Ashley Christensen Restaurants

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Author: Kaitlyn Goalen

We can’t get enough of this easy watermelon salad recipe

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Panzanella salads are a staple of summer. While traditionally made with tomato, the real lynchpin ingredient is actually bread–cubed and toasted and braced to soak up all of the liquidy juices of its counterparts. 

Cornbread, which is denser and drier than a loaf of, say, sourdough, is one of our favorite tweaks to the classic panzanella salad–even more so because we typically keep some cornbread on hand in our freezer (it freezes beautifully). 

Here’s a recipe for a watermelon-cornbread panzanella; for more ideas and recipes for using frozen cornbread, pick up a copy of Ashley and Kait’s cookbook, It’s Always Freezer Season. Need more cornbread salad inspiration? Visit Poole’s Diner for a tomato-cornbread salad with blue cheese and red onions. 

Cornbread Panzanella with Watermelon, Feta, and Za’atar Vinaigrette 

Serves 4

Vinaigrette

⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil 

⅓ cup canola oil

¼ cup red vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup za’atar

3 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Salad

4 wedges (½ of a 9-inch loaf) cornbread

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and cut into ½-inch pieces

2 cups cubed watermelon 

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill 

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and whisk well. The vinaigrette won’t emulsify; it is a broken vinaigrette by design. You should have about 11⁄2 cups. It will keep in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Cut the cornbread into 1½-inch cubes and put them into a large bowl. Pour the butter over the cubes and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 to 6 minutes, until golden brown and toasted on the first side. Flip the cubes over and bake for 4 to 5 minutes longer, until toasted on the second side. Set the cornbread aside to cool to warm.

Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, watermelon, and onion. Drizzle with ¼ cup of the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Mix gently, taking care not to break up the watermelon too much. Add the cornbread cubes and fold together a few times to mix well.

Pour the salad out onto a platter and sprinkle with the feta, mint, basil, and dill. Drizzle with an additional 2 to 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and serve.

Recipe excerpted from It's Always Freezer Season by Ashley Christensen and Kaitlyn Goalen (Ten Speed Press; 2021)

Holiday Hours at AC Restaurants

Please note our special hours of operation during the weeks of Christmas and New Years! For large party inquiries or special events, please reach out to events@ac-restaurants.com.

Poole's:

12/20-12/24: 5pm-9pm

12/25 - 12/29: CLOSED

12/30: 5pm-9pm

Friday, 12/31: New Year's Eve Celebration! Prefixe Menu

5:00pm-10:30pm

1/1 - 1/3: 5pm-9pm

Death & Taxes:

12/20-12/24: 5pm-9pm

12/25-12/27: Closed

12/28-12/30: 5pm-9pm

12/31: New Year's Eve Celebration!

Prefixe Menu 5pm-10:30pm

1/1: 5pm-9pm

1/2: Closed

Poole'side Pies

12/20: Closed

12/21-12/24: 5pm-9pm

12/25-12/29: Closed

12/30: 5pm-9pm

12/31: 5pm-10pm

1/1: 4pm-10pm

1/2: 4pm-9pm

Beasley's

12/20-12/21: 12pm-4pm (takeout until 8pm)

12/22-12/24: 12pm-8pm

12/25-12/28: Closed

12/29-12/30: 12pm-9pm

12/31: 12pm-10pm

1/1: 11am-10pm

1/2: 11:30pm-3pm

Thanksgiving Week Hours of Operation

Please note our special hours of operation during the week of Thanksgiving! For large party inquiries or special events, please reach out to events@ac-restaurants.com.

Poole's Diner:

Monday, 11/22: Open for dinner, 5-9pm

Tuesday, 11/23: Closed

Wednesday 11/24: Closed

Thursday, 11/25: Closed

Friday, 11/26: Open for dinner, 5-10pm

Saturday, 11/27: Open for dinner 5-10pm

Sunday, 11/28: Open for dinner 5-9pm

Make your reservation here.

Death & Taxes

Monday, 11/22: Closed

Tuesday, 11/23: Open for dinner, 5-9pm

Wednesday, 11/24: Open for dinner, 5-9pm

Thursday, 11/25: Closed

Friday, 11/26: Open for dinner, 5-9pm

Saturday, 11/27: Open for dinner, 5-9pm

Sunday, 11/28: Closed

Make your reservation here.

Beasley's Chicken & Honey

Monday, 11/22: Closed

Tuesday, 11/23: Closed

Wednesday, 11/24: Open for takeout only, 11:30-8pm

Thursday, 11/25: Closed

Friday, 11/26: Open for brunch and dinner, 11:30am -9pm

Saturday, 11/27: Open for brunch and dinner, 11:30am-9pm

Sunday, 11/28: Open for brunch, 11:30am-3pm

Poole'side Pies

Monday, 11/22: Closed

Tuesday, 11/23: Closed

Wednesday, 11/24: Closed

Thursday, 11/25: Closed

Friday, 11/26: Open for lunch, 12-3pm; open for dinner, 5pm-9pm

Saturday, 11/27: Open for lunch, 12-3pm; open for dinner, 5pm-9pm

Sunday, 11/28: Open for dinner, 4pm-9pm

Make your reservation here.

Reopening Update!

Pooleside Pies © Lauren V. Allen

We are excited to announce that we are gearing up to reopen the dining rooms of Poole’s Diner, Poole’side Pies, Beasley’s, and Death & Taxes in mid April! Exact reopening dates for each restaurant to come soon! 

We will be reopening gradually, with limited services to start, and will build back to a full schedule for dine-in service in stages.

We have been operating in a take-out only model since March 2020, to try to mitigate the risk of infection for staff and guests during the pandemic. We have made the decision to reopen based on the reduction in community spread; and access to vaccinations for our staff, and an increasing percentage of the public. 

We are SO excited to reopen! We truly have missed you. That said, we ask for your understanding in that we will continue to enforce limited capacity restrictions and follow CDC guidelines surrounding mask-wearing, and will be requiring you to do the same while in our spaces. We will be building back gradually to ensure an incredible experience for everyone. We appreciate your patience and understanding—we’re almost there! 

Chuck’s Burgers To Close Permanently

It’s with a heavy heart that we announce that Chuck's will not be re-opening when COVID-19 restrictions lift.

This pandemic has been devastating to our industry, and we have spent the last few weeks thinking through solutions for survival, and how to bring our team back to work again.

We’ve made the decision that our best path forward is to do that thoughtfully by closing Chuck’s permanently, and expanding Beasley's Chicken + Honey into the former Chuck’s space. We are excited to pay homage to Chuck’s by bringing a few signature dishes over to the Beasley’s menu, including a burger, fries, and 2-3 shakes.


We love what we have built at Chuck’s over the past 8 1/2 years, and are grateful to have contributed to the downtown Raleigh community. While this decision is hard, we are optimistic for the future of our team, and our industry. We feel that we will have greater opportunity to bring more people back to work by expanding what we do at Beasley’s, and by continuing to evolve that restaurant’s offerings.

We have not yet decided on a reopening timeline at this time, as we continue to research and develop our safety protocols for staff and guests.

Thank you for the outpouring of thoughts and support during this time. We look forward to feeding you again soon!

-Ashley Christensen and Kait Goalen


James Beard Award 2019Outstanding Chef James Beard Award 2014Best Chef: Southeast
2019 James Beard AwardOutstanding Chef 2014 James Beard AwardBest Chef: Southeast
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Beasley's Chicken + Honey,
Fox Liquor Bar

237 S. Wilmington St, Raleigh NC, 27601

[919] 322-0127, 322-0126, 322-0128 Respectively

Bridge Club

105 W. Hargett St, Raleigh NC, 27601

Death & Taxes

105 W. Hargett St, Raleigh NC, 27601

[984] 242-0218

Poole's Diner

426 S. McDowell St, Raleigh NC, 27601

[919] 832-4477

Poole'side Pies

428 S. McDowell St, Raleigh NC, 27601

[919] 803-8660