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Tired and busy but happy! That is the best way to describe how I have felt the past few weeks. The last few weeks of our summer have been a whirlwind, with my children going back to start Pre-K and Preschool, my husband’s birthday, our family beach trip, more family visits on Labor Day weekend, and my daughter beginning ballet class. Somewhere amid the rush of life, my husband and I slowed down for a date night and decided to try the Downtown Raleigh restaurant Parkside at their new location in Wendell Falls.
The New Location: Downtown Raleigh’s Parkside Now in Wendell Falls
Parkside’s new spot is in Wendell, NC. Located in the Treelight Square district of the Wendell Falls neighborhood, this restaurant opened just shy of a month ago. Word has been spreading that the food is delicious, so I knew I wanted to give it a try. Parkside’s first location is in downtown Raleigh in the Warehouse District, located across from historic Nash Square Park, hence the name.
Dining Experience at Wendell Falls Parkside: Early Evening
Now, listen. This blog post is based on the fact that we came in around 5:20 p.m. on a Friday. I know most people don’t choose to go out to eat that early, but we knew we were on borrowed time with our kids hanging out at their Mimi and Papa’s so we could graciously go out to eat. So we knew a 7 or 8 p.m. dinner time wouldn’t work for our schedules. Maybe one day we’ll eat like Europeans again (or just college kids). But for now, this works for us.
Wendell Falls Parkside Atmosphere and Decor: Modern Minimalist
So, anyway, my husband and I arrived at Parkside in Wendell Falls and, thankfully, could be seated immediately. When we walked through, I noted the minimalist, modern decor. Some fun details are throughout the space, like the earth-toned, green-tiled bar, the metal-tiled ceiling by the restrooms, and the modern LED lights. The restaurant is new and immaculate, which makes the place feel more open. Seating includes booth options, bar seating, and tables and chairs.
Cocktails and Beverages: The Peach Mason
Once we were sat next to a window in the back, our server came over and greeted us immediately. He seemed knowledgeable of the menu and answered all of our questions. He quickly brought us our drinks and returned to get our orders when we were ready.
I tried the Peach Mason cocktail (vodka, peach schnapps, champagne, orange juice), which was refreshing but not overly sweet. These fruity cocktails can be a real hit or miss on going overboard on the sweetness, but the Peach Mason was balanced well. It was a bonus that I noticed their straws are compostable!
Wendell Falls Parkside Menu Selections: Catering to Different Preferences
After browsing the mostly classically American/Southern menu and deciding between a couple of options (I love some shrimp and grits), I decided to try the steakhouse salad. My husband ordered the fried buffalo chicken sandwich with a side of mac and cheese. Since it was so early, we skipped ordering appetizers, although the fried pickle spears were calling my name (next time!).
While I’m not exactly a vegetarian now, I was for a few years, so I always try to look at the menu’s non-meat options. It was nice to see that quite a few salads could be meat-free. They also offer a veggie burger substitute for all their burger dishes, making this an excellent option for vegetarians to dine. However, I didn’t see any obvious choices for those with vegan or gluten-free dietary needs, so I would call beforehand to see if the restaurant can accommodate that.
Dining Experience: Conversation Amidst the Bustle
We hung out and chatted about life while we waited for our food. If you want a more intimate conversation, you should come in during their less busy hours. As we sat there waiting for our food, more and more people began to filter in and get seated. Since the restaurant’s decor is open ductwork, polished cement floors, and wooden chairs, the acoustics bounce a lot of noise around, making it a bit harder to hear the busier it got. However, there is something to say about being around such a high-energy place! It feels great to see local businesses in our community succeeding!
Delicious Entrees: Steakhouse Salad and the Fried Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
Our food came out after a brief wait, and we dived in. I was impressed with the amount of sirloin steak on my salad. Honestly, between the steak, egg, bacon, and nuts in my salad, my salad was loaded with protein, leaving me extremely satisfied by the end of the meal. My sirloin was cooked perfectly and was incredibly tender. It tasted more like a filet to me than a sirloin. The greens were fresh and plentiful.
My husband’s chicken sandwich was also pretty delicious. The chicken breast was large and crispy yet tender. My husband got the mac and cheese for a side dish, which we both agreed tasted like your classic, creamy side dish. Next time, I’m looking forward to trying more of their side dishes since they had quite a few options on the menu. We were way too full for dessert, so we just opted for the check.
One side note- Wendell Falls Parkside uses handheld devices for reviewing your bill and payment. Our server stood there while we tried to review the check and pay/tip quickly. I’m not sure if this is how their workflow is going to be in the future, but if you have a complicated bill that you want to review, you might want to see if they can print it out ahead of time for you, or maybe they can leave the device at your table for a few minutes.
Wendell Falls Parkside Family-Friendly Features
As we were getting ready to leave, I checked out the other areas of the restaurant to get an idea of how family-friendly it would be if we wanted to bring our kids back. I was happy to see a nice-looking changing table in the women’s restroom and high chairs (Sorry guys, I didn’t ask my husband to check out the men’s to see if there was a changing table there..next time!). It’s nice to know these items are here if we want to try to come back all together for lunch or brunch.
Treelight Square: A Growing Hub of Activity
As soon as you step outside the restaurant, you are in the Treelight Square area, which has cafe lights, an artificial turf area, and a splash pad over by Don Betos. Since we ate so early, the sun was setting, so I didn’t see the area in all its lit-up magic. But I assume there is some nice ambiance there once it gets a bit darker.
Even though it is still growing, I couldn’t help but look around all that was in Treelight Square that night. I remembered how, less than a year ago, no businesses were open in that section yet. That night, the square around Wendell Falls Parkside had people walking by. Other people waited outside to get in. I couldn’t help but think of how different this area will look in one more year as more businesses continue to enter this space and more residents quickly fill the homes built in this gorgeous neighborhood and all the other new surrounding developments.
I snapped out of my pondering about how progress and time march on and took a look at my husband. I was grateful for the time we had for just us. And then, once again, we headed home.