Fall Menu at the Fairview Dining Room (and a glimpse into the presidential suite!)
Fairview Dining Room
Washington Duke Inn
3001 Cameron Blvd.
Duke Campus, Durham
As you may recall, I was invited to try the spring menu at the Fairview Dining Room last March. Last Thursday, I previewed the fall menu along with several other local food bloggers and media members at a complimentary lunch. And it was amazing. Chef Jason Cunningham’s cuisine continues to prove to me time and time again that it’s one of the best in the area.
This event not only showed off his fall menu but also highlighted the new, more casual feel for the Fairview Dining Room itself. Noticing the trend toward gourmet eating without the gourmet pretension, the Fairview has dialed down the dress requirements and done away with white tablecloths. They’ve added some new curved booths and televisions that are masked as mirrors unless a Duke game is underway.
You can see those mirrors along the wall in that picture. Other decorations include Wedgewood decorative plates depicting scenes from Duke, cherry finishes on the tables and chairs, and a new presidential terrace event space with a fireplace. I’m not sure that the Fairview Dining Room atmosphere felt much different to me on this visit, but I definitely appreciate leaving off the white tablecloths. I always find them so unimaginative. Color is essential!
And color there was a-plenty. Our meal was an array of samples from the full menu, so these portion sizes are smaller than you would normally get, but believe me when I say they were plenty large for us. The menu was divided into fall-themed sensations, and the first course was entitled Rustling. The presentation was gorgeous.
It was grilled Belgian endive with orange-roasted asparagus, wheat berries, and vanilla lemongrass aioli. It was also my favorite of all the dishes, which is often the case for appetizers. I’ll start with the critique, which is only that they overdid the amount of aioli. But who could blame them? It provided a rich, fatty sauce with delicate flavors from the vanilla and lemongrass that combined so well with the charred bitterness of the endive and the toasty quality of the wheat berries. The presence of orange was the perfect ending note to the dish.by