal burning ceramic grills” [source].


Kamado Grille Atmosphere

Before you even step foot into Kamado Grille, the view from the outside is impressive. Anyone who may remember what this area looked like pre-Kamado Grille, will definitely do a double-take.

The outside  of the restaurant features plenty of parking, and a larger than life exterior with bocci ball out front, a covered, outdoor patio on the side, and an entry that makes you feel like you’re walking into an REI store.

As we walked up, we were immediately  greeted by friendly staff members (who were poised and ready at every entry point to open doors for guests entering and exiting the restaurant).

The atmosphere inside was light, airy, and clean. We received a brief, guided tour of the restaurant where we learned more about the way the food is cooked. There are at least 12 kamado grills, based on the traditional Japanese kamado), which are equipped to cook food at high temperatures for searing as well as low, slow roasting temperatures. Because these grills use charcoal, the food has an especially distinct, more flavorful taste.

Like the way the food tastes, and wish that you could buy your own kamado grill? Well, you can. Kamado Grille has a small, open guest shop area in the front of the restaurant where people can purchase their very own kamado grill on site, as well as purchase other restaurant-related memorabilia.

Kamado Grille

The restaurant also has several, large, flat screen TVs affixed to the walls. The screens feature live feeds of the chefs in the kitchen, preparing food interspersed with nature scenes and other images). There is semi-circular-shaped open bar area which boasts around 40 types of beer on tap, and there is also a separate bar area where you can dine while watching several of the chefs prepare your meal.

The seating is reminiscent of the outdoors and reflects Kamado Grille’s desire to ‘bring the outdoors inside’. There are evenly spaced pub tables and patio tables. The tables are made of a nice, high quality grain of wood while the chairs are wicker. There are also several black olive trees throughout the restaurant, imported from Arizona – and yes, they are real (we asked).

One of the highlights, however, is the fact that you can order your food sans waiter. Each table features an iPad where diners can select everything from speciality beverages, and refills on fountain drinks to ordering your appetizers, customizing main dishes and splitting checks. We found the iPad menu easy to use, and the service exceptionally fast.

Appetizer – KG King Wings

KG Wings

Cost: $9.50

The KG King Wings consisted of speared, smoked and grilled wings tossed in Bourbon teriyaki glaze and served with a side of ranch sauce.

These wings were absolutely fantastic. I’m typically not a wings person, but these were perfection. The combination of that glaze plus the fact that the chicken was cooked just right (not too overcooked, but well done and juicy) – delicious. I could’ve just ordered this and have been happy.

The wings were awesome. The meat practically fell off the bone, they were tender and juicy – and the teriyaki glaze was out of this world.

The wings were good, messy since they were all ‘together’. The sauce was great; the charred flavor was perfect, not too much. I just wish they had offered us some wet naps with this appetizer since wings, in general are messy.

Ipswich Lobster Roll + Sweet Tea

Ipswich Lobster Roll

Cost: $14

The Ipswich Lobster Roll consisted of fresh lobster roll, lobster meat, KG sauce, lemon juice, celery, and romaine served as an open sandwich.

This meal was definitely more than enough for one person. In fact, it was such a huge serving, that I wound up saving the other half and taking it to-go. The lobster tasted incredibly fresh, and I loved the flavor of the sauce with the lemon juice and celery. I wasn’t crazy about the side of veggies that I ordered though. They were labeled as “grilled veggies” in the menu. However, they tasted weird – like soggy and stale or something. The rest of the meal was fantastic though.

Reverse Seared Pork Bomb + Gingerale

Reverse Seared Pork Bomb

Cost: $16.50

The Reverse Seared Pork Bomb consisted of german reverse seared pork shoulder fillet with sweet bourbon glaze.

Like the name suggests, this dish was “the bomb”. The pork was SO incredibly tender and juicy. The blend of flavors between the pork, the charcoal grill flavor, and that bourbon glaze….I literally have no words. I would absolutely order this meal again in a heartbeat. The only thing I didn’t like at all was the side of grilled vegetables that I ordered. I took two bites and left it alone. The flavor was off – like the veggies were prepared by reheating some frozen vegetables several times in a row and then letting it sit. Also, the veggies were soggy tasting and lukewarm at best. The pork more than made up for this though.

St. Louis Style Ribs + Coca Cola

St. Louis Style Ribs

Cost: $16.50

The St. Louis Style Ribs consisted of a dry rub, cooked low and slow with Apricot Chipotle BBQ sauce.

The ribs were good – fall off the bone. They seemed a little fatty, but the sauce was great. The side of veggies was bad, or maybe just whatever they put them in? The oil? I did not like the taste. 

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Cost: Complimentary

The White Chocolate Bread Pudding featured homemade bread pudding topped with Jenny’s Bourbon dream sauce.

I loved this flavor. I just wish that the top layer of bread wasn’t quite as hard; I wish it was easier to bite into (like the rest of the dessert). The sauce and overall presentation were great, however.

Desert was good. I probably would not order again, but it was good. It tasted very custom.

Kamado Grille is a little on the pricey side. You’re definitely paying for the atmosphere; however, the food is just as delicious as it looks. You can definitely tell that quite a bit of work and thought went into Kamado Grille, and it shows.

Details such as high, vaulted ceilings with ample, natural light, to flat screens that give diners an inside, behind-the-scenes look at their food preparation, to how meticulously the dishes are presented – this is a restaurant that we would certainly recommend trying. Kamado Grille certainly brings a freshness to the North Raleigh food scene, and we are undoubtedly grateful.

Total (for 3 adults): $65.91*

*does not include tip



May 2015



Panera Bread (Capital Boulevard)

Written by , Posted in Deli

Located at 6123 Capital Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27616, Panera Bread is one of the most popular go-to spots for breakfast and lunch. This particular PB location is especially popular given its proximity to I-540, the Triangle Town Center Mall, and the fact that it is right off of Capital Boulevard. It’s easy to get to; and recently, they added a drive-thru window.

In the mornings and during peak lunch hours, expect a crowd, expect noise, and expect that drive-thru window to be backed up. After 2 p.m., you’ve got the whole place to yourself (for the most part).


The atmosphere can be described as laid back and casual. On any given day, or at any given time, you can expect to see everything from families with small children to stuffy suits, to business meetings, to long-time friends grabbing a bite to eat. This location sees a lot of foot traffic, so as a result- things are slightly worn down on the inside. However, the restaurant still maintains a relatively clean interior and presentation.

In front of the restaurant, there are a few tables with chairs set up under a short awning. If it’s raining, you may want to move things inside as you’ll still stand a chance of getting wet. Also, because this PB location is right off of Capital Boulevard near the intersection of I-540, you’ll have to contend with the noise from the traffic. The parking lot also shares space with other retailers, so there is always a constant flow of cars going in and out. In other words, don’t expect a completely serene, relaxing atmosphere.

Chipotle Chicken Panini

chipotle chicken panini

Cost: $7.69

This lunch dish consists of chicken raised without antibiotics, applewood-smoked bacon, smoked cheddar cheese, vine-ripened tomatoes and ancho-chipotle spread all grilled on our freshly baked French Bread. It’s available in whole and half sizes.

The chipotle chicken sandwich is my favorite. The chicken is great and juicy,  and the chipotle sauce is what makes the sandwich. The cheese is SO good and complimentary!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup + 1/2 Greek Salad + Apple (You Pick 2)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Cost: $4.69 + $3.59 (salad)

The Broccoli Cheddar Soup consists of chopped broccoli, shredded carrots and select seasonings simmered in a velvety smooth cheese sauce. It’s available in a cup, or you can opt for a bread bowl (pictured above).

As for the salad – the Greek Salad contains romaine lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, feta cheese, peperoncini, red onions, kalamata olives and pepper tossed in our Greek dressing. It’s a great option for the “Pick 2” side.

I love the salads at Panera. It was a good, standard greek salad. The vinaigrette was well seasoned, and all of the vegetables seemed fresh. Because I ordered my soup to go, the bread bowl was served separate from the soup to prevent it from getting soggy- which I appreciated. The soup was not too thin; it was a good, hardy texture. The bread was fresh.

Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT + 1/2 House Salad + Chips + Hot Tea (You Pick 2)

Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT

Cost: $4.99 + $3.59 (salad) + $1.69 (tea)

Panera’s Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT sandwich is made up of roasted turkey (raised without antibiotics), applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh avocado with reduced-fat olive oil mayo on our freshly baked Sourdough Bread.

This is one of my favorite sandwiches at Panera. It’s also one of the healthiest options on their menu. The bread was a great texture- not stale, and not soggy. I liked that they listened to me when I said ‘No mayo’. Sometimes when it’s really busy at a restaurant, details get lost in the mix, so I really appreciated the attention to detail. The salad was just ok. It didn’t look or taste as fresh as salads that I’ve had from Panera in the past. Again – not a huge deal. Overall, the half sandwich combo was the perfect portion size for me.

Pastries & Sweets

Panera Bread Dessert

Cherry Danish (not pictured)

Cost: $2.59

If there is one thing that Panera Bread is known for – it’s the selection and quality of pastries that they offer. The Cherry Danish is a freshly baked pastry made with Panera’s ‘special’ recipe pastry cream, topped with whole cherry filling and white icing.

The cherry danish was fantastic. It was perfectly made, and it had perfect proportions of sweet cheese, cherry topping, and sugar topping. It was baked perfectly.

Carrot Cupcake

Cost:  $2.59
The carrot cake was well-spiced, and moist. The filling was amazing. It had cream cheese, but not too much sugar. The icing was good, but the cupcake had probably been sitting out a while, because the icing was a bit hard on the outside.

Orange Scone

Cost: $0.99

Panera’s freshly baked scones are made with flour, butter, brown sugar and orange peel and topped with orange icing.

I LOVE Panera’s orange scones. It’s best when you get there first thing in the morning when they’re fresh baked and still warm. However, the flavor was still great.

Total (for 3 adults): $34.92*
*does not include tip



April 2015



Saints & Scholars Irish Pub

Written by , Posted in $$ - Bring your debit card, Bar, Irish

Located just outside of the Sutton Square Shopping Plaza, near Falls of Neuse Road, Saints & Scholars Irish Pub can be found at 909 Spring Forest Road, Raleigh, NC 27615. This Irish-style restaurant and pub mainly caters to the late-day/evening crowd, but it also serves as a great lunch spot!


Saints & Scholars Irish Pub

This restaurant boasts plenty of easy parking, a sizable outdoor patio, and a fairly spacious interior – perfect for large groups, bar crowds, and the occasional musical act. Despite the dark decor, the lighting actually isn’t too bad (for a pub-style restaurant). The bathrooms are definitely reflective of a bar crowd, and while the atmosphere looked clean, the air inside was a little damp and musty and had the slight smell of beer, which made it feel a little sticky.

On the upside, the wait staff was super friendly, attentive, and efficient at anticipating our needs. Little touches, such as making sure we had extra napkins and automatically refilling our water glasses without us having to ask make a huge difference!

Irish Nachos

Irish Nachos

Cost: $10.99

Saints & Scholars takes a twist on the traditional Shepherd’s pie with their “Irish Nachos”. The nachos are actually listed as an appetizer; however, they definitely hold their own as an entrée. This generous dish consists of: pub crisps topped with Saints & Scholars’ homemade Shepherd’s Pie mix, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream.

The nachos had a really unexpected flavor, but it was good! The heavy shepherd’s pie, with the fresh pico made for a pretty great combination. The fusion of different global foods, was something that really set them apart.

Fish N’ Chips

Fish n' Chips

Cost: $12.99

The Fish N’ Chips consisted of cod fillets covered in a house batter and fried. The meal was served with fries, cole slaw and homemade tartar sauce.

The fish was really really good. It was a very large portion of fish- better than I’ve had in the past 10 years in getting fish and chips at any other restaurant. Actual fish was there, not just fried bread.  The fries were okay- nothing special.

Bangers N’ Mash

Bangers N' Mash

Cost: $12.59

The Bangers N’ Mash consisted of grilled Keilbasa sausage served over garlic mashed potatoes and topped with a caramelized onion gravy. It was served with two slices of warm pita bread.

I thought it was odd that it was served with pita bread, but that didn’t really matter; this dish was DELICIOUS. Really flavorful. I only wish that they served it with some sort of green veggies to make me feel less guilty. I ate this on an empty stomach and STILL had a hard time finishing it. Definitely bring your appetite!

Overall, we were pretty pleased with Saints & Scholars. It’s a great spot for a more relaxed business lunch, or to grab a few drinks with friends. Each of us was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful and fresh each of the dishes tasted, and while the presentation was somewhat simple, there was no mistaking the bold flavors of the meals.

The only regret that we had was that we were too stuffed to squeeze in dessert. The Irish pub boasts homemade desserts made fresh daily, and the options sounded mouthwatering. We won’t tell you what they were; you’ll just have to stop by to see for yourself.

Total (for 3 adults): $40.05*

*does not include tip



April 2015



Torero’s Mexican Restaurant

Written by , Posted in $ - Grab change from the couch cushions, $$ - Bring your debit card, Mexican

We were in the mood for Mexican food, so we headed over to Torero’s Mexican Restaurant, located in the Millbrook Collection Shopping Plaza, at 4721 Atlantic Ave, Suite 101, Raleigh, NC 27604.


The atmosphere at Torero’s can best be described as a fiesta for both your eyes and your stomach. Given the location and surroundings of the restaurant, you don’t expect much. However, when you step inside, you feel like you are stepping into a festive party. There is generous outdoor seating on a separate, enclosed patio.

The interior of the restaurant is colorful and decorated with black and white checkered tiles, bright, multi-colored walls, artwork, and Mexican-themed paper decorations hanging from the ceilings. There is a ton of natural light towards the front and center of the restaurant, while the back portion is windowless but well-lit. In the mood to catch the latest fútbol game? There is definitely no shortage of flat screen TVs here! Whether you’re sitting at the bar, or seated elsewhere in the restaurant, you’ve got the best seat in the house.

Below, we tried and reviewed three separate lunch specials at Torero’s. Lunch specials are available at this Raleigh location Monday through Fridays only, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Saturday/Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Fajita Quesadilla (Chicken) + Soft Drink

Chicken fajita quesadilla

Cost: $7.95 + $2.25

The Fajita Quesadilla consisted of a crispy flour tortilla filled with cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese, pico de gallo, and your option of chicken and/or steak. The dish was served with a side of sour cream, guacamole, and a choice of refried beans or Rancho beans, and Mexican rice.

The presentation of the meal was very simple. I LOVED how they served it with separate, edible taco cups. One was filled with refried beans, and the other was filled with rice. It kept the overall meal neat. The pico de gallo tasted ok, but it the avocado could’ve been a little more fresh. The chicken was cooked well, and the overall flavor was decent. I just wish they had better flatware. The knife was so dull, and it made it difficult to eat my meal. 

Fajita Taco Salad

Taco salad

Cost: $7.95

The FajitaTaco Salad consisted of a giant flour tortilla shell filled to the brim with: grilled onions, bell peppers, your option of steak and/or chicken, rice, beans, salsa ranchera, lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole. Picture Elaine’s “Big Salad” from Seinfeld.

Three words: HUGE and CHEAP. Everything on their lunch menu was priced at a great value. Everything was very well thought out. Even the appetizer of chips and salsa was served with individual salsa for each person. The Taco Salad was great. It was served in a golden-brown shell, along with a healthy serving of chicken and guacamole. The flavor was great, and they didn’t skimp on anything – especially with it being so affordable!

Fajitas with Black Beans

Chicken fajitas with black beans

Cost: $7.95

The Fajitas consisted of a half serving of your choice of chicken and/or steak. The meat is then served sizzling hot over sautéed onions and green peppers. You have a choice in sides – either refried beans or Rancho (cholesterol-free) beans. Mexican rice and corn tortillas are served on the side, along with: lettuce, pico de gallo, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and guacamole.

This meal was a great value. The service was good and quick, and it makes for a good office lunch- especially if you need to get back quickly. You received a great amount of food for the price (great value). While the food tasted great, and the atmosphere was nice, the one gripe I had was that the guy up front was not really friendly. To his credit, however, he was fast and professional.

Overall, Torero’s was a great experience. You truly got a decent amount of food for the price that you wound up paying. Besides, where else can you snag a meal for three adults  for under $30?

Total: $28.12 (not including tip)



March 2015



Salt & Lime Cabo Grill

Written by , Posted in $$ - Bring your debit card, Mexican, Seafood, South American/Spanish

Our latest dining experience took us to Salt & Lime Cabo Grill, located at 6006 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh, NC 27609. The restaurant is tucked away in the corner of an otherwise nondescript shopping plaza. However, when you walk through the door, it’s another story.


Inside of Salt & Lime Cabo Grill in Raleigh, NC

The interior of Salt & Lime Cabo Grill takes its inspiration from the coastal California scene. It is open and airy, with a full bar to your left, a lofty, exposed ceiling, and generous seating elsewhere,  including a modest patio off of the back.

The atmosphere is clean and laid back. Beach-themed canvases neatly line one wall, while vases, fresh plants, pottery, and simple artwork are tastefully placed throughout.  The ceilings are tall and feature lights that most likely give the restaurant a dreamy, romantic feel at night (Just imagine yourself dining beachside at night).

Baja Cabo Rolls

Baja Cabo Rolls

Cost: $8.95

The Baja Cabo Rolls consisted of four lightly fried wontons, filled with barbecued chicken, roasted corn, poblano peppers, jack cheese, black beans, cilantro, avocado, and spicy ranch. The thing that made this appetizer especially delightful was the fact that, despite it being a “fried” appetizer, it lacked the fried taste/feel.

The Baja Rolls were great! I liked that they weren’t greasy. They were golden brown, well seasoned, and the ingredients tasted really fresh.

This is one appetizer that was really well thought out. It was definitely a sum of its parts. It tasted really good with the spicy ranch sauce. However, if it had been served separate (without the sauce), it would not have been as great.

I don’t like fried food, but this was surprisingly good – mostly because it wasn’t dripping in oil, and it didn’t have that gross, fried taste. However, the rolls sans sauce were really bland and lacked flavor. It was the spicy ranch that really brought this dish together and made it fabulous.

Fire-Roasted Chile Relleno

Chile Relleno

Cost: $10.95

The Chile Relleno conisted of: roasted poblano pepper, cheese, roasted veggies,  quinoa, roasted salsa, lime cream sauce, black bean adobo purée, queso fresco, and cilantro rice. Of the meal, our diner stated:

The Chile Relleno had a very good flavor and fresh ingredients. It was a vegetarian meal, but it was not lacking in substance. The smoky + fresh combination was awesome. The beans around the outside were almost velvety, and the overall presentation was very deliberate and well thought out.

Chile Braised Pork + Lemonade

Chile Braised Pork

Cost: $12.95 + $3.00

The Chile Braised Pork consisted of: braised pork shoulder, sautéed peppers, onions & tomatoes, adobo sauce, black bean & roasted corn succotash, cilantro rice, and neatly folded, warm tortillas on the side.

This dish was absolutely delicious. The combination of ingredients made it incredibly flavorful. If you order this, definitely bring your appetite, and/or a friend! The portion size was generous, and it was nearly impossible for me to finish. I loved how all of the ingredients had that fresh-made taste. The veggies were perfectly cooked with bits of corn and tomato bursting against the adobo sauce and cilantro. I’d definitely order this again.

Island Shrimp Tacos

Island Shrimp Tacos

Cost: $12.95

The Island Shrimp Tacos consisted of: two tortillas, jerk-spiced shrimp, napa-romaine slaw, jamaican sauce, caribbean salsa, lime cream sauce, and cilantro rice.

Simply put, Salt & Lime Cabo has great food. I feel like the menu was created by a real chef. The ingredients were all high quality. We enjoyed eating in a nice, clean atmosphere. From the moment we walked in the door, the service was great and seamless. The shrimp tacos were AMAZING. The pairing of sauce on the tacos + the pineapple in the taco was amazing.

Molten Chocolate Cake

Molten Chocolate Cake

Cost: $6.95

The Molten Chocolate Cake consisted of: blackberry sauce, and aztec chocolate ice cream.

I loved it. This dessert is definitely not for the faint of heart. It has a very different flavor because of the spices in the ice cream, but if someone was feeling the need to branch out, it’s a great choice.

Aztec chocolate is known to be slightly spicy and rich. This, combined with the warm chocolate cake, raspberry sauce, and whipped cream resulted in a flavor that I can only explain as indescribably delicious. It’s one of those desserts that you try to eat as slowly as possible because you try to savor every single bite. It was THAT good.

Overall, Salt & Lime Cabo Grill was a huge hit. This is a great lunch spot for business associates, friends, lovers, or families with slightly older children. We’d love to go back and see what the atmosphere is like in the evening. The food, service, and decor were all on point. We’d highly recommend this as one of the best, well-kept secrets in Raleigh, NC. The food was absolutely incredible. If you’re looking for flavor, you’ll find it here in more ways than one.

Total (for 3 adults): $60.07*

*does not include tip