52 in 52: City Kitchen – Chapel Hill [ @theCKtable ]

May 11, 2012

[For new readers of the blog52 in 52 is a post I, well, post on Friday afternoons reviewing a local / regional restaurant where my husband and I recently dined. The stipulations are that either ONE of us or, preferably, BOTH of us have never eaten at that establishment. Oh and the goal is 52 DIFFERENT places in 52 weeks (i.e. our first year of marriage). We also try to avoid “chain” restaurants. There are SO many locally owned restaurants in our area that we want to give them the props. Word.]

You guys, husband and I had a much needed date night last night. We’ve both been so busy lately and we’ve both had so much going on that we had forgotten to just spend time together. Not talking about work, not talking about what needed to get done, just spending time together laughing, eating, relaxing, whatnot.

Anyway, for those of you who live in the Chapel Hill region of North Carolina, City Kitchen, this week’s 52 in 52, is the newest restaurant in the area. If you remember Spice Street in University Mall, well, City Kitchen is the new Spice Street. It’s a more “upscale” American food-type place. It’s owned by the same guy who owns a bunch of fancy restaurants in the area. Well, without further ado, City Kitchen, y’all.

City Kitchen | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Yelp | Blog?

201 S Estes Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-7009 | 919-928-8200

聽[City Kitchen is located in University Mall, right next to Scout & Molly’s – again, where Spice Street was located]

[So the setup of City Kitchen is very similar, almost exact to Spice Street. The decor is a little different – more “modern” – I actually really like the decor. Also, that clock was WAY off. Like, two hours and 43 minutes off.]

[This is the bar area – I always loved the setup of this when it was Spice Street so I’m glad they kept it.]

[Looks like the kitchen is working hard]

[Now, this is sorta strike one. I LOVE those huge chalkboards with all the cool stuff written on them. Well, if you look in the bottom right corner there’s “Days of the Week” – with specials written next to them. The Thursday special was “Cincinnati Five (something) Chili” – I can’t remember the full title. But yeah, it sounded DELICIOUS. So we asked the waiter how it was. And he said, “Oh, we don’t actually have specials. Those different dishes for different days of the week are just for decoration.”

WHAT?! Specials for “decoration” – don’t tease me like that. I love Chili. I know that seems silly, but REALLY? If you’re a new restaurant, don’t advertise specials on a GIANT CHALKBOARD WALL, if you don’t want people to actually order them.

I mean, am I being irrational? I’m just saying.]

[More pretty cool decor.]

[Standard Menu shot. I do love their branding.]

[Another sorta weird thing – they still bring out this red pepper or something hummus with warm bread before the meal. It’s the exact same, mediocre hummus Spice Street served. Now, I’m not complaining cause it’s free hummus. But it’s not GREAT free hummus. It looks kinda gross cause, well, it kinda is. I think it’s well intentioned – but a more straightforward garlic or plain hummus would be better and suit more universal tastes. Husband didn’t like it at all – it left kind of a bitter aftertaste.

I swear, I don’t say all negative things. I just try to keep it real. And there’s good stuff coming up. I promise.]

[More decor and setup of the restaurant. Those huge cone ceiling things are… HUGE. They’re massive.]

[Now, when I went to order, I genuinely wanted some feedback – and I didn’t get too much from our server. He suggested the fish which I am allergic to, but I did let him know. I was really asking about the steaks. Not too much help. Oh well, I ended up going with the Pepper Crusted Flat Iron Steak – with “Sauce Diane” and crumbled bleu cheese – and I subbed out mashed potatoes for the onion rings.

And holy. moly. It was so good. It was expensive ($20) but SO. GOOD. Seriously. Holy crap. I had dreams about this steak. Now, it’s not THE BEST steak ever… but the marinade is amazing, the goat cheese mashed potatoes were heavenly, and anything with bleu cheese on it can win me over. I would DEFINITELY order this again. In fact, husband had a taste of mine and wished he’d ordered it.]

[This is husband’s meal. He ordered shrimp scampi. His words, “It’s good. Not $17 good. But it’s good. It’s okay. Wait, this is a meal? A whole meal? This is not a lot of food for a lot of American dollars.”

Yeah, it wasn’t the largest helping ever. He said the flavors were okay – but we both agreed that this Shrimp Scampi dish was HIGHLY overpriced.

My steak was expensive, but worth the money IMO. His dinner? Not so much. Word to the wise: don’t order the Shrimp Scampi.]

Anyway. That was our dinner and our experience at City Kitchen. It wasn’t the best – they’re clearly still learning. My meal was phenomenal. It also wasn’t quick – service was a little laggy – but honestly, I don’t really care cause I was sitting across from a pretty handsome dude so I was distracted. haha 馃檪 馃檪

Overall Stillman Grade: 2.5 outta 5.

Oh, and it’s pretty expensive $$$well, expensive for two people who like to spend no more than $10 on dinner for two people. Okay, that’s an exaggeration… sort of. 馃檪

Anyway. Do you live in the area? Have you been to City Kitchen? Do you plan on going?

If you don’t live in the area – where have you eaten recently? Any place good? Recommendations? Tell me where we should go next!

xoxo, all for now.