Category Archives: Durham

Cupcakes for All

Guest Post by Paige Hopkins

In recent years cupcakes have taken over as one of the newest food trends. From little ones to big ones, lots of icing to barely any, these miniature cakes are dominating the sweet-treats game.  If you find yourself in the Triangle and have a hankering for one, you’re in luck. The area has a wide variety of cupcake-focused bakeries. Cupcakes are the perfect way to celebrate a high school or a college graduation. Three especially noteworthy cupcake havens are Gigi’s Cupcakes, The Cupcake Bar and Sugarland. Each of these bakeries will do a delightful job pleasing your taste buds with their desserts.

Mexican Chocolate (front) and Mint Chocolate Chip (back)

Mexican Chocolate (front) and Mint Chocolate Chip (back) from The Cupcake Bar – Durham, NC

Gigi’s Cupcakes is one of the newer bakeries to Chapel Hill, but is one of the most widely known. With about forty locations nationwide, Gigi’s can safely say they know their stuff when it comes to cupcakes. They pride themselves on providing a family-friendly atmosphere and delicious treats. Before customers get a chance to eat anything they are sure to get hit by the sweet-smelling aroma of freshly baked cupcakes. Believe it or not, they taste even better than they smell. So, if you’re on Franklin Street with your kids anytime soon, make sure to stop by Gigi’s for dessert.

The Cupcake Bar is one of the gems of Bull City. This bakery’s claim to fame is its cocktail inspired cupcakes. In addition to more traditional flavors, The Cupcake Bar has treats such as “Citrus Cooler” and “Strawberry Daiquiri.” The bakery was opened by two sisters in 2008 and has a very special charm to it. Even better, The Cupcake Bar makes its miniature cakes with natural and locally grown ingredients. This bakery is the perfect place to stop by during a day out in Durham.

Sugarland is a Chapel Hill favorite, especially amongst UNC students. Their “Half-Priced Tuesdays,” during which all of their cupcakes are half off, are very popular. However, what really makes Sugarland unique is their full bar and their professionally trained bakers. Sugarland is great for grabbing dessert and drinks with friends after a show or a movie. If that’s not enough, the cupcakes themselves are phenomenal. Between the filling, icing, cake and garnishes, Suagrland’s cupcakes often times take multiple recipes to make. The bakery offers a classy cupcake option that you are sure to enjoy.

Where to Eat in the Triangle During Graduation Weekend

It’s that time of the year…college seniors are getting ready to graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives. The most important part of graduation? Where you take your family to eat, obviously. Friday night, your family arrives, hungry and ready to eat – where do you take them? Then there is Saturday lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. So much to eat in so little time!

Your family is from out of town and wants to experience something authentically southern:

Take your out-of-town family to get an authentic dish of chicken and waffles at Dame’s in Durham. Dame’s has a laid-back, casual atmosphere and a delicious selection of chicken and waffle creations, including choices of sweet potato waffles and vegan waffles.

Looking for something more elegant? If you didn’t already make a reservation, it may be hard to get into Elaine’s on Franklin, but if you can get a reservation, enjoy a refined, scratch-made meal in this Chapel Hill establishment. The menu at Elaine’s revolves around the best local ingredients available, so it is constantly changing but consistently exquisite.

The Pit serves North Carolina barbecue in a fun atmosphere, but be sure to book a reservation because this is a popular restaurant and tends to get busy on weekends. Ranging from North Carolina pork barbecue to turkey barbecue and a selection of scrumptious sides (mac and cheese, black eyed peas, sweet potato fries…the list goes on), The Pit has something for everyone.

Another good option is Watt’s Grocery in Durham, a distinctively North Carolina restaurant. With items ranging from Bourbon Brined Pork Loin to Seafood Gumbo, Watt’s serves southern food just right. The menu is limited and I have only been to Watt’s for brunch, which was fantastic. I would love to try their lunch and dinner menus as well.

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

Biscuits with Jam and Butter

Biscuits with Jam and Butter

Acme is another North Carolina restaurant that is good for dinner and Sunday brunch. If you go for Sunday brunch, expect a wait. The coffee cake and beignets (if they have them) are delicious ways to start out your brunch. If you are a UNC graduate, and you can’t make a reservation at a Chapel Hill restaurant, try Acme in Carrboro – you will be pleasantly surprised!

Your family is from North Carolina but you want to show them something different:

I had a great dining experience at Venable in Carrboro, serving local food since May 2012. As a relatively new restaurant, Venable is a good place to take your family if they are from North Carolina. Venable serves dinner and brunch as well as a late night menu. The Chèvre Salad and the local fish selection make for quite a tasty dinner.

Another option is Bida Manda, a fairly new Laotian restaurant in downtown Raleigh. You will need a reservation for Bida Manda; since it’s opening, Bida Manda has taken the Triangle food scene by storm. With authentic Laotian tastes and North Carolina decor, this is a perfect place for a nice dinner on Saturday night with your family.

Green Papaya Salad: Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of: Grilled Flatiron Steak Grilled Duck Breast Grilled Ginger and Garlic Pork Neck Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Grilled Vegetables

Green Papaya Salad at Bida Manda

The Lantern is an Asian fusion restaurant: Asian flavors made with North Carolina ingredients. Since its opening in 2002, Lantern and its chef/owner Andrea Reusing have won awards in “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” and “best farm-to-table restaurants” categories.

Family a little crazy? Don’t want to take them out in public?:

Sometimes, it’s easier to order in since restaurants tend to fill up quickly around graduation time. One of my favorite casual lunch restaurants in the Triangle is Neal’s Deli. Neal’s is a family business and uses local ingredients to create simple yet tasty deli sandwiches. Check out their catering menu here.

Turkey Reuben: Turkey with Swiss, kraut and Russian on rye

Turkey Reuben at Neal’s Deli

Nantucket Grill and Bar offers an expansive catering menu. However, if you decide to cater from somewhere else, you must at least order your celebratory cakes from Nantucket. The Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Bliss are two of my favorites. Nantucket has locations in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.

You’ve taken your family out for lunch and dinner. Time for the best meal. Brunch:

If you can’t get into Watt’s or Acme, don’t worry – there are plenty of brunch options in the Triangle. Big Ed’s City Market is a Raleigh establishment, serving fresh local eggs and house-made hotcakes since the 1980s.

When I was a student at UNC, I loved going to Breadman’s for brunch because I could always expect a delicious pancake that was almost larger than the plate it was served on. Breadman’s is perfect for the group who can’t agree – the restaurant serves breakfast all day along with a variety of lunch options, including sandwiches, burgers and salads.

Another choice for families who can’t agree is Elmo’s Diner, with locations in Carrboro and Durham. Elmo’s makes for a good local brunch or lunch restaurant because of it’s vast options. One person from your party may order an omelette, while another orders a burger and yet another person may order a large salad or a wrap. Elmo’s is also a kid-friendly environment. However, they do not take reservations, but the wait usually goes by quickly.

If you don’t mind driving a little bit out of the way, Guglhupf Bakery and Cafe will satisfy your inner European with German-inspired delicacies. Guglhupf has a large outdoor seating area and an attached bakery, so you can take home some pastries.

Wherever you decide to take your family, enjoy this special time with them. And congratulations!


REVIEW: Guglhupf Bakery – Durham, NC

I used to drive past Guglhupf three times a week on my way to an internship. I drove past it for months before trying it because by the time I would get off work, it was closed. Once I finally went there, it became one of my favorite cafes in the Triangle area. The unmistakeable European feel will put you at ease and allow you to make new friends out of strangers. The cafe is spacious, with plenty of outdoor seating and two floors inside. The adjoining bakery emits the delicious smell of freshly baked bread out onto the patio area. If the weather allows, sit outside and enjoy a sandwich or a snack like you have no where else to be.

Guglhupf Bakery in Durham, NC

Guglhupf Bakery in Durham, NC

I visited Guglhupf before Thanksgiving to spend some quality time with my friend Liat. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us after I took her there for the first time last year. I don’t usually stray far from my favorite item on the menu, a turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich. However, this time I got something a bit different, a turkey, grilled pear and gorgonzola sandwich. The sandwich was heavy on the turkey, but the strong flavors of arugula and gorgonzola cheese complemented the sweet, grilled pear. I still prefer the turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich, but this one is a close second. Guglhupf also has an assortment of small plates and salads.

House-roasted turkey with a grilled pear, arugula and gorgonzola on rustic house bread

House-roasted turkey with a grilled pear, arugula and gorgonzola on rustic house bread

Liat got what she always gets – the strawberry tart. I have yet to try it because the sandwiches always fill me up. The menu is not large but there is an option for everyone, whether you are craving a hearty soup or something sweet. After, or even before, going into the cafe, check out the bakery. I dare you to walk out without trying anything.

Nutzen den tag!

Guglhupf Bakery on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Pizzeria Toro

The first thing you will notice as you walk into Pizzeria Toro – aside from the smell of freshly made gourmet pizza – is the long wooden table in the middle of the restaurant. The second thing you will notice is the wood fire grill producing that sensational smell. While some may not be fond of the intrusion of a communal dining table, they will soon forget their worries when they take their first bite. As I look at the menu, I am excited that they have multiple options for “red” and “white” pizzas.


Check out their menu:


As a non-tomato eater, I go for a white pizza. “Soft egg, Old N. Durham oyster Mushrooms, Arugula.” Pizza with a lightly poached egg? You had me at hello. My friend and dining accomplice also ordered a white pizza. “Sweet potato greens, house pancetta and Rustico R.P.”


“Sweet potato greens, house pancetta and Rustico R.P”


“Soft egg, Old N. Durham oyster Mushrooms, Arugula”

Although a bit too heavy on the arugula for my taste, the juicy egg hiding underneath was scrumptious. It was my first time trying an egg on my pizza but it definitely won’t be my last. The pizzas have a thin, crispy crust that is also deliciously chewy at the same time. I will also be going back to Toro because there are a few more pizzas I’d like to try – “Burnsville delicatta squash, garlic, gorgonzola” and “Summer squash, garlic, ricotta, grana padano.”


(Please excuse the quality of the photos. I am using my phone camera until I get a new camera.)

Genji Ramen Noodle Night @ Whole Foods Durham – 2/20/13


image001When I hear someone talking about ramen noodles, my first thought goes to the cup of noodle stuff that my friends and I consumed when we had 10 minute breaks during high school. We called it beef water or chicken water depending on the flavor. It was fluorescent. I also ate some similar stuff in college when I was dead ass broke. The cup of noodles are made by Nissin and the other stuff by Top Ramen  and neither are very good. Both of these fall under the “instant ramen” category. Instant ramen is to true ramen as what Chef Boyardee is to true Italian.

Good ramen is tough to find in North Carolina. There aren’t many restaurants whose specific focus is ramen and the dish is something that takes dedication. Chefs train for years to learn all the intricacies of ramen as portrayed in both Tampopo (1985) or The Ramen Girl (2008). It is considered an art by many foodies and there are people who make voyages just to try a new ramen place that they have heard about.

On February 20th, Whole Foods in Durham is having a Genji Ramen Night where they . If you didn’t know, Genji is the sushi bar/counter at Whole Foods on the eastern seaboard and San Francisco. They are a national company that is constantly trying to source their products from suppliers using sustainable fishing practices so not to deplete the fish population. Their  goal is to contribute towards healthier food consumption habits on a global level. This is your  top-of-the-line supermarket option for sushi so I have the feeling that their ramen will follow suit.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try freshly made ramen, head over to the Whole Foods Durham on Broad Street from 6pm to 8pm and give it a taste. It is a world of difference from the instant. You can buy a bowl of ramen which has been simmering all day in the store with either shrimp tempura and roasted pork (char siu) for $4.50 per bowl but you can also bring a friend or your appetite and get BOGO ramen bowls. They use a Miso Tonkotsu Ramen in the ramen which combines two of the most popular: Tonkotsu pork broth and Miso broth If you are on-the-run, you can pick up a to-go version which you can quickly heat up within 90 seconds using hot water.

REVIEW: Spring Menu at Washington Duke Inn – Durham

I was privileged to be invited to the first ever “Blogger’s Luncheon” at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club’s Fairview Dining Room a little over two weeks ago. I think it might have been the first blogger event that I have ever attended (I normally try to get all ninja-like while doing reviews) and I am going to be hard pressed to find another one that will be as well prepared, informative and, best of all, delicious.

The ambiance of the luncheon was fantastic. I joined some other food writers on the patio overlooking the practice green of the luscious Robert Trent Jones golf course including Matt Dees of Durham Magazine, Chinmayi Sharma of Duke University’s student paper, The Chronicle, and Don Ball, the Director of Food & Beverage at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club and a true food & beverage professional. The weather was incredible with bright blue skies, a little bit of wind and a fair share of pollen which just happened to coincide with the release of Executive Chef Jason Cunningham’s Spring menu.

We had a lot of great conversation mostly revolving around the restaurant industry, food blogging, ACC basketball and the deliciousness that was being placed in front of us which is pretty much the only reason you are reading this right now so let’s get into it.

Citrus shaved fennel, chick peas, cucumber, tomato, smoked sea salt, avocado mousse, and cumin lime vinaigrette

The first dish was an Ahi Tuna Tartare with citrus shaved fennel, chick peas, cucumber, tomato, smoked sea salt, avocado mousse and a cumin lime vinaigrette. As you can tell, the presentation of this appetizer was beautiful. We received a gelato-sized scoop up rare tuna which extremely tender and, as it should be, the best part of the dish. I didn’t read the menu close enough before my first bite so I was surprised to find out that the green stuff wasn’t wasabi like my mind had prepared my taste buds for. Instead, the avocado mousse (sounds disgusting but, in reality, is outstanding) gave the dish a smooth, mellow coolness that was reminiscent of a Baja taco or something especially when the flavor from the cumin lime vinaigrette kick in.

Soup: Sweet pea soup with marjoram, mascarpone & watermelon radish --- Salad: artesian blend baby lettuce, strawberries, feta, shaved vidalia onions, roasted pecans with a honey poppy seed dressing.

If you have already read Matt Dees’ post about the luncheon on, you would know the Cinderella Story of the menu was the Spring Sweet Pea Soup (above; in the cup). Pea soup just sounds kind of boring but Jason worked some magic in the kitchen with marjoram, mascarpone and watermelon radish. He diced the marjoram and watermelon radish (and possibly the mascarpone) into the bottom of the cup and then served it along his Spring Salad (artesian blend baby lettuce, strawberries, feta, shaved Vidalia onion, roasted pecans and a honey poppy seed dressing) which I thought was good even though I despise radicchio or whichever effin’ baby lettuce has that prickly texture that can ruin a salad in my eyes. The wait staff brought out the sweet pea soup in coffee servers and poured the soup over the diced items allowing them to be crisp when you got to them. It was a refreshing soup with a little bit of sweet and a little bit of sour and the added richness from the mascarpone that really took my taste buds on a journey. I so should have snagged a pint of this from the kitchen. It was that good.

The main course was a duo of a Chesapeake Wild Striped Bass (right; with Elodie Farms goat cheese polenta, long stem artichokes, a basil pesto crust, crispy shallots and a roasted tomato caper sauce) and Pan Roasted Rack of Lamb (left; with a fava bean puree, baby squash ratatouille covered in a horseradish infused jus from the lamb).

The bass was delicious but I think that it may have had way too many bold flavors involved. Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed the dish and I love bold flavors but the mixture of acidity from the artichokes paired with the tartness of the goat cheese in the polenta and then the basil pesto crust plus the fried shallots and then add a powerful roasted tomato caper sauce and it just gets to be a lot for your taste buds to handle. I think it may just be too complex and powerful of a dish for a spring menu. If it were toned down a bit, I think it might find a legitimate place on a spring menu especially with the level of perfection that the fish was cooked.

However, the lamb is an entree that definitely belongs on the spring menu. It is on the heartier side because what kind of slab of red meat covered in its own juice isn’t but I’m fine with that because it is the core component of the meal. I am guessing the lamb was a spring lamb (3 to 5-months-old) because the meat was very tender and succulent and I am almost had to put zero effort into cutting through it. I love about anything that has horseradish in it so, needless to say, I was a huge fan of the jus. It wasn’t too potent but gave a nice little bit of zing. The ratatouille was a good side for the lamb although a lot of the taste that you expect from ratatouille was lost when the jus got hold of it. The baby squash and the fava bean puree were the essence of spring for me in this dish because they are both items that tend to yield first from a farmer’s crop. I do feel bad for whoever had to shell all the fava beans for the puree because that is some seriously tedious work.

The plate above has three different samplings from the dessert menu: Pistachio & White Chocolate Cheesecake (with raspberry chambord reduction and pistachio brittle), a taste of Strawberries (strawberry shortcake with lavender, strawberry buttermilk ice cream and a chocolate strawberry cream cookie) and Vanilla Angel Food Cake ( with blackberry coulis, almond chantilly cream and candied basil) all served with a cup of Royal Cup Rainforest Alliance Blend Coffee.

I have written it many times before. I am not a dessert guy. I will on occasion find myself in front of a plate of dessert and feel bad knowing that it would go to waste if I didn’t eat it. Plus, I was hear to taste the menu and I can’t not try something…right? Again, I ate everything on the plate. It would be rude not to. I enjoyed it all but the dessert as a whole that was the clear winner in my mind and won strides in front of the rest was the pistachio & white chocolate cheesecake. It was rich and sweet and might be the single best bite of cheesecake that I’ve ever had…ever. Add a piece of pistachio brittle and fresh raspberries and it is almost perfect. I have to give a nod to the piece of candied basil that was on top of the angel food cake. It kind of blew my mind.

NOTE: The tasting menu that we were served was complimentary. There was no bill or tip afterwards. This in no way affected my review of the food. It was all fantastic & I am trying to put together enough dough to head back over there and try some other items on the menu and definitely snag another slice of the pistachio cheesecake and a bag full of candied basil.

Fairview on Urbanspoon


Review – Williams Gourmet Kitchen in Durham

restaurant packed with people

This is a typical lunch crowd at Williams Gourmet Kitchen

Sometimes you just get a hankering for a nice sized burger and that’s exactly what happened to me the other day. I needed beef, and I knew that one of the best places to go near RTP is William’s Gourmet Kitchen.

My friend and I got there close to noon, which was prime time for this place and it was packed! When you enter the door, you get in line and order at the counter, much like you would at a fast food restaurant. I got the bacon cheeseburger with all the fixings. My friend ordered the chicken wrap.

checking out at the counter

Food is ordered at the counter and brought out to your table

We had to wait for a few minutes to find a table, because every seat was taken when we first arrived. We finally lucked out and put our order number on the table. A waitress comes by to deliver your food. The burger was just what I was wishing for. It was big, juicy, and covered with a sharp cheddar cheese and a couple of nice slices of bacon, along with tomato, lettuce and onion. Of course, I had to order the sweet potato fries to go with the burger. The one problem I had with the fries was they had done them waffle style and were a bit too greasy for me. I think the waffling masked the flavor of the sweet potato because there was more surface area that was fried than they would have been if they were the more traditional stick style. Just my opinion though.

burger and sweet potato fries

Cheeseburger and sweet potato fries

My friend loved his chicken wrap and said he would certainly order it again. It looked great, so I, of course, took a photo so you could see it for yourself.

chicken wrap

Chicken wrap at Williams Gourmet Kitchen

I came back to William’s Gourmet Kitchen just two days later with another friend and this time I was in the mood for a salad, partly because I was feeling guilty about eating a big hamburger right in the middle of the holiday season when we are tempted with so many treats and goodies. So I ordered the strawberry salad and asked them to hold the blue cheese (not a fan – I know, I’m crazy, right?). I was shocked to see how large the salad was. It was filled with fresh baby greens, including a lot of baby spinach, pecans, red onions and was topped with thin slices of strawberries and drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette. This salad was divine and again was just what I needed that day.

salad covered with fresh strawberries

Now that's a biggie salad!

Williams Gourmet Kitchen is also open for breakfast and dinner so you can drop by almost any time of the day and enjoy a great, inexpensive meal.

Williams Gourmet Kitchen is located at 2114 East Highway 54 in Durham, near Highway 55 and Research Triangle Park.
William's Gourmet Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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


Wanderlust: Fullsteam Brewery’s Cherry Imperial Stout – Durham

Fullsteam Brewery is Durham is one of the hippest breweries in North Carolina right now. They are brewing great craft beer and it has been a consistent spot to find the greatest food trucks in the Triangle. The brewery has won multiple national awards for its beer and they continue to be innovators in the craft beer industry while being advocates for the North Carolina craft beer movement. Did I mention that everyone that works there are incredibly nice and welcoming? It is just a great place to hang out with friends and drink good craft beer.

The creativity of the brewers at Fullsteam is one thing that I think sets it apart from other breweries across the state and the country. I was lucky enough to get to taste a one-off adjunct ale that they made a few months ago called G’narlins brewed with red beans & rice while I had lunch at Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria in Asheville. Additionally, I picked up their first bottled release, First Frost, which only had a run of 800 bottles. It was a winter warmer style winter ale brewed with hand picked persimmons from Chatham County, NC. If you can still get your hands on a bottle of this, it is well worth a high price tag. Fullsteam is even working on a way to use kudzu, a non-native, fast-growing, invasive vine that chokes out other native vegetation, which could help contain the outbreak in the southeast United States.

On July 11th, they debuted another one-off brew called Wanderlust which is a cherry imperial stout. It was a special occasion limited release because Fullsteam was selected to represent North Carolina on National Rainier Cherry Day (July 11th) for the Northwest Cherries’ Tree to Table campaign. Fullsteam was one of fifty places across the nation (49 restaurants & one brewery) which “geeked out” the brewers at Fullsteam. Each participating restaurant/brewery was sent 40 pounds of freshly picked Rainier cherries to make whatever they wanted to with them.

The timing of the selection to participate in the Northwest Cherries’ Tree To Table campaign worked out well for Fullsteam because they were in the process of brewing an imperial stout that they were about to barrel age. They set aside four kegs of the imperial stout and then blended the imperial stout with crushed Rainier cherry juice.

Traditionally, Fullsteam focuses on using Southern ingredients for their beer but they just couldn’t pass up this great opportunity to be a part of this selective campaign from Northwest Cherries. That brings us to Wanderlust which “takes us to faraway, amazing lands” like the Pacific Northwest. Wanderlust is an 8.5% ABV Cherry Imperial Stout that they served at Fullsteam starting on July 11th with a keg each day until they ran out which I have the feeling was pretty quick with the great reception that it got from Fullsteam-ers. I know that I didn’t stop with just one glass of Wanderlust.

The first 50 people that attended the debut of Wanderlust on July 11th also received Cherry Bounce hand pies which was created by Fullsteam’s “Chief Executive Optimist” Sean Wilson and local baker Ali Rudel who worked at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, the place in Brooklyn to go for the best pies. The Cherry Bounce hand pies were also made with freshly picked Rainier Cherries and a hint of bourbon. As you know from previous possts, I am not much of a dessert guy but I thought these little guys were fantastic plus the “PIE ME!” ticket was awesome, too! The pie paired very well with the Wanderlust.

I thought that Wanderlust rivaled the very sought-after Sexual Chocolate that is brewed over at Foothills Brewery in Winston-Salem. I hate that I probably won’t be able to get my hands on Wanderlust again but I have the feeling that Fullsteam will brew some equally tasty beer to please craft beer lovers like myself. I am just glad that I was able to experience Wanderlust with a bunch of other beer lovers on July 11th. It was a fun event!

I hate posting about things that you (the reader) may not be able to try but I felt that this was definitely post-worthy. If you are in Durham, you should stop into Fullsteam for a beer and dinner from whatever food truck is parked outside. Follow Fullsteam on Facebook and Twitter or check out their website to find out on what’s on tap as well as what one-off brews they have planned for the future so you don’t miss them.


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