2200 West Main Street
Erwin Square, Durham
$35 + tax & tip
The last time I blogged about Parizade, a Giorgios Group restaurant, was all the way back in 2007, so I was due for a revisit even if they had not approached me to try out their new prix fixe menu. It’s an insanely good deal for $35 a head. It’s an even better deal if you get to try it for free, so thank you, Parizade, for the opportunity! (Obligatory disclaimer? Check.).
The Prix Fixe special is offered only on Friday nights and only for the summer. It focuses on one of the Mediterranean countries from which Parizade takes it inspiration at a time. Spain and Morocco have already been highlighted, and June and July entertain Italy’s cuisine. August will focus on Greece in time to celebrate Parizade’s annual Greek festival at the end of the month. Didn’t know Parizade had an annual Greek festival? Neither did I!
The Italian prix fixe included five courses, which is part of why that $35 is such a bargain. The first course was a colorful beginning to the meal by way of minestrone.
While I am not a fan of minestrone or most broth-heavy vegetables soups—I have a hard time being convinced that overcooked vegetables are worth eating—the tarragon gave this soup a vibrant kick, and I admired the artful splash of parmesan on top. I was more interested in the great bread served before the meal, however, a mix of seeded, focaccia, and soft Italian white.
The olive oil served tableside was very nice as well.
Course #2 was our first clue at what we had gotten ourselves into. Namely, the prix fixe menu had several items listed under each course and that’s because we were served them all, family style. No picking one option under each listing for this meal! So the antipasti included cantaloupe with prosciutto,
grilled and preserved eggplant,
a caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes,
a bowl of arugula with an exceptionally tangy lemon vinaigrette,
and olive tapenade, rosemary white bean, and chicken liver pate bruschetta.
With all that on the table and three courses to go, we knew we were in trouble. But ever the dutiful blogger, I dug in. I was surprised to find the tomatoes lacking in flavor, but the sweet balsamic served with them was pleasing. I found myself enraptured with the eggplant. Despite an overabundance of oil, the cubes’ texture was perfect, nearly the soft consistency of artichoke heart. The chicken liver paté was rich and buttery, but I enjoyed the white bean option the most. The rosemary was an idyllic pairing with the blander bean, and lemon enlivened it. That lemon was almost too much on the arugula, but luckily, there was plenty salt used to balance it. A bite of prosciutto and cantaloupe made for a great ending to this course.by