Restaurant Review | Makus Empanadas

Restaurant Reviews

Hello friends, long time no blog. I hope that you’re enjoying my new venture on Youtube. And if you haven’t seen my last couple posts, go give em a watch (hint hint). Today, though I’m back to writing, so you don’t have to listen to me talk. Last week I had the pleasure of trying Makus Empanadas, a delicious restaurant in Durham, and I wanted to tell you about it.

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Makus Empanadas’ store front has been open off of Highway 54 in Durham for just over a year, but they’ve been catering for much longer. The three owners, all from Argentina, have known each other since they were children. In fact, you can see photos of them together as children in their restaurant, which adds a nice coziness to the atmosphere. After many years apart, some rough family times brought the two brothers and their old friend back together and they decided to move to the US to open their business together. All three owners have a very obvious passion and enthusiasm for their business and their food, which I know every customer who walks in the door can feel.

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Now let’s talk about the food. Obviously, Makus Empanadas specializes in empanadas. However they also serve Chipa Bread, a latin american cheese bread, and a variety of side dishes, and even an Empadog, which is a hot dog wrapped in empanada dough. When I went, I tried three empanadas, chipa bread, and some salad. We started with the chipa bread, which was essentially small dough balls of bread filled with cheese. Who could not like that?! I probably could’ve eaten about twenty of them. Next I went with beef, pork chimichurri, and veggie empanadas. The empanadas are freshly baked and never fried, so the dough tastes truly homemade, and they offer a variety of traditional stuffings. Surprisingly, my favorite was actually the veggie empanada, which was stuffed with rice, zucchini, leek, onion, and spices. It had just the perfect amount of flavor and was like nothing I’d ever tasted. While the veggie was my favorite, the other two were amazing as well. With my empanadas I also got a spinach salad on the side. You normally don’t expect much out of side salads, but this one was actually delicious. It consisted of fresh spinach topped with dried cranberries and candied nuts. We finished the meal off with a nice, warm chocolate chip cookie and then went into a food coma.

As a lover of empanada I’d definitely go out of my way to come back to Makus Empanadas. You can also find their kiosk at Hurricane’s games as well as Carolina games. Whether you love traditional empanadas, or a little something new and different, you’re definitely go to love Makus Empanadas.

Makus Empanadas 
Hope Valley Commons
1125 West NC Hwy 54, Suite 304
Durham, NC, 27707

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Ãn Asian Cuisine | Restaurant Review

Restaurant Reviews

This past week I was lucky enough to try the new Summer Menu at Ãn Asian Cuisine in Cary. I was so excited, as I had never been to such a fancy tasting before ,and I can definitely appreciate some good Asian food. While I do fancy myself quite the foodie, I more often find myself in hole in the wall restaurants, not upscale eateries. I was even more excited when I peaked at Instagram pictures from Ãn (does anyone else do that before they go eat somewhere?) and the dishes looked like works of art. So as you can imagine, I was incredibly excited to get to accompany my fellow Triangle Foodie Adventures writer, Tessa, to this tasting.

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It started with an introduction to the beverage director, Laura, who, as Tessa put it, seemed to give us all cocktails that matched our souls! She gave me the Carmen Amaya, which had Redemption Rye, Lustau Amontillado, Grand Marnier, Lemon Juice, Orange Bitters, and Basil. The drink was super refreshing and it was one of those cocktails where you can really taste the quality of the ingredients.

Next up were Chef Josh Hughes’ Canapés. These were three different appetizers that we all got to try. The popular Pork & Buns were fluffy buns filled with crispy pork belly and topped with pickled cucumbers. Buns are a recent love of mine, so I was so excited to see these included in our meal. We also got to try the Sudatchi Oysters…at least that’s what I’m calling them. They were so fancy that I honestly don’t know what they were called or what was in them. We each got one oyster that was topped with a citrus foam. The oysters were plated on a beautiful piece of wood atop a frozen towel to keep everything chilled. They were a little bite of heaven. Finally, we had a sashimi dish, which was placed on top of a dish steaming with liquid nitrogen. Again, one of the fanciest dishes I’ve had.

After the Chef’s Canapés we moved on to the remaining five courses (I know, so fancy). The first was the Korean Salmon, which was essentially a Salmon Tartar. One of my favorite things about this dinner is that pretty much all of the dishes (aside for the Pork & Buns) are things that I would not normally order on my own. I love salmon but don’t have a ton of experience with raw fish, so I was interested to try this dish.

IMG_0125The salmon was topped with Gochujang, which added just enough spice to the already flavorful salmon. There was also daikon, asian pear, some sesame seed clusters, and a piece of tempura lettuce. I know tempura lettuce sounds like the most boring thing ever, but even that part of the meal was amazing, so that’s saying something. I thought for sure this would be my favorite dish of the bunch… until we moved to the next one that is. The next dish was Sea Scallops with a sweet corn broth, small balls of tapioca, pickled plum, tempura okra and topped at the table with warm coconut broth.

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I think this was actually my favorite. Again, I like scallops, but this isn’t necessarily a dish I would order off a menu for myself, but man would I be missing out. This dish was so creamy and amazing. The pickled plum added a surprising amount of flavor, so I did my best to get a little bit of everything in each bite. We all decided that we could basically just eat a whole bowl of the warm coconut broth as well.

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Next was the Roasted Seabass, which was topped with Kung Pao Okra and fennel and placed on a bed of black jasmine rice. It was also topped with a yuzu tomato broth at the table. This came in a close second to the scallops. The Seabass was cooked perfectly and all of the flavors went beautifully together.

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The final savory dish was Spiced Duck with a Cherry Hoison Glaze, and a bed of rice with Zephyr Squash and Pistachios. This was my first time ever having duck, surprisingly, I liked it a lot. Tessa described it as a mix between pork and chicken, and I definitely agree. The cherry glaze was also a surprising twist to the dish. I was so full at this point that I couldn’t actually finish this dish and I felt so bad because it was so pretty!

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Even though I was stuffed, I of course somehow made room for dessert. Tonight it was two small pieces of chocolate. They weren’t your typical pieces of chocolate though, they were almost like mini little mousses, one chocolate and one raspberry. They were rich but also incredibly refreshing, made even more refreshing by the passion fruit ice cream they were served with.

If you couldn’t already tell by my musings thus far, this was one of the best dinners I’ve had. Each dish felt like so much time and thought went into it, and the service at Ãn was impeccable. I would definitely recommend you go check it out and try out a few of the things on the summer menu. Yes, its a little expensive, but for the quality of the food it is exactly what you would expect to pay. I will say that I would suggest trying some of the more adventurous things on the menu. I had been to Ãn once before and gotten the Ramen, and while it was good, I didn’t think it was anything amazing. However, after trying these dishes that were different from something you can get anywhere else, I felt that it was really something special.

Ãn Asian Cuisines
http://ancuisines.com
2800 Renaissance Rd, Cary, NC

 

Olde English Tea Room | Restaurant Review

Restaurant Reviews

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As some of you may know, I watch quite a few British Youtubers, which has gotten me into all things English. A lot of times in vlogs or videos, I see said Youtubers getting Afternoon Tea and it just looks so darn fun and adorable! So, instead of getting each other Christmas gifts, a friend and I decided to go get tea instead. We came across a little place called The Olde English Tea Room in Wake Forest and decided to give it a shot.

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We both decided to go for High Tea, which included soup, a scone, four tea sandwiches, 4 mini desserts, and of course a pot of tea. You could also just get Afternoon Tea, which didn’t include the soup. We were definitely full by the end, but we came very hungry, so I’m glad we went with High Tea and got the bonus of a bowl of soup.

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For my High Tea I first went with a pot of Hot Cinnamon Black Tea. It was sooo amazing. It was a chilly day outside so the nice spice of cinnamon really hit the spot. Olde English Tea Room had a huge selection of teas, so it was hard to chose, but I was very happy with my decision. Next I went with chicken and rice soup, which, again really hit the spot on a chilly day. I also chose a Butterscotch and Pecan Scone with Devonshire Cream. They had probably about 4 to chose from and, again, I was very happy with my decision. The scone was just sweet enough, but not overpowering. I also expected it to be super dry, cause its a scone, ya know? But it wasn’t, it was nice and soft and delicious. The Devonshire cream was also an amazing touch. We then moved on to the tea sandwiches. There was a cucumber sandwich, a chicken salad sandwich, an egg salad sandwich, and a tuna salad sandwich. The only one I could’ve done without was the tuna salad, but it was still alright. The sandwiches aren’t anything fancy, but they’re still adorable and refreshing. Desserts were two coconut macaroons, a chocolate biscotti, and a delicious graham cracker toffee type thing (my favorite).

Overall I absolutely loved the whole experience. It was really laid back and the environment just felt very authentic. We sat there for quite a while and our waiter checked on us a couple times but never bothered us and knew we just wanted to sit and chat. The food was all great and the tea was amazing. Downtown Wake Forest was also really cute and filled with lots of antique shops.

So if you’re looking for a fun, different way to spend an afternoon I would highly suggest the Olde English Tea Room. The only other place that I found that does afternoon tea is Herons at The Umstead, however they only do it a few days per week and it is about $10-$15 more expensive. I do want to try that one sometime as well, but I would definitely suggest the Olde English Tea Room.

Do you all know anywhere else to get Afternoon Tea? Or other fun and different experiences in the Triangle Area?

JuiceKeys | Restaurant Review

Restaurant Reviews

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I feel like one thing Raleigh lacks is good juice and smoothie options. I mean sure we have Planet Smoothie and things of the sort, but not a real, fresh, juice and smoothie place. For that reason, I jumped for joy when I heard about a little place called JuiceKeys. I saw a delicious looking picture on Shop Local Raleigh’s Instagram and knew I had to try it immediately.

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Juicekeys is located up off of Wake Forest Road, and prides itself in being organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. The menu consists of many different smoothies and juices, as well as a few other snacks. Some of the snacks that I saw were energy balls, pumpkin cups, breakfast bars, and salads. I noticed on their Facebook page that they also tend to try out new products, so they always have something different. All of the smoothies and juices are made of all natural, whole food ingredients. No powders or mixes like these other places (unless you want to add protein powder). They also sell a few different “health food” supplements like vitamins, superfood shots, and things of the sort.

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I ended up trying the Green Goodness smoothie, which has almond milk, kale, cucumber, pineapple, apple, and ginger. I also tried the pumpkin cup, which is made of dates, coconut, cashews, coconut oil, pumpkin, and chocolate. I also tried a coconut chocolate chip blondie from a brand called Rickaroon’s. Everything I tried was pretty good. The smoothie was delicious and refreshing, especially with that hint of ginger. The pumpkin cup was also delicious, and really different. I didn’t think it was super pumpkiny, but I still really liked it. I’m not going to say that it tasted like a real candy bar or anything, you can definitely tell its a healthier version, but I enjoyed it. I think I liked the blondie the least out of everything, it was still ok, but it was a little dry for me.

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Overall I would definitely recommend giving Juicekeys a shot. It is quite expensive (my smoothie was $6.95), but I think its worth it for a genuinely healthy snack. I mean, think about what you spend for a smoothie at Planet Smoothie or any place like that, its only a dollar or so more to get all fresh, whole food ingredients. I’d say its worth it. All of the different options look amazing as well. I really want to go back and try the “Healthy Milkshake” or some of the juices.

Let me know if you’ve given Juicekeys a try. What did you think?

Juicekeys
http://www.juicekeys.com
5011 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Suite B
Raleigh, NC 27609

b.good | Restaurant Review

Restaurant Reviews
b.good

b.good Salad | Made to Order

This week I had zero food in my house, so I decided to get a good healthy lunch one day and ended up at b.good. I’ve been to this restaurant a couple times before, but for some reason I feel like no one ever really talks about it. The motto for b.good is “Real Food Fast”, making them one of the few “fast food” restaurants with a menu full of healthy options. They also offer seasonal menu options to change it up a bit.

This day I got the Harvest Kale Salad, which has kale, brussel sprouts, manchego cheese, sunflower seeds, beets, chickpeas, and a sherry vinaigrette. I also opted to add grilled chicken and an egg. It was sooo good! I’ve been obsessed with beets lately and I love brussel sprouts always so I figured it would be a good choice. I’ve also gotten two of the Kale and Quinoa bowls, which are also really healthy options. For a “fast food” restaurant they are a little pricey… my salad was about $11… but the portions are huge. Of the three times I’ve been I was never able to eat the whole meal, I easily saved half for lunch the next day.

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b.good Salad | Made to Order

In addition to the many salads they offer, they also have more traditional fast food options like burgers, turkey burgers, fries, and milkshakes. But everything says it is locally-raised and they have plenty of gluten free options as well. In the end I think this is a really great place to go for a healthy meal at a reasonable price. They also have online ordering, which makes it even more convenient.

Have you guys been to b.good? Let me know what you think!

b.good
201 Park at North Hills Set #100
Raleigh, NC, 27609
B.Good Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

Gravy | Restaurant Review

Restaurant Reviews

Sorry for the delayed posting, I’ve had a crazy few weeks! But this post is about Italian food so it’s worth the wait. Sam and I ate a lot of delicious Italian food on vacation, so this week we were on a mission to find some great Italian food here in Raleigh.  I know there’s a few restaurants to chose from, but this time we decided to try Gravy. I’d been once before on restaurant week. I remember it being good, but since it was restaurant week they didn’t have their full menu.

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Gravy | Made to Order

I had the Salami Risotto, which as you can tell from the photo, was incredibly delicious. I’m pretty much always a fan of risotto, but this was especially rich and creamy. I was pleased that the salami wasn’t a huge presence in the dish, because even the tiny little pieces had a really strong taste. As an added bonus, we got to sit out of the patio, which I didn’t even know existed! If you end up going on a beautiful day like we did then I definitley suggest eating out there.

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Gravy | Made to Order

Sam got the Baked Pork and Cheese Cavatelli, which the waitress described as adult mac and cheese. His was really good too, definitley a fancier mac and cheese. It didn’t have as strong of a cheese taste as you would expect mac and cheese to have, which I actually really liked.

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Gravy | Made to Order

In conclusion, Gravy is definitley a good spot to go if your craving Italian food in Raleigh. It is a little bit of an American take on Italian, with very few “traditional” dishes on the menu, though. The two dishes we got were excellent, as were the garlic knots that came before the meal.

www.gravyraleigh.com

PieBird | Restaurant Review

Restaurant Reviews

This week I ventured over to Oakwood to PieBird, a restaurant based around pie. The things I do for this blog, right? PieBird is one of my favorite restaurants ever. I have to warn you though, once you go you will be addicted.

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This restaurant has a ton of different pies: pot pies, quiches, and dessert pies. I usually always go with the classic Chicken Pot Pie. Its pretty much the definition of comfort food. This chicken pot pie on a cold or rainy day is just amazing. I usually go for lunch, which is fairly different than the dinner menu, but this weekend I went for dinner. I wasn’t expecting to be able to eat the whole thing, but I somehow did… and still had room for dessert. For lunch the pies are called “hand pies” and are much smaller, so you can try two different kinds 🙂

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My mom got the Chicken Curry Pie, which was also delicious. It’s a sweet curry, which goes perfectly with the warm flakey crust. Incase you go for lunch, I also highly suggest the Pimento Cheese Pie. Now onto the best part: Dessert.

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PieBird changes their dessert pie menu daily, but I’ve never had a piece of pie here that I didn’t love. Tonight my parents and I chose three different pieces to share: Cherry, Somoa, and All Shook Up. The Somoa is on the menu pretty often and is definitley a personal favorite of mine. I’ve somehow never had cherry pie (above), but its my dad’s favorite so we got it. It was sooo delicious and sweet! Image

The Somoa, as you can probably guess, is based on the Somoa girl scout cookie. Its perfectly chocolatey, coconuty, and caramelly (I’m pretty sure none of those are real words). When it comes out nice and warm, you’ll be sold at the first bite.

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Finally, the All Shook Up was an Oreo crust, slices of banana, and peanut butter fudge, topped with toasted marshmallow. As you can tell, we couldn’t wait until I took a picture to take a bite. It was absolutely delicious. Sometimes I don’t like too much peanut butter, so I was very pleasantly surprised by how light the peanut butter fudge was. Also, I’m a sucker for anything with oreo crust.

Like I said this is one of my absolute favorite restaraunts, and you can see how delicious it is, soooo go eat there!

Later in the week I’ll be making a healthier version of Chicken Pot Pie. Unfortunatley, I don’t think there’s too much I can do with these amazing dessert pies.

www.piebirdraleigh.com

Trophy Brewing Co. | Restaurant Review

Restaurant Reviews

Beer and Pizza. Is there a better combination? Especially really good beer and really good pizza. Last night I ventured over to Trophy Brewing Co. near downtown Raleigh for some home brewed beer and homemade pizza, and it was quite delicious.

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Lets start with the beer. They had 6 different beers to choose from, 5 of which are brewed there at the restaurant. I got the Casanova, which is described as chocolate and vanilla stout. I have to admit I really don’t know that much about beer, and I have pretty cheap taste. I’m perfectly happy with a Bud Light and don’t really know what I like in a beer. I saw that it was chocolate so I decided to try it, and that is my only reasoning. But, it ended up being a wise decision because it was delicious and really easy to drink! I have to tell you though, it was strong. My boyfriend got the Trophy Wife, which is described as an American Pale. I’m not a huge fan of hoppy beers (I do know that much), so I wasn’t crazy about this one, but he loved it!

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When the bartender asked if we were hungry, we obviously said yes. Who is going to turn down pizza? They had a menu with a few pizzas, a specialty pizza, and then a “make your own” section. I’m a sucker for anything buffalo chicken, so I had to go with that night’s special “Buffalo”. I got the small personal size, which was the perfect amount. My pizza had olive oil and garlic sauce, mozzarella and bleu cheese, chicken, red peppers, onion, and buffalo sauce.

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My boyfriend got The Indoor Kid, which had olive oil, mozzarella and ricotta cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Both of our pizzas were absolutley delicious. They tasted like real, homemade pizza, which I’m not used to getting when going out to a restaurant. I’m a crust person too, and the crust was on point. The small pizza is the perfect size for a personal pizza, and the large looked like enough to share between a few people. The place is pretty small, so we made sure to get there early before it filled up. We went around 5:45pm, and by the time we were done there were lots of people waiting, so getting there early would be my only suggestion.

Overall I was really happy with my pizza and my beer, and I definitley want to go back to Trophy Brewing Co. soon to try some different things. Stay tuned for my at-home, healthier version of my pizza later in the week! I’ve been wanting to make a cauliflower crust pizza forever now, so I think I’m going to give that a shot.

Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone has a great week!

Trophy Brewing Co.
http://trophybrewing.com

Busy Bee Cafe | Restaurant Review

Restaurant Reviews

Here goes my first post!

In my opinion, brunch is the greatest meal of them all. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad brunch. I love the atmosphere, the food, the fact that its Sunday and you got to sleep in and be fairly lazy the rest of the day, I just love it all. I’ve decided I’m going to do a monthly brunch post, partly because I just want an excuse to go to brunch as often as possible. Here’s my restaurant review, and later this week I’ll post an at-home, healthier version of my meal!

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So this morning I venutred to Busy Bee Cafe in Downtown Raleigh. I’ve been once or twice before, but not in quite a while, so I decided to give it a try. I ended up getting the French Toast, which was a wise decision. Image

Yes it was as delicious as it looks. It had a brown sugar butter, syrup, and cashew brittle on top. Just sweet enough to satisfy my ever present sweet tooth. My boyfriend ordered the same thing, so unfortunatley this is the only dish I can give you advice on, but everyone else’s food around us looked just as delicious. They had everything from a breakfast burger (a burger with an egg on top, along with tater tots on the side), to breakfast crab cakes and huevos rancheros. They also had a wide variety of brunch cocktails and beer to choose from. If you haven’t been here during a night downtown I definitley suggest that as well.

All in all I had a lovely brunch exerpience, so I can still say I’ve never had a bad brunch! Stay tuned for my at-home version of this dish later in the week!

Busy Bee serves brunch on Sunday mornings from 11AM- 3PM
www.busybeeraleigh.com