Tag Archives: Raleigh

Brasa Steak House, Raleigh, North Carolina

2014-09-04 22.34.06

Readers of this blog will know that I travel to the USA a few times a year, primarily to Raleigh in North Carolina.  It is a lovely place.  For a Brit, the weather is great pretty much all the time.   April and October are the best months with good temperatures and lighter humidity.  Since I first came here in 2005, a lot has changed.  Many blue chip organisations have large locations here, and as a result, a lot of local people have moved here for work = lots of traffic.

More importantly, the number of restaurants have grown exponentially and  there is a veritable plethora of choice.  My first real love was Second Empire, located in downtown Raleigh.  It’s an old Victorian era building with an exquisite menu introduced to me by my mentor and career educator Barrie Parker with a hugely varied menu.   My second love, was my first introduction to sushi and sashimi at the lovely, and somewhat low rent Waraji.  It’s nothing fussy or pretentious, just simple Japanese fayre simply presented with cold Asahi beer.

However, tonights quirky and somewhat left field brûlée was at another culinary first for me, at Brasa the Brazilian Steak House.  For those of you who have not had the pleasure of a Brazilian steak night, the concept is simple.  You control a Green or Red beer mat traffic light system.  Green = bring me meat, lots of of it, don’t stop.  Red = seriously, stop.  Do I look like I need more protein?!  (Cut to shot of Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote).

Once the meat is done, the desert offerings come to the fore.  And a Chocolate Brûlée was the choice in hand.  Lets just say it was ‘interesting’.  Spoons for the table were ordered, just in case.  In fact, it was interesting.  Overtly rich and dark.  Caramelisation under done but somewhat lost in the black depths of the chocolate.  In truth, it wasn’t really a crème brûlée in the traditions of Trinity Cream, but it did explore culinary boundaries that this kind of pudding should.  Take something and change it.  See what happens.  For me, it was just a tad too dark and heavy, and lacked the sweetness I hoped the chocolate would impart.  Perhaps they used dark rather than milk chocolate.  A good interpretation but only worthy of 5/10.

DoubleTree RDU Airport, Raleigh, North Carolina

2014-03-29 19.41.56

I’m a bit of fan of Hilton Hotels.  It’s something to do with their attempt to be a home from home when travelling on business.  I’ve stayed in this particular hotel more than any other anywhere else in the world, and I like it.  It’s not the most modern; it’s not in the best location for socialising in downtown Raleigh; the pool is a bit small BUT the staff are genuinely friendly and they try really hard to fix the little things.  I’ll give you example.  Coffee should always be drunk with brown sugar but this is often quite tricky in the USA for reasons I don’t fully understand.  So I mention this point in passing to restaurant manager on one stay.  Four months later I return for a another stay and when picking up my morning Starbucks, he rushes over to tell me he’s put brown sugar on the mandated order list for hotel without prompting…!  Hotels really are defined by their staff – fantastic!

So what about the brûlée?  Well, after suffering through a burned tomato sauce wrapped around some penne pasta and BBQ chicken, to try and recover, the hotel restaurant offered up their interpretation of the classic.  It was presented in a small four inch bowl with a nice depth of custard, perhaps half a teaspoon, and was dressed with a single strawberry a dash of cream.  Despite this being a very tasty recovery from the main course, the sugar coating was granulated, the custard was overly sweet, was slightly curdled rather than being smooth, the cream turned out to be aerosol and the strawberry was very slightly old.   5/10.