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Sunday Brunch at Mint, Chapel Hill

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Bottomless mimosas and an all-you-can-eat buffet for 12 bucks. What more could you want for Sunday brunch?

Mint is located on West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

The purpose of my restaurant blog is to make me try new things, and to encourage others to do the same. I was in the habit of getting the same dishes every time I ate out, and usually ate out at the same few restaurants each time. Not to say it’s bad to have a regular dish at your favorite restaurant, but the Triangle has a lot to offer.

On the lunch buffet at Mint:

  • Kachumber Salad (Diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro w/ tangy sauce)
  • Baingan Pakora (Eggplant Fritters)
  • Basmati Rice
  • Rice Pilav (Rice and mixed veggies)
  • Sabji Palak (Mixed veggies and spinach)
  • Chef’s Mixed Veggies
  • Naan (Bread)
  • Goat or Beef Rogan Josh (Goat cooked in oil at intense heat)
  • Tandoori Chicken (Roasted chicken prepared with yogurt, honey, and spices)
  • Chicken Achari (Chicken cooked with pickling spices)
  • Chicken Makhani (Chicken with Butter Sauce)
  • Vermicelli (Similar to rice pudding)
  • Sauces: Achar (hot pickle), Raita (homemade yogurt with cumber and tomato), Onion Chutney, Tamarin Sauce, Mint Sauce (Mix them all together, and go to town)

I tried everything on the buffet, and it was all excellent. I had never had goat before, but the great thing about Indian food is the spices. I’m honestly not sure if I like goat – but I like goat cooked in a gravy made of yogurt, onion, garlic, and spices. And the Naan is a great mop to soak up the leftover flavors on your plate, as you finish a mimosa… or 4.

Beware of college students on weekends. This place is packed with them on Sundays, so I wouldn’t call this family-friendly dining on a Sunday morning after church. It’s more of a place for college students to eat typically-expensive Indian cuisine at a low price, with good friends. And what better way to nurse the hangover you earned  on Franklin Street last night than all-you-can-drink mimosas and a few plates full of meet and carbs?

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It’s also brunch on a college student’s alarm clock, as the doors to the restaurant don’t open until noon. You can snag the buffet brunch special on weekends from noon to 3 p.m., or weekdays from 11:30-2:30.

I would like to go back there for dinner, as it’s not a buffet and it’s a bit more formal and intimate. You can check out their dinner menu, prices, specials, and hours here.

Mint on Urbanspoon

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Anyone Else Ever Feel Like a Jenga Tower?

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There are two inevitable parts of life that frustrate me: 1) disappointing people, & 2) the fact that human beings require sleep when we only have 24 hours in a day.

I have a great life; and I’m aware that I have a good life because I have great people in my life.

I have supportive parents who give up more than I can imagine for my sometimes over-ambitious dream chasing. I have mentors and teachers who believe in me, & provide me with resources and motivation to attack life with gusto. And I have amazing friends. They’re so fun. It’s incredible to have so many mutually supportive relationships. I get goosebumps thinking about how awesome my friends are, & how successful they have the potential to be in 10 to 20 years.

But sometimes all the great people in my life clash with the limited number of hours in a day. That imbalance is the source of a lot of personal frustration.

I have a habit of over-committing myself, because I never want to say no to anyone. I hate disappointing people.

Like many of you, I try to stretch myself as thin as possible. I’m constantly juggling multiple commitments at one time. It feels sometimes as if I’m a Jenga tower – constantly giving parts of myself away, until finally there’s nothing to support the structure.

And then comes the crash – and in my efforts to please everyone, I please no one.

The problem with this habit of mine isn’t the physical toll it takes on me, but the effect it has on others.

Eventually when you take on one thing after another, you’re going to screw up. Or you’re going to half-ass everything you’re doing, & that leaves no one fully satisfied.

A missed appointment says to someone that you didn’t value their time enough to show up. Turning an assignment in late says you don’t value your education. Asking off work for a friend’s birthday says you’re ungrateful for your unbelievable job that you absolutely love. But working on your friends birthday says you didn’t care enough to take off work. Not going home for months at a time says you don’t miss your family, even if the things keeping you away are all things you’re doing to make them proud. Every opportunity that knocks – a new job or internship, a project, a class, a new friendship, a new mentor – seems like one you simply can’t turn down. And you are you. You don’t turn down opportunity.

So you give as much of yourself as possible. You hope that the universe sees that you care and you’re trying, and you pray you don’t crash and burn.

It’s that time of the year for me. I know some of you must relate to this, but I have no clue what the solution is. I’m open to your suggestions.

If someone can find a way to add more hours to the day (or eliminate the human need of sleep), that’s fantastic. Until then, I’m working on the juggling act.

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My Favorite Salads in the Triangle

My restaurant blogs have been so much fun – I’ve tried new places with old friends, and I’ve eaten a lot of great food. Burgers, sloppy joes, sushi, and such have been tasty, but I’m a salad addict. I’m definitely no health freak, but I am a salad addict. There’s nothing I love more than a bed of greens with a fine assortment of toppings.

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In fact, when I go somewhere that’s not for a blog, there’s an 80% chance I’ll order a salad. The 20% of the time that I don’t order salad, I’m either at Mexican restaurants eating quesadillas and chips, or I’m on a date. Apparently guys expect girls to eat quarter-pounders, while maintaining a figure. That’s about as unrealistic and stupid as thinking my salad covered in meat, carbs and creamy dressing is healthy. But I’ll play along.

Tonight I had a salad for dinner. Call it rabbit food if you want, but it was freakin’ awesome.

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It took me back to the days not long ago when I could go to restaurants and order the salad of my choice. All of this reminiscing inspired me to compile a list of my favorite salads at various restaurants in the Triangle. So here it is!

Cafe Carolina’s Signature Salad
A unique blend of flavors available exclusively at Cafe Carolina! Mixed greens with mandarin oranges, strawberries, dried cranberries, raisins, pineapple, pecans and Gorgonzola cheese tossed with our poppy seed dressing and croutons.

cafe carolina signature

Don’t change anything about this salad when you order it. There is absolutely nothing not to like, and the poppy seed dressing is AHHHH-mazing. It’s so fresh. And you won’t even notice there’s no meat!

All the salads on their menu are good. Each one will cost you about 9 bucks. There are two locations in Raleigh, one in Cary, and one in Chapel Hill.

Ba-Da Wings’ Southwest Chicken Salad
Marinated grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar-monterey jack cheese, cucumbers and Chipotle Ranch dressing. If you can’t handle a little heat, try the Garlic-Parm Ranch dressing instead.

I couldn’t find a picture of this, but trust me – it’s a good choice.

This salad is just under $6. The Cajun french fries or onion rings are a great, naughty add-on. Adding a side and a drink is an extra $2.95.

Ba-Da Wings Raleigh is located at 2161 Avent Ferry Road, in the Mission Valley Shopping Center. There used to be a location in Carrboro near Chapel Hill, but it closed.

411 West’s Wood Grilled Pear Salad
411 West is an Italian restaurant on West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. They have great pasta dishes, too. But if you’re in the mood for a salad , the pear salad is one of my favorites. The salad consists of grilled Bosc pear tossed with field greens, walnuts, gorgonzola and a honey-walnut vinaigrette. The dressing is fantastic.

411 West

I couldn’t find a picture of this one, either. But it’s fresh, and delicious. The salad is about $9. You can add grilled chicken breast, shrimp, or salmon to any of their salads for $4 to $6 more.

Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
I know this is a fast food joint, but we all have to do it sometimes. And this salad is freakin’ delicious. Its a mix of peak-season red and green apples, real blue cheese crumbles, sweet cranberries and roasted pecans, topped with a warm, grilled chicken fillet, on a bed of romaine.

apple pecan chicken

 

Get it with the avocado ranch dressing, and you’ve got the best fast food salad there is. There are Wendy’s everywhere - visit their website to find the closest one to you.

Cheesecake Factory’s Barbecue Ranch Chicken Salad
There’s a good chance you’ve been to Cheesecake Factory, but if you haven’t tried this you need to. This salad is a mix of avocado, tomato, grilled corn, black beans, cucumber and romaine, tossed with barbecue ranch dressing and crispy onion strings. AKA yum. Period. It will cost you $10-$12.

barbeque chicken salad

 

Cinco de Mayo’s Fajita Taco Salad
This wouldn’t be a list of my favorites, if it didn’t include some type of Mexican food. You can get this at any Mexican restaurant, but there’s a special place in my heart for Cinco.

This is a crispy flour tortilla bowl filled with fajita-style steak or chicken, grilled onions, tomatoes and peppers with beans topped with special (yes, “special”) cheese sauce. There’s also lettuce, tomato, sour cream, pico de gallo and grated cheese.

This salad will have you looking like this:

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Add a margarita, and you’re basically in Heaven on Earth! There’s a Cinco de Mayo in Chapel Hill on East Franklin Street, and in Raleigh on South Saunders Street. See their website for the exact location.

I hope my fellow salad lovers find this post helpful!

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The Station, Raleigh

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This week, I asked Twitter where to go to dinner in Raleigh. After considering several suggestions from followers, I landed at The Station at Person Street in Raleigh, on the edge of the Historic Oakwood neighborhood.

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The purpose of my restaurant blog is to make me try new things, and to encourage others to do the same. I was in the habit of getting the same dishes every time I ate out, and usually ate out at the same few restaurants each time. Not to say it’s bad to have a regular dish at your favorite restaurant, but the Triangle has a lot to offer.

The Station opened its doors in late 2013. The restaurant is a refurbished gas station, where you can fuel up on drinks and locally-made brews, accompanied by food that’s too good to call pub food. This is a great place to go for a dinner that turns into a night out.  You feel welcome to linger for a while with friends in the bar and restaurant’s cozy atmosphere.

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I went to dinner with my brother and his 2 roommates. We each started off with an appetizer and a beer from their eclectic drink menu and food menu. They have a great local beer selection on draft; but can please a bud light kind of guy, too.

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Our appetizer was a sampler of each of The Station’s dips, with pita bread. There was a spinach and artichoke dip, a bacon habenero pimento cheese dip, and a hot black bean dip. They were all good, but the cheese dip was  the most popular among the four of us.

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Next time I go to a new restaurant, I’m going to need to find a small, petite female waitress who prefers salads and healthier things. I keep having male waiters who love to suggest hearty, unhealthy choices. But I have to admit, it’s all been delicious. The waiter at The Station told me to order the sloppy joe, and fries. And that’s exactly what I did. But there’s no pretty way to eat a sloppy joe.

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The menu says this is a “classic” sloppy joe – but that to me says “Manwich,” and this was definitely no childhood, canned sandwich. It was served with hoop cheese on a brioche bun, and it was delicious.

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We were all pleased with our meals, and I will absolutely stop at The Station again.

Here’s what everyone else ordered:

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Smoked Salmon and Spinach
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Portobello Caprese Sandwich with Salad
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Bunless Station Burger with bacon, and a salad

I’m determined to go back to The Station on a spring night with clear skies. There’s an outdoor bar, and patio with fire pits that look more homey than anything I have at my own home. Everything about this place screams Raleigh to me – it’s your perfect bar and food joint, with its own special character.

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Most of these photos are mind, but some are from The Station’s website. Those images are linked back to the website.
The Station at Person Street on Urbanspoon

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For the Mexican Food Addicts

Most of my friends and family know if they ask me where I want to go for dinner, there’s a 95 percent chance I’m going to say I want to go to a Mexican restaurant. Or any place that serves burritos, quesadillas, margaritas, and a good time.

It’s safe to say I’m an addict, but I know I’m not the only one. Here’s what makes Mexican restaurants the best restaurants:

Your reaction when you find out you’re going to a Mexican restaurant for dinner:

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The waiter is your amigo.

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Free appetizers:

chips-and-salsa

Do I want Queso?

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There’s CHEEEEEZZZZ everywhere.

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When you’re poor, you can make a meal out of the free chips and salsa, and use all your money on margaritas.

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Because a day that ends with margaritas is always a good day.

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Margaritas make everything better.

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A celebration isn’t a celebration until sombreros are involved.

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Sombreros… and Tequila.

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Sombrero Cat

And when your quesadilla finally comes to the table [3 minutes after you order it, because Mexican restaurants are always fast] you’re like:

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*Click Image for source*

A few of my favorite Mexican restaurants in the Triangle:

Cinco de Mayo, Chapel Hill

El Dorado, Raleigh

Los Portales, Durham

JUAN PABLO GALAVIS

9 Reasons #JuanPabloSucks

I’ve listened to Chris Harrison tease the most “CONTROVERSIAL Bachelor Finale EVER” since I started watching The Bachelor about 10 years ago. I never believe it’s going to be any more or less exciting than the last finale, but I’m still curious each year.

Nothing prepared me for Juan Pablo.

We tune in because it’s television genius. The Bachelor is generally attractive enough to keep my attention. The girls are usually fun to compare myself to; because as stupid as I may be, at least I haven’t competed with 25 other women for one dude. And the dates are always perfectly orchestrated. They may be unrealistic, but they’re fun to drool over.

This season was different. For the FIRST TIME IN BACHELOR HISTORY I was hoping both of these women would come to their senses, and leave this clown at the perfectly manicured proposal site. 

So here are 9 reasons #JuanPabloSucks:

1. Even Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertson didn’t get this reaction from Chris Harrison.

so awkward

2.  When you’re own family is waving the red flag at your girlfriends, there’s a problem.

love the guy BUT

3. Really?? This is what you’re thinking the NIGHT BEFORE you could be getting engaged??

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4.  But hen he says this… and everything’s okay (but not really).

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5. And then – PLOT TWIST – he tells you this:

say goodbye

6.  And FOR THE FIRST TIME IN BACHELOR HISTORY… the WINNER of this show is the “loser” of The Bachelor.  And this becomes the best part of the painful 3 hours of my life that I spent watching this finale.

fav part of finale

7.  But Juan Pablo knows just what to say to get the one he really wants…

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8. And unfortunately Nikki drinks the Kool Aid..

has a daughter

9. But we’re all secretly hoping she’ll see the light… Leaving Juan Pablo alone, telling himself:  “Eees okay.”

eeeees not okay

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Busy Bee Cafe, Raleigh

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It was 67 degrees and sunny outside after a week of rain and cold. I was walking with two friends in downtown Raleigh, searching for a place to eat. We spotted people eating on a rooftop terrace under the sun, shaded by umbrellas. Perfect.

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Busy Bee Cafe is on Wilmington Street in the heart of Raleigh. The cafe on site today is a resurrection of the original downtown hot-spot, that was open from 1913-1925. With a zesty menu, a large repertoire of beer and fruity brunch beverages, and friendly staff, I would call this one a winner. Busy Bee is a great place to grab a casual bite to eat with friends or coworkers.

The purpose of my restaurant blog is to make me try new things, and to encourage others to do the same. I was in the habit of getting the same dishes every time I ate out, and usually ate out at the same few restaurants each time. Not to say it’s bad to have a regular dish at your favorite restaurant, but the Triangle has a lot to offer.

Busy Bee Cafe was listed as one of Draft Magazine’s Top 100 Beer Bars in 2012. It was also named one of the best spots in the Triangle to relax in the sun by the News & Observer’s Greg Cox, on his list of “Primetime Patios.”

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The essence of the cafe’s menu can be described as burgers and a few pieces of flare. You can start your meal off with a craft beer, and an appetizer. Both menus are two lengthy lists with a lot of variety.We got Cornmeal-Fried Calamari with roasted tomatoes and tzatziki sauce to start.  No complaints about the taste; but, it seemed like the serving was a tad small for an appetizer (Nothing in that bowl had been eaten when I took that picture to the left). A few other options included “Bees Nuts,” which is a trail mix, loaded tots, beer cheese and chips, and bruschetta.

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Meet our waiter, Mike. He was nice, easy to talk to, and he kindly played along with the whole blog-thing. If all the waiters I meet on this food journey suggest things like Mike’s favorite menu choices, I’m in for some weight-gain.

Mike suggested the Breakfast of Champions Burger. It’s a burger with American cheese, bacon, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and a choice of a side. I got a salad to counter the burger calories. Mike’s choice would have been fries. Mike led me in the right direction – it’s a delicious burger. And that’s coming from someone who’s not really a burger person. 14

Other lunch options? Mike said huevos rancheros, pulled pork hash, and the loaded tot burger were popular among customers. But be aware that they change up the menu often.

My meal was $18 after a $4 tip – a tad pricey considering I didn’t get a drink. But the atmosphere and food help ease the pain of a high tab.

A burger and craft beer joint may not be as exotic as my sushi adventure last week. But food brings people together with friends – sometimes friends you don’t get to see very often. Try new things. Explore new places. And call old friends who might want to do it with you.

Busy Bee Cafe on Facebook

Busy Bee Cafe on Urbanspoon

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