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Recommendations for Chapel Hill or Durham

My wife and I will be in Chapel Hill the last weekend in January, and we'd like to have a nice dinner out on Saturday night. Friends have recommended Magnolia Grill and Revolution in Durham. Any thoughts on these two restaurants or others? Also, any brunch recommendations? Thanks.

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  1. Both are good selections. Mangolia has been around longer for sure. I like Watts Grocery and will be heading to Vin Rouge tonight and can report back on that later (these are also in Durham). Bonn Soiree and CrossRoads in Carolina Inn both in Chapel Hill will do as well.

    I don't know much about the brunch places in the area outside of what I've been told. I've had brunch at Watts Grocery and Guglhupf (both in Durham). I thought they were both fine but maybe I'm just not a brunch type of person.

    6 Replies
    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

      Vin Rouge was really great! We got there around 6:30 before the rush of a Friday evening. Everything we had was tasty. They start you with some chewy bread and an Olive Oil with I think was an olive tapenade (or something of the sort). We then had an appetizer of Bacon Confiture. This is a plate with a different type of bread on it, a small batch of mixed greens and a jar full of what I think were lardons that are sitting in essentially an onion/balsamic marmalade. I wasn't quite sure how to eat the thing but any combination works. Next we had individual appetizers. She went with a Bibb lettuce salade and I went with the sweet breads. The sweetbreads were great and the gnocchi were good (they were just a tad mushy but light). Our main courses were both specials they were running that evening. The girl friend went with a flounder over cannelini beans in Beurre Blanc sauce. She stated it was quite possibly the best thing she has eaten in Durham. I had the cassoulet. I have been to other French brasseries or inspired places, but never got this typical dish. The one at Vin Rouge was white beans, sausage, duck confit, pork confit and a pork belly. It was definitely a great comfort food. It was hot, thick and full of protein. We couldn't do dessert and we had a few errands to run before a show later that evening. We both agreed that we'd return again as long as the quality keeps up.

      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        Thrilled that you liked it so much. Definitely one of our favorites. Nice comfortable atmosphere, great service, good wine list and mostly very good food (they have their off moments, but usually things are very good). I've had that flounder and agree with your GF that it is an incredibly good dish.

        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

          If you like oysters you must try their oyster gratinee appetizer made with leeks, bacon and gruyere cheese. It is one of the best things I've ever eaten - almost decadent in its deliciousness.

          1. re: Jeanne

            i agree, this is EXTREMELY decadent. i thought that the dish would be oysters in the half shell, filled and broiled. however, they have a special oyster gratinee dish - like little divots; they shuck the oysters, place each one in its groove and smother them with the leeks, bacon and gruyere. after stuffing my face on the bread and olive tapenade, it was hard to eat very much of the gratinee.

            i used the leftovers as a topping on a bed of sauteed kale, which was delicious as well. the kale sort of balanced out the richness of the cheese and bacon :)

            1. re: cervisiam

              I've never had oysters unless they were fried. I hesitate to try them on the half shell because I don't think I'd be a fan of the consistency. As far as not having much room, I went hog wild at Vin Rouge. I'm not sure if my gf was impressed or disgusted. I think she was just amused that I packed it away. I did the same when I was at Central in DC and no it's not just French inspired bistro foods ;-)

            2. re: Jeanne

              Oh yeah, that oyster dish is *amazing*. They're happy to do it without the bacon, if you happen to prefer it that way, and it is still wonderfully decadent.

        2. Judging by your moniker, you're from the city. Whenever we go to Revolution we feel like we're in the city, so I would suggest trying something a bit more southern like Magnolia Grill. Definitely save room for dessert and just go for it and try the grits souffle as an app.

          1. Also to note are that Vin Rouge and Carolina Inn do Brunch as well. I think Fearrington does a brunch too it is outside of Chapel Hill heading towards Pittsboro on 15-501. I'm not sure if people would consider Crooks Corner a nice dinner. I've never been but it is somewhat of a landmark around here.

            Oh one other suggestion that could be different is to see if the vegan brunch is going on in Durham at Pinhook and then making your way to Rue Cler for beignets.

            1 Reply
            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

              I can't speak for the dinner at Crooks Corner either, but I have enjoyed brunch their on several occasions. To me, Crooks Corner is a very Chapel Hill-esque sort of place in that it is both southern influenced and a little funky.

            2. Rue Cler in Durham does a nice brunch (try the beignets), but you'll need a reservation (unless you want to wait for a spot at the bar).

              Agree with Suse - Revolution feels like big city; you might want something that seems more like you're someplace different from home. In Chapel Hill I like Elaine's and the Lantern for somewhat upscale (but not stuffy) dining. And nearby Carrboro has Panzanella for Sunday brunch.

              1. In Chapel Hill my choices would be Bonne Soiree for dinner and Carolina Inn for bunch. In Durham, Four Square for dinner and Piedmont for brunch.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bbqme

                  Second for Bonne Soiree if in Chapel Hill. Magnolia Grill if in Durham, although Four Square is also a good choice.