My Florida friend and I met in Raleigh for a weekend rendezvous that mostly centered around the mall, eating, and a visit to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. After I picked him up at the airport on Saturday, we checked in to our hotel. I highly recommend the Residence Inn at Crabtree Valley. Our moderately priced room was spotless, the staff courteous, and I made sure to take advantage of the free breakfast.
We had made reservations earlier in the week at The Oxford, a restaurant that I never had the opportunity to dine at when I lived in Raleigh. The Oxford is known as a “gastro pub” – it has that pub feel but the food is of much higher quality. We braved the cold and arrived quickly made our way to the restaurant, soaking in the warmth and ambiance.
I started my meal with a cup of the Butternut Squash Bisque topped with pine nut crumble and creme fraiche. The bisque was absolutely delicious, but the heaviness of it forced me to stop eating halfway through so that I would be able to enjoy the rest of my meal. I also ordered their delicious Honey Lavender Margarita, which was the winner of the Avion Perfect Margarita Contest. It featured Avion Reposado, honey lavender simple syrup, jalapeño simple syrup, sour mix, and a splash of orange juice, served on the rocks with a cilantro sea salt rim. For my entrée, I chose the Grilled Rosemary Lamb Chops (served with golden-beet parmesan risotto, grilled asparagus, and a cherry-shallot gravy) off their special Valentine’s Day menu.
The lamb was perfectly cooked and the risotto had that pleasant creaminess that we all come to expect of risotto. My favorite part of the entire dish was the cherry-shallot gravy. I’m a sucker for fruit based sauces and the combined tartness/sweetness of the gravy added that necessary touch of zing to the lamb.
My friend started his meal with the scotch flight which featured his three picks from the menu. I admit that I simply do not have a nose for scotch as all three smelled the same to me. For his entrée, he ordered the White Truffle Gnocchi with Rabbit Sausage. The sausage helped to break up the richness of the gnocchi, creating a dish that was pleasing to the palate.
We finished off our meal with “Fromage” which consisted of a coconut cheesecake with candied ginger, Hawaiian relish and toasted macadamia/black sea salt soil. I could eat that coconut cheesecake on its own every day. The texture was rich and creamy without having an overwhelming coconut taste.
All in all, I would definitely go back to The Oxford. The staff at were incredibly helpful throughout our entire meal. They constantly checked in on us and when I asked for a suggestion on how to have my lamb cooked, the waitress easily recommended an option for me.
On that weekend, we were able to use our receipt from The Oxford to receive 30% off our meal at SONO the next time. We were famished from spending the day at the museum (checking out the special Birds of Paradise exhibit), though our breakfast at Humble Pie started the day off perfectly. At SONO, I ordered my favorite, a bowl of miso soup and the Crunchy Diablo roll (Spicy crab, avocado, cream cheese, jalapeño; panko fried, topped with spicy mayo, eel sauce.). I love how the cream cheese sort of cools the spiciness of the rest of the ingredients’ and on top of that, you can’t go wrong with fried.
My friend ordered the Chef’s Choice, which came with his choice of roll and 7 pieces of nigiri sushi. He chose the Angry Tuna (spicy tuna, crunch, jalapeño, avocado, spicy aioli, chili paste, soy glaze), which was delicious but pale in comparison to my roll. To drink, he ordered Kirin Ichiban, which was a light beer, full of carbonation, with a sweetness that I enjoyed.
I dropped him back off at the airport that Monday afternoon and drove home, missing him but with my stomach satisfied.
319 Fayetteville Street #105
Raleigh, North Carolina
319 Fayetteville St. #101
Raleigh, North Carolina