Patrons who pass beneath Cafe Monte French Bakery and Bistro's bold red awning seemingly zoom across the Atlantic into a Parisian bistro hung with French artwork and vintage photographs. Platters of mussels arrived drenched in white wine and butter, and pommes frites proudly share the spotlight with steak and french green beans. In the kitchen, chefs sizzle crêpes to a golden brown for breakfast, or fill them with savory lobster and crab for lunch and dinner. Patrons can dine alfresco on an outdoor patio or linger inside the eatery's canary-hued walls, where satisfied customers gather around a piano to sing odes to their favorite French pastry chefs.
Georges Brasserie’s executive chef Andrew Dodd conjures hearty platters of French-influenced fare infused with upscale flair. From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. noshers can choose from the full-service lunch menu with its classics such as the croque-madame ($9) and trout served with almonds, roasted potatoes, haricot verts, and brown butter sauce ($13). Fromage and charcuterie platters ($11–$14) dazzle taste buds with local cheeses and a rotating daily selection of house-made charcuterie. Patrons can also go with something from the lighter and quicker bistro menu, such as white wine mussels and frites ($9), soup and salad ($7), or Georges Philly ($9), in which sliced new york strip steak mingles with sautéed peppers in a three-cheese mornay sauce for a French take on the Philadelphia classic.
Executive chef and owner Jim Alexander has created an upscale dining experience worthy of a world-class New York or London eatery, with a menu of contemporary French cuisine that remains accessible to all diners. Educated at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, Alexander has been widely recognized within the restaurant industry, including earning a stint on the 1996 gold-medal-winning US Culinary Olympic Team. His mastery of the kitchen shines not only in the well-flavored meals, but also in Zebra’s characteristic artistic presentation. Most dishes benefit from ambitiously sculpted food combinations, each a brilliant array of colors, shapes, and textures.
With its shingled exterior, molded woodwork, and many fireplaces?including a three-way fireplace that opens to the foyer, library, and dining room?it's really no wonder why the McNinch House is on the National Historic Register. The property for this Fourth Ward dwelling was purchased in 1891 for $3,000, which, at the time, was about the same price as an Internet-ready typewriter. The elegant Queen Anne home constructed there remained a family residence for decades, and when it threatened to fall into disrepair, enterprising citizens sprang into action to restore it to its original splendor.
Since 1989, the renovated house has served as an acclaimed restaurant. Here, executive chef William Parham crafts ever-changing new American dishes using indigenous Southern ingredients and classic European techniques. Diners can choose from several different menus, including a seven-course "Grand" experience and the more-adventurous chef's tasting. In addition to its food, the McNinch House also boasts an award-winning wine program for unparalleled pairing.
Rev your appetite engine with an elegant, Southern-style appetizer such as seared NC scallops with succotash and tarragon beurre blanc ($12). For a main course, sup on another Dixie delight, such as the jumbo shrimp-n-grits with bacon and midnight moon tomato ($28), or opt for a more-universal slab of USDA prime beef—the 14-ounce rib-eye is served seared the way you like it and slathered in meaty deliciousness ($29). If you'd like to keep your meal as light as a globetrotting eccentric's hot-air balloon, have a basil-pesto, hand-tossed personal pizza (with feta, artichokes, and Peppadew peppers, $7) or fried-oyster salad (with egg, bacon, and balsamic, $14). Click here to see the full lunch, dinner, and dessert menus.