Love a Faire

Faire marries global influences with cuisine and ingredients indicative of the new American South, as in this curried pumpkin soup.
Faire marries global influences with cuisine and ingredients indicative of the new American South, as in this curried pumpkin soup. Chris Seward

The makings of a fast-growing restaurant group include diverse concepts, culinary expertise, and upscale dining.

The delight is in the details.

Translated literally, the word faire means to make in French, and Faire—the steak and seafood concept opened in October by Eschelon Experiences—is all about making, just not in the traditional sense of a dark-hued steakhouse.

Faire is about making a dramatic impression on a landmark location in Raleigh, North Carolina’s affluent Cameron Village. Visually arresting, Faire’s color palette pops with shades of orange, blue, and comforting cream. Subtly Scandinavian in décor, it has walls of stonework, a waterfall serving as the centerpiece in the main dining room, and glorious floor-to-ceiling windows that invite interest from pedestrians.

Gaurav “G” Patel, owner and founder of Eschelon Experiences, describes it as “mid-century modern,” and says securing the location took years but was key to the plan.

Faire could be the group’s crowning glory, except that each of its concepts has achieved prominence in the market as well: Mura, the modern Japanese enclave in Raleigh’s North Hills, was the group’s first acquisition in 2006. The Oxford, an upscale British gastro-pub, opened in the center of the city in 2008; Cameron Bar & Grill, also in Cameron Village, opened in 2011, followed by Zinda, an upscale Asian and Indian restaurant in the downtown area. Each has a highly coveted address, an elevated menu, and a lively bar scene.

Still, at a grand-opening dinner hosted by Patel in October, there was no denying the enthusiasm for Faire. “This is our first steak and seafood restaurant, so there’s no cannibalization of our other concepts,” he says. There is, however, a commitment to marry global influences and cuisine of the new American South.

The dinner launched with a Lamb Corn Dog served with mint and honey-chipotle mustard and paired with a light IPA from Triangle Brewing Company. Lobster Mac and Cheese, with Pimiento cheese, peas, and carrots, was followed by Pink Peppercorn Crusted Tuna, accented with curried greens, foie gras, banana polenta, and orange-vanilla coconut milk. Chorizo-spiced Pork Belly with lime ricotta, apples, and black-eyed pea mole completed the entrées.

“Drawing influence from fare of the South, refined global cuisine, and local history, Faire represents both a step forward and backward in time,” Patel says. While seafood is sourced from other regions, a partnership with Mills Family Farm in Mooresville, North Carolina, will yield the restaurant’s supply of beef—all of which is pasture-raised and free of added hormones.

Faire seats 120 inside, 45 on its patio, and 20 in its private dining room, which can also serve 40 in a cocktail-style event.

Last month, Eschelon opened its sixth concept, Basan, in neighboring Durham. Billed as “Bull City sushi,” the ancient mythological name translates to fire-breathing chicken, suggesting the group’s penchant for creative dining experiences keeps growing.

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