In downtown Raleigh next to Moore Square, the brother/sister team of Vansana and Vanvisa Nonlintha opened Bida Manda Laotian Restaurant & Bar in 2012 and have collected national awards ever since. When the space next door opened up in 2015, they teamed with brewer Patrick Woodson to open Brewery Bhavana in March of this year. Needless to say it is one of the most interesting restaurant concepts you will find anywhere: craft brewery, library, flower shop and dim sum restaurant all under one roof. And in the space of a few months it is rated the #10 Best New Restaurant in America.
The 45 minute wait to get seated was worth it considering Bida Manda's wait time was three hours! Our party of six tried out the different craft beers and were not disappointed. Once seated, our server Alex was more than helpful in recommending the eclectic mix of items on the menu for us to try. She mentioned that she had no previous experience working in a restaurant but that is a testament to the owners-- they hire based on a personality test rather than experience and this reflected in the excellent service provided to us by Alex. She was more dining consultant than server and the Peking Duck was perfect for our business dinner. The duck had a wonderful mix of crispiness on the outside and soft texture on the inside. It is difficult to achieve this delicate balance but BB accomplished it, so much so that the one local in our party was not shy about asking for the remaining portion to be boxed up so his Mrs. could try it later that night. The homemade buns were soft and pleasing to the palate and out of experience, Alex knew we would be asking for more so she placed a second order ahead of time. This is what separates Brewery Bhavana (and Bida Manda) from so many other restaurants: the meticulous attention to detail and quality that has patrons cuing for hours to get a table. The next time I am in Raleigh I will head for Moore Square and visit Brewery Bhavana again (and hopefully get into Bida Manda too)!