My wife and I finally got a chance to take in Raleigh’s outstanding Nana’s Chophouse. Don’t be confused; this is an excellent restaurant in downtown Raleigh and is owned by people who like Raleigh (see my post note for more).
Upon entering I was stuck by the large street front windows that allow much afternoon sun into the expansive front bar area. The décor is decidedly warehouse minimalist chic. The menu is basically what I would describe as “grilling with a purpose” (ie. I have a grill at home however it would take me a long time to make these sauces). A sample menu is on the restarant’s website.
We began with the soup special: creamy corn chowder with grilled shrimp, tomatoes, scallions, and bacon. This divine entry was a special and had just enough kick to give it loads of personality. While this was our favorite item of the night, this only speaks to how good it is, rather than criticism of anything else.
We then had field green salads with focaccia croutons, parmesan fricco (chips), and a white balsamic vinaigrette. This was delicious, too, however the dressing could have used a bit more sugar to tone down the hint of tart.
My wife had a grilled fish (grouper?? I’m not a seafood person so I have no idea which it was) with a smoked tomato sauce and pecan puree. Very interesting! I won, however, with my grilled pork tenderloin (sliced) with an onion broth reduction, caramelized onions, mashed potatoes, and fried green tomatoes. While this dish is clearly comfort food for a cool day, I nevertheless enjoyed it on a 95 degree day.
The pork tenderloin was the best dish I’ve had since our last meal in Las Vegas last year, where the chef, incidentally, used to live and work. After that he was at Sweet Basil in Vail, but wanted to settle down in a mid-sized city with his family. This was clearly our gain.
Nana’s Chophouse is one of Raleigh’s highest priced restaurants. Entrees are generally $20-$30 and salads are $5-$10. Two salads, entrees, and glasses of wine, with tip and tax, will generate a bill of just under $100. However, you get what you pay for, so I wouldn’t describe the meal as overpriced. It’s just one of Raleigh’s best, and I’m thankful that I could experience it.
Post Note: Nana’s Chophouse was the collaborative creation of Scott Howell (Nana’s in Durham, Pop’s in Durham, and Q-Shack of Raleigh) and Greg Hatem (key force behind many downtown redevelopment projects). The restaurant almost never came to fruition for many complicated reasons. Thank goodness that it finally did.
Apparently Howell and Hatem had a big falling out which resulted in Howell selling his share in Nana’s Chophouse and the Q-shack, and returning down I-40 to Durham with his middle finger stuck high in the air to Raleigh. He vowed never to return to Raleigh, which may explain this little story:
I have a friend who really wanted to try Nana’s Chophouse in Raleigh but could not find their phone number. She called 411 but the number was incorrect. Next, she tried calling Nana’s in Durham. The man she spoke with explained that the restaurant (Nana’s in Durham) is no longer affiliated with Nana’s Chophouse. When my friend asked if he could give her the phone number, he hung up on her.
I really don’t care why Scott Howell left Raleigh, however the way he has handled this has made me never want to never ever go to Nana’s in Durham. If I’m going over the Durham for a great meal, I’ll just go to the Magnolia Grill.
328 W. Davie Street
Raleigh, NC 27601