Dinner Friday night was at the Player’s Retreat in Raleigh, a divey bar joint with a nice stretch of outdoor seating at the corner of Oberlin and Hillsborough Streets. Their beef is ground fresh in-house daily, so I was excited to try their burger. I ordered the “Bernie”: 6 oz with provolone, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Unfortunately, it was nothing special. The bottom bun was soaked through to a minimal thickness, and the remainder of the components were similarly lackluster: tough chewy bacon, flavorless tomato, you get the idea. Worse, my wife’s burger was ordered medium well, compared to my medium, but her patty was pinker than mine. It was not a burger I would go back for. The homemade chips were better than the french fries, but that’s not saying much. A disappointing meal.
Sunday lunch was over at Market Restaurant in Raleigh. I was excited to try their appetizing brunch menu, and we had a $30 LivingSocial coupon to burn. The place was humming, with the Raleigh City Garden folks milling about, the garage bay door slung open to bask in the beautiful weather, and an acoustic guitarist crooning at the back of the small space. I ordered a chai french toast, and my wife ordered an awesome sounding eggs benedict dish – sweet potato biscuits topped with pulled pork bbq and poached eggs, served with cheddar grits. My entrée was fine, but, with only two pieces of bread, a bit small. While the chai flavor was good (how could it be bad?), I’d take a more traditional french toast any day. It came with two pieces of sweet glazed bacon. Some nice salty bacon to counter all that chai syrupy sweetness would have been good. The eggs benedict were better in concept than execution. The bbq was not especially tender or flavorful, and the sweet potato biscuits in particular were completely lost in the dish. On the plus side, the accompanying cheddar grits were delicious. Our order of “french quarter style beignets drizzled with local honey” did not arrive until the end of our meal. I don’t how they do beignets in New Orleans, but these were not good. They tasted about like an overcooked funnel cake from the state fair. To sum it up, the vibe of the restaurant is really great – nice enough to bring me back – even if the food is not always fantastic. (To see my previous full review of Market, click here.)