Ashley Christensen’s Poole’s: Open Thursday

December, 10, 2007, by David

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Update: Now opening Thursday


Thursday will mark the highly anticipated reopening of Poole’s. The longtime diner has seen several iterations in the last years, but this latest incarnation is one built on the kind of experience and market sensitivity that almost assures its success.  Ashley Christensen, most notable for her tenure and evolution of Vin, has constructed a diner that will appeal to the longtime Poole’s customer as well as a much larger audience.  The walls have been painted dark colors and the bar area has been opened up. A renewed simplicity and professionalism can be sensed in the space.  Gone are the kitschy patterns and found-objects.  New equipment lines the right wall and the diner feels like a well oiled machine- anticipating the responsibility of serving Raleigh’s most hip crowd. 

“I want it to be accessible,” says Christensen of the seasonal menu based on locally available ingredients with prices falling between $8-$14. Accessible is most certainly a word that comes to mind, particularly when contrasting the decided lack of value that the menu had under previous ownership. Wednesday- the restaurant opens its doors to the public and Raleigh will have a chance to taste Christensen’s newest offerings.

Poole’s is located across from the in-progress Convention Center on the one-way McDowell Street.  Currently

Davie Street Cabarrus Street, beside the building, is closed. There is parking across the street or on Cabarrus

Davie. (Thx. JZ)

Google Map

See the Poole’s Downtown Diner {categories show="257|236|256|96" show_group="9" limit="1"}{category_name}{/categories} page.

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  • kitch
    12/10 04:04 PM

    Excellent!  Looking forward to the opening.  Any idea what the hours are going to be?  I may have to walk over later today and see how things look.

  • Vince
    12/10 04:09 PM

    I’m hungry.

  • FuzzyT
    12/10 06:25 PM

    Excellent news.  I always liked the old Poole’s (and Vertigo) despite their occasional issues.  I look forward to trying them out.

  • JZ
    12/10 09:30 PM

    For those out-of-towners or suburbanites:

    Davie Street is open and has parking along the northern curb.  Construction of the L-Building Parking deck has taken out the parking along the southern curb.

    It is Cabarrus that is closed.

  • Vertigo
    12/10 10:03 PM

    ‘accessible’ is not exactly a word that comes to mind if Ashley’s doing the menu.  accessible to a bunch of yuppies I guess.

  • brian_M
    12/11 01:05 AM

    The prices sound pretty decent…especially for the kind of quality AC is known for. I’m in.

  • Emily
    12/11 02:57 AM

    I’m looking forward to the re-opening but I too have to admit that I fear the yuppiness that is certain of one of my old favorites. 

    As far as “lack of value” goes- umm… they had hot dogs and cocktails. nuff said

  • David
    12/11 03:13 AM

    I’m not one to split hairs but the previous menu with its $10 macaroni can easily be beaten.  Vertigo must be dizzy with memories of yesteryear to insinuate the new incarnation is any less accessible.

  • Raleigh
    12/13 01:07 PM

    The old Poole’s menu lacked in value?  On what planet?  The food was very reasonably priced, and terrific.  This place looks to be more upscale, which is a shame.

  • Durhamite eater
    12/13 01:39 PM

    My biggest fear for the new Poole’s is the current physical inaccessibility of the location. With all the construction and closed streets, it’s going to be a tough several months. Hang in there Ashley.

    I do applaud the description of the offerings being accessible, local, inexpensive. It’s decidedly NOT what Vin offers.

  • SadSack
    12/13 02:28 PM

    What?s with all the skeptical comments?  Pooles struggled for years, lets give another locally run business the support it deserves.  At least they are not putting in a Macaroni Grill.

    The food will be great, the staff (I know) is great, and the prices aren’t too bad.  A place like this only gets “yuppified” when all non-yupps stick up their noses and run for the hills.  And so what if some yuppies eat there?  We should all be supporting independent local businesses.  I wish Ashely all the best, and I plan to eat there as much as possible.

  • kitch
    12/13 02:45 PM

    I certainly second the comments from SadSack.  Why all the whining about a new local restaurant?  Downtown needs as many “reasonable” eateries as it can get.  There still are not a huge number of weeknight eating options in the area.  So if this is a reasonably priced place I can go to once a week for a decent dinner then count me in.

  • Jim
    12/13 03:02 PM

    I’m guessing the yuppie comments primarily come from nostalgic people who used to go to Vertigo/Poole’s back when.  I’ll always think of that space as a bar first and restaurant second, and now the reverse is probably the case.  Ownership wisely retained the rounded countertop and preserved the general layout, which was key.

    I don’t think that the comments about value really pertain to the actual amount of $ you’ll have to lay down to get some eats (and to be sure, Ashley’s food is quite tasty).  I think the notion of “accessibility” and yuppie talk pertain more to the fact that Vin and Raleigh Times cater to an iClientele, if you will, that the old Vertigo didn’t.  You’d never really know what to expect at Vertigo/early Poole’s, especially with King’s next door. 

    This is not meant to sound cynical, but here’s what I expect there, under the new ownership, with King’s demolished: a self-consciously chic, safe place to have dinner and a mojito or other stylish cocktail of the month.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  I just miss the old bar and its atmosphere.

  • ab
    12/18 08:09 PM

    I was at Poole’s twice this weekend and it truly was fantastic both times. 

    The decor of gray, black, and red has a stylishly hip (though not intimidating) feel, which perfectly captures the diner’s new owner’s aesthetic.  It’s true; gone is the kitsch (thankfully) and clutter.  Now the innate coolness of the space can be seen unhindered.  It should be noted that Ashley, with only a touch of outside consulting, is solely responsible for the new look and feel of Poole’s.

    The service was expectedly slow but still terrific.  We were met with smiles, easy temperments and correct orders, drinks, etc.  Something not all newly opened spots can deliver.  They’ll only get better.

    However, when we speak of Ashley Christensen it’s really the food that matters.  And, the food at Poole’s was exceptional and of course, on par with what Ashley is known to produce.  Finally (!) an interesting - though not intimidating - reasonable, and approachable menu that actually tempts and encourages you to try several items.  I highly recommend the fried fish, royale (yep, with cheese), pumpkin soup, winter greens and macaroni au gratin.  I’m hoping that dish (the macaroni) becomes permanent, as the majority of the menu will change weekly.  Better to go often because of that.

    People in Raleigh aren’t unaccustomed to traveling, hunting, walking, braving busy streets and bad parking for good food + cocktails.  I’m confident for Poole’s it will be no different.

  • mp
    01/26 05:04 PM

    Is anyone else frustrated about the inconvenience of the chalkboard menus? I have eaten at the new Pooles twice, and the first time, I sat at the bar so I could see the menu. The second time we had a bigger group of people, and we sat out of sight of the menu. It was frustrating for everyone to stand up and gather around a menu in a very crowded restaurant. I have not been back since.

    I am a foodie, and I am also creature of habit when it comes to dining out. I love to hold a menu, stare at a menu, ponder my selections while sipping on a cocktail, and I can’t do that at Pooles.

    I appreciate that the menu is different every night, I love that. But I think Pooles is sacrificing the comfort of the diner by not making printed menus available, and comfort is a factor that everyone considers before choosing where to eat.

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