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$$ – Bring your debit card Archive

Wednesday

29

April 2015

0

COMMENTS

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!

Atmosphere

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

Friday

17

April 2015

0

COMMENTS

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.

Atmosphere

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)

Friday

27

March 2015

0

COMMENTS

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.

Atmosphere

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

Friday

27

February 2015

0

COMMENTS

Applebee’s – Triangle Town Center

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

Our most recent restaurant adventure took us to the Applebee’s at Triangle Town Center. If you want to avoid the lunch rush during the week, 2:30 p.m. seems like the perfect time to eat.

When we arrived, we almost had the entire restaurant to ourselves. The atmosphere was relaxing, the table was clean, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Applebee’s had upgraded to digital table menus as well as their traditional, hand-held menus. The menu had been revised as well and now included more food options.

The wait staff was extremely friendly and attentive. Our waiter was well groomed and didn’t even need to write down our orders – something I found to be even more impressive after we received our food with zero errors.

Ordering from the digital menu at applebee's

When one of our staff members suggested Applebee’s for our lunch spot, I was skeptical. In the past, my experiences with this chain restaurant were mediocre at best. Applebee’s was the place you went to with your college friends for late night dinners; it wasn’t exactly the first place I imagined eating at as a business professional.

However, to its credit, Applebee’s has emerged as great restaurant option. It’s versatile and attracts a diverse crowd of people – both with its food options, pricing, and atmosphere.

Mozzarella Sticks (8-Count)

Mozzarella sticks at applebee's

Cost: $7.49

The mozzarella sticks have become sort of a signature appetizer at Applebee’s – and with good reason. They are delicious!

Served up nice and hot, with a side of marinara sauce for dipping, these mozzarella sticks were on point. They were crispy and not overcooked. In the past, we’ve had issues where mozzarella sticks tasted overcooked and had a rubbery consistency, but these tasted great and went FAST. Also, these mozzarella sticks seem larger than they used to be, years ago when Applebee’s was serving them. Overall, it was a decent portion size for four adults.

Riblet Platter + Sweet Tea

riblet platter at applebee's

Cost: $12.69 + $2.39

The Riblets tasted great. True to the menu description, they were served hot and had a smokey, chargrilled flavor. The honey bbq was really good- it was sweet and not too hot. This is definitely a finger food, and the waiter was attentive to this, bringing wet naps to help keep things neat. The dish was served with Applebee’s signature fries and a side of cole slaw. Overall, it was a delicious dish that definitely hit the spot.

Kobe-Style Meatballs

kobe style meatballs at applebee's

Cost: $6.99

The Kobe-style meatballs consisted of meatballs served with Pomodoro sauce, sprinkled with blended parmesan cheese and served with a side of partially sliced ciabatta bread. This pub appetizer was tasty despite the somewhat unappetizing presentation. We suspect that the meatballs may have been zapped in a microwave and then “dressed up” prior to being brought out to the table. Regardless, the flavor wasn’t affected, and it was a satisfying, filling dish.

Clubhouse Grill + Sweet Potato Fries

clubhouse grill with sweet potato fries at applebee's

Cost: $9.99 + $0.99

The Clubhouse Grill sandwich had a lot going on: thick cuts of warm ham, turkey breast and melted cheddar & Jack cheeses with Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and a drizzle of the Applebee’s signature honey BBQ sauce on freshly toasted Tuscan bread.

Overall, the sandwich was nice and crisp. It had a buttery layer on the outside, and the bacon was crispy. It had had a good flavor, and it was VERY tasty.

The french fries were good but not great. They were NOT crisp, and they tasted too minimally seasoned.

Cedar Lemon Chicken

cedar lemon chicken at applebee's

Cost: $9.99

I decided to order something from the healthier side of the menu, so I went with the Cedar Grilled Chicken.

The dish was served hot and featured a generous portion of grilled chicken, garnished with finely sliced Granny Smith apple slices. The chicken sat in a bed of light, lemon and olive oil sauce, and it was accompanied by a blend of rice, quinoa, honey-glazed pecans and chopped cranberries.

Overall, the flavor was great. It could’ve been a tad hotter. I also found that while this meal was portioned appropriately, it’s probably not the best option to go for when you’re starving (as I was). I found that I was still hungry after I was done!

Blondie

blondie dessert at applebee's

 

Cost: $6.29

What can be said about the Blondie? It was EXCELLENT. I liked that they served the maple icing on the side because even though one of our other staff members loved it- a sweet Blondie, PLUS sweet ice cream, PLUS sweet icing was just a little too much “sweet” for my personal taste.

Another LTTR staff member commented, saying, “Dessert was amazingly good. The Blondie by itself was too dry, but with the ice cream, it was amazingly good. The drizzle sauce was pure sugar goodness as well.”

Triple Chocolate Meltdown

triple chocolate meltdown at applebee's

Cost: $6.29

If you’re a chocolate lover, then the Triple Chocolate Meltdown was made for you. This dessert has been a featured item on the Applebee’s menu for years now, and with good reason! This molten lava chocolate cake is served up hot. When you cut into it, it oozes warm, chocolate-y goodness. Add a side of vanilla ice cream, and top it all with melted fudge, and it truly is a slice of heaven. This dessert is generous enough to be shared or decadent enough to be enjoyed alone. Just make sure you hit the gym afterwards!

Overall, our experience at Applebee’s was great. The staff members were polite, professional, and extremely attentive. The food was flavorful and delicious – and for the most part, presented nicely. And for a mere $68.00 for four adults, it was also budget friendly. We’ll definitely be back in the near future!

[photo credit: Irwin Funes]

Monday

9

February 2015

0

COMMENTS

Taza Grill

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

This week, we decided to dine out, Greek-style, and Taza Grill did NOT disappoint! With a variety of daily menu specials to choose from, there is something for even the most picky foodie out there.

Located in the busy Sutton Square shopping plaza at 6325 Falls of Neuse Road, Taza Grill is easy to miss. The restaurant is anchored in the corner of the shopping plaza, and it is convenient to The Fresh Market (next door) as well as plenty of other shopping.

Atmosphere at Taza Grill

 

Taza Grill Daily Menu Specials

Just before you walk into Taza Grill, you walk into an open-air, partially enclosed terrace area. While we didn’t sit outside (due to the chilly winter air), it is easy to see how inviting the outdoor seating will be once the weather warms up. The terrace area is expansive and covered, allowing for plenty of fresh air while protecting you from the capricious North Carolina weather.

Step inside the door to Taza, and you are immediately greeted by the warm, rich smells of authentic, Greek-style cuisine. Employees work diligently behind a clear, glass divide that allows you to see the fresh food cooked right in front of you. Meat is sliced, diced, and cooked to order, and the different toppings are arranged neatly and within close enough view for you to point out your meal additions.

We stepped in for lunch right around 12 noon; and while it was bustling, it wasn’t too crowded. We easily placed our order, found our seats, and sat down to enjoy our meal. By the time I whipped out the credit card to pay, one of our orders was ready to go. Shortly after, the other orders followed. The speed and accuracy of our orders (no mistakes made) was only complimented by the employees’ professionalism – which was both kind and calm despite being busy.

After we sat down and began to eat, the lunch rush kicked into full swing. The music, friendly chatter, and wonderful smell of mediterranean food gave way to a warm, inviting atmosphere that made you feel right at home.

Taza Grill employee at work

The only downside to Taza Grill is that it tends to get a little smokey at times, due to the proximity of the grill to the dining area. While it’s great that you are able to see your food being prepared, the smoke was visible and seemed to spill out into part of the seating area. While this was brief and intermittent, it is something worth mentioning. Also, seating may be an issue depending on the time of day you decide to dine in.

We were lucky to have arrived just before the lunch rush. However, if you’re planning on dining in, it would behoove you to go just before or just after the lunch crowd. The seating situation is likely better during the warmer weather months, when folks have the option to sit outside. On the upside, the majority of the crowd seemed to be time-sensitive, eating fairly quickly before dashing out to get back to work.

Falafel PlatterTaza Grill Falafel platter

Cost: $8.99

The Falafel platter consisted of a generous serving of falafel served with a freshly made Greek salad. Tahini sauce was served on the side. Hummus was dolloped neatly onto the plate, along with warm pita bread. The meal also came with your choice of a fountain beverage.

According to our LTTR staff member, the Greek salad was “..one of the best Greek salads [she’s] ever had”. Overall, the entire meal was delicious, and she would definitely order it again.

Gyro Express Platter (Chicken)

Chicken Gyro Platter at Taza Grill, Raleigh, NC

Cost:  $8.49

The Gyro Express Platter came as a meal deal. You get your option of meat to fill in, and the meal is served with french fries and a fountain drink. The meat choices are, chicken, lamb (traditional), steak, or beef.

If you plan to order the steak or beef in your gyro, plan to pay an additional $1.50.

Skewer left in chicken gyro

According to our LTTR diner, who chose the chicken option, the overall meal tasted good. However, he experienced an unpleasant surprise when he bit down into what he thought was a bone. It turned out that Taza had mistakenly placed (or misplaced) a skewer into the meat of the gyro. While this wasn’t a total meal crusher, it certainly put a damper on the overall experience.

According to our LTTR diner, the overall meal “tasted good”. He commented on the spices tasting strong but flavorful. The biggest meal thrill was the tzatziki sauce, which “tasted great”.

Gyro Express Platter (Lamb)

Lamb Gyro from Taza Grill

Cost: $8.49

I followed suit and ordered a Gyro Express Platter as well. However, I opted to go the traditional route and chose lamb as my filling. The meal came with french fries and a drink. The gyro was DELICIOUS. The lamb was tender and cooked thoroughly. The fries were crisp without being greasy, and the thing I loved most about the fires? They hardly had any salt on them (which was a huge plus for me).

I would order this meal again in a heartbeat.

Dessert – Baklava

Baklava from Taza Grill, Raleigh, NC

Cost: $0.99

We ended our lunch on a sweet note and ordered three pieces of baklava. At $0. 99 per piece, it was worth it.

According to one LTTR team member, the baklava was sweet but not as flavorful as he’d had in the past. Another LTTR team member thought that the baklava tasted great. Her only complaint was that she wished it came in bigger portions because the current ones were “too tiny.”

As for me- sugar is sugar, and I love my decent share of it. However, I’d have to agree that while the baklava tasted fine, it was just that: fine. The dough was flaky, but it was a little on the greasy side.

In sum, Taza Grill is a restaurant that we’d definitely revisit in the near future. At $33.22 for three people, not only is Taza a fantastic deal, you get to enjoy incredibly fresh and flavorful food in a warm, inviting atmosphere. We just hope that next time, we won’t be playing Hide-and-Seek with skewers in our gyros!