Old favorites resurface

triangle.comFebruary 7, 2006 

Hypothetical question: If a landmark moves, is it still a landmark? What if the landmark ceases to exist for awhile, then resurfaces in an entirely different location?

OK, those aren't really hypothetical questions. They apply to two actual pubs, both local favorites that closed their doors after many years. And, as it happens, both are reopening in buildings that formerly housed chain restaurants, and both have been thoroughly made over for their new -- er, old -- occupants.

Blinco's (http://www.blincos.com/), which closed last summer after a decade in Quail Corners Shopping Center, should be pouring pints again at 6711 Glenwood Ave. by the time you read this. The new location, which formerly housed a Houlihan's -- and, more recently, Sam Snead's Tavern -- is twice the size of the original Blinco's.

The roomier digs allow for lots of new big-screen TVs, not to mention smoking and nonsmoking sections that are truly separate -- a feat that was all but impossible in the cramped quarters of the old space. In contrast, the new dining room feels downright airy. At the center of the space, a large, U-shaped bar dispenses a widely varied assortment of draft beers, from Miller Lite to Guinness to the trend-of-the-moment Dogfish Head IPA.

The menu of traditional American pub fare, however, remains largely unchanged except for the addition of a few nightly dinner specials. Returning regulars will discover that a Philly cheese steak (the real thing, made with Cheez Whiz) has joined the list of regional American classics that includes Wisconsin bratwurst, New York-style hot dogs and buffalo wings.

Meanwhile in Cary, the sign has finally gone up on the former Chico's building at 1077 Darrington Drive announcing the reopening of Greenshields Brewery & Pub (388-1599; www.greenshields.com), which owner Gary Greenshields hopes to reopen by Valentine's Day. The brewpub has been without a home since a fire forced its closing in downtown Raleigh's City Market in August 2004.

Except that it won't be a brewpub this time around, since the new location isn't big enough to house the brewery. Greenshields is still searching for a site to relocate that part of the operation, but in the meantime the pub's taps will dispense a mix of German lagers, English ales and domestic microbrews.

The menu did manage to survive the move largely intact, including favorites such as Scotch egg, fish and chips, and chicken pot pie. Greenshields has also gone to great lengths to recapture the feel of the City Market original in the dining room, installing bookcases and a pair of fireplaces, and bringing the old tables and chairs out of storage.

Now, if he could just figure out a way to repave the parking lot with cobblestones.

Greg's Hot List: Romance for procrastinators

You were busy. It slipped your mind. Whatever the reason, you still haven't booked reservations for Valentine's Day dinner. And now, less than a week before the big night, all the tables are booked at the area's most romantic temples of haute cuisine.

Not to worry. All it takes is a little creative thinking. Seek out the spots that others haven't thought of, but still offer a suitably lavish meal in a romantic setting. Spots like the ones I've listed here.

Chances of scoring a table at these establishments are still pretty good, especially if you're flexible about the reservation time. And your sweetheart needn't ever know about your procrastinating tendencies.

The Cosmopolitan, MacGregor Village, 103 Edinburgh South Drive, Cary. Phone: 380-1322. Contemporary cuisine in an atmosphere of understated elegance in earth tones.

The Duck & Dumpling, 222 Blount St., Raleigh. Phone: 838-0085. Pan-Asian cuisine at a contemporary bistro in an urban atmosphere.

Fins, 7713-39 Lead Mine Rd., Greystone Village, Raleigh. Phone: 847-4119. Pacific rim fusion cuisine in a contemporary and intimated atmosphere.

Five Star, 511 W. Hargett St., Raleigh. Phone: 833-3311. Chinese cuisine amidst funky leopard skin banquettes and frosted Plexiglas panels.

Frazier's, 2418 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. Phone: 828-6699. Contemporary cuisine at a chic urban bistro. Saint Jacques, 6112 Falls of the Neuse Road, Raleigh. Phone: 872-6224. French cuisine in country-floral French surroundings.

Maximillians, 8314 Chapel Hill Road, Cary. Phone: 465-2455. Fusion cuisine with lots of spicy Asian and Mediterranean influence at a chic contemporary bistro.

Neo-China, 100 Maynard Crossing Court, Cary; 6602 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh; 4015 University Drive, Durham. Phone: 466-8888 (Cary); 783-8383 (Raleigh); 489-2828 (Durham); Chine suicine in a sleekly sensual atmosphere.

Nina's, Harvest Plaza, 8801 Leadmine Road, Raleigh. Phone: 845-1122. Italian cuisine at an elegant and romantic atmosphere

Royal India, Tarrymore Square, 3901-103 Capital Blvd., Raleigh. Phone: 981-0849 Indian cuisine in an atmosphere of sitar music and wedding lace-carved white wooden screens.

Sushi-Thai, Kroger Plaza, 106 Kilmayne Drive, Cary; Lake Boone Shopping Center, 2434 Wycliff Road, Raleigh. Phone: 467-5747 (Cary); 789-8189 (Raleigh). Japanese and Thai cuisines in a dramatic marriage of two Asian culture.

Vin Rouge, 2010 Hillsborough Road, Durham. Phone: 416-0406. French cuisine in a classic bistro setting, with a sultry side room done in red and lace.

Greg Cox can be reached at ggcox@bellsouth.net.

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