Archive for October 1, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
1002 Ninth Street
On Friday evening, I visited Durham in Durham County as part of my gastronomic tour. Durham is the fourth largest city in North Carolina and feared by many for its high rate of gang activity. Durham is currently best known for the Duke lacrosse team rape scandal, which ended with the disbarment of DA Mike Nifong.
My dad and two of my brothers, Skip and Craig, came into town for a golf weekend, so I decided to drag them along on one of my trips. I did some research on restaurants in Durham and found one that’s allegedly one of the top 20 in the country, Magnolia Grill. I called on Thursday afternoon to get a reservation for us. It was a good thing – our options were 6 pm or 9 pm! I chose 6 pm, and we rolled in right on time. Interestingly, there were several tables that remained empty the whole time we were there. I’m not sure why we couldn’t have had a later seating.
I was pleased with the beer selection (they had Stella Artois on draft), but I’m easy. After reviewing the menu, comprised mainly of fish dishes and a couple of pork dishes, I selected the New York strip. Dad ordered the same, only medium instead of medium rare. Jason and Skip ordered one of the pork dishes, and Craig ordered the snapper. While we waited for the food, we enjoyed the little basket of bread – the focaccia was very good. Dad and I were disappointed once our food arrived and we dug in. I guess I should have known better than to order strip – it’s usually a bit too tough for me. It didn’t help that the server gave me my dad’s steak and he wasn’t too interested in swapping. Oh well, the potato and tomato bits on top of the steak were good, and the presentation was lovely. I think the others fared a bit better.
Next up was dessert. I am a *huge* dessert eater, so I was distressed over selecting just one of the delicious sounding treats. I talked Jason into getting the chocolate chip pound cake with chocolate malt ice cream by agreeing to order the dark chocolate marquise. I also talked Dad into ordering what was described as a lemon tart with pecans and lemon chiffon ice cream. The pound cake was just as described – and very good, especially with the ice cream. I think I managed to steal about a fourth of Jason’s dessert. Dad hadn’t been especially committed to the idea of dessert, so he turned over about a third of his pecan pie and lemon ice cream. His dessert was absolutely not as described but absolutely incredible. My dark chocolate marquise was just as described by the server – like eating the center of a truffle. It was very rich and delicious, and it definitely required the loosely whipped cream served alongside. I only wish it had been accompanied by strawberries instead of dried cherries. And I wish I’d been able to sample the pumpkin shortbread! The presentation was very artful for each of the desserts.
My overall recommendation: don’t bother with dinner unless you like fish; everyone will enjoy dessert.