Let's all raise a glass to the 2004 winners of Wine Spectator magazine's awards for restaurants with outstanding wine lists and wine service. At the head of the class for the 16th year in a row is Angus Barn, which joins an elite class of only 88 restaurants worldwide to win the coveted Grand Award.
Also worth special note is Fearrington House, which moves up this year from Award of Excellence to Best of Award of Excellence status. New to the list this year is Melting Pot in Raleigh.
GRAND AWARD: Angus Barn, 9401 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh. Wine list strength: California, Bordeaux
BEST OF AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Enoteca Vin, 410 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh. Wine list strength: Burgundy, Italy, Austria; and Fearrington House, 2000 Fearrington Village Center, 8 miles south of Chapel Hill on Hwy. 15-501, Pittsboro. Wine list strength: France, California
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Carolina Crossroads, 211 Pittsboro St., Chapel Hill. Wine list strength: California; Daniel's Pizza Pasta Cafe, 1430 N.C. 55, Apex. Wine list strength: California, France, Italy; Elaine's on Franklin, 454 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. Wine list strength: France; Fairview, The Washington Duke Inn, 3001 Cameron Boulevard, Durham. Wine list strength: California; Four Square, 2701 Chapel Hill Rd., Durham. Wine list strength: California, France; Il Palio, 1505 E. Franklin St., in the Siena Hotel, Chapel Hill. Wine list strength: Italy.
Also, Lucky 32, 832 Spring Forest Road, Raleigh and 7307 Tryon Road, Cary. Wine list strength: California; Melting Pot, 3100 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh. Wine list strength: California; Nana's, 2514 University Drive, Durham. Wine list strength: California, France; Nina's, Harvest Plaza, 8801 Leadmine Rd., Raleigh. Wine list strength: Italy; Prime Only, Leesville Towne Center, 9800-104 Leesville Road, Raleigh. Wine list strength: California; Ruth's Chris Steak House, 2010 Renaissance Place, The Arboretum at Weston, Cary. Wine list strength: California (NOTE: Ruth's Chris reopens in this new location on Aug. 20); Second Empire, 330 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. Wine list strength: California; Sullivan's Steakhouse, The Creamery Building, 414 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh. Wine list strength: California
More curry in Cary
Sometimes, all it takes is the right formula to transform a location from retail graveyard into thriving hot spot. The owners of Sawmill Tap Room, for instance, got the formula right when they opened a family-friendly pub/restaurant in a North Raleigh location where a string of upscale predecessors had failed.
And now, Manjit Kumar hopes he has the formula for a Cary location which has so far proven a graveyard for Indian restaurants. Dosa Inn, one of the first Southern Indian eateries in the area, and the all-vegetarian Woodlands have both failed in the same spot in Maynard Crossing Shopping Center in the past three years.
But Kumar's new restaurant, Indian Oven, takes a broader approach. The menu runs to over a hundred listings, both meat and vegetarian.
The specialty, as the restaurant's name implies, is tandoori fare. But the offering goes far beyond dishes cooked in the traditional clay oven to include a wide range of dishes, both familiar (chicken curry, lamb vindaloo) and rare (honey- and vinegar-marinated shrimp dansik, and chicken patia with sweet and sour mangoes).
Kumar has spiffed up the place with maroon tablecloths and Indian prints on pale lavender walls. It's still a casual atmosphere, but it's a lot more welcoming than that offered by either of its predecessors. Maybe that's another part of Kumar's formula for success.
Indian Oven (467-6020) is open for lunch every day but Tuesday, and for dinner nightly.
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