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Delectable Discoveries

Wellspring

Just across the street from East Campus lies the organic oasis that is Wellspring. The supermarket and salad-bar mecca has everything from sweet-potato chips and homemade salsa to beeswax body lotions and free-range fajitas. The best of the batch includes homemade breads, priced daily in the bakery section and various vegan concoctions that taste totally normal, even to carnivores. Wellspring's take-out is notoriously expensive, but it's also pretty good and a fabulous alternative to the overcooked vegetable slop found on campus. Recurring favorites in the prepared food section include sesame spinach salad, fresh broccoli with garlic and pine nuts and organic steaks.

The take-out counter, located all the way to the left, also boasts some amazing Vietnamese spring rolls (vegetarian or shrimp) and hearty mashed potatoes. Aside from a sandwich bar where customers can order their custom-made roast beef and foccacia, Wellspring has a prepared foods refrigerator stuffed with burritos, soups, wraps and the occasional cold-cut medley. If you go, make sure to bring your own water bottle, or suffer the consequences of an organic cherry-vanilla cola (which is disgusting). Also, hold off on buying the tempting chocolate-chip cookies by the bakery--Wellspring is a two-second walk from the real campus eatery, Ben and Jerry's.

--By Faran Krentcil

George's Garage

When most students think of George's Garage, they envision dinner when the parents are in town or Thursday nights out. Few have taken the extra steps to the back of the restaurant to discover George's Bakery and Market--a much more affordable, and just as delicious, gourmet eatery.

George's Market is a self-service, by-the-pound cafe, where you can choose from an extensive selection of soups, salads and hot dishes--very few of which will disappoint--at the reasonable price of $5.95 per pound. George's Market turns a traditional tuna salad into a delicacy, adds a sesame zing to its Chinese chicken salad and whips up the same heavenly garlic mashed potatoes that the restaurant's customers dish out big bucks for. The rotating hot meat dish--like sausage or brisket and vegetables--is always a good bet. The only item lacking flavor is the green beans, which would be helped by a bit of lemon.

In addition to the food bar, there is a sandwich station and a hot food counter where items are sold a la carte. Steer clear of the dry calzone and try the hearty vegetable lasagna instead.

You could easily stuff yourself with the rich food at George's Market, but don't leave without trying one of their delicious desserts. The gigantic cookies are a must--go for the oatmeal cranberry or double chocolate. For something a little bit different, try one of George's signature Greek desserts, like kataifi--a shredded, cinammony version of baklava.

If you're there before 4 pm, you can enjoy indoor seating in the restaurant's dining room. After 4 pm, there's only the outdoor patio, which is fine if you don't mind staring at a parking lot, listening to elevator music and sharing your meal with flies. And believe us, you won't want to share this meal with anyone.

--By Victoria Kaplan

Cinelli's

Cinelli's is the latest pizza place attempting to fill the space left by Pieworks on the corner of Main and Broad. Unfortunately, it can't decide what kind of restaurant it wants to be.

For starters, the restaurant itself is divided in half. One side is a full service sit-down eatery; the other, a Sbarro-type buy-by-the-slice area. Classic Italian music competes with TV broadcasts of sporting events. The neon track lighting bordering the ceiling gives the restaurant the added vibe of a cheesy teen dance club.

As for the food, Cinelli's has a huge menu, covering a variety of pizzas and calzones and almost 50 (yes, FIFTY) different entrZes of chicken, veal and seafood. There's also a bevy of "specialty sandwiches." For a slice of pizza, prices range from a very reasonable $1.65, while most entrZe dishes clock in at around $13.95. Quite a steep price curve.

Unfortunately, this is reflected in the quality of the food. The veal francese and mussels posillipo are both delicious, but at $13.95 and $9.95 respectively, the meals don't justify their prices. And the phrase "get what you pay for" definitely applies to the pizza. Although the crust is light in consistency and had a great doughy taste, the pie is incredibly greasy.

My attempts to sop up excessive amounts of pizza grease with my fine-dining, quality cloth napkin perfectly symbolize the Cinelli's dining experience. Cinelli's could be a great restaurant if it ended its attempts to be a "college/sports bar/pizza place" and focused on serving quality Italian food.

--By Beth Iams

James Joyce Pub

When you think of the James Joyce Pub, three things come to mind: cold Guinness, the Tuesday-night trivia challenge and incessant U2 music. For most Duke students, that's what the Joyce is--beer, brains and Bono.

It seems most students are not taking advantage of one of the better venues for polishing off a quick lunch or dinner of top-notch pub food. Unlike other area bars, which offer throwaway orders of fries, the Joyce has an extensive menu of appetizers, sandwiches and dinners that consistently satisfy the palate.

Start a meal with the tomatoes and Buffalo mozzarella plate, which is covered in a mix of salad dressings, or order a plate of potato skins. With enough bacon and cheese to give Dave Thomas a heart attack, the skins are a great yet horribly unhealthy starter. For a meal, try the fish and chips, covered in a light batter and served with lemon and tartar sauce. Or pick the pinnacle: the beef and Guinness stew. Served in a bread bowl, the piping hot blend of spicy beef sauce, potatoes and carrots satisfies and stuffs.

The only problem with dining at the Joyce is the price. Good pub food is not cheap pub food. Also, there is a huge benefit to arriving at the Joyce for a 7pm dinner--on Tuesdays, it's about the only way to secure a table for trivia.

--By Martin Barna

Bread and Kabob

Students know about a certain place in town where they can taste "the best" Middle Eastern food, if they don't mind putting up with disgruntled staff and an owner who rants about tomato-based sauces.

Fortunately, those same Duke students can order the real "best" Middle Eastern food, and receive courteous service, at Bread & Kabob, conveniently located a tenth of a mile from campus.

The diner-like exterior and the illustration of a cartoon Middle Eastern man on the sign do not do justice to the quality of the food. The lamb-kabob, served with a bountiful portion of rice and two vegetables, is my favorite--it's well seasoned, tender and tasty. There are also options for vegetarians. Of the vegetables, the potatoes are the best, with the seasoned green beans and spinach close behind them.

Every dish at B&K starts with a piece of warm pita-like bread. I've found the best way to eat the bread is to dip it into the green cilantro sauce. And while I've been told that the sauce is technically not for bread-dipping, the staff has never come over to my table to yell at me about my dining choices. On the contrary, B&K's workers are so kind and thorough, it almost makes you forget about the last time you were scolded for using ketchup.

Perhaps a new logo will help increase attendance: "Middle Eastern food, without the attitude."

--By Martin Barna

La Frontera

There's a new kid on Ninth Street.

Sandwiched between Banh's and Mugshots is the colorful Taqueria La Frontera, which offers a friendlier and more authentic alternative to the tired Cosmic Cantina. And it's open until 3am on weekends.

At La Frontera, the food and service are simple, and sometimes questionable, but the overall experience--complete with Latino music and soap operas--is delightful. Somehow when I left the restaurant, I managed to forget that there was a toothpick buried inside my chile relleno (which was cold on the first try), a puddle of grease under my rice and no ice in the water. The waitress' infectious smile, the soccer jerseys on the hand-painted walls and the knowledge that I had just consumed a real Mexican meal for a bargain stuck with me instead.

The menu is hit-and-miss, so be judicious when you order. Skip the nachos (they remind me of afterschool snacks I used to make at home) and head straight for the main course. The Fajitas Frontera are printed in boldface on the menu for a reason--they are a flavorful and delicious combination of steak, chicken, shrimp, onions and peppers, served with rice, beans and tortillas.

Another good choice is the chile relleno--just make sure it's hot. Our waitress suggested the six vegetarian dishes as the "especialidades de la casa," so we tried "El Jardin"--a plate with one bean burrito, one spinach enchilada and one potato chalupa. The chalupa was a strange mound of mashed poataoes atop a giant tortilla chip and the enchilada was essentially a flour tortilla stuffed with creamed spinach.

Don't expect a gourmet dining experience at La Frontera. But you can definitely count on good food and a good time. Plus the staff are more than willing to help you practice your espanol.

--By Victoria Kaplan

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