107 West Main Street
Smaller Plates/Apps: $8–$16
Tasting Menus from 3 to 7 courses: $40–$95
Revolution is a downtown Durham restaurant with a lot of buzz. It’s quite popular, even midweek, and can get a bit loud when full.
It’s got a sleek interior with a heavy emphasis on white, from the detailed metal lamps, plates and tablecloths, to the row of mirrors on the back wall, except for the red and gold pattern of the booths.
The bar side of the room has a huge tapestry on the wall and, to me, seems a little more vivacious than the dining room proper.
I went with a group of friends and we all ordered three courses’ worth of food, though not the three-course tasting menu, which I would love to try in the future. Or the seven course one. Who wants to take me out? It’s worth noting the categories on their menu: chilled/raw (carpaccio, oyster bar, salad), tasting (for those looking for the complete experience), small (starters or small plates), big (most entrees), and second mortgage (beef entrees). There were also pretty inexpensive flights of wine available, along with a cocktail and beer list. I opted for the Pink Salt and Pepper Martini to guide me through my evening.
It’s a great gin martini, for those of you who like gin a little more than I do.
My appetizer, the Haystack Shrimp, was my favorite course of the night.
The shrimp were wrapped in either lightly fried or toasted noodles that might have been angel hair. One friend offered rice noodles as an option, but they didn’t seem the right texture for that. The thick shrimp were then smothered with a lemon and basil aioli. The aioli was fantastic, very vibrant, and the shrimp held up quite well under its bold flavor. I’m not sure what the orange sauce was, but it had a very mild roasted chili flavor to it that provided a nice contrast to the bold aioli.
One of my friends adored her foie gras “BLT” with tomato, Serrano bacon, arugula, and some very thin potato strips.
I think that dish might have had the best presentation, but I didn’t try it. That whole foie gras deal grosses me out.
Next up, I had the poached halibut with warm saffron coulis, watercress, and sunchoke—oh wait, that’s what I meant to have! Somehow, I managed to say “pork chop” instead of “halibut,” which I didn’t realize until the course appeared. My companions all confirmed that I had, indeed, ordered the pork chop. Luckily for me, it was very good.
I’m not entirely sure of the ingredient list, but the succulent, perfectly seasoned chop was served over roasted beets and a few bites of potato. Endive and pear were piled on top, with fresh, amazingly good gorgonzola on top of that. Okay, I admit it; this dish was all about the cheese for me. I would have liked thicker slices of the pear and endive rather than julienned to combine better with it. The beets and potatoes were fine, and the pork really was good, even though I’m not someone who can just dig her way through a slab of meat; this meat, at least, was worth the cutting for me. But that gorgonzola . . . yum, yum, yum.
Of course, we had dessert, and every single option sounded great to me. I settled on the lime napoleon, made with lime curd sandwiched between achiote wafers and served with a strawberry compote.
Definitely a good choice for lime lovers, but only as long as you make sure to get some compote on every bite. The lime is too intense without it, but together, it’s great. I think I could probably eat a dozen of the wafers in quick succession.
I was pretty darn happy with my Revolution experience, but I think I’d rather spend the evening at the bar than in the dining space. Most people would probably find it intimate and cozy, but for my people-watching ways, I felt a little stifled (not due to the company, of course!). The food was very good, and I’m excited to try it again sometime for a tasting menu.