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New ideas for nice dinner in Durham or Chapel Hill

New ideas for nice dinner in Durham or Chapel HillI'm looking for somewhere nice to go to celebrate our first year of marriage and would like a new idea in Durham or Chapel Hill. For comparison...The places we think are the best on this side of town are Four Square, Piedmont, and The Lantern. Places we have tried are Magnolia Grill (not totally sold... maybe we just didn't order right), Nana's, Elaine's, Crook's Corner, Rue Cler, Anotherthyme, Chamas, and Parizade. Is there anyone else? Or should we go back to our top 3.

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  1. Have you ever tried Il Palio? I've only had dinner there once, the food was nice (if not outstanding) and the service was very, very good.

    There's also Bonne Soiree - I can't afford to try it but it might be just the place for a first anniversary. Fellow hounds, thoughts?

    2 Replies
    1. re: dubedo

      Yeah, BS has anniversary written all over it. Much stronger cooking--technically speaking--than the other spots you mention if you're into the classic thing.

      1. re: BryanZ

        Another vote for Bonne Soiree.

    2. Bonne Soiree, Il Palio, Pancuito in Hillsborough, Fearrington House are my regulars for fine dining.

      Yes, I know that there is a virulent "ooooh, Fearrington, ick" strain by local chowhounders, but I'll bet you a dollar that in 10 years when you want to celebrate your 10th anniversary that Fearrington is *still* there, and I couldn't bet on the other 3 that way. And continuity is nice.

      I wouldn't go to Magnolia Grill for an intimate dinner, ever. The atmosphere is simply not to my taste, though when other people were paying the food was quite fine -- not as good as Crooks when Bill Neal was still there, but fine.

      1. We went to Bonne Soiree for a recent anniversary and the experience was flawless. Highly recommended. Happy Anniversary!

        7 Replies
        1. re: PeterB

          I've been thinking about making a reservation at Bonne Soiree for our 20th anniversary that's coming up at the end of the month. Do any of you who have been there have any particular recommendations on what's best to order? They do wine pairings, correct?

          And while yes, this isn't food related - I just have to ask. How should we dress? I've dressed up for restaurants/occasions here that I thought warranted it, only to find out when I got to the venue I needn't have bothered - everyone seems to dress down here.

          1. re: romansperson

            When we went to BS there was an older crowd there, so a jacket wouldn't have been at all out of place.

            1. re: romansperson

              Menu changes fairly regularly so unless someone went recently I doubt recs would be very helpful.

              1. re: romansperson

                Personally, both of us getting dolled up in a Tux and Evening gown are part of the fun. Just because half the population no longer understands basic ettiquette, how to dress up, or how to answer an invitation is no reason for the rest of us not to enjoy it all.

                1. re: fussycouple

                  While I'd argue a tux and evening gown are perhaps over the top, I applaud you for wearing what you want. Most people, however, would feel uncomfortable in that attire in ANY restaurant, three Michelin stars or not.

                  A jacket works at BS and is what more gentlemen wear. Some people don't like jackets. Fine. I wear them to class, some people wear sweats. I'm not saying you should wear sweats to BS, but just go in what you're comfortable in and will help the evening feel special. That's most important.

                  It's not at all an intimidating place.

                  I had the stuffed quail a couple weeks ago, and it was killer.

                  1. re: BryanZ

                    How much should you expect to spend per person if you want a nice meal with wine pairings?

                    1. re: schmems

                      I got three courses and wine pairings for like $105ish after tax and tip. You can see my full report in the BS thread.

            2. Bonne Soiree is a good rec. If you want steak, you might consider Bin 54.

              1 Reply
              1. re: durhamois

                Yes! Bin 54 is our go-to place for special occasions.

              2. a new restaurant opened up on fayetteville street, the mint, supposed to be the only 5 star one in raleigh. you may want to check it out. i haven't eaten there but the decor mimics a ny quality restaurant so it may be what you are looking for.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lawyerlady

                  5 stars. That's a lot. Look at the menu first. I'll be honest, previous ones have been painfully boring. Supposedly the place looks nice, as the poster above also mentions, in a big box kind of way.

                  The chef there may or may not be working on some more creative items which I find interesting. Whether these actually come to fruition remains to be seen.