## Wednesday, August 17, 2011

### Review of the State Farmer's Market Restaurant, Raleigh

This week, we made a find.  We visited the State Farmer's Market in Raleigh for the first time.  It was very impressive.  After buying fresh Legend peaches, Liberty apples, blueberry juice, four kinds of zucchini, Italian cheese peppers, a purple pepper, Apple butter, Sweet Potato butter, fresh-made pickles, and spices (basil, parsley, and chocolate mint), we were quite hungry (and had many items in our bags for under \$25).  Across the street from the market is the State Farmer's Market Restaurant.  While we were initially skeptical, it may have been the best lunch we have ever had.  Megan said it best when we walked in and saw the restaurant full of elderly people, "with this many senior citizens, this place is either really cheap or really great."  The State Farmer's Market Restaurant is both, and they fed us like fiends.

Upon entering, the restaurant is one big semi-circular room with the kitchen in the middle.  It definitely gives you a country, open-air feeling.  The place is almost homey and comfortable.  There is a huge mural that covers all of the walls, depicting North Carolina farming, culture, and heritage.  All of the waitresses are dressed in overalls, which initially made me laugh.  However, our waitress was super friendly and was very knowledgeable about the food that they serve.  When prompted, she even offered up her favorites and recommendations.  Then, once I ordered beets, she asked me to describe them to her, so that if anyone else asks, she'll know how to describe them.  I applaud her efforts to learn more about the menu.  It definitely gives her an added expertise, by her desire to master the menu.

As soon as we sat down, our waitress brought us fresh biscuits.  Someone there has found the secret to the most amazing biscuits.  They were somehow both fluffy and dense on the inside, while the outside was buttery and slightly crispy.  I knew that I was in heaven right there.  For \$8.99 for each lunch special, we got HUGE meals.  I ordered the BBQ chicken with pickled beets and cheesy-potato casserole.  They literally served me half of a chicken.  The hot and spicy BBQ sauce was made in-house.  It was a thin tomato-based sauce, but the vinegar in it gave it a pop.  It is like a great marriage of Eastern and Western North Carolina barbecue sauces.  It was delicious.  My chicken was baked, which made the skin slightly crunchy and then soaked in the sauce.  It was fabulous, I mean, utterly fabulous chicken.  The cheesy-potato casserole was made by combining squared potato cubes with a heavy amount of cheese.  I could also taste the finely diced onions and a touch of cream in the sauce.  The potatoes were just soft enough to eat, but still firm enough to hug the cheese.  My mouth is watering as recollect this side dish.  The pickled beets were average.  They were very large sliced beets which were then pickled, but aside from the obvious fresh earthiness and slight bitterness from the pickling, there is not much to say about them.  Every meal also includes a dessert.  I got the peach cobbler.  The in-season, fresh peaches were amazing with the soft crust.  The free portion was just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth and make you want to get more next time.  While it may not be the best peach cobbler I have ever had, it was very close as the peaches virtually melted in my mouth.

Megan ordered the Fried Chicken with the cheesy-potato casserole and fried okra.  Again, we got an entire half of a chicken.  The chicken was thinly battered, but fried extra crispy.  It was perfectly browned and crispy on the outside, while moist and juicy on the inside.  I was amazed with the chicken and even stole Megan's leg.  The okra was very fresh, in fact, I bet it was picked within the last two days, and fried to a golden brown.  I'm not an okra fan, but Megan loved it.  Her dessert was a biscuit pudding.  Picture a small biscuit with raisins and coconut inside, then topped with a sweet icing drizzle.  I've heard of bread pudding, but never biscuit pudding; this was great.  Their perfect biscuits with fruit and icing were like a dream.

Just in case we were planning on coming back for breakfast, we ordered a country ham biscuit to sample and share.  Their breakfast sandwich biscuits were literally bigger than my hand, with the same fluffy/dense consistency.  Then, there were literally three huge slices of country ham piled onto this biscuit.  The ham was fresh and salty.  While I am not a huge fan of country ham, Megan loves it and said that it would have made an amazing breakfast all by itself.  Just look at the picture, keeping in mind that the biscuit is on a dinner-sized plate.

I guarantee that this will not be our last trip to the State Farmer's Market Restaurant.  The staff was friendly and very knowledgeable about their food.  The food was amazing; I mean this place may be one of the best kept secrets around.  The atmosphere was fun, and for the price, you cannot beat the quality or quantity of food.  While it is only open for breakfast and lunch, we are already trying to find a time to bring our parents and friends to the State Farmer's Market Restaurant.

 Category Scale 1-5 stars Food Quality $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$ Food Creativity $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$ Service $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$ Atmosphere $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$ Value for the price $\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar\bigstar$