Raleigh >Food & Dining > Poole's Downtown Diner
426 S McDowell St, Raleigh, NC | Directions 2760135.774702 -78.642133
An EXCELLENT diner – A cozy, almost bohemian diner with very good food.
I am surprised to read some of the negative reviews published on citysearch and can't help but wonder what sort of unrefined, arrogant, narcissistic dope would take the time to even rant about their horrible brunch- I mean breakfast- with no ketchup and fries!
This place is one of our favorites in the RDU area and never disappoints.
Worst experience I have ever had – Worst establishment I have ever been to! I wish this site didn't make you have to put one star to give a review because it deserves none! It was so terrible I do not know where to begin, my fiance and I were in Raleigh for the NHL All Star weekend for business and had never stayed in Raleigh before. We stayed at the Sheraton and missed their breakfast so we looked up the closest diner and Poole's came up. It is only a block away so we walked and were standing in front of it and could not find it, there are no signs or names on anything just a blank awning. When we got closer we saw the name on the door and walked in. We stood in the doorway and the owner greeted us asking how we were and explained that they did not have menus and the menu was written on the wall on a chalk board. We could sit where we wanted, either bar top or the boring uncomfortable looking table with chairs so small two individuals could not sit comfortably. We sat at the table and tried to read the chicken scratch handwriting on the board that was so small, only to see about 6 boring items with immense prices attached to them. I wondered if they had any other items because I was shocked this was all they had to offer as a diner. It was so cold in the place my fiance and I kept our coats on the entire time. Worst atmosphere ever, unless you like people standing in front of you to try and read the wall menu. They had no options for non alcoholic drinks and I was not offered anything so I stuck with water, even though a juice would have probably been about $10 for a glass (the tap water was straight from the sink which I did not realize until after I saw them serving it to another table). Our waiter seemed really strange and frazzled and I had asked him if they had french fries and he replied" We don't make fries here" (what kind of diner does not have fries?) Anyway I ordered their eggs and biscuits with gravy with gravy on the side($13, for $13 I was expecting something pretty amazing because I have never in my life ordered any eggs and bisquits for $13). Fiance got their BLT special for $13 dollars and asked if it came with home fries as a side (waiter responded that home fries were additional and an extra $4) Our food then came, and I actually almost walked out at this point I was so angry. I got the most disgusting plain looking eggs on 1 soggy gross biscuit on a plate with gravy that looked like something my dog puked up in a milk creamer holder. The only thing that kept me sitting in my chair was that I was starving at this point and there were no other nearby places to eat for breakfast (for $13 I was extremely disappointed, the biscuit was nasty tasting and I did not eat it and the eggs tasted OK, but who can screw up scrambled eggs?) I asked the waiter for ketchup and he never returned, we asked him another time and he came back with a small dish with ketchup in it for the 2 of us as if they were rationing ketchup. My fiance got his skimped out BLT with barely any bacon and that was mediocre, the only thing that was edible was the $4 potatoes as a side, which we shared because I was starving. We got our $35 bill for the worst breakfast in history and not only did we leave very angry, I got a bad stomach ache which leaded into my being sick with food poisoning, probably from their unfiltered tap water!!!!!! Way too expensive for the worst atmosphere, cheap presentation, worst food, and horrible service!!!! Beware of this place unless you like getting treated like crap, getting sick and paying a whole lot for it!!!!
Where did the bad reviews come from?? – I have to give this 4 stars. Admittedly I'm a 'seat of the pants' rather than analytical reviewer but this place was very good
You have to accept that the concept is bohemian in nature. The barman took 5 minutes to come and take my order ( and that's a long time when you're thirsty) but I got over it - I ordered a $50 bottle of wine without asking the price because another customer recommended it - that's how comfortable I felt! We (accidentally ) arrived at 5.16 for a 6 pm opening and at 6 the place was bombed out
I had Prince Edward mussels which were fab , my wife had carpaccio which was stellar as was her fried chicken and my braised beef entree,l the entree came out at different times - but it's that type of place
It's my new favorite restaurant in Raleigh
Allegedly good food, poor customer service – Pros: allegedly good food (and the only reason they earned a second star)
Cons: Where to begin...
* Rude, self-important management
* Poor location (unless you like parking/eating next to a dangerously-congested main traffic artery across from a Firestone tire dealership)
* Selfish owner-focused operating hours (Wed-Sat dinner only)
* No printed menus, either on web site or in restaurant--you have to strain to read chalk boards on one wall.
I have tried three times to eat here, twice during their Yelp-published operating hours. However they are now open just four days out of the week, and only for dinner.
Not knowing about these strange hours, my second attempt was on a Wednesday for lunch and hallelujah, their door was open! However the two ladies who presumably run the restaurant gave us a dirty look and didn't otherwise acknowledge us for quite some time, after which they rudely asked "can we help you with something?" They then dismissed us, informing us unapologetically of their limited hours, and sarcastically bid us "good luck." I stopped back this past Saturday for lunch and again they were closed, even though Yelp indicated they should be open--strike three.
The only thing that intrigues me about this establishment is others' reviews of their menu selections, although other than that their entire way of doing business is a complete turn-off. Any establishment that doesn't serve dinner at least 5-6 days out of the week is simply lazy, or perhaps just self-important. Their web site offers absolutely no details on what one can expect here food-wise, and ordering from the handwritten chalkboard menu opposite the bar (they have no menu books) is quite inconvenient.
Given all of the other great choices nearby, I find it unlikely that I'll try Poole's again. I wound up going around the corner to Jibarra and was treated to wonderful food and fantastic service which further confirmed my decision to eliminate Poole's from future itineraries.
Special night NOT so special!! – I arrived back in Raleigh early evening tonight after a long trip, exhausted and jet-lagged, to find my beautiful boyfriend eagerly waiting to take me to dinner and a night on the town. We decided Poole's was the place. Having dined there many times before I was excited, especially because it was a special night being back with my man.
We arrived and were seated immediately even though the restaurant was obviously busy. The table was quaint, although right in front of a blackboard holding the evenings dinner menu (which everyone stands by to stare at and read) but no worries because we were happy to sit down!!
The waitress, Amanda greeted us right away with waters and took our drink order...shortly after taking an appetizer order from us (crispy oysters over creamy collards and bacon, yum!) The appetizer arrived in just under 3 minutes (before the drinks) which is very odd considering the time it would take to cook and plate the dish on a busy Friday night. The food was hot so we ate it but discussed most likely being sent a "mistake" plate. We received our drinks and placed our order for the main: a chicken breast and side of cauliflower...which we were to split.
After ordering we were "mised" with plates for sharing the dinner and were left alone. We were left alone for 45 minutes with nothing said nor done for our table except a water refill by someone other than our waitress. She was present and zooming by (like I said, busy Friday night) but nevertheless we began to wonder. We flagged her down to politely ask for the check because we had a prior engagement...the dinner was obviously not coming. But just as soon as we sent her for the check, a pathetic looking meal arrived in front of us. The main, served on a saucer plate, with barely a 1/4 c. of potatoes was nearly insulting....but not nearly as much as the host who looked at us as if we were in offense asking to box our "meal." Whether it was frustration or trying not to be rude we accepted and ended up paying just under $80 for a wasted meal.
I feel incredibly offended and disappointed by this restaurant and the way we were treated this evening for several reasons: me being a repeat customer, being in the industry myself, knowing the staff at the restaurant, and that after the wait we still paid full price. Ridiculous and absurd tonight says I, and I will no longer be recommending Poole's nor dining there...they have lost a friend.
Excellent Food & Service – My wife and I live in Chapel Hill but on a recent trip to Raleigh stumbled upon this place while in the downtown area. The place was very busy so we sat at the bar. The food and service were 5 star. MAc & Cheese was fantastic. We will be back.
Very expensive for bland food and miserable staff – First of all everything is a la carte, which turns out to be outrageously expensive, especially if you pay for bread and butter. The bread and butter is not even that good. The meals were bland, tasteless, boring, and downright disappointing. I could make chicken, burgers, and sides better than these at home, for a fraction of the outrageous cost. Unique that the menu is on chalk boards and the atmosphere is OK, considering its very dark and dreary -- but the courses were tiny, expensive, and sadly disappointing. The wait staff seemed indifferent, uninspired, and the attitude was as if they were doing us a favor. Would not go back and will let my friends/family know this is not a place I would recommend. I realize the chef has a favorable reputation from past endeavors, perhaps she is riding on that rather than skill, inspiration, or business sense. Also, I suppose it may be considered stylish or chic to treat your customers rudely, if you have a restaurant in downtown Raleigh - but seriously, go anywhere else in this country and owners know that the first way to please their clients is by treating them warmly, kindly. I dont understand the aloof, cold attitude our table experienced from this staff.
good food - bad decisions - poor customer service – Have to admit the food was good - portions small but very tasty - would not return and will and have communicated expereince to others. My wife and I went for dinner - we requested a table with seats versus the counter with stools since I recently had back surgery. There were four tables (4 tops) open and no 2 tops. I explained to the host that I need a table with a seat because of my recent back operation. He said no - to sit at the counter stool was the only option unless I wanted to wait "north of 30 minutes". Should have left at that point but didnt. During the meal their was at least one 4 top open all the time - 3 remained open almost the entire meal. This is very poor customer service. I could understand if there was only one open 4 top - but having 4 open tables was ridiculous!! Hope others read this and agree - FTP
Sunday Brunch – While we had dined at Poole's several times for dinner, we have never been there for brunch. The chalk board listed several items we were interested in but when the waiter announced the features, the Lobster Roll was a "game changer!" Growing up in New England, I know a good "lobsta roll" and this one rivals the Woods Hole Leeside Bar and Grill.
We hope the chef makes this a frequent headliner!
Sad experience – A fun experience at this restaurant has been to stand in front of the boards, review the menus, make converstaions and exchange ideas w/other folks on what to pick and order! Not this time.. Sadly there were a bunch of quiet men/women trying to understand the menu last wkend. I can assure you that 'sea bass' was ordered more than anything else since people could understand what they were ordering & $3 for bread and butter is a bit too much!
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