Around the first of June, the dining area at The Carolina Inn was temporarily moved to the lobby as Crossroads Chapel Hill underwent a major renovation. All the waiting is finally over as the restaurant opens its doors tomorrow.
The dining experience is decidedly different: The bar seats twice as many and is connected to the restaurant, some lighter fare will is offered, the terrace features an inviting fire pit with lounge seating and the white tablecloths are gone. In general, think a more open, modern space and a more relaxed environment. (Plus, there’s now a market where the buffet room was. Open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., it offers pastries, snacks and ready-made sandwiches and salads.)
Chef James Clark is still at the helm and his menus are built on grown, caught and raised ingredients that are sourced regionally to fit his interpretation of Carolina Cuisine. “We will have a new look and a new menu, but I think everyone will be thrilled with the changes,” Clark said. “Our goal is to make it a great experience for even more people.” Among the fall offerings: Crispy Pork Belly Mac n Cheese and Soy Pickled Shitake Mushrooms; Duck Bolognaise; Fennel Bisque with Thyme Pepper Honey; Roasted Beet Salad with Local Pea Shoots; and Wild Boar Meatloaf with Charred Carrots.
The whole idea behind the renovation was to distinguish the restaurant from the inn. “If anyone’s coming to The Carolina Inn to eat, they’re not saying they’re coming to Crossroads to eat,” says GM Mark Sherburne.
Another goal? To get more locals to dine in. Fridays on the Front Porch draws hundreds of nearby residents. But they don’t necessarily think to return on a different day just to enjoy a meal. Mark believes The Carolina Inn should be not only a regular mealtime destination but also one that comes to mind for happy hour, particularly for university employees, who don’t even need to move their car in order to have a beer after work with friends.