Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Special Occasion Restaurant

Posted April 22, 2008
Updated April 28, 2008

A big political debate is coming up tonight. Let’s have our own culinary debate today. If a special event is coming up where do you go? What restaurant do you call for reservations for a truly special occasion?

I thought about those questions this weekend when Cindy and I went to the Angus Barn. We hadn’t been there in ages. Would it still be as good as we had remembered? The answer: yes and then some!

Call me old fashioned but I still love the cheese spread with crackers up front. The Angus Barn has been serving that since before I first went there in 1972. You’ve got to the careful and not fill up before the main course.

The wine selection is mind boggling. We chose an old vine zinfandel from Sonoma. St. Francis vintage 2005 was heavenly.

Our bacon wrapped filet mignon was perfectly cooked and the mushroom sauce on the side added a rich and delightful dimension to the taste of the beef. I try to avoid a lot of starch but capitulation came in the form of those famous Angus Barn stuffed potatoes. I will gladly spend an extra hour at the gym this week for my dietary crime. And there is no way I am going to dine at this legendary restaurant and not try a little chocolate chess pie. It doesn’t get any better anywhere.

Service here reflects the qualities of owner Van Eure: gracious, charming, warm and always accommodating. Our waitress even recited the names of my CDs. I was impressed.

Where do you dine for that special occasion?


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  • no more - no less Apr 23, 2008

    The Pilot House - Waterfront in Wilmington

  • The Gooch Apr 23, 2008

    Lots of great restaurants mentioned so far! My family loves the Angus Barn, as well, and have gone there for birthdays and other celebrations for years. The last few special occasions we have gone to the Peak City Grill in downtown Apex. Their steaks are always delicious and their "Blue Chips" are a very tasty way to start the meal. My brothers and I also love the beer selection at the bar. They don't have a huge variety, but each time we go they usually have a new brew on tap that we've yet to try.

  • cartman Apr 23, 2008

    My first pick is Second Empire, for fine dinning. Two others are An in Cary and Herons in the Umstead hotel in Cary. Both have been wonderful the times I've gone. Terrific service ambiance and food.

  • blackdog Apr 22, 2008


  • GroupOfPricklyPears Apr 22, 2008

    I'm with you, Bill. Angus Barn - The Cellar - Ms. Eure's got it down pat; for a shorts and t-shirt special event - Sunny Side Too Oyster Bar in Garner (excellent oysters); The Carolina Club, traditional family events and business. Lone Cedar Restaurant at the OBX for vacations. I could go on and on. We're lucky to have so many special restaurants in the triangle area and our state.

  • maxx Apr 22, 2008

    My favorite is Second Empire in downtown Raleigh. We love it, and go there for special occasions

  • Joe Blow Apr 22, 2008

    The Peddler and Casa Carbone (which are right next door to one another) Taverna Agora is also mighty tasty!

  • mcmags Apr 22, 2008

    Bill, the Angus Barn because we southerners love tradition, especially when the standard is excellence! We also enjoy a quick drive down to the Pinehurst hotel. Very special.

  • jcsmom Apr 22, 2008

    For a special occasion, I have to recommend Il Palio in Chapel Hill. It is located inside the Siena Hotel. If you let them know in advance that it is a special occasion, they will go out of their way to go the extra mile to make it super-special. We went once for an anniversary and the menu was personalized with an anniversary wish along with a special desert. The service is wonderful and the food is incredible.

  • atrione Apr 22, 2008

    When I first moved to Raleigh, I had a couple of business dinners at the Angus Barn. For our first anniversary celebrated here, I took my wife. She didn't enjoy it. It was too loud and crowded. Over the last few years, our special occasion restaurant has been Magnolia Grill. It's not much for atmosphere, but the food is always outstanding. We've also added Heron's at The Umstead Hotel and Spa to our list since they opened last year. With a table by the window, you get the best of bouth worlds, great food and a great view.

    I haven't been to Simpsons in 15 years. Maybe I'll have to try it again.




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