Last Thursday, I was invited with a bunch of other Durham food bloggers and lovers to sample the new spring menu for the Fairview Dining Room at the Washington Duke Inn. We were treated to a four course lunch, and it was absolutely gorgeous on their patio.
View from the patio.
Quite the lineup of food bloggers and Washington Duke Inn staff.
I’ve dined at the Fairview Dining Room once before and I loved it, but I hadn’t been outside. The grounds are incredible, especially on a warm spring day like this one was. And the food lived up to the setting in every way. Plus, they made my life easy and gave us printed menus.
Bonus points for not having to write down the ingredients.
You’ll notice in my descriptions how much I love Chef Jason Cunningham’s expertise mixing up tastes and textures—I adore having contrasting elements come together in a dish. You’ll note as well that I said four courses, but we actually had eight dishes. The kitchen prepared small versions of several menu items and served them together for most courses. The first one, however, was on its own and dubbed the Bloom course, an ahi tuna tartare.
It was delicious; raw fish is growing on me, especially when it is cured like tartare should be. The cure was a cumin and lime vinaigrette, and I loved it. I loved everything about the zing and vibrancy of lime that ran through the whole dish. The fish cubes were served over an airy avocado mousse and a sprinkling of fennel, chick peas, cucumbers, and tomato. I especially liked combining the buttery texture of the fish with the singular pita chip.
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4711 Hope Valley Road
Yamazushi is a Japanese restaurant that’s been in the Woodcroft Shopping Center since 1986, owned by the same husband and wife pair, George and Mayumi Yamazawa. I’ve been once before, at least four years ago, and it struck me then as your standard sushi and teriyaki restaurant with prices that were somewhat steeper than the others nearby. I discovered on my recent visit that Yamazushi has undergone a transformation—they now offer a unique Japanese dining experience for this area, focused on kaiseki, a multicourse meal of small but thoughtfully planned out courses. In addition to a few starters and midsize entrees that change daily ($6–$16, black cod miso, chef’s sashimi platter, and hot pots are what I remember), Yamazushi offers a three-course kaiseki meal to walk-in customers that is $35. If you are interested in the five-course (somewhere around $50) or eight-course (somewhere around $80) options, you’ll need to make reservations ahead of time. You can also request a vegetarian or vegan option when you call. Also worth noting is that the restaurant can only accommodate parties of one to four people.
I wasn’t planning to check out Yamazushi’s new options when we went, so my pictures are crap (sorry!). We ordered a bottle of the Treasure Ship Junmai Ginjo sake and were surprised to be presented with a platter of ceramic drinking vessels to choose our preference from for drinking the sake. It turns out that Chef George also makes all the beautiful pottery that drinks and food are served on! The sake was a little fruity and was a great accompaniment to the meal. Japanese teas and beers are also available.
Since we weren’t prepared for a long meal, we ordered off the regular menu. We were surprised with a first course compliments of the kitchen anyhow, and it was a gorgeous, simple salad with great flavors.
Our shrimp shumai were next, and they were tasty.
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