Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Restaurant Review: Poole's Diner

Matt and I went on a date to Poole's Diner in downtown Raleigh.  Poole's Diner is self-described as a "part of a community that recognizes the importance and value of supporting the small family farm". The diner focuses their food on seasonal, local offerings while being "simple to digest", "creative" and "carefully executed".

My first impression was that the place reeked a hipster vibe. The walls were adorned with chalkboards covered with the day's offerings in addition to some interesting photos from the original diner. Matt and I sat at one of the two semi-circle counters and turned around to browse the chalkboard menus (they don't do printed menus). We ordered the watermelon salad to share, and for the main course, I ordered the herbed chicken over mashed potatoes and double stock, Matt got the open faced burger and we shared a side of the macaroni au gratin.

Let me begin with the salad. The salad was this: champagne vinaigrette, watermelon, avocado and basil. When it came, I wasn't sure about it, but let me tell you, it works. It was incredibly delicious! The salad was a perfect balance of sweet, salty, savory and creamy. Truly, it was a great start to the meal.

Then, there came to 25 minute wait for our food. 25 minutes. I cannot believe how long we waited. And apparently this is the modus opperandi for Poole's. And once our food arrived, I was ultimately disappointed. Matt's "burger" was a giant (think baseball sized) meatball that was completely raw on the inside, with a slice of cheese on top, served on a thick piece of what looked to be texas toast, with a side of au jus. I didn't try it, but it looked gross. Matt said it tasted alright, but it wasn't that great. Definitely not worth the 13 dollars we paid for it.  My chicken was moist and flavorful and the mashed potatoes creamy and smooth, but other than that it was fairly unremarkable. I can achieve the same meal at home and definitely cheaper than 18 dollars. The macaroni and cheese was pretty good, but not any better than I can make at home.

When all was said and done, we left feeling pretty cheated. With tip, our date was 70 dollars and all for a dinner that, apart from the watermelon salad, was ultimately disappointing! I can appreciate that local organic produce and meats do not come cheap, but when I'm going to pay a premium price for my dinner, I want a premium eating experience. Not only was the food disappointingly average, the restaurant was incredibly loud. When we left, my ears felt a little fuzzy, like I'd been to a rock concert.

So, bottom line: Over-priced and underwhelming.  There are plenty of restaurants in Raleigh that I would rather spend my money at. I won't be going again.

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