The Carolina Inn - A Tasteful Splurge in Chapel Hill

Carolina Crossroads Restaurant & Bar is nestled inside The Carolina Inn. Chef Bryan Stapleton creates magic with familiar Southern ingredients.

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Moreton Neal (Food Critic)
A couple of decades ago, Bill Friday, then president of the UNC system, described the Carolina Inn as “the university’s living room.” The phrase stuck, and now the Inn uses it as a slogan as well as a mission—to provide comfort and Southern hospitality to all its guests. This attitude extends to the “university’s dining room,” Carolina Crossroads, where Chef Bryan Stapleton creates magic with familiar Southern ingredients.

Stapleton’s superb regional menu is produce-oriented and changes by the season. Recent standouts are a delicately balanced curried celery root and potato soup, a butternut squash and lobster risotto, and grilled pork chops served with Hoppin’ John. My favorite fall desserts include chocolate tart with housemade pistachio ice cream and a fresh pumpkin crème brulee. You can sample a range of the chef’s versatility by ordering the tasting menu (a choice of three, four, or five courses with or without wine pairings from $45-$90).

Before dinner, stop by the cozy bar across the hall for the Inn’s irresistible signature aperitif, Tarheel Tea (the bar’s version of a whiskey sour made with a touch of mint), or a nod to the enemy, a Blue Devil Martini (a gimlet embellished with blue Curacao).

The Carolina Inn, beautiful any time of the year, is even more festive during the holiday season. Lavishly decorated around the theme of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” dinner at Carolina Crossroads makes a perfect holiday indulgence.

So treat yourself with exquisitely prepared food in a lovely setting, or reserve a table for one of the Twelve Day dining events and let the Inn fill your stomach and your heart with the joyous spirit of the season.

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