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Review of Tasting Menu at Revolution in Durham

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We had a wonderful meal at Revolution Friday night. We've eaten there a lot, but usually just sitting at the bar. On Friday we planned ahead, made reservations and had an excellent meal.

My husband and I chose the Treat Me Tasting Menu - 5 courses for $65 each. We had outstanding service and really excellent food.

1st course - Clams served on the half shell with pancetta, sweet onions and a sage butter sauce. The dish was good, if a little salty; I suspect that they used salted butter and with the pancetta, it was just a little too salty for my tastes. My husband felt it was well-balanced. The clam shells were on a bed of rock salt, which was a little problematic. I know this is common for shellfish, but I'm not a huge fan, especially with this dish. I'll admit I'm a little clumsy, but a few times in the process of getting the clams out of the shells, I dropped them on the salt, making the salty dish way too salty.

2nd course - Goat curry stew with potatoes, yogurt topping and a side of local fig chutney and a green onion and mint leaf salad (no dressing). My goat was excellent - not too fatty but tender, it fell off the bones. My husband got some fatty goat and complained to me about it a little, but all in all, this was a very good dish with a lot of fire behind it. The chutney, fig and greens were a nice cool foil to the spiced curry. It was spicier than Green Leaf's goat curry.

3rd Course - Pappardelle pasta with veal osso bucco. This dish is on the menu but served with beef bolognese. For the tasting menu they substituted veal osso bucco. I've had the standard pappardelle pasta dish twice before, so this was a wonderful treat. The pasta is delicious, and if I recall correctly, they make it in house. My main complaint about the dish was not quite enough pasta for all of the veal. That said, the dish was huge!

4th Course - Hanger steak on a bed of mushroom butter bean risotto with a red wine (or maybe balsamic) reduction. I'm a little biased because I don't really get hanger steak. It's flavorful but it's a tough cut of meat, so I don't choose to order it. In this dish, it was on the rare side of medium rare. I think it had been salt and peppered, grilled, and then sliced ~ 1/2" thick. The risotto was a cheesy, rich pile of heaven. I really liked the texture the shitake mushrooms and the butter beans added to the risotto.

5th Course - Sticky Toffee pudding with nut chantilly-type cookies and lemon marscapone cream. They didn't specify what was in the pudding, but I'm certain there were a lot of figs. It kind of tasted like a warm fig newton. It was fairly good, but really sweet. I think that less toffee sauce and more lemon cream would have improved the sweet balance.

Overall, my criticisms are very minor compared to the quality and quantity of the meal. There was a lot of food and we spent 2 1/2 hours at the table eating. Our waiter commented that he had never served anyone the 7 course menu and was curious as to the amount of food given the size of the 5 course menu. We had different bus boys, servers and even a sous chef stop by during the course of the meal to find out what we thought about it. We got the impression that we were the only folks doing the 5 course tasting menu that evening and the staff was curious about the dishes. We felt very well taken care of!

Greg Cox's review of the restaurant came out on Friday:

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the experience. Are your minor criticisms the ones you mention in each course? I know that my experience with a group of 6 and no tasting menus was longer than most dining experiences. This isn't a criticism as I felt that everything was evenly paced and allowed us to taste and talk about the food and whatever synergy created. I liken the restaurant (having not to been to some of Raleigh's fancier digs) as a big city dining experience in a small city. I hope it stays around for a long time and maybe gets a bit more recognition from major publications and maybe the James Beard Foundation.

      2 Replies
      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        Yes, my minor criticisms are the ones mentioned - so minor it's hard to even identify them.

        I totally agree that it does feel like a big city dining experience - and now that we can go to Whiskey or Pinhook or West End, it's easy to make a real night of it in Durham.

        1. re: anne7134

          We're apparently on the same circuit, as that's essentially the loop I did on Friday. And Saturday. Okay, Thursday too.