With the alcohol laws in North Carolina, you typically have restaurants and restaurants with bars. But you don't always have bars with restaurants, if you know what I mean! But recently on S. Glenwood, two new spots have opened up that walk the line between bar and restaurant pretty neatly: ViewBar (View Bar closed as of August 2014) and Clockwork. While both appeal to very different audiences, both bring a bit of bar vibe to the hood along with some decent eats.
First up on S. Glenwood is ViewBar, located across from the famous Mellow Mushroom. (3/12/14- Food at the ViewBar is now being served by Big Mike's BBQ) Open, airy and fronted by a wall of windows, the ViewBar is going for part bar, part sports bar and part pub in a pretty modern space. Out front it looks like a Swiss chalet but inside the View Bar is a mix of traditional and modern. It's really hard to describe the decor other than pleasantly modern and up to date. But you can't miss the bar at all, it's really front and center in the space which is true to its name. The menu here is pretty diverse with the usual bar-fare along with some more unusual Indian type items.
At the bar I ordered some wings (BBQ, hot sauce) along with a plate of chili nachos. The ViewBar has a couple of HD TV's with the local game which is sorta nice. The space is pretty open and I've got to believe it gets loud given the noise for the small group of people inside. When my food shows up, it looks decent. The smallish plate of wings were decent, well-sauced and definitely spicy. My nachos were piled up and browned, some chopped tomatoes and a liberal sprinkling of chili. My friend's chicken and waffles looked solid but I only got a picture of it! Overall I thought the food at ViewBar was decent if not outstanding. While I don't think the ViewBar is a bad spot, I agree with some other reviews I've seen in that it has an identity crisis. It looks like a mish-mash of concepts, with none done badly but none done particularly well either. I would stop in here for a meal but would have to guess what the crowd would be like. I do hope they figure out what their story is about and concentrate on doing one thing and doing it well!
Down the street from ViewBar is the new Clockwork! Located on a side-street from the main Glenwood strip, Clockwork is a funky, psychedelic scene with very cool decor. From the outside they've got a brightly lit arrow sign to let you know you've got something special inside! Inside you'll be stuck by the rich, eye-popping decor ranging from black and white geometric patterns, a table of melted candles, a chromed torso of a mannequin, rich front room with roll-up garage door. Really an unusual and fun little space, from what I understand the owner used to own the lounge-dance club Mosquito and the decor is a bit club-like. Clockwork feels to me like a bit of San Francisco: mostly bar with some small plates and bites to keep you going. The menu has a handful of appetizers, pizzas and sandwiches including an interesting pie with jalapenos, mandarin oranges and pistachio! I go with the more subdued Poulty-in-Motion: pesto sauce, roast chicken, sun-dried tomato with Gorgonzola and mozzarella.
It takes a bit of time for my pizza and it looks great when it finally comes out. It's a 10 - 12" pie and plenty for one person. Thinnish crust and plenty of cheese on top. The pesto base makes for a great contrast to the rich cheese and tender chicken on top. A very nice bar-type pizza. My other visits have been for drinks but I've got my eyes on the fried cauliflower and meatloaf sandwich for next time. Staff at Clockwork is equally funky as the decor and food, tattooed types and quite good at the service game. And the owner is often here, schmoozing with customers and making sure things are going well, the place feels like a neighborhood spot. The crowd is a bit older, probably more in the 30 - 50 range but I haven't been here late night so things could change.
All in all I'm pretty happy with both these new additions to my neighborhood but certainly favor Clockwork for it's better execution, decor and focus. South Glenwood has plenty of restaurants, clubs and pubs but slowly these bar-restaurants are coming onto the scene which to me is a bit more urban to me. So yeah, a big round of applause to our two new watering and eating holes in the hood! I'm pretty sure they'll keep you happily satisfied with beer, cocktails and some decent plates to tide you over, bon appetit!
ViewBar 610 Glenwood Avenue Raleigh, NC 27605 919.615.1368