For 20 years, Nawwaf and Bayan Said craved the opportunity to share their native cuisine and culture with their fellow North Carolinians. At Jasmin Bistro––named for both the flower and to nod to Nawwaf's first restaurant, Aladin's––the duo blend Greek and Lebanese recipes made from scratch. Imported ingredients and local produce intermingle in classic dishes such as kebabs, hummus, gyros, and chicken shawarma. Along with platters and sandwiches whipped up in their new Hillsborough Street location next to Meredith College, Nawwaf and Bayan cater festivities with buffets, party platters, and boxed lunches.
Legend has it that when The Flying Biscuit Cafe first opened, diners were so enamored with the kitchen's soft, flaky biscuits that they polished off the entire stock before 11 a.m., causing the restaurant to close its doors for the day. Today, the cheerful eatery has expanded to 13 locations across Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida, each one serving an average of 5,000 biscuits per week. Cooks are forever busy in the kitchens, slicing up the fluffy biscuits for breakfast sandwiches and folding farm-fresh and organic ingredients into a variety of American comfort classics. They dole out breakfast dishes all day long, from wood-smoked salmon scrambles to the gooey grits lauded by reporters from The Emory Wheel as "the most delicious cheese grits you’ve ever tasted (or ever will taste)". As the day wears on, the cooks turn their attention to juicy Angus beef burgers and Southern-style dinners such as chicken-fried steak and spicy jambalaya pasta. Committed to promoting healthy lifestyles, they also offer a variety of good-for-you menu items and modifications, whipping up omelets with egg whites, baking biscuits with whole wheat, and serving pancakes with a side of cast-iron kettlebells.
Deep in the Umstead Industrial Park, something stirs. Amid the clank of modern machinery, a group of workers busy themselves with one of the world's oldest crafts: brewing. At Gizmo Brew Works, this meeting of contemporary technology and ancient know-how produces a tempting slate of small-batch beers. Inside tanks that hold the equivalent of 1,000 pints each, brewers prep favorites including the smooth and sweet Black Stiletto Stout and the complex Palisade Wasp India Pale Ale with the same care that has earned many of their past beers medals at the Carolina Championship of Beer. They also save room for seasonals, carefully adding a sweet caramel flavor and spicy Noble hops to their altbier, which they serve in a traditional stange glass or a large mug in celebration of Oktoberfest. These beers and more make frequent appearances in the brewery's taproom, gracing pint glasses for impromptu toasts or filling up growlers for at-home sips. Never ones to shy away from curious guests, brewers also open up their facility for Saturday tours, walking groups through the beer-making process during 30-minute explorations.
If you're a Triangle-dwelling Thai food fan, it's likely that you know about Sawasdee Thai Restaurant?it won Indy Week's Best of the Triangle award for Best Thai Cuisine every year from 2007?2011. In 2013, it picked up another honor from the paper: Best Restaurant with Gluten-Free Options. While the Thai chefs at Sawasdee ground the menu in their homeland's culinary traditions?which means the salt comes from fish sauce, the sweetness from palm sugar, and the pucker from tamarind?they're always looking for ways to make them feel fresh and relevant to local diners. That means things such as creating a separate gluten-free menu so no one has to begin their meal simply hunting for a dish that suits their diet. And an extensive vegetarian section leaves out the fish sauce (and egg, if desired), replacing animal products with mixed greens, tofu, and other botanical elements. Naturally, the heat can be adjusted, too, on a scale that starts at "spicy" and tops out at "make-you-cry."
Sawasdee's chefs also give the ingredients themselves extra scrutiny. Even in seasons when fresh herbs are hard to find, they scour suppliers' shelves to make sure they always have authentic seasonings such as galangal and lemongrass on hand. In meat dishes, all-white-meat chicken, large shrimp, beef sirloin, and pork tenderloin bed down on Thai jasmine rice. And at both Sawasdee locations, designers have shown a similar attention to detail in the decor. On Glenwood, a huge compass rose in the ceiling softly lights the dining room's woodwork and trailing succulents and helps curry-intoxicated diners find their way out the door. The location on Capital is less sleek and more cozy, with red walls, traditional carved screens, and even a patio surrounded by dense greenery on all sides.
According to a 2009 Newsobserver.com profile, Backyard Bistro knows a thing or two about ribs. To create this St. Louis?style specialty, the Bistro encrusts the pork in a dry spice rub and leaves it to bask in heat and hickory smoke for three hours. They then wrap each rack in aluminum foil with a splash of apple juice, returning them to the smoker for another four hours before charring them on the grill under a glaze of tangy or sweet barbecue sauce. The Bistro also stokes up the smoker to tenderize the dry-rubbed pork shoulder??another specialty??for 12 whole hours, while slices of juicy beef brisket await to be smothered between hefty slabs of white bread and saddled next to sides such as crisp coleslaw, Mama T's potato salad, and baked beans.
The menu of barbecue and American comfort food represent the efforts of several local businesses. Brioche rolls for burgers and english muffins for benedicts are sourced from La Farm Bakery, then crowned with organic, hydroponic bibb lettuce and beef from Angus Barn or poached eggs and canadian bacon. The bar's 16 taps pour Bud Light and Belgian-style Backyard Brew, the locally brewed house draft, to cool meals taken out on the patio or into a neighbor's hot tub, while inside it's all about sports. Five big-screen TVs broadcast every play in high definition, and speakers at each table give diners the option of turning down the volume if they'd rather tune out
The dedicated musicians at Falls River Music help students create beautiful notes during private weekly music instruction with a brigade of professional instruments. During 30-minute drum, guitar, violin, bass, or trumpet lessons, children or adults work toward personal goals, such as learning how to read music or mastering solos that erase “Freebird” from minds. Falls River Music provides instruments for use during classes, which, though not required, students may rent for home practice at an additional cost.
When not practicing their tuneful arts, musicians can send in their stringed instruments for expert repairs or test out new sounds plucked from the shop's large selection of acoustic and electric guitars, amplifiers, and effects pedals. Falls River Music offers a 14-day trial period after purchase of new equipment, encouraging musicians to fully explore their new sonic possibilities before declaring themselves satisfied.
The musical menagerie also hosts a full coffee bar and lounge area, where parents may relax during children's lessons. Falls River Music also allows intermediate-level students to put their skills to use each Saturday at 1:30 pm at a two-hour jam session ($10/hour), which may include performances or recording with other musicians and note aficionados.