Able Bar & Grill (Cary, NC)

I had been keen to try Able Bar & Grill in Cary, on account of its proximity to my house, and because it carried the promise of Chinese “street food” as well as the blessing of the N&O’s Greg Cox.  Unfortunately, my recent visit made me pretty skeptical about making a return trip there. 

On a weekday at lunchtime the place was absolutely deserted, save for one young employee.  There’s not much ambience to speak of, except that of a generic strip mall setting.  We waited patiently while he fixed up our food, but it took quite a while.  I ordered the dumpling special ($6.95) and chose pork/cabbage for my filling.  When the food finally arrived (you order at the counter and pick it up yourself, along with self-service utensils), it was one of the most uninspiring presentations I can recall: a bright blue plastic cafeteria tray, about a dozen limp pale steamed dumpling sort of mounded together, and a small tofu-carrot-sesame oil salad.  Unfortunately, the dumplings were almost as bland as they looked, although I did enjoy the vinegar-based dipping sauce.  A colleague of mine ordered the spring wrap combo (also $6.95) with chicken.  This was like a Chinese burrito, and I liked it better than my dumplings.  A side of boiled peanuts that came with it was fairly unremarkable.  A beef hot pot ($4.50) was the best deal of all, and looked good piled high with meat, veggies, noodles, cilantro, and more, although I didn’t get a taste.  Oddly, it was served in a cheap bright orange plastic dish.

Able does offer karaoke at night, and a tempting selection of kabobs.  Combine that with the reasonable prices, and there’s enough reason to go back.  Here’s hoping for a more exciting experience next time.