Rye Bar & Southern Kitchen is the restaurant located in the Raleigh Marriott City Center that is whipping up southern favorites with a playful take on creativity. Yes, you read that right, a hotel restaurant that is sourcing from local farmers as much as possible to offer a biannual menu offering that switches with the seasons of spring/summer and fall/winter. Chef Michael Rigot has been running this kitchen since 2013 with a steady following of regulars coming in for the popular lunch special of “meat & three” along with their culinary cocktails.
As it was nearing the end of the lunch period, the main dining room was closed and seating in the bar was still available. Despite this, the area was comfortable and modernly decorated with a touch of southern charm. Service was brief, yet readily available as my server doubled as both bartender and server.
The Meat & Three ($10) is something any true southerner knows and looks for when wanting a hot, comforting meal when dining out. Rye’s Meat & Three puts other down-home southern spots to shame with their upscale versions of the classics. Each day of the week offers a rotating protein between fried chicken, pork brisket, meatloaf, fresh fish of the day, BBQ pork and oven roasted turkey breast. Today’s offerings included pork brisket, roasted root vegetables, house slaw and charred carrots with honey and goat cheese. The pork brisket was incredibly tender, despite being such a lean piece of meat. The barbeque sauce was spicy and sweet with a little heat to round out the savoriness of the pork. The roasted root vegetables were soft and sweet, but not mushy. The house slaw was just the needed item to cut through the richness of the other items, offering a bit of creamy, tangy crunch. The real standout were the charred carrots with honey and goat cheese. Attention to detail is no joke at Rye. This side dish is laborious, yet delicious. The carrots are blanched, grilled, cut and then finished to order with goat cheese from Hillsborough Cheese Company and a drizzle of honey from Rye’s rooftop beehive. All these little steps add up to a wonderfully caramelized, sweet side dish.
Sometimes fried oysters can be hit or miss. Dredged too much, fried too long, it’s easy to mess up. However, Rye doesn’t mess around with these Wanchese oysters ($8) from the coast of North Carolina. The oysters are soaked in buttermilk before being lightly dredged in flour then fried to hot, plump, crisp bites of perfection. Often sauces can mask the flavor of foods, but the roasted red pepper remoulade at Rye made the oysters pop with another layer of flavor. This seemingly simple accompaniment offered depth and well-rounded flavor from the horseradish, capers and red peppers blended together. You cannot come into Rye without ordering these tasty treats.
The folded pizza on Rye’s menu caught my eye as I had never seen this before. Curiosity got the best of me as the Carolina Pie ($11) came loaded with a cheddar BBQ crust, house smoked pork barbeque, red onions, house slaw and a light sprinkle of truffled honey. This is modern southern American cooking at its finest. The crust of this folded pie is rolled out into a circle and then folded in half before being topped with the aforementioned goodies. The final result is a half-moon shaped crisp, thin crust that holds up under the weight of the tasty toppings. This pizza may seem like it has too many things going on, but each ingredient has an express purpose and role in making it a well-rounded flavor load hitting every sense of taste on your tongue.
Rye Bar & Southern Kitchen may be in the lobby of Mariott, but it is by no means your typical hotel restaurant. Its location on busy Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh urges it to keep relevant with the food scene by sourcing from local farms and producers when at all possible. Rye is definitely an inconspicuous choice, as many may not realize the high quality of food their kitchen is putting out. However, once you come inside and taste any of their amazingly fresh and delicious menu items, I guarantee you’ll soon be back regularly on your favorite meat & three day.
Address: 500 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27601
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @