Epicurean

For Father's Day, try brunch

N&O Restaurant Critic and Food WriterJune 14, 2006 

Forget the tie. What Dad would really love for Father's Day (you did remember it's this Sunday, June 18, didn't you?) is for you to treat him to Sunday brunch at Rey's (380-0122) in Cary. Note that this is no ordinary brunch, but a no-holds-barred affair in the grand New Orleans tradition, complete with a mix-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar. After the meal, whose highlights include bayou omelets, seafood crepes, crawfish etouffee and bananas Foster bread pudding, Dad can retire to Rey's cigar room and light up a fine stogie. Sure hope my daughter is reading this.

The corner sports pub may be fine for catching a NASCAR race or a baseball game, but the World Cup soccer finals -- the worldwide granddaddy of all sporting events -- calls for something a little more, well, classy. That's where Tavola Rossa Ristorante Italiano (532-7100) comes in. Throughout the playoffs, the North Raleigh restaurant will show every World Cup match. That includes those that start at 9 a.m., when a proper English breakfast will be served.

Here's a double toast to Michael Gunyan, chef de cuisine at Fairview (493-6699) in Durham's Washington Duke Inn. Gunyan has accepted an invitation to cook at the James Beard House in New York (the culinary equivalent of an invitation to play at Carnegie Hall) on June 16 as part of its Best Hotel Chefs of America series. Gunyan's qualifications? How about winning the National Trophy of Cuisine and Pastry at L'Academie Culinaire de France in Los Angeles last year, thereby earning the right to represent the United States at the International competition in Paris this year?

Kudos also to Crook's Corner (929-7643) chef Bill Smith, whose cookbook, "Seasoned in the South," was just named by Food & Wine magazine as one of the year's 25 best cookbooks. Smith's book joins the likes of "Molto Italiano" by Mario Batali and "Grilling for Life" by Bobby Flay on the list, which is featured in the June issue of Food & Wine.

National magazine exposure also fell on Bret Jennings, owner/chef of Elaine's on Franklin (960-2770). Jennings' recipe for Mom's Apple Sausage Ring with Corn Relish was published in the You Asked for It column of the June issue of Gourmet magazine.

On a sad note, three area restaurants have closed their doors for good in recent weeks: Jillian's (Raleigh), Osaka (Cary) and Pasta Bella (Durham).

Greg's Hot List: Kid-Friendly Spots

No more pencils, no more books, no more cafeteria cooks. As schools all over the Triangle close for the summer, busy parents are cringing at the prospect of a steady diet of pepperoni pizzas for the next two months. That's where these kid-friendly eateries come in, providing a variety of options for the grownup palate while still fulfilling the four basic food groups for kids: cheese, ketchup, sugar and soda.

Armadillo Grill, 439 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh; 120 E. Main St., Carrboro; The Factory, 1849-100 S. Main St., Wake Forest; burritos and tacos with mix-and-match fillings -- and great margaritas for Mom and Dad!

Bullwinkle's Family Food 'n' Fun, 1040 Buck Jones Road, Raleigh; burgers, dogs, chicken fingers and gooey desserts in an indoor theme park; and grown-up friendly fare for Mom and Dad.

Cattails, Five County Stadium, 1501 N.C. 39, Zebulon; dinner in a skybox restaurant overlooking a Carolina Mudcats baseball game -- how cool is that?

Crazy Fire Mongolian Grill, 3 Raleigh locations: 1270 Buck Jones Road, 9800 Leesville Road, 3611 Spring Forest Road; Mongolian grill -- pile your plate with stuff and watch them cook it on a giant flat wok.

Cloos' Coney Island, Mission Valley Shopping Center, 2233-102 Avent Ferry Road, Raleigh; coney dogs, topped the way you like 'em, and great shoelace fries.

Dos Taquitos, Creedmoor Crossing Shopping Center, 5629 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh; Mexican fare in a fun, funky and colorful setting.

Elmo's Diner, Carr Mill Mall, 200 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro; 776 Ninth St., Durham; the granddaddy of area kid-friendly eateries, serving an offbeat mix of fifties diner fare and seventies health food.

Frankie's, 11190 Fun Park Drive, Raleigh; go-karts, laser tag and a sit-down restaurant -- what more could you ask for?

Pazzo! 700 Market St., in Southern Village, Chapel Hill; brick oven pizzas; excellent, reasonably priced contemporary Italian fare for more mature appetites.

Rockin' Comet Diner, 11637 U.S. 70 West, Clayton; meat loaf, fried chicken with cream gravy and homemade chili in a retro shiny diner.

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