While out-of-towners continue to infest the stretch of Cary Street, there’s a different feel subtly taking over. Carytown is slowly letting go of its touristy reputation with only a handful of practical shops, few restaurants, and the whole “mile of style” tagline. The expansive area is alive as a refreshing shift of different stores and restaurants have set up shop. Cafes, bars, and restaurants have come and gone but the emergence of a new one is always celebrated. The Daily Kitchen & Bar is one of those newbies.
The Daily sets itself apart from others by the décor. Fresh, sexy, and green is the vibe here. Antique white tree branches jut between tables and booths while oversized exposed ductwork looms overhead. A bright green moss-lined back wall becomes an instant focal point and the color carries to the bar backsplash and booths.
Having dined here twice, I’ve got the impression the hostess stand is a pretty discombobulated place. On my most recent trip, there were nearly 6 staff members buzzing around, seating customers, and adding reservations through a text service. Yes, you read right – when your table’s ready, you get a text and for those of you who are antsy like my girlfriend, you can track how far you are from being seated. I was relieved to grab a drink at the bar without a clunky buzzer in hand or the fear that I’d miss my name being called.
Much like the organic décor, Daily’s menu selections reflect fresh ingredients and simple farm to table options. Picky eaters rejoice, the menu ranges from pizzas, salads, and sandwiches to tofu lettuce wraps and mole braised short ribs – everyone wins. I do mean everyone – gluten free-ers, vegans, and vegetarians, too.
I locked eyes with the house made mozzarella when it arrived at our table – the colorful tomatoes layered over generous cuts of mozzarella with a frothy balsamic drizzle ($8.95) had my attention. It was fantastic.
An appealing cocktail menu makes a pleasant impression – the kombucha watermelon martini and coconut mojito (both $8) were flawless and not overwhelmingly sweet. Their cocktails are unintimidating – you won’t find many fancified ingredients you can’t pronounce (or stomach).
After scanning the menu, the grilled chicken salad ($10.95) with clementines, gouda, almonds, and citrus poppy seed dressing sounded light and pleasant. Unfortunately, the oversized white bowl had more character than the salad cradled inside. The clementines were sparse – I was hoping for more to add bright flavor against the smoked gouda. On the note of deficiency, the barely-there dressing had me searching the giant bowl for more.
On another occasion, my crab cake sandwich ($11.95) gave me flash backs of the bland salad I had prior. I needed a pop of flavor somewhere. The upside? The sweet potato fries and Brussels sprouts. I’ve had my share of sweet potato fries and these are at the top of my list. They’re oddly bold and perfectly salted which gave my sandwich a little oomph. As we all know, Brussels sprouts are making a positive comeback and The Daily has jumped on this bandwagon by offering crispy maple Brussels sprouts that are out of this world good.