We have covered the new Nature Research Center from its construction through its grand opening. So, it seems only fitting that we dined last week at its restaurant, the aptly named The Daily Planet Cafe.
The Location: At the ground level of the North Carolina Museum of Science's Nature Research Center, along West Jones Street.
The Company: Several members of the Out & About team
The Meal: This place is so much more than a cafe. It offers breakfast entrees, pastries, a full coffee bar, sandwiches, small entrees and a salad bar. They also have eight North Carolina beers on tap and Childress NC wines on draft. The cafe, operated by Rocky Top Hospitality which also operates Twisted Fork and Rockwell's American Grill, focuses on using local ingredients.
You can choose to dine inside the cafe, where there are ample tables, or outside on the patio overlooking Jones Street.
Kathy: I opted for the Vegetable Quesadilla ($6), which was filled with roasted vegetables from the farmer's market and cheddar cheese. Because I had no idea how big the "small plate" quesadilla was going to be (it was actually large enough to fill me), I also ordered the Turkey and Black Eyed Pea Chili ($4). Both items were great. The quesadilla's vegetables were seasoned nicely and the Cajun sour cream offered just the right amount of kick. The soup was filled with chunks of turkey. Definitely two great choices.
Sarah: The menu looked great! I had a really hard time deciding what to order and finally decided on the fried green tomato BLT with brie cheese, served on multigrain bread with a side of fries. Everything was pretty good, although the sandwich was very mild in flavor. I'd like to see some kind of basil mayo on it or a flavorful fruit chutney spread. At $8 for the sandwich and fries (plus a drink and tax) I thought the price was reasonable and I will definitely be back! I want to try the fish and chips with local slaw and cilantro remolded.
Tara: I had not gotten a chance to go to the museum since it had been remodeled so I jumped at the opportunity to gaze at the huge globe for lunch! Even when you are driving past the museum you can’t help but notice how inviting and gorgeous the outdoor seating is. Perfectly placed in downtown Raleigh. I was excited to check it out. Unfortunately, it was very windy the day that we went and when we sat outside it was impossible to keep anything on the table. However, when I return I am looking forward to sitting on the patio. For my choice of food I took advantage of the gloomy day (seeing that 90 degree weather was heading our way) and went with the combo of grilled cheese and tomato bisque soup. I like that they had the option of pairing a sandwich with either a soup or salad. I was also pleased to find that instead of getting just a half grilled cheese, you get a whole sandwich and a pretty large bowl of soup. Mine was very good, though I find it hard to believe you could mess up grilled cheese. I am excited to go back and try out some of the small entrees that they had when I am a little more hungry. I have my eye on the chicken and broccoli alfredo and will definitely be going back when the weather is nice.
The Service: You order at the front and then get an electronic pager to alert you when your order is ready to pick up. They moved relatively quickly even during the lunch rush.
The Final Bill: With no item topping more than $8, it is a great lunch stop.
The Verdict: With its great location and outdoor seating, we can't wait to go back and enjoy the view of the SECU Daily Planet outside while we dine on unique local fare.