Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Poole's Diner doesn't rank with the Triangle's best

A lot of people swear by Poole's Downtown Diner.  I've heard multiple people call it one of the best restaurants in the Triangle.  Ashley Christensen, its owner and chef, runs a group of local restaurants and was the 2014 winner of the James Beard award for Best Chef:  Southeast.  The last time I went, I was unimpressed, but that was years ago, so when I found myself across the street from it after eating Big Gay Ice Cream and only forty-five minutes before it was due to seat people, I decided to give it another try.

I remain unimpressed. 

The food our group sampled was uniformly good, but never anything more.  Nothing was exceptional.  Whatever culinary chops earned Christensen the Beard were nowhere to be found in our meals.  Again, the food was good, and it was on par with many above-average Triangle restaurants, but it was not in any way a stand-out.  The heirloom tomatoes in our salad, for example, were nothing like the flavorful beauties I've eaten at multiple other area restaurants; these were as bland as what you'd find in the discount area at any local grocery store. 

To be fair, my expectations were high.  Given Poole's reputation and Christensen's award-winning status, I was expecting a meal on par with that of the Triangle's top restaurants, places like [ONE] and Panciuto and Herons and the Fearrington House restaurant and so on.  What I ate was food on par with the middle of the second string of local establishments. 

If you're looking for a good meal, Poole's will definitely do.  If you want a top-drawer local dinner, though, try the four I've mentioned or any of the other best of the Triangle restaurants I've reviewed in the past.

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