Raleigh, NC: Poole’s Downtown Diner

The beehived waitresses are gone. But between the chalkboards that herald the evening’s menu hangs a gorgeous black-and-white of two old broads, Freda and Dot, attired in starched waitress whites. It glows as if backlit by the candescence of their vim and sass. Poole’s was once a diner of the Linoleum Counter School. Now it’s that, and more. It’s a black box of a place, with swooping counters that call to mind, well, breasts, and red leather banquettes that call to mind, well, backseats pulled from ’57 Chevys. Ashley Christensen, the young chef at the prow, is a rounder with a heart of butter. And she can flat-out cook. A few highlights from my feast: griddled scallops in a velouté of artichoke hearts and leeks; jelly roll of braised pork belly drizzled with honey; royale of ground chuck served on toasted brioche and gilded with a rosemary demi-glace. While I ate, Neko Case, the hipster chanteuse of the moment, wailed through the speakers. And the ghosts of Freda and Dot danced. It was a very good night.

Poole’s Downtown Diner 426 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, N.C. (919-832-4477; poolesdowntowndiner.com)



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