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Chapel Hill (and Durham) visit: very long report


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Chapel Hill (and Durham) visit: very long report

Amata | Dec 22, 2004 12:47 PM

Allen & Son, Maple View Farm, Parvaneh, Guglhupf, Squids, Top of the Hill

As a native of Chapel Hill now living in Chicago I don’t get back to NC as often as I’d like, but I check Chowhound South every now and then to keep up with what’s good to eat. I’d like to thank David A and other posters for their good reports on the Triangle, especially regarding Guglhupf and the store out at Maple View Farm. What follows is a long report on a visit I made last week with my husband (who writes under the name Antonius in the internet chow world) and our 4 year old son.

The short version: we ate well; the reviews below are nearly all positive, with a small quibble about the ambience at Guglhupf café.

ALLEN AND SON: my parents, transplanted from the north, still aren’t much on barbecue, but I try to eat some each time I’m back home. Allen and Son was as good as I remembered, with nicely browned chopped pork and fine hushpuppies and slaw on the side. There’s a noticeable cultural boundary crossed in the few miles between Chapel Hill’s sea of Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers, and Allen and Son to the north, with its photo of the Bushes on display and the hunting/fishing/taxidermy theme to the décor. Whatever the politics, the ‘cue there is excellent. Allen and Son offers its own hot sauce for adding to the pork, along with the standard Texas Pete. (I thought about purchasing a jar of their sauce to take home but was afraid RDU security might deem it a dangerous substance.) We finished with scoops of their homemade vanilla ice cream, which had a good flavor but a few ice crystals suggested it may have been sitting around for a while.

MAPLE VIEW FARM: Of course, it’s hard for any ice cream in Chapel Hill to compete with Maple View Farm’s. I had had Maple View Farm ice cream on previous trips in other venues, but I didn’t know about their country store on Dairyland Road until I read David A’s post about it some months back. What a lovely drive it is out there! It’s a pleasure to see unspoiled country land and escape from the relentless spread of shopping centers and bad chain restaurants cluttering up the rest of the Triangle. (By the way, is the goat farm on Dairyland Road offering milk and/or cheese locally?) Even though it was a week before Christmas, it was warm enough to sit out on the front porch and enjoy the view while eating our ice cream (coffee in a waffle cone for me). Thanks, David, for publicizing this place on Chowhound.

PARVANEH: This small Persian restaurant might get overlooked by casual visitors to town, in a somewhat out-of-the-way strip shopping center on the other side of Elliott Road from the Whole Foods Plaza. I’ve eaten there twice now, and think it’s a very nice addition to the Chapel Hill restaurant options. This last occasion, Antonius and I each started with a cup of ash, a bean and noodle soup, split the nun-o-panir appetizer of feta, parsley, walnuts and pita bread, then followed it with two excellent main courses: a combination of joojeh kabob and kubideh kabob on basmati rice for me (chunks of chicken breast sprinkled with sumac; spiced ground beef), and khoresh ghaimeh badenjun for Antonius (stew of lamb, tomato, and eggplant). I found my mother’s choice of khoresh fesenjun (chicken with ground walnuts and pomegranate juice) too rich and sweet for my taste, which is of course not to say that it isn’t completely authentic! Presumably authentic as well is doogh, the salty, sour yogurt drink I tried there. (Beer and wine are also available if that doesn’t sound appealing.) I think Parvaneh and her husband deserve a lot of credit for offering food which is not only quite good, but also unfamiliar to many of their customers. It would probably be easier and perhaps more profitable to dumb down the menu to fit mainstream American tastes, but they have fortunately chosen a different approach.

GUGLHUPF: Again, I thank the Triangle chowhounds for your rave reviews of Guglhupf; the news of their café opening made me especially eager to visit. We went for lunch on a Friday – along with half of the Triangle, it seemed. The food was very, very good. Antonius and I each had pork and bean soup, followed by the wurstplatte, which included various cold cuts, slices of gruyere, slivers of horseradish, hard boiled egg, mustard, and cornichon pickles. It’s served with a selection of breads (baguette, olive ciabatta, and something with macadamia nuts), which were excellent, as expected, though I actually would have preferred simpler breads such as rye and whole wheat in place of the macadamia and olive selections as vehicles for the cold cuts. But, as good as the food was, we didn’t enjoy our lunch as much as we had hoped, due to the noise level inside the café. It was impossible for our table of five to have a conversation. My parents will definitely not be returning. It’s a shame: clearly much care was taken with the design of the café, which has a striking two story open space, a charming fountain outside, and amusingly industrial bathrooms – if only a thought had been given to the acoustics as well. Try to go when the weather permits sitting outside.

[note to David A: *of course* Guglhupf is better than the Berghoff in Chicago! Two of us on the Chicago board warned you that the Berghoff’s food is bad!]

SQUIDS: I’m sure many of you are familiar with Squids – it’s been around forever, it seems. This is another place I go to every time I’m back home, for simple seafood preparations always competently done. I recommend their crab cakes or a piece of grilled fish, such as the grouper I had last week or the yellow fin tuna done rare which Antonius had. The grouper was served with a large portion of buttery mashed potatoes and several asparagus spears, and made me completely happy. I will say, however, that I have never cared for their style of hushpuppies (too little corn, too finely ground, too sweet – like little donuts), preferring the coarser, cornier ones out at Allen and Son. And what the heck is a “risotto cake,” anyway?

TOP OF THE HILL: Another place that has been around for years, but which I hadn’t tried until last week. I guess because they brew their own beers in house I assumed that the food would be secondary, and its popularity as a place to watch the Heels on big screen TVs put me off a bit. (Not that I don’t love basketball – I just prefer not to watch it in a mob.) With those fairly low expectations I was pleasantly surprised. The menu is more ambitious than that of many brewpubs: Antonius had the strip steak special with a Zinfandel reduction, topped with gorgonzola, which he enjoyed. There are some vaguely Southern items on the menu: I had a sort of jambalaya risotto, which was fine, and my dad had buttermilk fried chicken. In short, it’s possible to get a meal here which isn’t bad at all. By the way, aficionados of “dessert drinks” (e.g. mocha-tinis) will find plenty to choose from here.

Information for all these places is below. Any of you planning a trip to Chicago should post queries on Chicago Chowhound and on, another very active site discussing food in Chicago and beyond (I’ll be putting a version of this on lthforum, by the way). And we’d love to hear afterwards about what you ate!

Allen & Son Pit-Cooked Bar-B-Q
6203 Mill House Rd (at NC Highway 86 North)
Chapel Hill
(919) 942-7576.
Open Tue.-Fri., 10am-8pm; Sat., 7am-8pm; closed Sun.-Mon.
For photos, see

Maple View Farm Country Store
6900 Rocky Ridge Road
Hillsborough, NC 27278
(919) 960-5535
Store open noon-8 pm daily (later in the summer?
Cafe Parvaneh
400-J S. Elliott Rd
Chapel Hill, NC
(919) 929-2779
M- Th 10-8; F-Sat 10-9; closed Sunday

Guglhupf Bakery & Patisserie
2706 Chapel Hill Rd
Durham, NC 27707
(919) 401-2600
T-F 7-6; Sat 8-5; Sun 9-3; closed Monday

Squids Restaurant and Oyster Bar
1201 N Fordham Blvd
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 942-8757
T-Th 5- 9:30; F-Sat 5-10; Sun-M 5- 9

Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery
100 East Franklin Street, Third Floor
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 929-8676
11 am – 2 am daily

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