Sunday evening in Durham?
We've plans to have dinner with a friend tomorrow evening, and I'd really like a non-chain place for a good piece of grilled or broiled fish (salmon would be awesome) and well-prepared, fresh vegetables. The guys had The Federal in mind. Any place open on Sunday evening that could make everyone happy?
Didn't see the responses until this morning, sorry. We ended up at Federal, which - despite service glitches/irregularities - was quite enjoyable. We started with the warm olives and almonds nibbler combo (I'm addicted). DH got the pesto chicken panini, with a salad. He felt that the bread was too dry, as he felt last time we were there, and I thought the chicken was in awfully big chunks for a sandwich, but all in all, it was good. Friend got the evening's special salad - a mixed green salad, add asparagus, toasted walnuts, and goat cheese crostini. He requested that grilled chicken be added. The waitress confirmed that she had gotten the chicken addition, the salad came without chicken. When informed, her reaction was quite amusing (to me, at least), and she promptly got it taken care of. I got the smoked pork chop special, it came with a pear & cranberry chutney, asparagus, and polenta. Everyone at the table agreed that the porkchop was outstanding. Not too smokey, but definitely smokey; tender and moist. Polenta's not my favorite thing, but that's okay, since I'm on a no-starches week, that made it easy to resist. I did indulge in a few bites, though, and it was not bad. I think there was supposed to be an aioli with the chop as well, but it was not present, and I was tired of being an assertive guest at that point. Delicious nonetheless. We were there to visit and chat, and were not inordinately hungry, so the service hiccups really didn't sour our evening. We'll be back.
How about Parizade or Verde (both are Giorgos Bakatsias')? I have loved Parizade for many years, and Verde (next door) was a surprisingly nice find. The food was outstanding, but the service was a little quirky (and, ask for proper stemware; they served still wine in a flute when I visited).
We were at Verde last Friday. Service ranged from quirky to absent-minded to just plain bad. Drinks were not refilled or second round suggested. One small plate order was delivered wrong and the one entree ordered came out significantly after everyone else's small plates & salads. I know that kind of timing can be hard for a kitchen. But if your menu is split up with small plates and salads and entrees, you ought to have some practice at those issues.
Food was better but scattershot... the burger and shrimp salad were reported to be quite good; the stir-fried squid was good; some of the meat in the lamb & merguez special was tough. I'd consider going back but probably on a less busy night. Service seemed to get worse after a large table was seated right next to us.
When I find myself dining in Durham on a Sunday night, Piedmont always wins. I ate there last Sunday evening, in fact. Sat at the bar, had the country pate & the gnocchi with fresh morels, favas & leeks. It was excellent, of course.
They're not as fish-centric as some, but whatever they do have will likely be great. And it should satisfy your Federal fans, unless their interest in Federal was for the smoke & the rugby on TV . . .