Bleg! Local graphic designer/artist

Are you a local graphic designer/artist familiar with making logos for use on a website?  Are you willing to work for below market wages (our budget is $50)  and on a tight timeline because you love Carpe Durham?  Well if so, we love you!  We have a good idea of what we want, but being lawyer types, lack the creativity to execute it.  Please contact us at carpedurham -at- carpedurham (dot) com if you are interested.

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 11:01 pm  Comments (4)  

Back Yard BBQ

I was appalled to read we hadn’t yet been to Back Yard BBQ (5122 NC 55).  And now with Man v Food coming by, I needed no further persuasion.

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I went at an odd time of day, just missing lunch, so the price jump hurt a little but the pain was soon quelled by one hefty plate.  All in all, it was about $13.  So, still not bad, especially since I saved nearly half the meat for later.

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Here they play a fun game called Hide the Ribs.  Neatly packaged above are hush puppies, collards, fried cabbage, and pulled pork.  All of which were good.  I’d place the hush puppies among the better ones I’ve had in the area, even though they were a tad sweet.  The collards were quite nice and had chunks of meat mingling with the greens.  The woman who served me said she had never heard of fried cabbage before she started working there.  She also said it was real good.  I was intrigued by them as well, and I agree with her.  Whatever it means to fry cabbage (in a pan, I suppose), it is the preferred method.  Now, the pork was pulled like crazy.  So much so that it started to lose texture.  I also thought it a little dry, but I probably just didn’t grab enough sauce.  And I don’t take lightly the awkward hour that I showed up.  Most of this stuff was probably hanging around since the peak of lunch and lost some of its luster, though at the time I hardly noticed.

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The ribs were very good.  The smoky meat was nicely complemented with a sweet sauce.  The only thing that could have made it knock my socks off would be some added spice.

I know what I’m about to say is BBQ sin and/or hubris, but I started putting a little of that sweet, tomato based sauce on the pulled pork with the spicy vinegar business on it…it took me there.  Which lead me to think that maybe this whole East-West thing is really overrated, like it was with rap in the 90s.

Lastly, there was one more thing the kind woman at the counter talked me into, a pineapple lemonade.  It really hit the spot on a hot day.  It was pretty big, so I saved half of it in the freezer.  I thawed it in a blender with a little somethin somethin the next hot day–because nothing is sacred, not if it’s tasty.

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Also of note: they have brisket on Fridays and Saturdays.  Considering their work on the ribs, I would think it would be awesome.

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm  Comments (18)  

Restaurant Week roundup

For Restaurant Week, we decided to only try places outside of Durham.  In case you are curious, here is a quick summary of our thoughts:

Dinner @ Jibarra (327 W. Davie St):  Cool upscale Mexican place (restaurant and “tequila lounge”) with some good eats.  I loved its funky modern decor that’s worked really well into the historic building (a train depot).  Off the Restaurant Week menu, we had the Cochinita Pibil (shredded pork), Pollo Al Pastor with lentil puree, and the coconut and papaya flan.

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The chicken, while a little boring (not very spicy) on its own, was delicious when I got an especially charred bite combined with a bit of everything else on the plate–the lentils, roasted pineapples, and salsa verde.  The coconut and papaya flan was amazing–great texture and deliciously coconutty. We also tried the Chilorio de Chamorro (pork Osso Bucco) which was rich, tender and tasty.  The highlight of the trip was probably the tequila flight:

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Dinner @ Rey’s (1130 Buck Jone’s Rd):  The Restaurant Week menu was quite a deal here because the food is normally pretty pricey, and I’m glad I learned the relatively cheap way that for me, the food isn’t actually worth its regular price.  The turtle soup (yup, turtle is in there, tastes like a rich tomato bisque) and the chicken gumbo were by far the best dishes.  The proteins (we tried pork chops and salmon) were just ok.  Two of our three desserts were pretty good (especially the cheesecake).

Lunch @ The Pit (328 W. Davie St): We decided not to do the Restaurant Week menu because the food was fairly cheap already.  We started with the Brunswick Stew–great veggies in there, and it turned out to be our favorite part of the meal.

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The hushpuppies were disappointing–they seemed like they had been sitting out for a while and they were kind of dry, so we weren’t sorry that we only got two each.  The other sides were either bad (Brussels sprouts, which I usually love) or completely unexciting (greens, biscuit, sweet potato fries, slaw).

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The meat was better than the sides, but still, we thought, not worth all the hype we’d heard about the place. The brisket was our favorite, but the ribs were dry and managed to be too smoky, and the pork bbq was unremarkable.  The sauces (one sweet and one eastern Carolina) were pretty good though.

Dinner @ The Mint (1 Exchange Plaza): We’ve always loved the Mint, and still do.  Prices have gone down since it opened, and the Restaurant Week menu ($25) was the same as their normal 3-course prix fixe offering that’s usually $30.  This was the best meal of the week.  The scallops were amazing as always, the trout was crispy, bacony and delicious, and the key lime cheesecake was great.  I was also happy to see that the bar upstairs (a fun, semi-secluded place to hang out if you have a good sense of humor about the slightly over-the-top decor) offered sazeracs (an absinthe drink I haven’t seen in Durham).

Drinks @ Foundation (213 Fayetteville St):  This bar had nothing to do with Restaurant Week except that we happened to catch sight of it on our way out of the Mint.  It’s a simple but nice bar, charmingly hidden down some stairs from the street.  We tried some moonshine that, because it’s legal, was not very strong but quite delicious.  The crowd there was very friendly, even though the place seemed relatively “hip.”  I’d hang out there often if I lived nearby, I think.

Conclusions from Restaurant Week:
1) Raleigh is not bad!  Maybe we should go more often.
2) Durham is still the best.
Published in: on May 19, 2009 at 6:59 pm  Comments (6)  

Man v. Food filming in Durham tomorrow!

UPDATE: We just got a corrected email informing us that the original info we got was wrong: MvF will actually be filming at Backyard BBQ on THURSDAY.  Hope to see you there!

Prior to Adam Richman’s participation in the Doughman competition, he’ll be hitting up two Durham spots on Tuesday, May 19, to film for his show:  Wimpy’s (617 Hicks St) at 10:30 am – 12:30 pm ON TUESDAY MAY 19, and Backyard BBQ Pit (5122 NC Highway 55) at 5:30 – 7:30 pm ON THURSDAY MAY 21.

I don’t know that either of these places feature any sort of gluttonous eating competitions but maybe he’ll just create his own?  Either way, we’ll probably be the dorks in the Carpe Durham t-shirts trying to say hi to our moms on camera.  The filming is open to the public and everyone should stop by!

Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm  Comments (3)  

Moe’s Tavern: Durham County’s northernmost watering hole

Although folks in northern Durham County (Bahama) still need to drive 15+ minutes to get bread or Windex, at least they can now get a cheap ice-cold Bud right down the street.  We’ve done some checking, and as of its opening two months ago, Moe’s Tavern (12911 Roxboro Road) in Rougemont holds the county’s northernmost beer license.

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Looking for a quiet place to do some afternoon drinking because we are out of school study for the bar exam, we drove by Moe’s and stopped in for a couple of beers.  It’s a great little bar with $2 beers and really friendly people.  Within a minute the (very adorable) bartender had introduced herself to us, gotten our names, and offered up the dart board and pool table for our use.

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They have a couple of TVs, probably permanently tuned to ESPN2.  They were playing good music when we arrived, but our opinions on what to listen to were quickly solicited.

We will be back frequently.

Moe’s Tavern
M-Th: noon-9pm
F-Sa: noon-midnight
Su: noon-“whenever the race ends”

Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm  Comments (2)  

Shaba Shabu

Shaba Shabu (4020 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd) is the second location of this upscale Thai-Japanese restaurant and lounge, the first being in Raleigh.

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The first mistake we made was to look at the wrong menu online (the Raleigh version) and then get excited about several dishes that they didn’t offer at the Durham location.  Conspicuously absent, considering the restaurant’s name, was Shabu Shabu.  Once we adjusted our expectations, though, we got a pretty good meal (but perhaps not worth the price).

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We started with the sashimi appetizer (six pieces, $8.49), which was very fresh.

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The chicken red curry ($13.99) was also good–it was a bit light on vegetables, but the sauce itself was rich and tasty (though we didn’t like it any more than nearby Twisted Noodles’ version, which costs five bucks less).  We’re still searching for “the bomb” Thai curry in the Triangle–any suggestions?

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We also got the Pla Sam Rod (fried red snapper with a spicy sauce and vegetables, $14.99), which was my favorite dish of the evening.  The dish wasn’t exceptionally spicy, and in fact most of the sauce was very sweet and needed to be cut with the spicier sauce on the side, but the two mixed together was a nice combo.  This dish also had plenty of vegetables, which were fresh and well cooked.

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This place is definitely going for atmosphere–it was very dark, the music was loud, and there was even a dj perched high above the dining area–all a bit over the top for our tastes but well executed for what it is.  Our service was less than ideal (for some reason our entrees came out about 10 minutes apart), but we won’t hold that against them just yet since they were newly opened when we went.  Maybe if they get enough requests they’ll even start offering Shabu Shabu!  All in all it was a nice evening–we’d go back if someone else was paying or if they added their namesake dish to the menu.

Published in: on May 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm  Comments (18)  

Triangle Restaurant Week — now!

We are just a bit late posting on this, but Triangle Restaurant Week is going on as we speak (May 11 – 17).  Restaurants across the Triangle are offering prix fixe menus ($15 for lunch, $25 for dinner) — at some of these places, this is a great deal.  We have reservations for pretty much every day!

Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 11:13 pm  Comments (4)  

George’s Diner

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The George’s Diner (3536 Hillsborough Rd) parking lot was packed at lunchtime last Friday.  With a steady stream of diners & takeout customers, George’s Diner is definitely open for business.  The kitchen was serving from eight of the menu’s nine pages (pasta & sautées to come soon, maybe even by the time this review gets posted).  The wireless and the milkshake machine are expected to be operational this week.
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The grilled cheese + BLT fixings (see the menu item entitled “The Happy Waitress”) contained loads of crispy bacon and was served up quick.  The baklava was flaky with just enough honey.  I will return to eat a meal from the Greek Food section of the menu.  The owners are Greek and the Hillsborough Road George’s is the first location.
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The decorations include a lunch counter, jukebox and pictures of Hollywood legends on the walls & tables.  Not much on the website, but it does tell you what you need to know: George’s Diner is open 24 hours serving Home Style cooked meals.

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Published in: on May 6, 2009 at 10:07 am  Comments (43)  

Restaurant openings report

Asia World (3550 N Roxboro Rd)
J & J Fish & Chicken (2728 Guess Rd)
Jump N Java  (2945 S. Miami Blvd)
King’s Daughter’s Inn Kitchen (204 N Buchanan Blvd)
Nannie Brown’s (826 Fayetteville St Suite 110)
Palmas De Caribbean (821 N Miami Blvd)
Quintiles (4820 Emperor Blvd)
Red Sea (2000 Chapel Hill Rd Unit #4)
Saigon Grill (2929 N Roxboro St)
Sansui (4325 Hwy 55)

Restaurants
King’s Daughter’s Inn Kitchen (204 N Buchanan Blvd)
Palmas De Caribbean (821 N Miami Blvd)
Red Sea (2000 Chapel Hill Rd Unit #4)
Sansui (4325 Hwy 55)

*DISCLAIMER: Presence on this list indicates that a restaurant has been inspected, not that it is necessarily open for business today (although it usually is).

Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 10:22 am  Comments (5)  

Cool John Ferguson at All People’s Grill

Cool John Ferguson will be doing two shows at All People’s Grill (6122 Guess Rd) on May 9 and May 30, both starting at 10pm.  (We will probably go to both.)  Tickets are $15.  Everything is cash only.

People often ask us what our favorite find has been in Durham.  I can never come up with a single answer, but if I was to make a short list, All People’s Grill would definitely be on it.  If you’ve never listened to us before, listen to this:  go to one of these shows for a really fun time at a really interesting Durham institution. I am always scared that this North Durham soul food restaurant/bar/blues club with elusive operating hours is gone for good after 57 years, but then it shows signs of life.  Seriously, if you haven’t been, go.  It’s sort of like The Know, but rural and with a more diverse group of people.

Published in: on May 4, 2009 at 1:00 pm  Comments (1)