Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Lunch

I don't fancy myself a food critic, nor do I consider myself a food photographer. What those people can do to analyze, critique, and present the food they eat to the general public in a way that's the next best thing to eating it yourself, is just extraordinary. There are very, very talented people out there in those fields. I am not one of them.

But with that being said, I like to eat, I like to take pictures, and I like to write about the food I've enjoyed. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll see that food is a recurring theme here. I tend to photograph and write about the food I enjoy more than the stuff I don't.

Recently I've had the pleasure of eating at three places I'd never been to before:
  1. Tonali in Durham, NC
  2. Connolly's Irish Pub in Cary, NC
  3. Pomodoro in Mebane, NC
Here are my thoughts on the three:

Tonali, 3642 Shannon Road, Durham. Nuevo Mexican
Mark D. discovered this place, and was very excited for me to try it. His excitement was well founded. The chef at Tonali used to be a sous chef at nearby Four Square, and that was an excellent start. 'Restaurants with chefs' is a good thing in my book. And Tonali's nuevo Mexican cuisine to me meant that it was not some El Generico ground beef brittle tacos and canned refried beans place.

We both got "Agua de Jamaica", as you should also if you encounter a place that has it. It's a tea made from hibiscus flowers. It's usually priced by the glass, so despite how good the agua was, we were proportioning our consumption appropriately to make it last throughout the whole meal. Much to our delight, the server arrived and asked if we wanted more aqua, not another agua. Free refills! The consumption increased exponentially from there.

Tonali: agua de jamaicaTonali: agua de jamaica Hosted on Zooomr

We were brought an amuse bouche (or whatever it should properly be called in Spanish). We didn't officially know what this was, but most of it (turkey, cliantro, tomatoes, infused oil) was visibly identifiable. It certainly amused my mouth.

Mark had the tacos de pollo pabil, or slow-roasted chicken tacos. There are several accoutrement pictured here that I dare not attempt to identify for fear of maligning the dish.

Tonali: tacos de pollo pibilTonali: tacos de pollo pibil Hosted on Zooomr

I had the Sinchronizadas de Pavo (sandwich of turkey, often confused with dang quesadillas!), with several sides, including fresh guacamole, a jicama relish, and house made molé that was exquisite.

Tonali: sincronizadas de pavoTonali: sincronizadas de pavo Hosted on Zooomr

We finished with some decent coffee, but skipped dessert, though I think we both are regretting this now, as we're pretty confident that the desserts would've been pretty special too.

All told, the damage (including tax) was about $18 for both of us, excluding tip. Tonali was a real find!

Connolly's Irish Pub, 1979 High House Road, Cary (link)
This was a find of Tom B., and right next door to his favorite coffee place, Crema (which should have its own review). It's a pretty typical Irish pub, with pub food, Guiness drafts, darts, etc. Now I'm no fan of the Irish, other than the one I married, but I enjoy a good pub as much as the next Paddy.

It was a Friday in Lent, and despite Tom's non-Catholicness, he got the fish-and-chips.

Connelly's Irish Pub:  Fish and ChipsConnelly's Irish Pub: Fish and Chips Hosted on Zooomr

Even Pope Ratzinger would approve of the light, almost tempura-like batter of the fresh white fish. Tom shared some with me, and I agree that these were excellent.

Sticking with the fish theme, or shellfish in this case, I got the crabcake sandwich. . . a self-proclaimed house specialty, as indicated by the shamrock adornment next to its menu listing.

Connelly's Irish Pub: Crabcake SandwichConnelly's Irish Pub: Crabcake Sandwich Hosted on Zooomr

This was also very good, sufficiently crabby, and accompanied by a huge pile of carb sticks! Connolly's is definitely a place I'd love to take Jennifer to for her favorite pub drink: a snakebite

We finished the meal off with coffee from Crema (macchiato for Tom, redeye for me) that unfortunately, I did not photograph. Kevin at Crema takes his craft very seriously, and the quality of the product there really shows.

Pomodoro, 107 E. Center Street, Mebane (link)
This is a new restaurant in Mebane, on Center Street (aka US70) in what's often a large, unoccupied building. Allegedly, this restaurant is owned by the same family that owns Sal's, off Hillandale Road in Durham. . . our favorite Italian restaurant in North Carolina. Allegedly. After eating there, I was doubting this fact.

Granted, a lot of the issues we had with the restaurant were probably because they've only been open two weeks, and the employees were still finding their feet. Our friendly young waitress didn't understand terms like "antipasto", "caprese", and "Bolognese," which I seriously doubted was on the penne I ordered when it arrived. The place was full, with a line out the door, so I'm hopeful that the turnover will lead to a quick improvement in the quality of the food. They also have an internally lighted outdoor sign hanging from the building, a couple of things I don't like in signs. But since Mebane has no standards for the heinousity of signage, is technically legal.

The restaurant wasn't bad, but for now, I would not recommend Pomodoro. I'll happily give them another try in a few months.


Shelley said...

I especially like your use of the word "dang" in reference to quesadillas. Thanks for the laugh!

The Roth Family said...

Thanks for getting the reference, and for commenting. Flippin' sweet!

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