8 restaurants, 1 post

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happy 2015, readers!

New Year’s is the best holiday. beginning again is such a liberating concept. I’m a big believer in starting over and reinventing yourself constantly. ((how to keep your resolutions post + best of 2014 post coming soon, didn’t forget about this blog))

with that said, holy crap.

didn’t even get to through the countdown before realizing AHH I GRADUATE SOON AND I AM COMMITTED TO SO MANY THINGS THIS YEAR, CRAP HOW DO I HAVE TIME TO LIVE.

currently, people in my life are like “yo, where have you been, when can I see you” and I’m like “agh, I’ve just been busy because working in retail during the holidays can be hectic! I will be free come 2015!!!”

but now it’s 2015. and expletive. I am far from free. I am the queen of overcommitting.

here is a list of commitments. mostly for my sake so I don’t vomit everywhere and forget. please read this and realize that it is okay to say no sometimes. in fact, all the time. don’t do this. you won’t sleep, or you will sleep in class, which is worse.

- organize the homecoming dance and spirit week set up and activities - find dress for the homecoming dance that meets all restrictions (harder than expected) - plan the next International Thespian Society meeting and the end of year activity, as well as an actor in residence if possible - memorize lines for The Importance of Being Earnest, opening in February - read 224 pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude before next Monday - read Chapters 1-6 of The Invisible Man for book club (this will probably fall on the back burner, sorry Lit teacher) - do a 65 minute AP Stats practice test - sketch my designs for my senior project’s product t-shirt prototype - make 100 t-shirts for my senior project’s product component - fund the supplies for the 100 t-shirts - organize a benefit concert to fund the supplies for the 100 t-shirts - organize a dinner party at The Rockford for my middle school class of 60 peers - start shadowing for my third job, which is gonna be really fun (3 jobs though) - design and manufacture all of the costumes for Bye Bye Birdie (opening in April) and do a better job assistant directing - finish my FIT Presidential Scholarship application - finish the FAFSA - apply for scholarships - write 2 play critiques - I’m auditioning for a short film tomorrow I will think of at least 6 more things after I post this.

meanwhile, I am supposed to be balancing my school work and job, friends, and enjoying my LAST SEMESTER I WILL BE LIVING AT HOME????? not to mention that I have a teeny puppy who cries whenever I sit down to write a blog post/do anything (playing is her priority) and my mom is getting surgery in 6 days.

this is ridiculous. and mostly my fault. and ridiculous.

I am not complaining, though. I am so blessed to be where I am and for every single person in my life. thank you to everyone who has been understanding this year when I am never around to hang out like I used to be. I’m sending you all huge fruit baskets, figuratively.

with that said, I’m gonna launch into this post. sorry you had to read that. I am praying that you skimmed it, for your sake.

I’ve been eating out, for lack of a better word, a crap-ton in the last week. I’m going to review 4 of the more interesting restaurants I went to in this post.

Notice about bias: I’m not a food blogger for the New York Times. If a get a good meal for a decent price with a kind server, I’m all over it. I’m not about to rage about the cleanliness of the utensils or something petty like that. This is also through the lens of a vegetarian who doesn’t drink, so if you’re looking for a Ron Swanson-esque whiskey and steak restaurant review, this will be the opposite.

(I had to drop a Parks and Rec reference again. I rewatched season 6 this week. While some people have heroin which consumes over their lives and makes them a different person, I have a television show about municipal government workers in small town Indiana.)

as for 4 places I ate that aren’t going to make the thorough-review section for various reasons, I give you… mini-reviews.

Wake Forest Coffee Company - decent. overpriced. I’ve been harassed by various men here so I avoid it as much as possible.

Village Deli - expensive. good sandwiches. I eat here on my breaks at work some days.

Chipotle - a staple. delicious. I used to work here.

Macaroni Grill - really good virgin mojito. carb heaven. This was my first visit. Gravy (in downtown Raleigh) is a more chic and more delectable version of this restaurant.

now into the big bang restaurant overviews, complete with photos for your viewing pleasure.

CALA VELA

I met my childhood friend Mary Neil here for lunch. she picked it because she is much hipper than me.

it's on the corner of s blount street, adjacent with an apartment building.

it was very open and bright. we sat downstairs. presumably there was more seating upstairs because the downstairs area only had about 4 tables.

Cala Vela specializes in Spanish empanadas, which Mary Neil got. they looked delicious. most of them had meat in them, so I decided to get the veggie nachos.

perfectly portioned, tasteful, cost effective... and then there was my meal.

huge. and delightful.

I have yet to find a Mexican restaurant downtown that I'm obsessed with, but this is by far my favorite I've tried. I had nachos at Centro over the summer and they were so spicy that I got really nauseous. right before the Vampire Weekend concert, I may add. thanks, Colin.

however, these were the perfect amount of spice and sweetness. they had guacamole, olives, corn, cheese, sour cream, queso, beans, and rice. it was a filling meal for lunch that day and for lunch two days later.

Cala Vela had good service, as well. our waiter was nice and I was impressed with the experience.

the nachos, after MN and I dug in:

overall, I give Cala Vela 4 out of 5 cannolis. measuring my approval with cannolis because it is an amazing dessert that deserves more praise than it gets. in 2015, become a cannoli advocate. for just 30 cents a day, you can save a small marzipan dessert from infamy.

SIMPLY CRÊPES

for as long as we've lived in Raleigh, my family has gone downtown for the huge First Night celebration on New Year's Eve. I have fond memories of the event, so I was sufficiently bummed this year when we decided to have a night in.

Jordan was having none of my pouting and told me to chin up. we went to Simply Crêpes.

if you don't think Lafayette Village is cute, you are probably soulless.

I am in Lafayette at least once a week because Jubala is the best coffee shop within 10 minutes of my house. I've been to Simply Crêpes 2 or 3 times before and have not had a bad experience yet.

their christmas decor is on point.

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my cute date.

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attempting to take a photo of the courtyard, but it ended up looking like an overlay of the outside vs. inside. crazy stuff.

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on Jordan: button down: Topshop; sweater: H&M

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there are a ton of options on Simply Crêpe's menu. I was eyeing a three cheese and spinach one, but our waitress said it was fairly rich. the dessert crêpes are essential to order here, so we both picked the Simply Breakfast Crêpe for a fairly light breakfast-for-dinner. I substituted tomatoes instead of bacon, which Jordan got in his.

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it was fluffy and tasty.

we chose the Oreo dessert crêpe. it is filled with ice cream and Oreo pieces.

my tastebuds died and went to heaven.

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amazing, right. I give Simply Crêpes 4 out of 5 cannolis.

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we then came home and had sparkling cider. J and I are sparkling cider enthusiasts year-round. my house is about 2 degrees at all times, so a sweatshirt was necessary.

we watched Begin Again (surprisingly great) and rang in the new year. a wonderful night in.

THE RALEIGH TIMES

I am one of Ashley Christensen's biggest fans and I consistently heard that The Raleigh Times was on her caliber. Jordan had a gift card so we decided to make the trek to downtown Raleigh on New Year's Day. shockingly, it was deserted.

every female has three dresses:

  • the casual day out with friends dress
  • the IM HOT AND YOUNG AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!!!!! dress
  • the conservative dinner where people over 60 will be present dress

that night, I wore the third.

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on me: dress: LUNA; coat: free people; gloves: kate spade; shoes: DSW

on Jordan: button down: H&M; cardigan: H&M; jeans: H&M

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this was one of the oddest dining experiences I've had.

The Raleigh Times has a large amount of prime real estate in downtown Raleigh, with photos of its past dating back to the early 1900s hung around the restaurant. the area is spacious and trendy, with a lot of exposed brick. they even have some gorgeous rooftop seating for the summer months.

Jordan and I picked a table upstairs, which was nearly deserted, except for a few bargoers. we arrived at 7pm.

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our waitress asked us for our drink orders. I ordered a virgin mojito (my addiction, so refreshing). they were out of limes and mint, which didn't surprise me too much, although it did a little bit considering it is a bar. I had water instead.

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Jordan ordered pickle chips for an appetizer. our waitress informed us that they were out of pickle chips and 3 more appetizers listed on the menu. that left only a few appetizer options? we had the pimento cheese, which was incredibly delicious. 

once we finished that up, it was time to order our main course. Jordan chose the fried shrimp burger. the menu listed a delicious-sounding sandwich with avocado, tomato, cheddar, and egg on sourdough. I asked the waitress if the egg could be prepared scrambled. she said no.

???

what? it is impossible to put an egg in a frying pan? I do this at home and it takes about 3 minutes max.

I ordered the "Mac & Quack" without the duck, which they said they could do. seems a lot harder to take out the duck than to prepare an egg scrambled, but okay. not a very vegetarian friendly restaurant, in all honesty. the only options that didn't require taking things out were salads and that one single sandwich I tried to order.

(Jordan and I spent the whole dinner planning a benefit concert. you're all going to love it. I will post more details as it draws nearer)

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Jordan liked his shrimp burger quite a lot. I had one of his fries in the horseradish sauce and it was good. if you want amazing fries with tons of sauce options, go to Chuck's on S Wilmington. incredible.

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my mac and cheese was decent. if you want the best mac and cheese in Raleigh and potentially the universe, go to Poole's. this was about 1/10th as good.

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this was the weirdest part of all. the waitress brought the check, and we paid her in a gift card and a $5 bill, thinking she would give back the change so we could properly tip her with the remains and some extra from our wallets.

not the case.

she took our bill and gift card and processed the payment like normal. then she proceeded to put up all of the other chairs since no one else was in there, which took ten minutes. I was standing next to our table, clearly ready to leave, and we were the only people on that entire floor. she then proceeded to text some people on her phone and go downstairs to the main floor. we never got our receipt or our change. what??????????

we waited for a few more minutes alone in the upstairs. she never came back. we then walked downstairs and saw that they roped off the upstairs already, presuming we left, I guess?

Jordan and I both left incredibly perplexed and disappointed. I expected a lot due to its reputation and 4 star reviews on Yelp. it's quite possible we came on a bad night since it was the day after New Year's, but that did not account for the odd behavior from our waitress. overall, 1 out of 5 cannolis.

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THE MORNING TIMES

ironically, J and I are big fans of The Raleigh Times' sister restaurant, The Morning Times. The Morning Times serves great coffee and has a lovely atmosphere. it is my second favorite coffee place in downtown Raleigh, only second to Joule, which deserves its own shrine. I love you, Ashley Christensen.

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I did some of my senior pictures here and they turned out great. my blog header is actually one of them!

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their little christmas lights were to die for.

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The Morning Times serves Couter Culture Coffee, a fair trade company based out of Durham. if you are trying to get coffee at any independent coffee shop in Raleigh or even in RDU in general, if it serves Counter Culture, it's legit. I have never had a Counter Culture blend I haven't liked.

their t-shirts are too cool.

the upstairs of The Morning Times is an art gallery, with art that rotates through frequently. how can you not love it?

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their iced vanilla latte is my favorite in any season.

Jordan got a little artistic with those last few shots.

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handsome.

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I forgot to mention how cool the buttons are on the back of this dress!

once again, thank you for sticking through my long-winded post. let me know if you have any restaurants I should try in the area in the comments!

enjoy your new year.

love, emily