General Discussion 21

Charming, yet is the food good?

mark_e | Dec 20, 201512:07 PM

In an article on Hillsborough in this Sunday's NYTimes (see below), the author finds that "The biggest news is that this is the fifth consecutive year that the local chef Aaron Vandemark has been a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast . . ."

This jogged my memory; I ate at his restaurant, Panciuto, this past summer. There wasn't really anything that we ate that would - in my mind - lead a judge to want to nominate the chef for an award. Now, I guess it is compared to what, and this may speak volumes to the parlous state of the restaurant scene in our little corner of the world.

Every dish seemed to cry out for subtraction: all needed fewer ingredients. And one pasta dish seemed to be a kitchen-sink melange of everything in the walk-in and more. More is not more. What results is muddy flavors - a true deal breaker in my culinary book.

The service was fine (and I'm particularly forgiving on this subject given the local labor pool's fine dining experience), but there were a couple of other issues. The wine list was extremely limited with about 10 bottles to choose from and the markups were pretty high.

Lastly - and this is subject that always sends up a red flag - there were "rules." (As someone who worked ITB, I was also, of course, a restaurant customer; it is always a good idea for restauranteurs to put themselves in their customers' shoes and think: is what I'm doing hospitality or hostility?) To clarify: the menu stated "Please note there is a $10 surcharge on shared entrees Fridays and Saturdays." Excuse me? An extra fork costs ten bucks? So for me, this rule fell in to the latter category, certainly not hospitable. And when a restaurant tells you they cannot split a check more than x number of ways, they are simply lazy.

So ends my rant, let other 'hounds chime in.

In North Carolina, a Town to Lift a Fork or Turn a Page

A handsome new river walk, top-notch barbecue and a great craft brewery are some of the highlights of Hillsborough, not to mention the literary types...

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