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Nov 20, 2006 01:30 AM

Good Showing from Piedmont in Durham

My wife and I checked out Piedmont in downtown Durham this evening. They just opened on Thursday and my wife has already been twice. All four of her lunch companions gave it good reviews and I have to say that it was definitely one of the best meals that I have had since moving here in August.

We started out with a salad of local greens, nothing special, but nice to have some local, fresh winter produce.

My wife had a roasted chicken breast with sweet potato gratin and braised cippolini. It was great. Everything was well balanced, chicken was cooked perfectly. It is a rare thing to find a kitchen that takes the time to cook a piece of chicken well and extract the true potential. It is still not on par with a good piece of veal or lamb, but most resturants see chicken as a throw away dish and it speaks well to the care the chef puts in overall to take the time to make chicken into something worth eating.

I had a braised pork shank with red wine rissoto. Again, the pork was cooked exactly as it should be. Fall off the bone moist, and finished in the pan for a nice crackle. A little less seasoning than I like, but I can't argue with the skill of the preparation. The risotto was also on point. I tend to make risotto myself and shy away from it in resturants given the time that it takes to get it right and how few cooks take that time. This was the best resturant risotto that I have had in recent memory. Great flavor. There were enough shallots to stand up to the red wine, and the rice had the right amount of bite.

For dessert we had a vanilla panna cotta with grapefruit and honey. Again, great. It was the perfect consistency, and the honey accented the fresh grapefruit nicely. Panna cotta is another of those dishes that is easy to make, but almost never gets done right. This was right.

So, overall good time. I guess the chef and his wife, who own the place are from Federal if that means anything to anyone. I have not made it over there yet. If they can keep the quality up to this standard going forward, I am looking forward to regular visits. I guess they already had some opening week snafus, apparently they ran out of food and had to bag being open for brunch on Sunday because they didn't expect to be as busy as they were right out of the gate.
Looks like the wine list may take a but to get up to speed, but we had a nice glass.

Anyway, definitly worth a visit. It's about on par with Rue Clear pricewise.

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  1. Where is this place located? The missus and I would like to check it out tonight but I can't find a phone number, address, etc. anywhere on line.

      1. re: paperplate

        Thanks so much for posting the website. I googled the place yesterday and couldn't find anything. Just a quick glance and I've already seen a number of things I'd love to try.

      2. wow--nice looking menu. brown butter waffles for brunch? can't wait to try!

        1. We returned to Piedmont again this afternoon for brunch and I was again impressed. It looks like they are firing on all cylinders. I would be intersted to hear what anyone else thinks. It is filling a niche in Durham that I haven't seen any attempts at so far. Mid-range bistro fare with locally sourced products and a daily menu.

          1. We went to Piedmont for dinner last Saturday. Beautiful restaurant-- it makes me so happy to see what the folks at Piedmont and Rue Cler have done with spaces that sat empty for so long in downtown Durham.

            For apps I have the sweet potato and bacon soup and my wife had a half down oysters. I was expecting the soup to be creamy but it was a vegetable broth sylte soup but it was tasty nonetheless. Not sure how much credit should be given to Piedmont for raw oysters but the malt vinegar based sace that came with it was a good call.

            For entrees I had braise short rib wih saffron risotto with some kind of broth/sauce. The short rib was very good but not melt-in-your-mouth tender like I've had at Magnolia Grill. The risotto was a little more al dente than I prefer and the borht/sauce was a bad idea as it turned the risotto from cramy to mushy-- but it tasted good. My wife had handmade pappardelle with shrimp. The shrimp was a little rubbery but it was very tasty dish, nice and spicy.

            Dessert was chocolate cramel tart for her and orange spiced creme brulee with biscotti, which went well with the coffee. Both were very good. Only complaint was that the menu said $4/each for dessert but we were charged $5, but I wasn't about to ruin a nice evening by complained about $2.

            The Highland gaelic Ale the waiter recommended was excellent. The service was perfect and we got our food in a timely manner.

            Piedmont isn't up there with Magnolia Grill or Four Square but I don't think they are trying to be either. Their competition is Vin Rouge, Parizade, Pops, Tosca, etc. I give them the edge over these establishments.