by Elliot Acosta
Raleigh is often thought as the intersection where the new South and the old South meet. The transformative and imaginative ideas of the new meet the traditions and resolve of the old. Illustrating that point is Poole's Diner in downtown Raleigh. Ashley Christensen, chef and owner, brought life into a former 1945's pie shop by transforming the shop into a sleek urban bistro.
Taking the time-tested ingredients of N.C., Christensen has been able to infuse them with her creativity and spirit. Old South classics are re-imagined at Poole's such as the pimento cheese. A traditionally simple dish consisting of pimento peppers, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese becomes sharp, spicy and pungent at Poole's. Mac and cheese is such an integral dish in the South, that it is listed as a vegetable so that Southerners can have it with every meal. The Macaroni Au Gratin at Poole's is a dish that all other Southern mac and cheese strive to be. Hot and bubbly, a crust of cheese covers the steaming gooey combo of noodles and cheese below.
Large chalkboards line the walls in replacement of menu displaying the ever-changing entrees and sides of the daily menu reflecting the ingredients of the season. Soft-shelled crab and braised pork shoulder are just some of the offerings that will be listed on the Poole's chalkboard.
With the weekend brings Poole's brunch service and a hungry crowd of patrons packing themselves into the crowded diner. Black bean huevos and eggs benedict show off Christensen's exquisite touch and impeccable sense of ingredients.
426 S. McDowell St., Raleigh; 919.832.4477; www.poolesdowntowndiner.com.