No reservation? No problem.
by Addie Ladner | graphics by Brian Rosenzweig and Kayla Guilliams
There’s nothing quite like a night at your favorite restaurant. Maybe it’s the familiarity of the ambiance, the grace with which the food is plated or the joy of having your favorite dessert served by a waiter who has become a friend that keeps you returning. But until restaurants can serve at full capacity — or you’re comfortable dining in-person again — we’ve d to make do with food-to-go more now than ever. Especially with our kids home more now and the days shorter.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be underwhelming and you have to miss out on those little accents from your favorite cafes. With a few small touches — taking the food out of to-go containers, for a start — you can recreate something close to your favorite dining scene inside your own home. (And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s worth thinking about making the extra effort.) Use one of these mood boards — each inspired by Raleigh’s romantic restaurants — to set the scene for your next date-night meal.
To recreate the feel of Coquette Brasserie, dim the lights, gather some linen napkins (perhaps from Anthropologie nearby), an authentic round of French wine and cheese from Five Point’s Des Livres et Delices, then pull up a chair to savor a leisurely meal of coq au vin, cassoulet, or mussels from this North Hills bistro for a warm, rustic meal at home. The Raleigh Market might even have a perfect picnic basket to make it feel even more Provincial.
Southern agriculture and hospitality are the heart of the Mandolin experience. Owner Sean Fowler has long professed his love of Hillsborough-based Vietri, a popular procurer of Italian ceramics. He loves bright white dishes to let his farm-to-table meals shine and true-to-form, fresh flowers from the Mandolin Farm adorn the tables which change with the season. Swing by the Farmers Market to grab a gorgeous bouquet of in-season blooms, branches and cuttings or gather clippings of evergreens from your backyard This Valentine’s Day, Mandolin is offering a take-home meal kit for two; a four-course meal with zero prep and just a little bit of cooking to make it fun. Menu options include Black Truffle Potato and Ham Chowder, Butternut Soup and Short Rib Wellington — and the package includes dessert, champagne and virtual cookings tips from Fowler himself.
Rosewater Kitchen & Bar
Recreate Rosewater Kitchen & Bar, an airy, garden-inspired bistro by hospitality legend Giorgios Bakatsias with peach-colored roses from Fallon’s, ceramic dishes from N.C.-based ceramics brand Haand, sleek flatware, a Flourish Market candle, and some antique rose-colored glassware (check out these from Cheshire Cat Gallery!) to bring it all together. Don’t forget fresh flowers and herbs at the center of the table as you enjoy their prime rib or rotisserie chicken dinner.
To get Raleigh establishment Second Empire‘s classic ensemble, put on your Sunday best, break out the formal china (or score some great formal place settings secondhand from The Green Chair Shop), hit up United Restaurant Supply for fresh glassware, and iron your white table linens. Don’t forget candles and a classical playlist in the background!
You probably already have a few trinkets around your home you can pull together to recreate the comfortable, quirky, and nostalgic vibe that is Stanbury. Round up some legos or Star Wars figurines, your favorite antiques, and, of course, Liz Kelly dishes, light a fire in your backyard and order your favorites from their menu. Don’t forget to finish your meal with a small piece of Escazu chocolate and a reading whatever old church or family cookbook you have laying around. (We’re here to tell you that their Tagliatelle and Seared Scallops travel well.)