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Busy Bee Cafe
Taps: 16 / Bottles: 27
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
225 South Wilmington St.
phone: (919) 424-7817
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Went to Busy Bee on 1/22/2010.
Not that busy for a Saturday night, so no wait for a table which was nice. The atmosphere was quieter and the decor is just my style. Exposed brick walls with a nice clean and classic bar.
First things first: the beer. This place is not a place with a giant tap list, but it is definitely a place that reminds me that you don't need a giant tap list to have great beer. Lil' Sumpin' Wild, FBS, Knob Creek barrel aged Foothills People's Porter, and DFH Burton Baton are just a few highlights from their 15ish taps. In the past week they've tapped two kegs of Hopslam, tonight they are tapping Backwoods Bastard, tomorrow Hoptimum, and on Wednesday a keg voted for on their website (looks like it will be Terrapin Big Daddy Vladdy). For the record I went for the barrel aged People's Porter and the wife got Brooklyn Cuvee Noire. There are a lot of bottled choices for those who want more options too, but I rarely get bottles.
The service was good and our waitress seemed to be knowledgeable about beer, although we didn't ask any tough questions.
The food menu isn't huge either, which wasn't a big deal because I once again found something I wanted quite easily. It's basically high end bar food, but I can honestly say that I have not had a better burger in the state of North Carolina. There are some more interesting choices too such as fish tacos, shrimp and grits, and chicken pot pie.
The beer is a bit more expensive than other places around, but I still gave it the $$ rating because the food is reasonably priced and they don't seem to do the rarity pricing that some places around do. I got a generous pour (listed as 12 oz. but I'm pretty sure I got a full 16) of barrel aged people's porter for $6, and I have a feeling that I could name a few establishments around here that would have sold me a 10 oz. pour for $8 or more. So don't expect to get a $3 pint, but the pricing relative to the quality of beer is actually very good.
01-24-2011 14:43:52 |
More by slowbie
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
Located one block off Fayetteville street and just around the corner from the Raleigh Times.
Small bar area. Lots of table seating and loft area for small gatherings. A couple of outside tables on the sidewalk.
Separate upstairs bar area. 8 taps up and down. What they lack in quantity, they make up for in quality. Always a very solid tap lineup with several beers hard if not impossible to find anywhere else in town.
The menu has some interesting twists on bar good. No kids menu, but a very kid-friendly place during the day and early evening. Nice brunch menu on Sunday. Try the crack tots ... two over easy eggs on a bed of seasoned tater tots. Crazy good.
Good tv coverage in the bar (only 2, though) but not obtrusive.
Not a cheap place to go out, but the quality of the taps make up for that.
Well worth a stop if you are in downtown.
08-23-2010 15:56:23 |
More by beer2day
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
This is the place that introduced me to best beer I have ever had. The Brooklyn ICS. A wonderful coffee stout. They also have tater tots and a great Mac & Cheese. They offer beer tasting dinners/parties constantly. Upstairs they have outside seating. Great place that over looks downtown and it's just a nice place to sit when the weather is good. The atmosphere is quaint with brick walls and the wait staff are very pleasant. They also have a coffee shop. So go and have a beer and dinner and on the way out grab a coffee for the ride or walk home.
05-27-2010 22:02:26 |
More by Ahoney67
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
We spent our evening at the downstairs bar but later found out that upstairs has a very nice outdoor deck. The bartender was extremely liberal with samples. He even brought samples of beers we hadn't requested based on what we did like. I had a Brooklyn Cookie Jar Porter and a Dogfish 90 min. We sampled Foothills barrel aged hoppyum, Dogfish 60 min, Avery Maharaja, and Lonerider Chef's wit. They had a nice wide selection of beers, including plenty of local brews. We did order food, which was delicious, but the portions were a bit small. I was shocked that our tab was only $60 since I was quite tipsy when we left. Then I remembered all those samples I had consumed....
05-06-2010 13:08:28 |
More by alohawahini
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$
Spent all of a minute downstairs at Busy Bee before moving upstairs to the associated Hive, which as it turns out was not ideal - but this being my first visit I just followed the group. The Busy Bee seemed like a pretty chill spot, relatively quiet bar area with people having dinner at the tables. Without the quality beer selection, the Hive would be just another club scene - loud beat-heavy music, dance floor, and packed with people. Nearly lost my chalice twice. Like talking others in your group? Don't go upstairs. The back deck may hold some promise as an escape. Seems to be some kind of identity crisis going on here.
Nice draft selection here - Mischief from the Bruery was my choice, but there was a good 10 enticing options listed on the chalkboard. Pretty damn expensive at $8 for a small chalice.
Service was reasonably quick given the crowded bar, but there was really no opportunity for anything other than the money-for-beer exchange.
I'd go back to hang out or have dinner downstairs, but there'd have to be the promise of something fantastic or be an off night to make me climb that staircase again.
04-13-2010 23:17:22 |
More by blackie
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
This is a really cool place that serves as a coffee bar, bar/restaurant and nightclub all in one. The food is tasty and reasonably priced and the draft selection both at the bar and in the upper level is excellent. The last time I went, I had a Brooklyn Manhattan Project (served in appropriate glassware) and a Founders Double Trouble (served in a DFH signature glass). Both were tasty and the Double Trouble was very fresh (I think they cellared the Manhattan Project keg for a few months to let it mellow out). They are also good about getting new stuff on tap and getting kegs of really rare stuff (like Hopslam and Sexual Chocolate). This has become one of my favorite beer spots in Raleigh, it doesn't have the sheer volume of beer that the Saucer has but the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed which I enjoy.
03-21-2010 20:27:37 |
More by silver0rlead
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Busy Bee Cafe is a bright and pleasant restaurant. I'd almost say it's more restaurant than bar, but that's not really right. It's a multi faceted place.
The first part you encounter is the cafe. (and I mean that as in coffee) Beyond that is the main body of the restaurant with the long bar along the left side. There is also an upstairs area and a rooftop patio. I'll focus on the downstairs.
The main bar has eight taps. Most notable was Brooklyn Backbreaker. They also stock some pretty impressive bottles. (Some rare, some pricey, but all worthy)
The menu is a step or two above standard pub fare. Yes, they do burgers and sandwiches, but they also serve shrimp & grits, organic chicken hoppin' john, and braised lamb shanks. I had the shrimp & grits as it's not something you find in my neighborhood. Good stuff.
Service was very good. The bartender kept on top of things, and seemed like a good fellow.
This is another place I would return to if I get the chance.
02-20-2010 01:59:20 |
More by frazbri
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$$
The atmosphere was great for starters. Kind of a remodeled urban/industrial. Very cool vibe, relaxing, modern, etc. Quality was good. Great beers available and the food was all organic and local which is a huge plus. Service was great. The waitress was very helpful and was knowledgeable about the beers and food. She was quick to offer me samples of beers that I hadn't had before and had plenty to say about them as well. There wasn't a ton of beer but what they had was exceptional. They had the usual micros/belgiums/imports that you'd expect in a decent beer bar plus a nice selection of local brews and hard to find stuff. I had a pint of the Brooklyn Backbreaker which was served in the brewery's special glassware which was a nice touch. The food was phenomenal. One of the best burgers (and meals in general) that I've had in quite a long time. As value goes, the food is decent but there beer is both good and bad. I think paying $6 for a bottled Bell's Two Hearted is a bit much but then again they had a bottle of Orval for $8 which seemed a little more reasonable. Also, the draft of Backbreaker that I had was $5 I think or maybe 6. At any rate, you have to be careful as some beers seem very over priced while others seem pretty reasonable. I'd probably avoid the bottle list at all costs. Overall this is a great hangout that I plan on visiting every time I go to Raleigh. I'd highly recommend this place to anyone.
02-11-2010 01:26:18 |
More by apbarwood
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
I stopped into the Busy Bee for the first time. This place has a very interesting decor. The building itself is a classic with beautiful exposed brick walls and nice hardwood floors. They've then added comfortable and attractive tables and bars. I think it's got a nice feel. They also have an outdoor patio behind the second floor.
The tap list isn't large but it's got some good NC / eastern US beers and quite a few Belgians. They were a bit weak on IPAs though and the taps are split between floors so you're somewhat limited. They also offer some solid choices in the bottle.
Busy Bee is a nice addition to the growing number of craft beer options downtown.
09-10-2009 10:19:34 |
More by GJ40
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
Visited on 8/17/09:
Unassuming place from the outside, nice space, exposed brick and exposed duct work, 15 or so places at a nice wood bar with maybe 30 tables on the main level plus a few upstairs.
The atmosphere was good, the place had a nice buzz to it, but only about half full that night and seemed to be a little too bright. Also, they had a few too many servers so it made it feel a little uninviting as they were just standing around. But as noted in the previous review, it did have a nice coffee aroma to the place and did not have the typical funk that most beer joints have.
The food was a step up from the usual pub grub, but just barely. I had the burger, it was under done, but the Mac and cheese was really good and they tried to get a bit too fancy with the salad that I ordered.
The wait staff was helpful, knowledgeable and fast. They did provide a beer menu and told me what they did and didn't have that was on the menu. I think that there may have only been 2 changes, so it was pretty well up to date. The prices for both the beer and the food were reasonable.
They had 8 beers on tap with a few rotating. Nothing all that special, but a good selection. Also a good selection of 20 bottle and overall the selection seemed to be a little more Belgian in flavor, which is not a bad thing, but again, most if not all I had seen or tried before.
Overall a good stop but I would probably go to Woody's or The Pit before coming here.
08-21-2009 16:26:00 |
More by PhillyStyle
Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh, NC