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Great service, nice ambiance, but an unmemorable dining experience (St. Jacques, Raleigh)

d
dixdiner Sep 2, 2011 12:46 PM

Based on recommendations on this board, my wife and I (both New Yorkers) celebrated our anniversary at Saint Jacques French Cuisine in Raleigh while visiting my son, who lives in Durham. It’s our custom to dine on French for our anniversary and I was excited to learn that fine French dining could be found in the area. I was, however, mildly disappointed.

Saint Jacques is a lovely place that defies its strip-mall location. Tastefully decorated you could easily forget where you are, unless you peek out the window.

Service is gracious, accomodating and professional and I forgive our server for knocking over an empty wine glass as he tried to remove a recalcitrant cork from the bottle of wine I’d brought along. The bottle was subsequently decanted, but the wine warmed up too qucikly. (I reviewed the wine list prior to dining and found many selections to be total unknowns and besides that, it lacked a riesling, which my wife enjoys.)

Dining here is a relaxed affair. We spent 2 hours dining on 3 courses, plus an amuse bouche of cream of aspargus soup and a lemon-thyme sorbet intermezzo.

I found the food just good, not spectacular, and in general too salty, starting with the amuse.

My wife enjoyed her Blue Cheese Delicacy, blue cheese and port wine whipped together over poach pear slices. My starter of sweetbreads provencal -- it was this or foie gras terrine -- over smashed yukon gold potatoes was marred by the overwhelming salty spuds.

As for mains, my wife was satisfied, but not blown away by her Duck a L’Orange. I chose a nightly special of mustard-coated pork loin. in view of the fact that we were drinking riesling. Though paired with deconstructed brussel sprouts, the kitchen obliged me with green beans (can’t have the sprouts or leafy greens for medical reasons.) The pork, though tasty, was tough and this, too, was accompanied by those salt-laden potaotes.

My wife was disappointed that the dessert menu lacked something chocolate. She was, accommodated, however, with a small stem of chocolate mousse. I opted for the bruleed pecan pudding. Hardly pudding -- or creme brulee. It was dense and saccharine. I thought I was eating a lump of brown sugar.

A glass of cognac would’ve finished the meal, but there was none to be had. (Only ports and stickies.)

All told, an okay, but unmemorable meal for $150 including corkage, tax and tip.

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Saint Jacques French Cuisine
6112 Falls of the Neuse Rd., Raleigh, NC 27609

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