Like the woman from whom it takes its name, Roxolana Restaurant captures the imagination. An Ottoman empress in the 16th century, the Ukrainian-born Roxolana earned fame and adoration by rising from slave to sultan's wife, then to puddle of borscht. Her namesake restaurant evokes the olden days with a décor of traditional Ukrainian folk art such as rushnyk, or hand-embroidered towels, and oberig, or decorative wreaths.
Roxolana Restaurant's father-son team of Ukrainian chefs grill succulent meats, lace dishes with housemade spicy cayenne-tomato sauce, and whip up desserts such as red-wine mousse. They match their traditional dishes with barbecue ribs and light lunch fare. A generous selection of wines and beers refreshes throats parched from struggling to pronounce entree selections.
For more than 50 side-splitting years, The Ice House’s stage has been propping up comedy heavyweights and future legends by the likes of Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, George Carlin, George Lopez, and Jerry Seinfeld. Each week, the club continues its tradition of inverting frowns with an ever-growing lineup of up-and-coming jokesters, as well as occasional drop-ins by stars that have included Rob Schneider, Tom Green, and Nick Cannon. No seat within the intimate club is further than seven rows from the stage or 30 feet from the inflatable slides that serve as emergency exits.
Every few weeks, Singles Mingle Events stages another party at one of Raleigh's upscale restaurants and bars. But the company isn't celebrating anything in particular. The events are merely an opportunity for local singles to get to know each other. Sometimes they take the form of speed dating, but just as often they're simply laid-back cocktail hours, the kind of low-pressure gatherings where even shy guests can loosen up and have a good time. Of course, if you do find yourself feeling nervous in the lead-up to an event, you can always call on Vanessa Taylor, the company's resident dating coach.
“When [you] walk through the door, the first thing you’re gonna smell is bacon.” That’s a promise from Slater’s 50/50 founder Scott Slater, whose restaurant serves an infamous burger patty built from half ground beef and half ground bacon. Executive Chef Brad Lyons helped with the recipe, though the original inspiration came from the all-bacon patties Scott and his friends used to grill up during Chargers tailgate parties. For the restaurant, he decided to cut the bacon with high-quality beef that, like a baby's fake ID, is aged 21 days. As if the bacon-infused patties weren’t distinctive enough (as far as they know, Slater’s 50/50 the only restaurant in the world that serves them), Scott and Brad designed a DIY menu that lets patrons customize their burgers by size and with 11 cheeses, 40 toppings, 19 sauces, and four kinds of bread. Patrons overwhelmed by these options can instead order one of the specialty burgers, such as a Peanut Butter and Jellousy with creamy peanut butter, strawberry jam, and of course, thick-cut bacon. Bacon reappears throughout the menu, including as candied crumbles on brownies and in the syrup used in bacon milkshakes.
At Scarlet Tea Room and Fine Dining, the tea services represent both a treasured English tradition and a modern form of celebration. Here, groups gather beneath a chandelier flecked with vibrant red accents to indulge in five-course meals. Their loose-leaf steeped beverages—which range from a sweet and lemony French verveine to a smoky Chinese lapsang souchong—complement a selection of bite-size desserts and light sandwiches stuffed with savory fillings such as prosciutto, aged white cheddar, and sun-dried-tomato spread. The afternoon tea service also includes housemade scones and berries romanoff, a fruity dessert served in a dark-chocolate cup.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, the award-winning kitchen staff prepares small plates of shareable dinner fare such as grilled skirt steak with marinated mushrooms, sautéed gnocchi with walnut-arugula pesto, and Fijian kingfish crudo with grapefruit and green papaya. To celebrate special occasions, such as Valentine's Day or Father's Day, diners can order specialty cakes for pickup or visit the dining room for a romantic concert or saucy burlesque performance by Queen Elizabeth.
redwhite+bluezz, a nightly confluence of wine, contemporary American cuisine, and live jazz music, won the Best Live Music Club and Best Wine Selection awards from Pasadena Weekly in 2011. Divided into The Grill and The Vintage Room, the decorated eatery fuels feasts with a menu of grilled beef, seafood, and chicken dishes alongside platters of artisan cow, sheep, and goat cheeses and trays covered in charcuterie, some cured in-house. Seasoned sommelier Russ Meek complements the eats by crafting his signature flight menus, which offer pairing suggestions from the expansive wine list, 40 of which are available by the glass. Sounds of humming horns, rattling drums, and strumming guitars reverberate in the jazz club, where heralded local musicians perform every night and during Sunday brunch. Dedicated to enriching entertainment, redwhite+bluezz hosts a slew of monthly events, including 90-minute flight school sessions that document the history, background, and embarrassing middle school stories of local wines.