fish and chips – tuna tartare, mayo, deviled egg, pickled beans
Yes, another post that isn’t Atlanta. But I love traveling, eating, and being a big dork with my camera. So here you go.
Raleigh has become one of my favorite cities to visit when I travel, namely due to one person – Ashley Christensen. She has received a lot of press the last few years and is gaining notoriety nationwide. Alan Richman named her the “Mini Empire of the Year”. It is deserved. Her talent and impact is growing beyond her city in a way that furthers local development, similar to Sean Brock in Charleston, or Hugh Acheson here in Atlanta/Athens.
Raleigh is a wonderful place to visit, with a thriving downtown. Lively restaurants, bars, outdoor concerts, street festivals, pedicabs of revelers…I’ve seen this all on just a few visits. Ashley’s restaurants are in the heart of it all. Poole’s Diner has one of the most desirable menus of anywhere I go, but remains very chill and close to its diner origins. The people at Poole’s are integral to the experience, lending knowledge, service, and a sense of passion which visibly flows. I recall a sommelier giving me his business card last year, which read “I like wine. A lot”.
The food and drink, it’s all superb – the cocktails, wine list, plates for sharing, plates you would have to fight me to share, dishes that change, dishes which thankfully don’t, and they are open late, in true diner fashion. I love it, and anyone who frequents Poole’s will probably read this and say, “duh”.
But enough waxing poetic. Others do a better job of describing Ashley and her restaurants, including the three new ones she recently opened at the same time, in an old Piggly Wiggly. A great article on this lofty endeavor can be read here. Also be sure to check out Ashley on Twitter, and keep up with her increasingly nationwide adventures, such as her Beard House dinner this past June.
“The Royale” - A beautiful hunk of Painted Hills beef, covered in peppercorn, served on brioche, with red wine beef jus. So. Damn. Good.
One of the new places – Beasley’s Chicken & Honey.
Says Ashley of the space, and the decision to open three restaurants:
A friend of mine purchased the building. It was a building that I always loved. I used to walk by it and think how someone really needed to do something there. We decided that I would lease it from him. It made the most sense that 1 person lease the whole building, so that’s what I did. It’s 9k square feet with the basement. I’m not interested in running a really large restaurant, so I opted for 3 small concepts that would work off of one back-of-the-house. I wanted to create some single note concepts, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.
the cheap house beer, love it. PBR not in sight.
fried shrimp – killer
the fried chicken and honey biscuit, really, really great.
Fried chicken is one of those items you can vary a million ways, and like roast chicken, every chef will have a different opinion on the best way to prepare it. I asked Ashley how she came up with hers.
This fried chicken is in the style of what I grew up eating. My mom is a bad-ass southern cook from Memphis, and my dad was a hobby bee keeper when I was a kid. I grew up on delicious, slightly salty fried chicken dressed in the complement of sweet, straight-from-the-hive honey.
Mac ‘n cheese custard
Chucks’s – the burger place next door
The “Bear in Heaven” – tomato, lettuce, onion, “Switzamerican”, and Duke’s mayo.
The burger is definitely commendable, though my poor stomach was fairly full at this point. I was more amazed with the kick ass fries, especially being large steak cut style. When I asked Ashley how they do them so well, I was told the potatoes were rinsed in water, blanched in oil at 300F, then fried again at 350F, which isn’t a new method or “secret” technique, but the execution is stellar. I think it’s much easier to be consistent with a smaller fry, and the perfection of a large fry like this speaks to their abilities.
The old venue
Fox’s Liquor Bar – downstairs, speak easy feel – the attention to glass size, ice style, and cocktail perfection is righteous