Had dinner at a terrific, small restaurant in Durham last weekend, Rue Cler. The service was solid, efficient without being intrusively ominpresent. The Clarion and friend each ordered from the Prix Fixe menu. First course options included a delicious marinated mushroom plate with a sharp side of greens slathered in Crème Fraîche. It was the first, but most certainly not the last of the superb, thoughtful, flavor combinations. My pal had a first course mixed green salad with oranges and candied pecans, also lovely. Both dishes had tantalizingly wonderful plate presentations.
For the second course, both of us got a pear tartlet baked with a scrumptious cheese mixture, and garnished with warm dates. Again, it was a brilliant flavor profile with an excellent plate presentation. The only down side, and perhaps we should have assumed it, but was no warning from the waiter that the tartlet might be a very hot temperature. Fortunately, no taste buds were scorched.
For the main course, we were both delighted with our selections. The Clarion’s friend had an amazingly wonderful dish of Kobe beef strips with little medallions of potatoes and hearty brown lentils. The lentil seasoning which was rich, meaty, peppery and warm, was out of this world. The beef was tender and cooked perfectly to order. The Clarion had a sumptuous, buttery soft piece of halibut, lightly breaded. The fish was served in a citrus sauce, over a bed of cabbage and sweet vidalia onions. Again, the initial reaction might be to think it a strange combination, but instead a couple more ingredients gave it a strikingly vibrant flavor profile; tiny, sharp, salty, black olives and capers, mixed with the sweet citrus sauce and buttery fish for a fantastic dish.
Normally, hard to talk into desert the Clarion had such a grand time, that arms barely had to be twisted before a banana chocolate chip ice cream appeared, accompanied by French Press coffee and real half-n-half. All and all, it was one of the best meals of ten years of living and dining in Durham.