Category Archives: Salad

Review – The Federal in Durham

Federal in Durham

Federal in Durham looks a bit like a dive, but the food is out of this world!

When you first enter the door at The Federal, you immediately think of the show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” This place officially qualifies as a dive. It’s small, dark and has the feeling of being an old establishment (even though it opened up in 2004).  You’d never think you would be served fantastic food here, but therein lies the rub.

Outside of The Federal in Durham

Outside of The Federal in Durham

Located on Main Street, across from Brightleaf Square, this restaurant is easy to walk to from Duke University.  You may not want to walk around in your Tarheel or Wolfpack t-shirt around here!  This gastropub features 14 microbrews and has many selections of bottled beer as well. That might explain why you see a crowd around here many times in the evenings.


Once you open the menu, you immediately get the sense that this is going to be a great meal. For example, the day I went to The Federal, one of the specials was a saffron risotto served with locally grown roasted corn, Heirloom tomatoes and  parmegiano reggiano. Wow. That’s not your typical bar food!

Lentil and Leek Sliders

Lentil and Leek Sliders

I decided to order the lentil and leek sliders. They are little veggie patties served with guacamole, a nice, fresh salsa, a little bit of romaine and the key ingredient was the curry aioli sauce. I also had melted cheddar cheese, which added a little bit of tang to the taste. It was a messy thing to eat, but tasted so good, I didn’t care that I had green sauce smeared over my face. The side of fries were a perfect accompaniment to the sliders.


Here are the ingredients that go into the pork carnitas

My friend had the carnitas. The dish consisted of small corn tortillas and a plate full of beer braised pork that was shredded into wonderful little bites of flavor. The plate also had shredded lettuce, salsa, cilantro and guacamole.  My friend had a lot of pork and lettuce left after he had eaten the tortillas, but said the leftover meat was delicious all by itself.

Most of the menu has classic bar food choices, but all of them have a twist. Want a grilled cheese? Great! You’ll get a great one here with sharp cheddar cheese, avocados, roasted tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce on Focaccia bread.

Next time I come, I hope to see Guy Fieri sitting at the bar tasting all the great food!

The Federal is located at 914 West Main Street and is open seven days a week.


Review – Beyu Caffé in Durham


Beyu Caffee

Beyu Caffeé

The instant you walk into Beyu Caffé in downtown Durham you feel comfortable and welcome. You immediately get the idea that this is a coffee house that also offers great food. Guests choose their own table and the sound of jazz blends into the background. Contemporary artwork adorns the walls. The kitchen pass-through is large enough that you can catch a glimpse or two of the staff in the kitchen.  There is a counter in the front of the restaurant where people can have a cup of coffee or eat while surfing the web or reading the paper. A couple of comfy couches  are also located in the middle of the restaurant, certainly invoking the feel of a coffee house. If I had the time, I’d stay here for hours.

Beyu Caffee interior

I have only been to Beyu Caffeé for lunch and I imagine that the look and feel of the place changes throughout the day. This place is open morning, noon and night. Of course, the center of the business is the great array of coffee, lattes, and other brewed beverages. Many people come here just for the coffee. I have tried the coffee in the past and it was superb, but coffee during the summer just doesn’t appeal in the middle of the day when the heat index is 110.

Salmon Po Boy

Salmon Po' Boy

To me, though, the restaurant is the star of this place. I took a couple of work friends to Beyu Caffé to celebrate my friend’s birthday. It was a good choice! Two of us ordered the fish of the day Po’ Boy. This particular day, the fish was salmon. The salmon was a nice, thick piece, perfectly cooked so that the middle was just a little on the rare side, making the fish very moist and tender.  It was topped with a spicy brown mustard, lettuce and tomato served on a Kaiser roll.  You have the choice of a side salad, a cup of soup or french fries. I decided to have the house salad, which consisted of baby spinach and mixed salad greens, with cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, diced red onion, strips of red and green bell peppers, and walnuts, topped with a sweet vinaigrette sauce. As a woman who is on a never ending diet, I appreciate having the choice of lighter sides to accompany my sandwich.

turkey panini

Turkey Panini

Our other  friend had a turkey Panini with french fries.  The turkey was roasted and thinly sliced and served with goat cheese and pear chutney on whole wheat bread that was grilled in a Panini press.  The fries were a nice golden brown, but not over done.  My friend remarked that it was tremendous. I may have to try this next time I go to the Caffé.

dessert case

Dessert case at Beyu

Since we were celebrating a birthday, this meal would not be complete without trying one of the very tempting desserts that are showcased in a display case as you first enter the building. We chose the sweet potato Frangelica cheese cake served with a drizzling of caramel. The cheese cake was luscious and decadent. It tasted almost like a sweet pumpkin pie. The hints of hazel nut were very subtle. It was topped with a little bit of whipped cream.  The desserts come from some of the local bakeries, including the famous 9th Street Bakery. I always feel like a kid in a candy store when I look at the display of desserts and obsess over what I’m going to get through the whole meal!


Sweet potato and Frangelica cheesecake

The calamari is also an excellent choice if you are looking to start out with an appetizer. I have had this on a previous visit and the calamari were cooked to perfection. The batter was not too thick and was nice and crispy.

I certainly want to come back some time in the evening. I have heard they have live jazz on Thursday nights. They also have an extensive selection of cocktails that look quite enticing.

Beyu Caffé is located at 335 West Main Street in downtown Durham and is open Monday – Wednesday from 7am to 9pm, Thursday 7am to 11pm, Friday 7am – 12:30am and Sunday from 10am to 3pm for brunch and from 5pm to midnight for dinner.

Beyu Caffe on Urbanspoon


REVIEW: Merlion – Chapel Hill

Merlion is located in Southern Village in Chapel Hill.

This weekend, my husband suggested we eat at Merlion in Southern Village, which is located in Chapel Hill. He always knows how to make me happy! Merlion is one of our favorite restaurants in the Triangle and is frequently the place we go to celebrate special occasions, and it’s the place we usually take guests when they are visiting us.

Merlion is Singaporean food, which has hints of Chinese, Malaysian and Indian flavors in it. When you visit Merlion, it’s like taking a trip to Singapore without having to pay the airfare. This is the first restaurant in the area serving dishes from Singapore.

Upon entering the restaurant, we are always greeted by a very friendly and welcoming staff. We have eaten here enough times to know many of their names and they know ours as well which always makes a place seem more special. We decided to start our meal with the appetizer sampler, which featured two each of Curry Samosas, Coconut Shrimp, Merlion Dumpling Parcels and Spring Rolls. My favorite of these is the Curry Samosas, which are filled with lentils in a curry sauce. They are very tasty!

sampler plate

This is the appetizer sampler plate.

My husband ordered one of our favorite dishes, which is the Mee Goreng. Mee Goreng is a lot like Pad Thai, which Merlion also offers, but it is a more robust dish. It features egg noodles that are stir fried with shrimp, chicken, tofu, potatoes and bean sprouts, scrambled eggs and is topped off with some chopped peanuts. The sauce is a tangy tomato-based sauce with lime, chili and red peppers.  This dish will leave you feeling very satisfied. It is a common street dish found in Singapore and Malaysia.

Mee Goreng

Mee Goreng is much like Pad Thai, but even better!

I decided to order off the special menu and had the sizzling salmon with vegetables. You could hear the sizzle from the kitchen to our table as the dish arrived, sputtering a little grease as it dazzled everyone in the restaurant. The dish had nice, meaty chunks of salmon that were sweet and tender. It had steamed broccoli, summer squash, red onions and sweet and tangy chunks of pineapple. The dish was served in a sauce that had chili oil, and hints of tamarind paste and red pepper, and was very complimentary to the meal. This was served with a side of white rice. I tried to eat it all, but decided to take some home for another meal.

Sizzling Salmon special

This was the Sizzling Salmon special at Merlion.

We could not leave Merlion without having my favorite dessert. This is one of the few places that I even order dessert these days, but I cannot resist the Exotic Bomba. Even the name of this dessert evokes mystery and excitement. It is three flavors of sorbet: raspberry, passion fruit and mango surrounded by a layer of white chocolate with little strips of dark chocolate and drizzles of a raspberry sauce. It is truly heavenly!

The bomba dessert

This dessert is packed with exotic flavors!

My husband had the Sago Pudding, which is tapioca pearls served with coconut cream and a special palm sugar syrup, which tastes almost like butterscotch. It is really smooth and satisfying. Both desserts are a great way to end a meal at Merlion.

Sago pudding

The Sago Pudding at Merlion is very satisfying.

There are so many other great dishes at this restaurant. I would recommend the Pineapple Rice, which is fried rice with pine nuts, scallions and shallots served with chicken or shrimp and chunks of pineapple, but the prize is the presentation as this dish is served in a shelled out half of a pineapple.

The Roti Prata is another of our favorites. This is another of the street foods found in Singapore. It is chicken and potato curry that is kind of soupy and served with Indian pancakes and eatern with your hands. The Beef Rendang is another favorite. It is beef that is simmered with onion, ginger, lemongrass, curry leaves and served with a thick coconut gravy.

Really, I’ve yet to have a bad dish in this restaurant, which is one reason we keep coming back. The other great thing is that they take great care in the presentation of the dishes. Each one is like a piece of artwork.

Merlion is located at 410 Market Street, Suite 320 in Southern Village, off of 15-501 in Chapel Hill.  They are open Tuesday – Sundays.

REVIEW: Steele Street Cafe – Sanford

After spending a wonderful morning perusing the aisles of Big Bloomers and exploring all the plants at my favorite nursery, it was time for lunch, so my friend and I drove to nearby Sanford. We decided to walk around part of the downtown. Sanford is a delightful little town about 30 minutes from Cary, filled with cute little gift shops, boutiques and restaurants.

It was a picture perfect spring day, so we wanted to sit outside and enjoy the weather, so we decided to try eating at the Steele Street Cafe. The menu was a mixture of wraps, salads, and sandwiches that all sounded enticing. I’m trying to watch my weight, so I decided to have the Asian salad, which featured locally grown, organic greens, tomatoes, diced carrots, roasted slivers of almonds and Chinese noodles, topped with a ginger and sesame salad dressing. The salad also came with four slices of toasted bread. I only had my iPhone with me, so I apologize for the quality of these photos.

Asian salad

The Asian salad from Steele Street Cafe

I was pleasantly surprised by this little place. Most of the time when you travel to a smaller town, the food is good, but more typically focused on comfort food, which is not the healthiest choice in the world. This was light, fresh and certainly healthy.

Sitting behind us, there was a lady who was sitting by herself working. She had a lovely pot of tea served in a china tea pot. Of course, the cafe is probably best known for its coffee and tea assortments, but both my friend, Katherine, and I wanted to have water.

We noticed a sign that said that Steele Street cafe features live music on Friday and Saturday nights, so I think I’ll have to come back sometime soon and see what the entertainment is like.

live music sign

Steele Street Cafe features live music on the weekends

I poked my head inside the cafe and saw they had a nice assortment of home make cakes and desserts, but that would not be diet-friendly, so I had to pass them up. The place had an inviting coffee house feel to it. It seems like a great place to whittle away some time with good friends in a relaxing atmosphere.

Steele Street Cafe is located on 120 South Steele Street in downtown Sanford and is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 am – closing.

LINK:’s Thai Green Mango Salad

I follow on Facebook (and you should, too!) and this little recipe popped up in my News Feed a few minutes ago. Salads are not my go-to meal but this little guy looks awesome especially if you go heavy on the cilantro.

Click here for the recipe from

LINK:’s Warm Goat Cheese & Pickled Pepper Salad

My brother just told me about,, a blog that is run by a couple he knows from college and shared the link with me. I clicked on the about section on the blog and realized that I had met Vienna and Craig when I went up to New York City for a sports blogging conference called  Blogs with Balls: 1.0 back in June. We had talked about how much the both of us enjoyed cooking and how she wanted to set up a blog to start documenting her recipes and culinary experiments.

Check out Vienna and Craig’s recipe for a warm goat cheese & pickled pepper salad.

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