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“Pretty Good Service but Food is Just OK”

Alivia's Durham Bistro
Ranked #138 of 762 Restaurants in Durham
Price range: US$15 - US$25
Cuisines: American, Bar, Pub
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar Scene, Groups, Business meetings, Child-friendly
Dining options: Dinner, Brunch, Lunch, Accepts American Express, Accepts Discover, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Television, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Description: American-style bistro in the Brightleaf Square district, serving weekend brunch, lunch, dinner and late night. We have the best patio in Durham!
Durham, NC
Level Contributor
32 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Pretty Good Service but Food is Just OK”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 July 2014

I dined here with a large group from work for lunch in June 2014. We'd made a reservation in advance.

I joined the group late at Alivia's and found we had been seated inside, along one side of the restaurant. This would turn out to be a slightly awkward location as some diners in booths couldn't get in or out easily nor could servers get to them easily either.

A bunch of appetizers were ordered and they came out in good time. I tried the calamari soon after it had been delivered to the table but it didn't taste hot and the coating wasn't crunchy so overall that item was disappointing. I also ate a couple of the chicken wings and at least they were somewhat hot and already came sauced (which is normal I suppose). These were served with celery sticks and ranch dressing. Again, the chicken wings were just OK. There was a large platter of nachos delivered to the table to share. The portion was big. I think this can't have been an appetizer based on the size. The chips were tricolor and loaded with the usual suspects (cheese, beans, possibly freshly made pico de gallo, sour cream). A coworker pointed out the chips were fried in house which might explain why the chips tasted lighter than usual tortilla chips. Of the three appetizers I tried, I liked the nachos the best.

I ordered a chef salad as my entree. Some restaurants fail when handling groups because entrees come out sporadically but I will give Alivia's credit that they served all our entrees together (which really is the way it should be done). The chef salad was nothing special but every ingredient was fresh and presentation was OK. I found the dish to be OK, nothing special.

The most memorable part of the meal was that service was attentive and relatively quick considering the size of the group. With the other lunch options in downtown Durham these days, I'm not in any particular hurry to return to Alivia's for lunch. I wouldn't say I didn't like dining at Alivia's but I think I could get a more memorable lunch for the same price.

  • Visited June 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank NC_Expat_Traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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105 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    14
    7
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Gloucester City, New Jersey
Level Contributor
153 reviews
121 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Patio Brunch”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 June 2014

Took my daughter to Sunday brunch at Alivia's. She had eggs benedict and I French toast with strawberries and whipped cream. The food was average, good but nothing special. The best part was sitting out on the patio. Would go back but not make a special trip. The server did seem a little spacy. Never quite sure if we were understanding each other.

  • Visited June 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Blake A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Winston Salem
Level Contributor
22 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Not worth the time or money”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 June 2014 via mobile

Where do I start? I've been to Alivia's about five times and I don't know why I go back. The big draw for me is the outdoor patio on a very busy downtown corner. Other than that, there's no reason to go.

Today's lunch was, unfortunately, no exception. Once we were seated, we ordered a grill cheese w fruit for my daughter so we could occupy her while our food was being prepared. That grilled cheese took about 20 minutes when we asked them to rush it a bit. How long does a grilled cheese sandwich take to make? I'll bet you know the answer.

Once the sandwich and fruit came, we realized the fruit was not fresh. The pineapples were brown. Even my daughter didn't approve when she spit them out (she LOVES pineapple).

We ended up ordering our food to go because nap time tool over and we opted to avoid a total toddler meltdown. Once we actually ate the food, we weren't impressed. I'm dissapointed every time I go there. I really don't know why I keep giving them extra opportunities when there are so many other great options in Durham.

I can't recommend this place in all honesty. Normally the service is below average and the food is mediocre. Certainly not worth what they charge. Do yourself a favor and pass. Parker and Otis is a short walk away.

Helpful?
1 Thank Mark S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Durham, North Carolina
Level Contributor
29 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Go for the chicken wings”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 May 2014

Great outdoor dining but not a lot of shade in late Spring/Early Summer. There some tables that are over sewer covers and you often get whiffs of a garbage smell. The wings were great and a few happy hour beers with a salad especially if there is a breeze is perfect. Best time to go really is in the fall early winter when they have the gas fire pits outside and the sunlight is different.
The ahi tuna has been different all 3 times I've ordered it. It went from great to mediocre. I say stick with appetizers.

  • Visited May 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Sally D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level Contributor
120 reviews
87 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Always good food and great atmosphere”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 May 2014

This is my third time here, we are locals, and I would highly recommend if you are looking for a good place to eat in downtown Durham. They have patio seating, bar seating, or the dining room also has open doors that bring in a good breeze. Service is very good and the food is bistro style and always very good.
We actually had a small issue this time, and I was so impressed with how the server, manager and team member who had the issue recovered. We are all humans, I have been in the restaurant industry for 25 years and sometimes it is about how the place recovers and for this.....I give them 5 stars.
I can't wait to go back :)

  • Visited May 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Emily M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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