Restaurant News & Reviews

November 19, 2008

Triangle roster gets meatier

You might say that three of the area's newest restaurants have, um, beefed up the local dining scene.

You might say that three of the area's newest restaurants have, um, beefed up the local dining scene.

Texas-style beef barbecue is the specialty at The Prime Smokehouse (1885 Aversboro Road; 779-6716; in Garner. Ed Wiley, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Yalem, grew up watching his father, renowned jazz saxophonist (and native Texan) Ed Wiley Jr., feed fellow musicians at late-night jam sessions from a barbecue pit dug into his backyard.

Now the son is building on that tradition by offering brisket, ribs, sausage links and chicken, slow-smoked over hickory and served with choice of two sides (options include collard greens seasoned with smoked turkey, baked beans, mac and cheese, and orange-ginger yams) and bread (buttermilk biscuits or cornbread). Those who manage to save room for dessert (by, for instance, opting for lighter fare such as the Bone and a Bowl, which pairs a single rib and a bowl of chili made with smoked brisket) choose from fruit cobbler, banana pudding and sweet potato pie, all homemade.

The Wileys are developing a schedule of live music -- jazz and blues, naturally, in keeping with the vintage vinyl albums and posters of Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and other legends on the walls. Throw in a dozen beer choices and a modest wine selection, and Prime Smokehouse has the makings of a prime after-hours destination.

"Prime" takes on an altogether different meaning at Fleming's (4325 Glenwood Ave.; 571-6200;, which opened late last month in Crabtree Valley Mall. The restaurant is the first Triangle location of a national chain of deluxe steakhouses specializing in USDA beef, broiled at 1,600 degrees and seasoned simply with salt, pepper, a bit of butter and chopped parsley. The chain is also noted for the "Fleming's 100," a wine list named for the number of listings, all available by the glass.

In Chapel Hill, another national chain has staked its claim on the restaurant space in the Sheraton. A sports-themed grill with a menu of premium Angus beef steaks and other all-American favorites, Shula's 347 (1 Europa Drive; 969-2157; represents the middle tier between the company's top-of-the-line Shula's America's Steak House chain and its Shula's 2 sports pubs.

As NFL fans might have guessed, it's named for Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.

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