Since I work in the Park, I venture to Cary every once in awhile. Last night I went to a meeting after work in the bar at the luxurious Umstead off of Harrison on the SAS campus.
The place was full of corporate suits and elegant ladies, but I guess that is no great surprise given its location. The bar has comfy chairs and sofas and interesting art. The staff are friendly and helpful. The atmosphere is understated elegance and warm. The N&O review from last January when the place opened is on target.
The cocktails are dazzlingly expensive. Last time I paid $14 for a cocktail was in Manhattan. The good news about such prices is that you'll only drink one so you'll make it home safely! Instead of peanuts or pretzels, each tables gets snacks like wasabi peas, pickled okra and olives.
The bar menu looked good. I had an app for my dinner. It was a crab cake on a bed of black-eyed peas with red and yellow pepper topped with a fried green tomato. It was yummy. The tomato needed a bit more salt but the rest of the dish was perfectly seasoned. The crab cake was mostly crab without a lot of filler.
My colleague had the BBQ sandwich with fries. We laughed at him when he ordered because a place like the Umstead is not the place to order BBQ! But he got the last laugh. It was really good! The pork actually tasted and looked like pork. It had a great smoked flavor.
So if you are ever feeling rich or are on an expense account and in the RTP area, then try the Umstead. The Herons restaurant is supposed to be good but I've not been. It's not on the top of my list at the moment, but eventually I want to check it out.