Tuesday, March 7, 2017

New AC Hotel + Level7 Rooftop Lounge Opening Soon in North Hills

Last week I got a sneak peek at the new AC Hotel Raleigh opening soon in North Hills near the Bank of America Tower and the Dartmouth Apartments.

This hotel in Raleigh is the first AC Hotel to be opening in North Carolina and is among the 30 more AC Hotels slated to open throughout the country in the next eighteen months. The hotel includes 135 guest rooms. The AC Hotels by Marriott are unique upscale hotels located strategically around the world (about 85 or more worldwide) and European in style. The AC Hotel caters to today's contemporary traveler,  featuring modern, neutral style designed to "remove the friction of travel" and make your stay comfortable and relaxing while also featuring the most current urban, high tech and global amenities.

One thing I love when we travel overseas is how modern, minimal and comfortable most European (and Australia/Asia) hotels are in design. At the new AC Hotel, they have taken that inspired euro style and streamlined the rooms by removing bulky oversized furniture pieces, and focusing on just the essentials. Rooms feature plenty of natural lighting with floor to ceiling windows and excess items like bed skirts and room carpeting have been removed. Guest bathrooms host beautiful glass enclosed showers with rainfall shower heads instead of tubs. Menus and alarm clocks are removed to keep clutter minimal and clean and a 55" flat screen Smart TV provides all your dining menus, hotel and local info. In addition to the regular programming, the TVs are programmed with Hulu, Netflix and Pandora. Comfortable beds with high quality premium bedding are included as well.

The hotel pays a lot of attention to detail involving all your senses as you enjoy your stay with subtle scents, textures, lighting and music that change throughout the course of the day. Decorative elements and some food/drink items will be featured from local NC artists and businesses, highlighting our unique city.

The hotel food and drink menu is Spanish influenced featuring tapas inspired small plates, snacks and sweets as well as Spanish wines on tap, handcrafted cocktails and local beers.

The check in desk is featured prominently upon entering the hotel, with staff out in the lobby to greet you and check you in. Most of the hotel amenities are located on the 7th floor, with work spaces, a library, meeting rooms, dining/breakfast bar and the amazing Level 7 rooftop bar and terrace.

The hotel features a European style breakfast to all its guests that includes tasty cheeses and meats as well as fresh juice and coffee, tea, fruit and pastries. The hotel also features extended breakfast hours to allow you to relax a little longer and not miss breakfast.

Level7 rooftop lounge and terrace bar will open and feature prominent panoramic views of the area. The outside terrace will be stunning and features a wall that can project images that can be viewed all the way down on Six Forks road. This space also lends itself to hosting and catering events (up to 115 people). Level7 will have a separate elevator that will make it easy for the public to enter and arrive at the rooftop bar. Covered and complimentary parking is located in the Bank of America Tower across the street.

I'm excited for Raleigh to expand their hotel offerings and especially when they are unique and designed for urban and global travelers visiting Raleigh. With so much to do right outside the hotel in North Hills, downtown Raleigh, airport and museums close by, this will be a great location for experiencing all that Raleigh has to offer!

AC Hotel Raleigh North Hills

101 Park at North Hills Street, Raleigh, NC

The hotel is scheduled to open the week of March 20 and they are accepting reservations starting April 2nd.
For hotel and Level7 photos + renderings click here.










Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Creative, Authentic + Community Dining in March

Spring is just around the corner. Winter didn't make much of an appearance and soon we will be gaining more daylight which generally encourages me to get out and explore new dining options around the area. Here are a couple of local restaurant offerings that highlight creativity,  authenticity, and a great cause, coming up for the month of March.

C R E A T I V E :

To experience the cuisine of Executive Chef Scott Phillips',  more. kitchen & bar is now offering special Chef Experience dinners to patrons (parties of 6-8 only). Diners are asked to fill out a survey sharing their taste preferences and favorite styles of wines located at http://www.jmrkitchens.com/event-survey. A customized dinner menu includes four courses with wine pairings, created specifically for you and your party based on your answers. Dinner costs $65/person (not including tax/gratuity).

Call more. kitchen & wine bar to make your reservation for a Chef Experience dinner and be sure to fill out the survey in its entirety at least one week prior to your reservation.

We enjoyed our own personalized dining at more. last week! Our #ChefExperience dinner included a shrimp 'pho' for our first course, a surf & turf torched ribeye-torched ahi for our second course, brisket & swiss slider for our third course and a stuffed ricotta-feta pasta with caramelized shrooms and cauliflower cream for our fourth and final course. All dishes were paired with a hand picked wine that perfectly complimented each course. We finished with a banana foster cake truffle for dessert! Our group of six really enjoyed meeting the chef and being surprised with our own personalized dinner menu in a cozy setting in downtown Raleigh!

more. kitchen & wine bar is located at 116 N West St, Raleigh, NC 27603.


Sassool Mediterranean Cafe Announces Upcoming Authentic Lebanese Dinner To celebrate their Lebanese roots, the Saleh family is hosting an Authentic Lebanese Dinner on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 7pm. Tickets are $30 per person for a three-course dinner at Sassool Mediterranean Cafe’s Cary location, 1347 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary, NC 27511.

The three course menu is as follows:
Course 1: Lebanese Mezza Traditional Lebanese spread consisting of Mtabel (Roasted Eggplant with Garlic), Hummus, Tabouli, Sambousik, Kibbeh Nayeh, and Hot Pita

Course 2: Entree Stuffed Squash, Samkeh Harra (spicy fish), and Fried Cauliflower

Course 3: Dessert Kunafa with Pistachio, Atayef with Walnuts and Simple Syrup, Fresh Fruit, and Arabic Coffee

A glass of wine or beer will be served to each guest.
To purchase tickets, please visit https://www.paypal.me/Sassool/30.


And, if you hurry, there's still a few more rounds of the 2017 Inaugural Cooking For a Classic event with 100% of the net proceeds benefit the Lucy Daniels Center. Community collaboration among hospitality vendors, chefs, celebrity judges and dining guests!
  • Your evening includes six plated courses and six beverages by two chefs as well as the chance to bid on amazing chef-designed silent auction packages!
  • Vote anonymously along with celebrity guest judges to see who moves on to the next round!
  • All proceeds benefit the Lucy Daniels Center's mental health programs for children and families in the Triangle!
  • Doors open at 6pm for each event. The courses are served until about 8:45, when final voting takes place. After the winner is announced, guests can then meet and greet the competing chefs in the bar until 9:30pm
Tickets start at $50 (plus tax and gratuity)! 

Remaining Dates:
March 1: Jonathan Ballard/Sassool,Raleigh vs. Tom Havrish/Lugano Ristorante, Cary  
March 6: Adam Pettigrew/Pup's Steakhouse, Wilson vs. Teddy Klopf/Provenance, Raleigh  
March 7: Troy Stauffer/City Club Raleigh vs. RJ St. John/Bull McCabes, Durham

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sneak Peek of the new JB Duke Hotel in Durham at Duke

Recently I was invited to tour the newly opened JB Duke Hotel located in the heart of the Duke campus. The new hotel is conveniently located within walking distance to athletic and academic facilities like Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Duke Medical Center, Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, Duke Chapel, Sarah P. Duke Gardens and much more. The hotel is linked to the Fuqua School of Business. The hotel's recent renovation features contemporary and modern design. It's airy and light-filled spaces connect to the outdoors with landscaped courtyards, terraces and plazas. Nearly a third of the entire building is glass. Floor to ceiling glass windows in the lobby bring in amazing light and stunning views of Duke Forest. The decor and furnishings highlight history, craftsmanship and community of North Carolina. The lobby is stunning with hand crafted furniture and carpet that mirrors the Duke Forest tree shadows.

Located at 230 Science Drive, the hotel offers 198 guest rooms which is great for staying on campus for football, basketball, parent weekends, graduation or other campus events.

There are two bars and a full service restaurant specializing in a la carte and conference dining with plenty of convenient work stations. The hotel is ideal for executive education, conferences, weddings and other social gatherings.

Design inspiration from natural settings extends into the guestrooms where neutral tones of warm grey and gold set a backdrop for the room with accents of deep blue, inspired by Duke University’s colors.

The facility offers a 5,450 square foot ballroom, several multi-purpose spaces, two state-of-the art boardrooms, two fixed-tiered classrooms seating 65 attendees, generous pre-function spaces and a business center. State-of-the-art systems in each room will assist its global and local clientele.

For more information on event packages and facilities, visit jbdukehotel.com/meet.

Full Service Restaurant

Outdoor Courtyard


Meeting Rooms

Ball Room

Dining Areas

Team Rooms

Guest Room


Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Concourse, Meeting Rooms, & Outdoor Dining Terrace

Nearby Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Duke University Campus Plaza

Duke Chapel

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

VIDRIO: A Mediterranean Feast for the Senses on Glenwood South

In case you hadn't heard, Vidrio recently opened on Glenwood South in Raleigh! It's exciting to finally see what's been hiding under that big fish mural that decorated the entrance on Glenwood under the Carolina Ale House.

We were lucky to get a sneak peek before the Grand Opening, in January and it was well worth the wait. I have to say it's probably one of the most beautiful and creative restaurant spaces in Raleigh. It's a large open two story space with a bar downstairs and another opening soon upstairs. The main dining room hosts a stunning two story wall with over 350 colorful handblown glass bowls decorating the entire wall. Vidrio means "glass" in Spanish. There are several more dining spaces upstairs as well, all beautifully decorated, and a bar/lounge area featuring an indoor fireplace. The open kitchen on the main level features a wood-fired grill and stone hearth oven. The ceilings are high, the colors are vibrant and the use of rope, wood, leather and glass create quite a feast for the eyes! Hundreds of wooden dowels hang about the bar area downstairs and are visually stunning against the bold colored walls and modern light fixtures. Well done.

The restaurant has 50 wines on tap and another 200 more in bottles (including vermouth and sherry). Vidrio features family-style shared plates with Mediterranean inspiration and influences. The food is fresh and locally sourced and the menu will change almost daily. Vidrio imports its own olive oil directly from the founder’s Greek village and the dishes take inspiration from Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Turkish, Lebanese, Moroccan, and other Mediterranean flavors. Upon entering you will see the wood fired grill and stone oven, as well as all the fresh seafood that is available for that night's dinner. Fresh is the key ingredient here.

For dinner, we started with fresh baked bread and seasoned olive oil for dipping.  We added a cheese plate, and shared a bowl of roasted cauliflower soup that was very satisfying on a winter evening. We shared roasted fingerling potatoes with thyme and rosemary and a large plate of hanger steak with salsa verde.  A full-bodied glass of red wine complimented the meal perfectly.

Leading Vidrio’s kitchen will be Executive Chef Ian Sullivan, previously with the University Club in Durham, North Carolina, and the Urban Food Group of Raleigh. Chef de Cuisine is Saif Rahman, previously of 21c Museum and Hotel in Durham, and World Central Kitchen organization by Chef Jose Andres.

The downstairs bar and restaurant are currently open for dinner and drinks and the upstairs dining and bar area will open in the coming months. Brunch will start in March. Vidrio offers free valet parking to its guests. Make a reservation for dinner and discover for yourself this unique mediterranean feast for the senses happening in Raleigh!

VIDRIO: 500 Glenwood Ave Suite 100, Raleigh, NC 27603  p: 919.803.6033
Dinner Hours:  Mo - Th: 4:30pm - 11pm,Fri - Sa: 4:30pm - 1am,Su: 5pm -10pm
Brunch: Sunday beginning March 5