Raleigh, N.C. — I knew I shouldn't have volunteered to write Friday's "vegetarian best bets" article for Triangle Restaurant Week - just look at the spectacular selection of restaurants my WRAL Out & About team has already featured this week: Girasole Trattoria, Little Hen, Zest, Weathervane, Watt's Grocery, Bia at Solas, Bolt, Centro, Mo's Diner, Tuscan Blu, 518 West, Nofo at the Pig, Tribeca Tavern, Sitti, Babylon, Bida, Vin Rouge, Manta, Gregoria's and BuKu!
Didn't think I could find five more "must dine" Triangle Restaurant Week destinations, did ya? Well I did and I also managed to find a tasty handful with vegetarian first and second course entrees.
Let's start in Raleigh - my hometown and most frequent dining destination:
- Jason and the team at 18 Seaboard ($30 dinner) had me at "Barham Farms Cucumber and Sweet Pepper Salad with Elodie Farms goat cheese and M&M herb vinaigrette." I'd also go with the Pan-Seared Darlington Cow Pea Cake with pickled hakuri turnips and Burch farms collard greens and creole sauce for second course selection. For dessert, there is just no passing up the Hot Mug of Chocolate Cake with house made marshmallow fluff.
- A Raleigh vegetarian staple, I have never missed Irregardless Cafe's ($20 veg dinner / $30 meat & seafood dinner) participation in Triangle Restaurant Week. This time around, I'll be enjoying the Middle Eastern Platter, Shepherd's Pie (who could pass up an individual pie layered with spinach sauteed with garlic, sliced carrots steamed with pomegranate molasses, caramelized onions, fennel & braised cabbage, mashed potatoes mixed with parsley bulgur wheat and diced tomatoes, wrapped in a short crust pastry and served with a miso gravy during this bitter cold snap?) and the Grand Marnier Creme Brule dessert.
Heading west to Durham:
- At Bleu Olive Bistro ($30 dinner), first course for me looks like Roasted Beet Tartare with baby arugula, barrel aged feta, candied walnuts, and lemon soy vinaigrette. My main entree choice is Vegetable Paella, featuring plum tomatoes, leeks, red peppers, roasted eggplant, haricot verts, zucchini and Spanish saffron risotto. Chocolate raspberry ganache torte for dessert, please!
- I'm also looking forward to dining with Vita ($20 dinner). A first course of roasted beets, mixed greens, apples, maple pecans, gorgonzola, with hampagne vinaigrette await vegetarian diners, followed by mushroom ravioli with red pepper and artichoke cream sauce, and delectably finished with Nutella cheesecake. Yes, Nutella cheesecake. Sold!
Hoping that a visit to Chapel Hill doesn't spoil my Wolfpack's chance at a win on Saturday against the Tar Heels:
- Talulla’s ($20 dinner) is my choice for a foodie adventure worthy of the 30 minute road trip. Mücver (fritters made from zucchini, feta, eggs, scallions, dill, parsley and served over a housemade garlic-infused yogurt sauce) is on my dinner wish list, along with Sebzeli Musakka (layers of eggplant, zucchini, carrots, peas, peppers, onions, tomatoes and potatoes, topped with Bechamel sauce and cheese) and ending with Kazan Dibi (caramelized upside down milk pudding served in layers).
Where have you been and where remains on your "to eat at soon" list?
Happy dining, Triangle Restaurant Week fans!