Two stylish new restaurants have opened on Glenwood South in Raleigh, adding a double dose of sizzle to the district's already hot reputation as an after-hours mecca.
You can't miss Solas (419 Glenwood Ave.; 755-0755; http://solasraleigh.com), especially at night, when a blue glow radiates from the roofline of the sleek new building. With an urban chic restaurant on the first floor, a nightclub with a glass dance floor on the second, and a rooftop patio and lounge, Solas raises the bar -- literally and figuratively -- for restaurant design in the Triangle.
Executive chef Cliff Vogelsberg, who has worked in a number of area fine dining establishments (most recently Sullivan's Steakhouse), matches the mood with an ambitious menu of contemporary fare. His opening menu includes white truffle summer risotto, hickory-smoked Kobe beef and cherrywood-wrapped grouper with tangelo beurre blanc, as well as small plate options such as elk carpaccio, duck quesadilla, and mussels in Massaman curry cream, making it clear that Vogelsberg's creative talents are not limited to traditional steakhouse fare.
Solas is open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. The restaurant is owned by Niall Hanley, who also owns Hibernian Restaurant & Pub just down the street (as well as a second location in Cary), and partner Chuck Willingham.
Like Solas, Thaiphoon Bistro (301 Glenwood Ave.; 720-4034) boasts its own distinctive style, starting with a sidewalk patio nestled in a lush garden outside the main entrance (which, notwithstanding the address, is around the corner on North Street). Inside, tangerine-colored tables and white chairs in a modern style reminiscent of Philippe Starck mingle with traditional Thai artifacts to create a dramatic East-meets-West style.
The restaurant is the eighth -- but the first in the Triangle -- for Thai native Manee Rianjaeng, who moved here last year from New York with her family. Rianjaeng's experience is reflected in the breadth of her offering. In addition to the usual pad thai and coconut curry suspects, you'll find a number of surprises such as crispy cups filled with shrimp, chicken and mixed vegetables; chargrilled salmon with chile, garlic and tamarind sauce; and four roast duck variations. Thaiphoon Bistro is open for lunch Monday-Friday and dinner nightly.
In other Glenwood South news, the ink was barely dry on the current (September) issue of Bon Appétit, which features Ashley Christensen in an article titled "Women Chefs: The Next Generation," when Christensen announced her resignation as executive chef/partner at Enoteca Vin (www.enotecavin.com). The parting was amicable, and comes as no surprise to the management at Vin. For several months, Christensen had been tapering off her involvement at that restaurant in order to focus her attention on her new restaurant, Poole's Downtown Diner (www.poolesdowntowndiner.com).