Food & Drink

Two taste extremes

File this week's foodie news under "S" for "sugar and spice." We'll begin with the spice and save dessert for last.

The latest newcomer to the evolving Fayetteville Street lineup in downtown Raleigh is Spize Café (121-101 Fayetteville St.; 828-5000;, which opened late last month in the former America's Pita & Grill spot. A counter service eatery with a fresh, casual urban vibe, the restaurant's name is a jazzy riff on the fragrant Asian spices that are woven throughout its contemporary East-meets-West menu.

The offering reflects the eclectic background and taste of owner Meechai Kowae, a native of Thailand. Kowae is a technology consultant by profession who was a partner in three restaurants in San Francisco before moving to the Triangle last year. Inspired by Vietnamese banh mi, the sandwich selection includes lemongrass pork loin with honey mayo, grilled hot bean steak, "spizy" tuna and grilled shrimp with chili mayo, all served on La Farm baguette. Salads are similarly diverse, with options ranging from bay shrimp, pork and avocado with roasted chile and tamarind dressing to cumin chicken salad with curry peanut dressing. Noodle salads, fresh rice-paper rolls and a seasonal soup (currently chicken noodle with ginger) round out the offering.

For now, Spize Café is open for lunch Monday-Saturday and dinner Wednesday-Saturday. Kowae hopes to expand the hours in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile in North Hills, there's enough sugar to make an 8-year-old's heart (or a 48-year-old's fillings) throb at The Lollipop Shop (4120 Main at North Hills St.; 782-7788; The first North Carolina location of a small Tennessee-based chain, the shop sells more than 400 varieties of candy, from the obscure Chick-O-Stick to the ubiquitous Jelly Belly and from nostalgic Bit-O-Honey to the latest battery-powered lollipop.

Where the Lollipop Shop really sets itself apart from the candy store crowd, though, is in its gift selection. The offering ranges from retro wind-up toys to wine glasses that you can fill with, say, M&Ms in the color(s) of your choice (who knew they made 21 colors?). A popular option for birthdays is Candy Buddy, a furry animal (choose from a large selection of cute critters) that you get to stuff with your choice of candy. Think Build-a-Bear, only edible. And if the notion of slowly consuming your new "Buddy" gives you pause, you can always opt for the more traditionally stuffed Stuff-a-Buddy.