Many people would consider warm carrot pudding an adventurous dish, but at Saffron Indian Cuisine, the gajar halwa isn't even on the avant-garde section of the menu. Rather, the traditional Indian dessert joins other Northern Indian classics, including palak paneer combined with fresh spinach and homemade cheese. The shrimp vindaloo is another standout with a sauce so painstakingly balanced, you can offset its mix of tangy and spicy by eating a spoonful of basmati rice or having a friend gently blow into your mouth. As for that avant-garde section, it's where Chef Mahesh?who has worked in multiple 5-star hotels in India?shows off his ability to experiment and invent. His paneer nirvana, for instance, mixes cheese and grilled vegetables in a punchy red-pepper sauce, whereas the sea bass bahaar wears a cloak of coconut-sesame-cashew sauce.
It's been more than a half-century since the first Char-Grill opened its doors on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, but not much has changed at this beloved local chain. Whether in the original cinderblock building or one of the 10 locations that have been added since, people still approach the counter to jot down orders, pass them through the window, and then look on as cooks grill half- and quarter-pound steak patties over charcoal flames.
In addition to the signature smoky-flavored burgers, Char-Grill also fires up grilled chicken, chili dogs, and pulled-pork sandwiches. Milkshakes and fries add to the eatery's classic feel, helping land it on USA Today's list of 51 Great Burgers and reminding guests of simpler times when hamburgers were used as currency.
Not ones to miss a chance to throw a party, the organizers of Wine & Dine Auctions turn their events into entertaining and educational experiences. Beer and wines from local vineyards pair with steak dinners, which are prepared on charcoal grills onsite so participants can gather cooking tips from the chefs. Next, guests wander over to the auction, where they bid on exclusive, high-grade cuts of meat and other gourmet food items, with minimum bids starting at about 75% off the retail cost.
Though Twin City Diner opened in 1988, the turquoise booths, wood-paneled walls, and black-and-white photos displayed throughout its dining room lend the eatery a refined, contemporary-American feel. The diner?s chefs delight in updating traditional southern comfort dishes with modern touches?from BLT sandwiches layered with fried green tomatoes to burgers slathered in chili, cheese, and slaw.
Patrons can chow down within the sleek confines of the dining room, or they can mosey outside to the patio. In both areas, Twin City Diner maintains a comfortable family atmosphere.
Baba Ghannouj blends Greek and Lebanese flavors for an exotic medley of pita wraps, platters, and salads. The chefs intertwine the flavors of grape leaves, Moroccan eggplant, and hummus to complement lamb and beef entrees. The culinary artisans also accommodate all diets by dishing up a regular and vegetarian buffet for lunch and dinner.
As diners nosh, they can gaze at the restaurant's wall-mounted flat-screen television or listen to the lilt of Mediterranean music. And before departing, they can fortify their stomachs with a piece of baklava that's crispy yet hearty, like a valentine card sewn from an onion's skin.
The Big Easy borrows more than New Orleans' nickname?it's a full-fledged slice of the rollicking city, with authentic Cajun fare served amid street lamps and photos of the French Quarter. Louisiana classics include po'boys, gumbo, and jambalaya washed down by hurricane cocktails and sangria. An outdoor patio adds an alfresco option for romantic dining, with hanging ferns, candlelit tables, and cherubs posing for greeting cards. Inside, nightly events from live music to trivia games create a festive air around the restaurant's iron bar. There are also themed rooms for private events.