Very good Asian Fusion. Went on a Friday night without reservations. I had called earlier in the day to make them, but they were full. The person on the phone said to come around 8:00 or 8:30 to get on the waiting list. She said it would be about an hour wait. We went at 8:00, got on the list and at 9:00 they seated us. We hung out in the bar area in the meantime and it was fine. Once seated, the service was excellent. The waiter was very knowledgeable about the dishes, not to mention courteous and prompt. I had the tea-smoked chicken and my wife has the steamed stripped bass - both excellent. Almost for got to mention - I had the bento box as an appetizer. It's basically roll your own sushi, but the presentation is very cool. The dessert we had ordered was excellent. All in all, a really good experience. We'll definitely be back.
Best Asian Fusion in the Triangle. I've been to the Lantern Restaurant and it's bar on several occasions. The food has always been excellent. I've been to many asian fusion restaurants -Slanted Door, Buddakan - and the Lantern's food is among the best. Their pork, fish, and lamb entrees have been great! Try their special farm dinners as well - they're really wonderful. The decor is sleek and minimalist in the main dining area, and more trendy and very dark in the bar. The service has always been good - however, it is not the level that I would expect from a "Gourmet Magazine top 50" restaurant. But maybe that is not the goal of this restaurant. My only real complaint is that in the past the desserts have been uneven - it's been mostly pretty decent but I've had some boring and bad dishes. A pavlova is not a super sugary crunchy merengue - and it was nearly inedible with the overwhelming sugary-ness of the sorbet and fruit. Overall, I love this restaurant, definitely the best I've been to in the Triangle.
Cool ambience and fiery flavors teach a fabulous lesson in contrast..
An Asian-inspired atmosphere boiled down to the essentials: green-tea colored walls, sleek black tables, iridescent paper lanterns that hang from the ceiling like mismatched baubles. Lantern fills a niche in Chapel Hill with its nouveau-funky attitude, but even casual diners will feel comfortable gathering here. The steamed black cod is light and succulent, perfectly flavored with ginger, scallions and black beans. For dessert, the hot chocolate cake with ginger ice cream is near perfect.
Good but not consistent. Our first visit to the Lantern was fabulous! We ate in the bar and had only drinks and appetizers. On our second visit we had entrees and were less pleased. The dining room is nice, but doesn't have as much ambience as the bar. The appetizers far surpass the entrees in creativity, value and are just better all around. The entrees we found uninspired and more basic. The flounder dish (whole flounder) was highly recommended, yet we found that it had very little actual meat on the fish and had no unique side accompanying dish. Overall, we like the restaurant, but haven't had the same unique experience as the first time we dined there. We feel that it is a bit inconsistent.
Excellent experience in the bar on two occasions.. We've been to Lantern's back bar for food and drinks on two occasions over many weeks. We found consistently high quality in the service, drinks and food provided. The food is rewarding if you are in an adventurous mood and willing to take a chance. The deserts have been excellent. We'll definitely go back.
Not real happy. The Lantern is spotty. It is sometimes great and it is sometimes very poor. The appetizers are probably the best option on the menu. I went in 2005 Jan with my family of four. We had a great waiter who was very attentive. We ate wonder full dumplins with black mushrooms and cabbage, but after that it was downhill. The special was a Tom Yum type dish that included shrimp, squid, scallops and mussels in broth and noodles. The sauce tasted like dishwater. The spice condoment you could ad made it taste like spicy dishwater. There was no citrus or great exciting flavor her. My companion was served a pork shank with no knife other than a table butter knife to cut it with. Overall four of us ate for $115 and it was very disappointing for the price. I have had better at for a lot less
Great Value! One to try!!!. Went here for our anniversary. Promptly seated. Weeknight. No reservations. Appetizer: Lantern Pork--OK,not for sharing (only 5 pcs). Entree: Tea & Spice Chicken--A+, Pork Tenderloin--A+. Dessert: Fresh fruit w/ creme--OK, again not for sharing. Entree serving: Adequate. Server: Helpful but not intrusive. Place was not as big as we thought. Ambience: dim lights w/lanterns. Crowd: Casual but trendy. No dirty torn jeans and worn-out t-shirts here. There is a bar upstairs, no smoking before 11pm (as bad as NYC, i thought). The value was remarkable. For the food that we had, we only spent a total of $60! Wine/glass is around $8 so you may want to tack this on to your budget. From one coming from NY, this place is truly special. And just like the 'in' clubs in Manhattan, this place doesn't have a sign outside--just a lantern symbol so look out for that.
I took my husband here for his birthday and it was awesome! My husband had the tea & spice smoked chicken and I had the six hour braised pork. We couldn't decide which one we liked better -- both dishes were so delicious and different. The portions were huge and we felt that the dinner was a very good value.
Also, worth noting, I called to make reservations and was told that they didn't accept reservations. When I explained that it was a birthday celebration and we were traveling from Raleigh, the hostess asked us to call as we left our house and she would have our table ready when we got there. When we arrived, our table was ready within 5 minutes. We were very pleased and very much impressed with this level of customer service. Overall, it was a completely positive experience. We can't wait to go back!
Best reason to go to Chapel Hill. Admittedly I don't spend much time in the Chapel Hill area, but I will be going back very soon to revisit Lantern. What a killer spot- the decor is soothing and a nice change from the typical blonde wood and oil paintings in many establishments these days. It was pretty loud, probably because the ceilings are so high, but the food was outstanding and our serverw as great. I had the veggie spring rolls, the Moon Viewing noodles and hte panna cotta. Great reislings by the glass to compiment the Asian flavors. The presentation of the food deserves note as well.
Definitely go for the food which is eclectic, great flavors, nice sized helpings that you can and should order with either a soup or a salad with your entree.
Try to share a couple of appetizers with your friends.
Best place to eat is in the bar area where the decor is nice but only if you like a crowded room. For a quieter experience if you want to converse sit in the dining area away from the bar.
Beer selection is just OK, the only draft beer is a very wheaty German flavor, domestics by hte bottle.
Wine selection is excellent, the waiters are knowledgeable, try it by the glass.
The music in the bar area should be Techno 'cos of the food and decor, or perhaps straight soulful jazz, as it is now it's mushy and sounds OK in the dining area.
Greeeaat Fooood experience !! Enjoy !
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