Restaurant News & Reviews

Restaurant News: Brewery Bhavana, Level7 opening; plus So.ca, Poole’s brunch and City Barbeque

Level7, located on the seventh floor of the new AC Hotel in North Hills, has a rooftop lounge and terrace that overlooks stores, restaurants and apartments in North Hills.
Level7, located on the seventh floor of the new AC Hotel in North Hills, has a rooftop lounge and terrace that overlooks stores, restaurants and apartments in North Hills. LEVEL7

Two of Raleigh’s most anticipated restaurants are opening next week: Brewery Bhavana and Level7.

Level7, located on the seventh floor of the new AC Hotel in North Hills, is having a soft opening Monday, March 27. It will be open to the public at 5 p.m. An owner’s toast is at 6 p.m. Complimentary tapas and Prosecco will be available.

Brewery Bhavana is expected to open mid-week, its owners said. Diners are asked to go to the restaurant’s social media feeds for an exact date.

Level7, with its rooftop lounge and terrace, overlooks stores, restaurants and apartments in North Hills.

Level7 will serve cocktails, Spanish wine and local beer and liquor from TOPO Organic Distillery, Durham Distillery, Oaklee Distilling and Raleigh Rum Company. There also will be tapas-style small bites. Barrel aged cocktails will be featured at the bar as well.

The 5,100-square-foot space, which includes an indoor portion and an open-air outdoor area, will be scattered with couches, chairs and other seating and will feature live music on occasion. Hotel guests, as well as the general public, will be able to visit the rooftop area.

Info: The hotel is on the east side of Six Forks Road. level7roofbar.com.

Brewery Bhavana is a hybrid restaurant, brewery, flower shop and book shop in downtown Raleigh’s Moore Square. The owners are brother and sister Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha, who own the Laotian restaurant Bida Manda next door on South Blount Street, and brewer Patrick Woodson.

Dim sum will be the star of the restaurant with 20 kinds of dumplings. There also will be regional Chinese dishes and soups along with classic Peking duck.

On the far left side of the restaurant is the taproom. Twenty taps will pour Belgian-inspired beers crafted by Woodson along with a few “guest” taps pouring local beers from Bhavana supporters.

The flower shop will sell custom pieces and bouquets, single stems and smaller bouquets for gift giving.

The bookstore in front has a collection of 400 to 500 books about art, food, travel, literature and nonfiction. There also is a growing library of books on the back wall of the space. The books are donated from people in the community – from elected officials to restaurant mentors and family members to strangers.

The spot occupies the former Tir Na Nog space, the Irish pub that closed in late 2015 after 11 years.

The hybrid concept has been a constant throughout the development process, Vansana Nolintha said earlier this month.

“People were like, ‘What in the world? Why? What are they doing?,’ ” he said, recalling initial reactions to the project. “It’s interesting now that the story of the combination of flowers, books, beer and dim sum, it’s out long enough that people are, ‘Of course, that’s exciting.’ 

Info: Brewery Bhavana is at 218 S. Blount St., Raleigh. brewerybhavana.com

So.ca opens in Cameron Village

Meanwhile, So.ca, the long-awaited restaurant from the owners of Bu.ku, is now open in Cameron Village.

Like Bu.ku, located in downtown Raleigh, the menu features small plates and large plates inspired by street food. Except instead of the Asian-themed global cuisine at Bu.ku, So.ca has a Latin twist – with flavors from the Caribbean and Central and South America. That means big bowls of stews and paellas on the menu.

Dishes are inspired by food from 20 countries, including Brazil, Peru and Puerto Rico.

The 5,500-square-foot restaurant takes over the space formerly occupied by Faire, a steak and seafood restaurant that closed in June 2016 after just under two years. The space is at the bottom of the Berkshire Cameron Village apartment building at the corner of Clark Avenue and Oberlin Road.

Sean Degnan and Tony Hopkins, partners in Bu.ku, own So.ca alongside Todd Ohle. Executive Chef Andrew Smith takes over the kitchen, having been a line cook, sous chef and chef de cuisine at Bu.ku. He is a UNC graduate, having majored in physics and history, but got his start in restaurants after backpacking across Asia.

The name So.ca has several inspirations, according to its website. It’s a Peruvian word for sugarcane, is a type of Caribbean music and describes the islands and region south of the Tropic of Cancer. “So,” is for South, while “ca” refers to the Tropic of Cancer.

The restaurant will start with a dinner menu, which also includes a vegan menu and gluten-free menu. Eventually, they will add Saturday and Sunday brunch. While Bu.ku’s brunch features a buffet and carving station, the So.ca brunch will have a menu.

Small plates include Caribbean Roti (pumpkin curry, mango, chili); Jamaican sweet potato bisque with crab and mango; conch fritters; and Chilean pink clams.

Among bigger plates, diners will find jerk duck; pan-seared Caribbean snapper; and Churassco (chili-rubbed hanger steak with charred sweet potatoes). There also are Brazilian marinated short ribs, Yocatan pork belly and a Haitian pumpkin stew.

The restaurant offers valet parking.

Info: So.ca is at 2130 Clark Ave., Raleigh. socaraleigh.com or facebook.com/socaraleigh/

Poole’s Brunch returns

Poole’s Diner will begin serving brunch on weekends again starting Saturday, April 1. But you better get there early. Poole’s doesn’t take reservations.

Owner/Chef Ashley Christensen decided to resume brunch after a few-year break when Joule Coffee + Table, a sister restaurant, closed in late 2016. (That spot on Wilmington Street will become St. Roch Oyster + Bar.)

The Poole’s brunch will be Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The menu will feature such items as a seasonal hotcake, hangover grits (with cheese and bacon), eggs Benedict (with porchetta), shrimp and grits, biscuits and the gravy of the day and a croissant Croque Madame. Save room for the biscuit doughnuts with cinnamon sugar.

Info: Poole’s is at 426 S. McDowell St. ac-restaurants.com/pooles/

City Barbeque opens fourth location

City Barbeque is bringing its “low and slow” smoked meats to North Raleigh. Its fourth location is opening at 10:30 a.m. Monday, March 27 at 9424 Falls of Neuse Road. A grand opening celebration will follow on Saturday, April 1, with children’s entertainment and giveaways.

The menu features smoked meats, including pulled pork, brisket, pulled chicken and smoked turkey. Sides include warm peach cobbler, sweet corn pudding, hush puppies, baked beans with brisket and fries.

With April 1 the first day of North Carolina Beer Month, the restaurant will have N.C. beers to sample and buy. Ten percent of proceeds from April 1 will go to The Miracle League of the Triangle, which helps children with special needs play baseball. T-shirts will be sold for $3, with proceeds going to The Miracle League.

City Barbeque, a fast-casual restaurant, is known for its competition quality barbeque. The company has more than 100 certified barbeque judges throughout their staff. There are locations in Cary, Durham and Garner.

Info: citybbq.com, facebook.com/CityBarbequeRaleigh/

Madison Iszler contributed.

Jessica Banov: 919-829-4831, @JessicaBanov

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