Monthly Archives: January 2012

Review – Buns in Chapel Hill

inside Buns in Chapel Hill

Great burgers at an affordable price

A few weeks ago, my husband came home and told me all about this new place in downtown Chapel Hill called Buns. He said they had really great burgers there. So we decided to eat dinner there the other night. Buns is located on North Columbia Street near Franklin Street. Its small facade may make it a little hard to find, but you will certainly want to seek this place out!

storefront of Buns in Chapel Hill

Buns is a casual style American restaurant. Orders are taken at the counter and then the waiter brings your food out to you. The main feature of this restaurant is their burgers. They have Angus beef burgers, turkey burgers and vegetarian burgers. They also have hot dogs and some seafood dishes, such as Ahi Tuna steak and grilled salmon fillet sandwiches. Since the restaurant is practically on campus, there are swarms of students here, because the food is good and is also quite inexpensive. It is also popular with many of the other local Chapel Hillians. As we walk toward the door, several co-eds are walking out with takeout orders ready to start their Saturday evening fun.

There is a line of people ordering at the counter of Buns

Line up to order your favorite combo at Buns

The décor of the interior is simple, but modern and fun. There are round balls with muted colors of purple, blue, green, yellow and red that line the walls. A couple of flat screen TVs are mounted to the walls so students and Chapel Hill fans can watch sports while dining. There is a large window in the front of the dining area, so you can see all the action happening on Franklin Street. The restaurant also stays open fairly late, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, so you can always end up here after you do some bar hopping and sober up a bit!

people sitting in Buns restaurant in Chapel Hill

Relax and enjoy the food while watching a basketball game

Since this was my first time here, I decided to try one of the beef burgers. I ordered one of the specials, which was a beet and goat cheese burger. We also ordered a side of sweet potato fries. The fries are served with dipping sauces and they have a pretty good selection of sauces to try. I got the Thai sesame sauce and my husband got the Chipotle mayonnaise sauce, both of which were excellent.

My husband built his own burger and had the turkey burger with Pepper Jack cheese, sautéed mushrooms and onions and wasabi mayonnaise on a whole wheat bun. The buns are also made from a local bakery called The Bread Shop.

Turkey burger with mushrooms

You can make your own combo of toppings to have on your burger.

My burger had nice thick slices of fresh beets that were sweet and meaty and worked really well with the goat cheese, which was a thick slice of cheese that was tart, but not overpowering. The burger was served with a sherry vinaigrette sauce. I also ordered the whole wheat bun, which was sweet and seemed to compliment the beets and meat very well.

burger with beets and goat cheese

An unusual but tasty combo of beets and goat cheese.

I tried a bite of my husband’s burger. His combo was great for him, but I’m not a wasabi fan, and that’s mainly what I could taste. For those who like wasabi, you will love putting this mayo on your sandwich.

All of the ingredients at Buns are fresh and they purchase what they can locally at a good price.  Need I say this place is popular, especially with UNC students? The workers said that nothing is ever frozen, because, in fact, they do not even have a freezer on the premises, nor do they have a microwave oven.

The sweet potato fries are also very fresh. In fact, boxes of sweet potatoes were located in the front of the restaurant. They peel them, cut them up and throw them in the fryer. These were some of the better sweet potato fries I’ve had in awhile. They were not too soggy, as many sweet potato fries tend to get, nor were they too greasy. These were just right.

We were too full to try any dessert, but I was eying a Red Velvet cake that was on display on top of the counter where people order that looked really delicious. Guess I’ll have to try it next time we go to Buns.

Buns is open from Monday to Thursday, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11:00 am – 3:00 am (so you can recover from that bender by having a burger or a hot dog) (Summer, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm) and Sunday, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm. It is located on 107 North Columbia Street in Chapel Hill.

Buns on Urbanspoon

Review – Saffron in Chapel Hill

The exterior of Saffron in Chapel HillEver since Charlie got a call from Saffron’s in Chapel Hill asking if someone could do a review of their restaurant, I have been itching to go here, so this past weekend, we decided to give it a try. We went with some good friends of ours who are vegetarians. I have also been trying to eat less meat lately, so we decided to make the whole meal vegetarian and order family style.  Most of the dishes were served with creamy sauces, reminiscent of Northern Indian cuisine, but these were certainly much different from most of the Indian restaurants I’ve eaten at in the Triangle area. And, before you think, “Hey, isn’t that the same restaurant as the one in Morrisville?” it is not. Actually, the owners of the Morrisville restaurant were going to be involved with the restaurant in Chapel Hill, but the owners parted ways before the Chapel Hill restaurant opened.  I was confused because the folks at the Blue Taj said they had relatives managing  both the Mint in Chapel Hill and Saffron, but they meant the Saffron restaurant in Greensboro.

looking at the outside of the dome in Saffron

inside the dome

You can hear other table's conversations inside the dome with great accuracy!

Upon entering Saffron’s, you immediately get the feeling of opulence. There is a big, metal dome structure in the middle of the front room. Our hostess first led us to the back room and was going to sit us at a table for six, but we asked if we could wait for a table of four, since there is only four in our party. She then sat us under the dome structure. I have to say the dome was a very interesting experience! It has a very unique acoustic phenomenon happening. If you are sitting on one side of the dome, you will hear the people at the table opposite you as though they were sitting right next to you. This happened more at just two of the seats at our table, so at the end of our meal, we all swapped seats to hear the voices from the other tables. It seemed like one person was wearing a microphone because it was so loud! The waiter explained to us that typically, the dome is used for large parties, and when the tables are moved together, they can hear the conversation on the opposite end of the table. I can see where that might come in handy! I was seated just outside of the dome, next to the bar and must say it was a bit distracting to have no divider between the seating area and the bar. For an upscale restaurant like this, they should have some separation.

We ordered cocktails and an appetizer to start our meal. I had the Hell’s Kitchen, a Manhattan made with a special kind of whiskey that was on the peppery side. It was a good way to start off an Indian meal. As we waited to get our cocktails, we looked around the room and saw the place was buzzing with many diners – a good sign this was going to be a good meal.  After several minutes, our waiter came with some complimentary papadams because our meal was taking a long time to be served.  After reminding the water boy that we had ordered cocktails, the drinks arrived just a few seconds later.  Photo of the appetizer that had four components to it

Our appetizer was the Tandoori Vegetable Khazana, which was a sampler plate with the Paneer cheese, that was cooked in a tandoor clay oven, then grilled. It had nice grill marks on it and had a really mild flavor to it that was divine. The next item on the appetizer was a Subz Galouti, which was a patty made from pureed fresh vegetables and mushrooms. It was kind of like a homemade veggie patty. Very good as well. The third item was the Potli Samosa. I have always loved Samosas and this one was no exception. If you have never had one, a Samosa is a fried dough stuffed with potatoes and peas. Sometimes they are also stuffed with lentils and other goodies. The fourth item  was the Aloo Tikki Chana Chaat, which was like a little salad of chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, yogurt, with two chutneys over a spicy potato patty. It had a little heat to it, but not overwhelming of the vegetable kofta dish

For our entrees, we ordered the Nargisi Kofta, which was a mixed vegetable and potato mixture with paneer cheese that was breaded and fried. It looked like a little pyramid. It was served with a rich, creamy sauce that was mild and had a little sweetness to it. The sauce was made with tomatoes, onions and spiced with cardamom and of the eggplant dish

We had the Began Pasanda, which was some slices of eggplant that had been marinated in a garlic and ginger paste and smoked in a clay oven, then served with a creamy sauce made of  pureed eggplant, onion and tomato sauce and seasoned with fresh cilantro and dill. It was my favorite of the four dishes we of the daal and rice

The third dish we had was the Daal Bukhara, which is a sauce made with black lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans. It came with a side of white rice, so you ladle the daal over the rice. It was quite mild, but of the stuffed pepper dish

The fourth entree was the most spicy of the four and was really delicious. It was the Bharwan Simla Mirch which was slices of bell peppers that were stuffed with potatoes, mixed vegetables and paneer and was served with a spicy tomato and bell pepper sauce. My nose was starting to run a little bit from the spices, which is a sign that this is a real Indian restaurant!

We split two orders of naan, the flat bread that is typically served with Indian dishes. We had the garlic naan and the rosemary naan. I loved both, but the rosemary was a real treat because I had not had naan with rosemary before. It really complimented the spicy of the pistachio ice cream

We were all feeling full, but decided to split a dessert. We ordered the Pistachio ice cream (it had a different name, but I can’t remember what the waiter called it). It was a great way to cool the palate. Chopped pistachios were on the top and bottom of the ice cream. It was served with a drizzle of chocolate and caramel.

Saffron’s is a bit on the pricey side, so save your pennies before you come here, or wait until you see a special. We had a diner’s coupon that my husband got through his employer, which brought the price of the meal down substantially.  It is a great place to go for a date, a business dinner or other special occasion.

Saffron is located in East 54, near the Aloft Hotel. It is located at 3140 Environ Way in Chapel Hill.
Saffron of Chapel Hill on Urbanspoon

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