2019 has been a great year for restaurants and food in Raleigh and the year is finishing off with a bang! The opening of the long-awaited High Horse at City Market is a great way to end the year. Brought to you by Top Chef alumni, Katsuji Tanabe, High Horse presents a slick and modern take on live-fire (cooking over wood) cuisine. This upscale and sexy spot is bringing it in terms of food, decor and service, color me impressed. So here’s what to expect if you head out to get your High Horse on!
Head on over to the corner of Blount and Wolfe street and you’ll spy a large, gravel patio area with lights strung overhead. You’ll see a black, metalwork gate in the corner which leads you to the slightly, hidden entrance of High Horse. Right inside you’ll find a hostess kiosk and the delicious odors coming off the wood-fired grills will hit you immediately! The whole, dining space is a large L-shape and features an exquisite, multi-level bar with sinuous curves. Energetic dance music comes out of overhead speakers giving the restaurant a South Florida or LA feel. And in the back, there’s a main dining room with pendant lamps and greenery overhead creating a relaxing, garden-like atmosphere.
In the corner of High Horse’s interior is their showcase kitchen complete with wood-fired grills, flaming up and smoke wafting out. While they’ve got an extensive hood over the grills, do expect the smoke to permeate some of the space in the dining room. For some, it may just whet your appetite! The menu at High Horse is pretty tight with a handful of salads, sharing plates, large plates and sides from $8 to $18. Cocktails on the menu are super reasonable at $7 to $11 and across a variety of styles along with the usual wine and beer. But it seems silly not to go the cocktail route here and I put in my dinner order.
I go with the Drama Starter (jalapeno, chive, and cilantro infused tequila, lime, triple sec) cocktail which seems like a spin on the classic margarita. My starter dish is the roasted shrimp with togarashi almond salsa. Five large, grilled head-on shrimp on a plate flecked with visible salt crystals presents a simple plate. The shrimp shells are charred a bit from the fire and it’s recommended that you eat the shrimp, shells and all. The shrimp is perfectly cooked with plenty of tender meat and savory flavor on the outside. I try the shrimp with both shells-on and shells-off, both are tasty with a lot of texture so you make the choice!
For the flat iron steak, a large plate of charred, slices of beef are served up in salsa and onion relish. A slow-roasted garlic bud sits on top and Chef Katsuji personally comes over to squeeze the soft, garlic confit out on my dish. The steak is cooked perfectly medium with a pink inside and plays off well with the salsa and garlic. The plate is certainly large enough to share, especially if you want to sample the menu out.
And even with all that food I’ve eaten, I still opt for a dessert! Out of six choices, I go with Slap my Mango, a mille-feuille (thin pastry) with mango mousse and mango sauce on the plate. They recommend breaking up the pastry a bit into shards and a small ampule of vanilla syrup is squeezed on top! It’s a fun take on dessert and light enough to make it a nice ending to my dinner.
Service at the bar is excellent and High Horse has plenty of staff on hand given its recent opening. I imagine that over time, perhaps prices may go up a bit given how good the dining experience is, so stop by sooner than later. As I head out, I check out the display of food show memorabilia they have on the walls and yes, it was certainly well-deserved. High Horse is taking on a bold dining concept in a large space and launching it in an unfamiliar Raleigh market. But I can say that everything is delicious and service is well-buttoned down, showing off a sophistication that is not always seen here in the Triangle. So yeah, it may be time to get you your high horse and check out the delicious and inventive menu here at City Market. I’m pretty sure you’ll be as dazzled by the deliciousness as I am!
208 Wolfe Street
Raleigh, NC 27601