Not sure exactly what I'm asking here or what advice I'm looking for but thought I'd throw this out for general thoughts or recommendations.
Our kids are away this week visiting grandparents which gives me and my husband a chance to try out some new fine dining establishments and/or revisit some old ones we haven't hit yet. We'll probably get to hit a couple of places this week and will have a similar opportunity again later in the summer. With the closing of MG, I'm reminded of the need to not take some of our local treasures for granted and to make an extra effort to try new places or revisit old ones rather than fall back on our usual haunts. We like all sorts of stuff and to some degree are a bit ambivalent in selecting among the possible options so would be particularly interested in thoughts on places that are particularly hot / on their game right now or otherwise should not be missed but may not get the most billing or recognition here or elsewhere.
To that end, I'm trying to decide what spots to hit first and/or whether it makes sense to revisit some old ones before trying all the new spots. We are in Raleigh so I am focusing mostly on Chapel Hill and Durham in order to take advantage of our extra time. Fearrington House we have done and will go back when we can spend the night. Poole's is our favorite in Raleigh and we will go again this week even though that will cut into our exploration elsewhere.
A few thoughts on what else is out there:
1. Heron's--only one of us has done actual restaurant; both have eaten at the bar; I know it's amazing but not sure we're really up for that this week, especially with so many others on the list (I'm also hopeful that I may get to hit this on someone else's dime at some point); should we just splurge and reserve some extra time and do this as our one event this week (besides Poole's) or better to hit some other spots?
2. Lantern--we've never been; seems this may should be our top priority; Asian is fine but not our favorite; given all the press though seems we should experience this.
3. Four Square--also never been and would really like to go; should we put ahead of Lantern?
4. Revolution--never been; not sure I'd really put it above the top 2 new places to visit based on what I've seen and heard but not really asked anybody to rank before; should we elevate it on our list;
5.What about Anile's Italian place in American Tobacco?; sounded really good and was getting some good buzz; based on menus, etc. I think I'd almost prefer trying that before Revolution personally--would that be a mistake from a general foodie perspective
6. Nana's--have been a few times but it's been several years; don't really hear much about it here; any reason to put this higher or lower on the list; should we go here before any of the new places?
7. Elaine's on Franklin--have been twice but was also several years ago; how are they doing? should we prioritize this over new and/or return to other favorites? should we put this over Nana's if we are revisiting?
8. Kitchen--have never been
9. Provence--is this still open?; we have never been but really wanted to go at one point; I just don't ever see much mention of it here or otherwise
10. Rue Cler--never been for dinner and has been awhile since we were there for lunch / brunch; same for Vin Rouge; if we were going to do one of these, is there a strong preference?
11. Piedmont--Haven't been since the change in ownership; would like to go back but seems we have more important work ahead of us?
12. Panciuto in Hillsborough--should we drive past some of the others above to get here
13. Bin 54--My husband really loves steak and wants to try; I don't eat red meat so I'm putting this further down; sounds like quality may have gone done some since it first opened; should I "sacrifice" for sake of my husband?;
14. On perhaps a bit of a different scale, we've also never been to Tonali, G2B, Geer Street Garden--if we were looking for a more casual or scaled down spot is one of these at the top of the list; are these fairly doable with young kids such that we should not waste our alone time on these?
Apologies for this being so long and rambling but welcome any general thoughts or advice. Thanks.