Category Archives: Pittsboro

Review – The Fearrington Granary in Pittsboro

Outside the Fearrington Granary

Fearrington Granary is located in the charming Fearrington Village in Chatham County

My husband and I wanted to celebrate our anniversary and immediately said, “let’s go to the Granary.”  We live just two miles from Fearrington and frequently walk our dog around the village.  The Granary has had some ups and downs in the past, sometimes opening for dinner, other times it was open only for lunch and brunch. Earlier this year, the restaurant closed, but then reopened a couple of months ago with a new menu, revamped décor and it is now open for dinner, which is fantastic! The Fearrington Granary fills a much needed niche in Chatham County, because we have many casual dining places and fast food restaurants, but hardly any fine dining places, and many of us cannot always afford the prices at the Fearrington House Restaurant (though I highly recommend going there for special occasions). OK, so the chefs at Fearrington may call this restaurant casual and the atmosphere is somewhat casual, but the food to me is fine dining.

People at the bar at the Granary

People enjoying the bar at the Granary

The new restaurant is filled with clean, white wooden tables, a few simple paintings on the wall and a nice bar with a couple of flat screen televisions giving the place a warm, laid back atmosphere. It fits nicely with the modern American cuisine. The menu is a mix of salads, sandwiches, main plates and meats cooked on the grill. The menu was created by executive chef Colin Bedford, who is one of the best chefs in the Triangle region. An aside must be made here to say that I sincerely hope Chef Bedford will one day try out for “Top Chef” because I think he would be a shoe in for the show and would also bring a lot of publicity to Fearrington and to the Research Triangle region.

The wines and other beverages were selected by Wine Director Max Kast, also from the Fearrington House staff. This man is a true expert of wines and every time we have dined in the Fearrington House, we have discovered new treasures thanks to him. This particular evening I was not able to have wine though, so we will have to come back on one of the nights that they have a wine and dinner pairing.

Watercress Soup

The watercress soup was smooth and satisfying

Our waitress, Kelly, greeted us with a smile and was very helpful to us in picking out items on the menu. We started the meal with one of the appetizer specials, which was a watercress soup. It was made with pureed potatoes, leeks and the watercress. The soup’s bright green color reminded me of spring, when the landscape is filled with vibrant shades of green.  The soup was silky smooth and soul satisfying. It went really well with the wheat bread. I could have eaten just the soup and bread and been satisfied.

Goat cheese souffle over a salad with beets

Goat cheese souffle

For the main dish, I had a twice baked goat cheese soufflé which was served with watercress, spinach, mixed greens, more goat cheese, two kinds of roasted beats (the traditional red ones and some beautiful yellow beets) that were pickled and cooked in a sherry vinaigrette and topped with some candied pecans. The soufflé was creamy and light with a mild flavored goat cheese. The sweetness of the beets married well with the sourness of the goat cheese. The presentation of the dish looked like a piece of artwork. You can really tell the chefs are at the top of their game. I really enjoyed this dish and will be sure to order it again!

grilled meatloaf with red wine sauce, asparagus and potatoes gratin

This is not your mother's meatloaf!

My husband decided to order off of the grill menu. Kelly suggested he have the meatloaf. This sure was not your mother’s meatloaf! It was made with top of the line cuts of beef and grilled into little patties. The tomato and onion really complimented the ground meats. It was served with a choice of sauces and sides. Scott asked Kelly to tell the chef to pick a sauce for him and the chef gave him the red wine sauce. It was a perfect choice for this dish. Scott also chose the garlic and Parmesan cheese potatoes gratin. The potatoes were sliced very thin and made into a casserole and were so delicious we both wished we could have taken some home!  He also had the grilled asparagus. The asparagus were nice thick pieces, but tender and the grilling gave them a nice nutty flavor.  The whole dish was very comforting and delicious. My husband kept remarking how great this dish was.

Lemon Posset with Berries

This dessert had a bit of Southern charm to it.

To end the dinner, we ordered dessert. We had the lemon and berry posset with a shortbread cookie.  It was served in a mason jar, which was really cute and was a great reminder of the South. The lemon curd on the top was sweet and tart and the posset was nice and creamy. The berries on the bottom were blueberries and so good, I was scraping out every bit that I could get from the jar.

There is no doubt that it is worth the trip to Fearrington Village to come eat at the Granary. While you are there you can also go visit some of the shops in the village and see the famous belted Galloway cows and the goats. It is a great place to relax and spend an afternoon or evening.

The Granary is also open for lunch and on Sundays serves up a wonderful Sunday brunch. We haven’t eaten there for brunch since the re-launch, but have heard from others it is really great. The Granary also has a really nice patio dining area, so when the weather is nice you can sit outside and enjoy the beautiful little village grounds with its English style gardens.

The Granary is located in Fearrington Village, off of 15-501 in Chatham County, south of Chapel Hill and north of Pittsboro. They are open  for lunch: Mon-Sat, 11:30am-2pm, brunch: Sunday, 10am-2pm, dinner: Mon-Sat, 5pm-9pm and the bar is open: Mon-Sat, 11:30am-9pm.
The Fearrington Granary Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Review – Greek Kouzina in Pittsboro

Outside of Greek Kouzina

It's easy to spot Greek Kouzina's sign

Pittsboro may be a small town, but it is rapidly growing.  Along with this growth, new restaurants are establishing themselves and changing the landscape of this town. As a resident in Chatham County, (Pittsboro is the county seat of Chatham) I am thrilled to see more places open, especially ones that are not the standard burger and fries joint.

One of the newest places to open is the Greek Kouzina (Greek Kitchen) on East Street (Business Highway 64). The restaurant opened in a two story concrete building that houses the YMCA and the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation amongst other organizations.

The bright sunny yellow walls and the deep sea blue reminds you of Greece with its warm climate and ocean. You are immediately welcomed by the friendly staff as you get in line to order from the counter. There are sample plates to help people get more familiar with the Greek dishes.

People ordering food at the Greek Kouzina

Order at the counter and the waiter will bring the food to your table

I have already eaten here three times in two weeks. The first time I ordered the Greek Lamb Pita. The lamb was seasoned with oregano, pepper, and other spices, giving it a rich taste. The lamb is grilled and served with lettuce, tomato, tzatziki (a yogurt-based sauce with cucumbers and onions) sauce and onions on a rolled up pita. It is served with a side of Greek salad. The sandwich was very satisfying to the soul.  The very warm and welcoming owner, Mohammed Matarieyeh, also suggested trying a piece of baklava. They have several great desserts, including both a walnut baklava and a pistachio baklava. It depends on what your personal taste is, but I like the pistachio the most.

Mohammed used to work at the Greek Fiesta in Cary. The Greek Fiesta has a very similar model to the Greek Kouzina, where you order at the counter and get served at your table. You can see that Mohammed is really open and friendly and he is excited about owning his own business. Mohammed said, “I like to think of my customers as my extended family.” I agree that he does make you feel like you’ve made a new friend.

photo of the pita sandwich

The Pita sandwiches make a great lunch or dinner

The second time I came to the restaurant, I had the Falafel Pita. The falafel was nicely fried to a golden crisp and had the perfect amount of cumin and coriander in it. It was served with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes and tzatziki in a pita. Again, I had another piece of the baklava. It’s hard to resist!

photo of the Kouzina Platter

The Kouzina Platter is a great choice. You can order one or two kabobs.

The last time, I decided to order the Kouzina Platter. The platter comes with a Greek salad, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, tzatziki, grilled pita points and a choice of either the chicken or steak kebab. I chose the steak kebab. The pieces of meat were grilled on the skewer and practically fell off in my mouth because they were so tender.  The side dishes are decent, but not overly memorable. The hummus was good, but I like mine with a bit more garlic in it. That’s just my personal preference. The stuffed grape leaves had rice with mint, dill, chopped onions and olive oil with a bit of lemon juice in them. They were quite good, although one of the ones I had was a little bit on the soggy side. The salad was served with green lettuce, red onion,  banana peppers, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, cucumber,  Kalamata olives and some feta cheese.

The atmosphere is quite casual here, but that is typical in most Pittsboro restaurants.  The prices are also quite reasonable.  You can order a Greek veggie pita for just $4.99 or spend up to $11.99 for the Kouzina platter.  And the big plus in my book is that the Greek Kouzina is open on the weekends and later at night so those of us who work in RTP and commute back to Chatham County can actually go home first before venturing over to Pittsboro for dinner.  The Greek Kouzina also has a substantially large meeting room in the back of the restaurant, so I think there will be many meetings in my future that will be held at this restaurant.

The Greek Kouzina is located at 964 East Street in Pittsboro and is open Sun-Thurs from 11 am to 9 pm and on Fri-Sat from 11am to 10pm.

Follow Up: Pittsboro Pepper Festival 2011

Lots of folks at the Pepper Festival in Pittsboro

Lots of folks at the Pepper Festival in Pittsboro

If you couldn’t pick a pepper at the Pittsboro Pepper Festival, you were in the wrong place on Sunday! My friends and I have been talking about this event for several weeks. Although I am still tentatively stepping up the heat for my own palate, my friends like all kinds of peppers. I was interested in going to this event, because so many of the great local chefs from the Triangle region would be here and I could be in one place and try lots of their food at one time!

We started our foray into the myriad of food vendors by tasting the jalapeno ice cream from the Bean and Barrel. It was creamy and cool with just the right bite of spiciness to remind you that you were eating a pepper dish. We all loved this ice cream and, in fact, would dare to say it was on the best dishes of the afternoon.  They also had some stuffed peppers which everyone was raving about, but somehow we missed them and by the time we tried to make it back to their booth, they had run out.

Vimalas Curryblossom Cafe had a booth

Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe's booth.

gazpacho

The gazpacho from 18 Seaboard was sweet and creamy with a little hint of spice

One of my other favorites of the day was 18 Seaboard’s Gazpacho made with sweet peppers and heirloom tomatoes. It was sweet, creamy and very refreshing. I could have had several more servings of this soup.

Another favorite was Lucky 32′s butter bean pate with pickled peppers. The mild butter beans played nicely with the tartness of the pickled peppers.  I also loved the pork with two pepper aioli sauces from the Granary.

Dos Perros had a habanero aioli sauce that my friends liked so much they went back to the booth to ask whether the restaurant sells it. Sadly they do not sell it and they only serve it on occasion, as the dishes they serve are all seasonal.

Zily and Ritz, from Raleigh, served a strudel that was also excellent. I had to go back and have seconds of this dish. I know I will have to seek out the restaurant sometime soon and eat there, if this is any indication of the type of food they serve. The strudel was filled with sweet lamuyo peppers. Who knew you could make so many delicious desserts from peppers? I surely didn’t.  I also really enjoyed the Market Restaurant’s creme fraiche cheese cake with chocolate mole graham cracker crust and tobago infused honey caramel. I had seconds of this one as well.

My friends loved Glasshafull’s smoked pepper soup with shrimp, cilantro, lime creme fraiche and a fried tortilla. I thought it was OK, but not my favorite.

Cackalacky had a booth featuring a pepper sauce

Cackalacky's booth featured a pepper sauce you could buy

There were plenty of beverages as well.  My favorite was Starrlight Mead’s  Cranberry Orange Mead, which was an off-dry Cranberry Orange Mead with Chipotle Pepper. It had some smokiness to the flavor, which was actually pretty good, though I’d never think to have a smoky mead before.

I tried Fullsteam Brewery’s Escazu Chocolate and Chipotle cask beer. The person working the booth warned me it would not be as bubbly as I would be used to in a beer and he was right. It had a bit of a bitter taste to me and frankly it was not for me, but another friend who was with us loved it.

Triangle Brewery’s Tobago-Habanero Pale Ale was a winner though. Perhaps it’s because I like lighter to amber beers, but don’t always like a dark, heavy beer. This was light and had just a little bit of spice to it. It would be perfect on a hot summer’s day.

Pepper queen and runner up

Pittsboro's Pepper Queens

While focusing on all the eating and drinking, there was also music, dancing and the crowning of the Pepper queen. The festivities were held at Brier Chapel’s new community park. While we were there, we also ducked into the model home that will be one of the houses featured in the Parade of Homes the next couple of weeks. It was a really nice home with a great floor plan.

It was great to celebrate the multitude of peppers grown in the Triangle and cooked by some of the most famous chefs in the Triangle. I would highly recommend you plan to attend this festival next year!

Angelina’s Kitchen – Greek Food in Pittsboro, NC

outside of Angelina's Kitchen

Angelina's Kitchen in Pittsboro

 *Update on Angelina’s Kitchen: They are now open on Saturdays from 11am – 4pm and on Thursdays & Fridays until 8pm. All other hours are the same as before.

Pittsboro is a little town just west of Apex and south of Chapel Hill that is attracting lots of creative people, including some really creative chefs. One of the more recent additions to the area is Angelina’s Kitchen.  Angelina Koulizakis-Battiste believes in using local produce and that is easily accomplished in Chatham County, which has a plethora of small, organic, sustainable farms. Angelina’s Kitchen serves Greek food and is just starting to also offer some Mexican dishes.

Angelina uses ingredients that are in season, so the menu changes accordingly.  This is the way people eat in Europe – using food from local sources, everything is fresh and wholesome. Much like her friend and fellow chef, Donna Bianco, Angelina is a good friend to many of the area farmers. Chatham County is mainly rural and is full of smaller, organic farmers, so most of the ingredients Angelina needs are available within a very short drive.

ordering at Angelinas Kitchen

Friendly staff will greet you at the counter at Angelina's Kitchen

When you come to Angelina’s you will be greeted by a smile and will immediately feel the warmth of the people who work here.  Don’t expect a fancy atmosphere. There are not cloth tables and candles here, but it is a pleasant place to eat and to meet people from good ‘ole PBO.  The menu changes daily, so it’s best to check the website to see what is on special.

Some of my favorite dishes include the spanakopita, a filo pastry filled with spinach, eggs, herbs and feta cheese.  This dish is served with a side of local greens or a cup of soup. Another favorite of mine is the Greek salad. Angelina uses greens picked from local farmers, fresh, plump red tomatoes, zesty red onions, kalamata olives and feta cheese from Celebrity Dairy, located just a few miles west of her restaurant.

Falafel

Side of Falafel

The hummus has a good amount of garlic in it, but not too overpowering. It is a delicious and healthy treat. Angelina’s falafel is also a wonderful treat. The patties are moist and filled with flavor.  My husband and I had a side order of them the other night. They were served with a side of tzatziki sauce.

chicken gyro

Chicken gyro at Angelina's Kitchen

This particular night, I had the chicken gyro sandwich. You have the choice of three toppings to go on your gyro, so I chose hummus, kalamata olives and cucumbers. The chicken was cooked in a tomato sauce and was nice and juicy. I was going to get the lamb, but unfortunately the restaurant had run out of lamb. John, one of the workers, apologized and said that the farmer who supplies the lamb has not had as many lambs right now. It’s all a part of learning to eat what is in season and what is locally available. We can wait for another trip to have the lamb.

lentil soup

Lentil soup with spanakopita

My husband had the lentil soup with a side of the spanakopita. The lentils were fresh and light. The soup also had carrots, tumeric and garlic, giving it some great flavor. It is a light soup, which is perfect for a summer evening.

Angelina makes wonderful baklava for dessert,  with honey from local bee farmers. The other desserts come from  Abilicious Bakery (also located in Pittsboro), which specializes in gluten, soy and peanut-free delights.

One of the things that is so great about Pittsboro is that most of the chefs in the area are very generous, and Angelina is no exception. My husband and I can hardly think of a fund raising event that she is not donating food to, or helping out in some way. She is a great example of someone who pays it forward and people in the community really appreciate all she and her staff do.

Angelina’s used to be mainly take out, but earlier this year, she was able to raise enough money to expand into the adjacent office off of Rectory Street and Highway 64 so now there are more tables to sit and eat.  From the courthouse circle, take Highway 64 west about three blocks on the right is the Rectory Street. Unfortunately, Angelina’s is not open on the weekends, so you will have to try her creations Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Angelina's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

4th Annual Pittsboro Pepper Festival

Pittsboro Pepper Festival

4th Annual Pittsboro Pepper Festival. Say that 10 times fast!

Are you a pepper aficionado?  Are you one of those people who say “the hotter, the better?” Then you need to attend the 4th annual Pittsboro Pepper Festival in Chatham County October 2, from 4pm – 7pm at the Brier Chapel Subdivision’s Clubhouse (south of Chapel Hill off of 15-501).

Many of the best local chefs, including Chef Colin of Fearrington Restaurant, Chef Jason of 18 Seaboard, Chef Jeff of Saxapahaw General Store, Chef Aaron of Mez, Chef Angelina of Angelina’s Kitchen, Chef Jay of Lucky 32, and several local breweries and the Starrlight Meadery will be on hand to feature dishes cooked with peppers from locally grown farmers. There will even be a pepper infused beer served at the event. If you’re a  foodie, a supporter of North Carolina’s sustainable agriculture or just enjoy good music and a cold beer, this is the place to be!

Of course, what would such an event be without a pepper king and queen, who are crowned not for their beauty, but for the amount of tickets they sell. Tickets, by the way, are $20 in advance and $30 at the door. The money raised goes to the Abundance Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainability and educates the public on sustainable practices.

Review – Bella Donna’s in Pittsboro

Donna Bianco

Donna Bianco, chef and owner of Bella Donna's

My friends and I wanted to get together to celebrate with a couple of friends who recently had their birthdays. We were looking for an intimate, yet fun setting in which to celebrate.  We decided to meet at Bella Donna’s in Pittsboro.

Donna Bianco, owner of Bella Donna’s, is a very enterprising woman. She originally opened Bella Donna’s as a combination of a charter school, called Our Neighborhood School,  and a restaurant. When I first went to her place, it was take out only. I remember eating her lasagna, which was a rich,  meaty marinara sauce smothered in lovely layers of pasta and melted mozzarella and generous portions of ricotta cheese. I also ordered a few pizzas from the “Our Neighborhood Pizza” window, where you may sometime see students making the pizza. The pizzas at Bella Donna’s are wonderful. The crust is not too thin nor too thick, but somewhere in the middle. You can smell the garlic as you pull up to the restaurant, which means this is a great Italian restaurant.

Donna prides herself in using as many local ingredients as possible. She knows many of our local farmers in Chatham County and other nearby counties. She uses Lindley Mills Flour from Graham for her pizza dough, her meatballs and hamburger toppings come from Lilly Den Farm in Goldston and her eggs that are used for the pasta dough and egg wash are from Eastwick Farm in Pittsboro.

She makes all of her pasta, bread and sauces from scratch, reminding many people of their Italian grandmas. Much of the success of her restaurant is due to her warm and generous personality. She is an owner who cares about her customers deeply and her welcoming nature makes people feel immediately at home when they come to her restaurant. She also mentored Angelina Koulizakis-Battiste and encouraged her to open Angelina’s Kitchen, which will be reviewed here in the near future.

people at Donna Bellas

Celebrating birthdays at Bella Donna's

The restaurant is small, with about eight tables. It’s perfect for a romantic dinner, or a gathering of a small group of friends. Our group was a bit large. We had 10 people, but they were still able to accommodate us. Most of Donna’s wait staff are local high school students, again because she likes to give young people an opportunity to gain real world experience. Our waitress and waiter were both very attentive and friendly.

pizza at Donna Bella

The pizzas are one of the main features at Bella Donna's

A group of our friends got one of the pizzas with ham, jalapeño, olives and onions on it. They raved about the great sauce and crunchiness of the crust. They also ordered mushrooms stuffed with sausage, which, for mushroom lovers, looked like a great bet. The mushrooms were quite large and filled with a generous portion of the sausage filling. I’m not a big mushroom lover though, so I did not try them myself.

eggplant parmesan

eggplant parmesan

Another friend ordered the eggplant parmesan. My husband and I were sorry we didn’t get this dish when we saw his arrive. There were several very large slices of eggplant that were slightly breaded and generously coated in mozzarella and Donna’s famous red sauce. It was served with a side of spaghetti.

chicken piccata

Chicken Piccata al Limone

I ordered the chicken piccata al limone, which featured a nice, big piece of chicken breaded and lightly fried to a perfect golden brown. It was served with a side of linguine and a sauce of white wine, lemon, capers, and parsley. I had enough left for a second meal.

Another friend had the pasta ribbons, which was freshly made pasta served with cherry tomato sauce and basil, topped with lots of parmesan cheese. He also added spinach to his. I had a bite and was really impressed with the tomato sauce. It tasted like the cherry tomatoes had just been picked and put into the sauce.

The pizzeria also has a “make and bake” pizza. They put all the ingredients you need in a pizza box, including a dough ball, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and as many toppings as you’d like. You take it home, assemble it and throw it in the oven.  The price starts at $7.95 for just a cheese pizza. Not a bad deal when you are busy and want to have a nice meal at home.

Bella Donna’s is located in downtown Pittsboro, at 87 Thompson Street. They are open 11am – 8pm Monday to Thursday, 11am – 9pm Friday and 4pm – 9pm Saturday.

Bella Donna on Urbanspoon

Review: S&Ts Soda Shoppe in Pittsboro

Step Back in Time at the S&Ts Soda Shoppe in Pittsboro

S&Ts Soda Shoppe exterior

Imagine my surprise the first time I entered S&T’s Soda Shoppe in downtown Pittsboro and ordered two scoops of ice cream, thinking I’d be getting literally two scoops of ice cream.  Instead, the woman behind the counter handed me a gigantic bowl of ice cream – big enough to feed a whole family! A double scoop is only $3.50 as well, so if you get some, you might think about sharing! Since then I’ve learned one scoop will be plenty!

inside S&Ts Soda Shoppe

Step back in time when you enter S&Ts Soda Shoppe.

Immediately upon entering this quaint little restaurant, you are drawn back in time. S&T’s once was a pharmacy and the owners have meticulously renovated the shop to look like an old fashioned soda shop from the late 1800s.  Where else can you find such concoctions today as an egg cream or a flavored soda? They also freshly squeeze lemons for lemonade and oranges for oranges for orangeade.

This is the soda shop of my youth. Growing up in the 60′s, you’d go to a soda shop to get a good burger or hotdog, some fries and a soda or a float, and that’s just what you will get at S&T’s. The burgers are a decent size and very easy on the wallet.  There’s a variety of sandwiches, hot dogs and salads. I always come here with ice cream in mind, so my goal is to eat as little as possible so I can save room for dessert! My most recent visit to S&Ts, I decided to get a Cesar salad, which had a nice, rich tasting Cesar dressing. Then, it was on to the selection of one of the many flavors of ice cream. S&Ts also has frozen yogurt and sherbet for those who are watching their weight, but it was no holds barred for me and so I chose the moose tracks, which has big chunks of dark chocolate filled peanut butter and caramel sauce. Yum! I could not resist taking a photo of the boy sitting near me, Preston Richard from Pittsboro, who was thoroughly enjoying his scoop of cotton candy flavored ice cream.

moose tracks scoop of ice cream

This is just "one scoop" of the moose tracks ice cream.

boy eating ice cream

Preston Richard of Pittsboro enjoying the cotton candy flavored ice cream cone.

Gene Oldham opened S&Ts in 1997. It is named after his two sons, Steve and TJ. Many times that I’ve been to the restaurant, TJ is one of the servers, and always greets you with a smile and makes you immediately feel at home.

Pepsi machine at S&Ts

Everything at S&Ts brings back good memories of more innocent times.

Just next door is the Roy Underhill’s Woodwright School. You may have seen him on PBS. So, if you get a scoop of ice cream to go, you can stroll over next door and watch him and his students working on projects. S&T’s Soda Shoppe is located at 85 Hillsboro Street in downtown Pittsboro and is open from 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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