Restaurant News & Reviews

Two options for pub fare

This week brings news of two new options for fans of burgers and all-American fare. But that's about all these two restaurants -- one in Durham and the other in Clayton -- have in common. Which one you prefer will depend on whether your taste leans to tropical cocktails in tiki mugs or sweet tea in a Mason jar.

City Beverage (4810 Hope Valley Road; 401-6500; in Durham isn't new, technically speaking, but for all practical purposes it is. A recent expansion into the adjoining space across from Woodcroft Shopping Center has more than tripled the restaurant's size, and the original dining room has been converted to a casual eatery and bar called the Lava Burger Lounge. The retro sixties look still prevails, though owner Jim Earnhardt has fine-tuned the decor, which he describes as "a little less tiki now, and a little more pussycat." Earnhardt has also added a pool table and expanded the bar, which already offered one of the area's best cocktail and draft beer selections. The lounge menu offers an assortment of burgers, sandwiches, salads, tacos and chicken wings. Lava Burger Lounge serves lunch Monday-Saturday and dinner Tuesday-Sunday, and is open late nights.

Meanwhile, in its new space next door, the original City Beverage has gotten bigger and more upscale, but is still by no means stuffy. Chef Chris Harris' menu matches the swanky new digs with an offering that includes pan-seared snapper, coq au vin, braised lamb shank and New York strip steak with Gorgonzola butter -- all priced, thankfully, at $20 and under. City Beverage is open for dinner every night but Sunday.

You might say that Lock Stock & Barrel (11649 US 70 West; 553-0500; in Clayton is a sort of country mouse version of City Beverage. Like its city mouse counterpart, Lock Stock & Barrel offers a mostly American menu, including burgers, sandwiches, Buffalo wings and other popular pub fare. Other than steaks, however, the Barrel's offering leans less to the likes of coq au vin and more to comfort food options such as lasagna, baby back ribs and popcorn shrimp. The vibe here is decidedly more down home, too -- and yes, they do serve tea in Mason jars. Lock Stock & Barrel is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, and Sunday from noon until 8 p.m.