The Raleigh tour begins at Videri Chocolate Factory which doubles at the meeting grounds for all tour participants. As you traverse through the building on a self-guided tour watching through the windows how Videri chocolate is made, you feel as an adult this may be the closest you get to the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory wondrous experience, minus an eccentric Gene Wilder.
On the tour, you might then march on to Posta Tuscan Grille like my group, the Italian eatery located inside the downtown Raleigh Marriott on Fayetteville Street. Our tour guide forewarned that despite being a hotel restaurant, the fare at Posta was not to be dismissed. After a three-course sampler consisting of a panino sandwich, tomato bisque, Posta’s signature meatball and a cappuccino truffle, I felt remiss that I had, like the tour guide warned, previously written off Posta before as just another hotel restaurant.
After our mini-feast, Chef Michael Rigot reveals that Posta Tuscan Grille is transforming into a Southern concept later this fall with the hopes of re-opening sometime in October or November. Chef Rigot explains that the new concept will incorporate Southern ingredients from the local area. The change comes with the aim of offering something different in an area already ripe with plenty of Italian restaurants.
The group treks onto to visit two Eschelon Experiences-operated restaurants The Oxford, a gastropub, and the newer Zinda, an Asian fusion concept. At The Oxford, we stuff our gullets with a towering pork belly slider with the Napa cabbage slaw. At Zinda, we encounter a similar offering—pork belly on a house-made steamed bun with a house-made kimchee—and it feels a bit like we may be on an episode of the Food Network’s television show Chopped where chefs present varying dishes constructed from the same core ingredients.
After a free lift from Raleigh downtown bus line R-line, we converge at The Wine Feed on Glenwood South and get educated on wines. After sampling two wines, one white and one red, and being plied with alcohol beverages from the prior restaurants, the afternoon nap feeling is starting to set in.
The R-line gives us an assist for the lazy and transports us back to The Warehouse district where we enter Five Star, the longtime inhabitant of that part of downtown. At Five Star, we sample a generous portion of Five Star’s best-selling dish, the Heat Seeker Shrimp.
We end our tour from where we started, over by Videri Chocolate Factory, nearly three hours later. Bellies taut, the tour group disbands, ready more than ever to delve more into the burgeoning Raleigh dining scene.