Chef's Tour: North Carolina's Research Triangle in Five Meals
Alinea, El Bulli, Per Se, The French Laundry—chefs Kim Floresca and Daniel Ryan have worked in some of the best restaurants in the world. Two years ago, they gave up their positions at the three Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa and took a leap, relocating to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to run the restaurant at [ONE]. (And quite a leap it was: Floresca had never set foot in the state until the move.) Today, the restaurant has become known for its forward-thinking, artistic menu, which includes dishes like black garlic and squid ink pasta with baby krill. On a recent visit to New York, the couple dishes on their ideal day of eating in the Research Triangle of Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Durham.
Loaf in Durham is great for pain au chocolat and focaccia—even for breakfast. For coffee, nothing beats Carrboro Coffee Roasters. The owner is a master taster and he does amazing things with beans. I usually get a pour over, but he also makes this coffee milkshake with what seems like a pint of ice cream. We serve his coffee in the restaurant. And Lucette Grace in downtown Raleigh makes this biscuit with gravy in the center. You open the muffin and it just oozes out.
The fried eggplant pizza at Toro in Durham is one of my favorites. In the spring, they do one with pea shoots, lemon, and guanciale that’s unreal. They’re always switching up the menu.
Chef Matt Kelly at Mateo has such a passion for food. The restaurant serves Spanish-influenced tapas. It has such a good energy, and you can go with a big group and taste a lot of things. I always get the pan con tomate. The bread is from Loaf and has a really crunchy crust. And An Cuisines in Cary does both a kaiseki menu and a la carte. The chef Steven Devereaux Greene is really talented. Don’t miss the pork buns.
Ice cream at The Parlour, in Durham. The flavors change all the time, but I love the salted butter toffee. And Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop (Meats and Sweets, for short) makes an incredible lemon-blueberry mochi cake.
Peccadillo in Carrboro has no label on the door. It’s one of those places where you just tell them what kind of drink you’re in the mood for and they’ll mix one up. They serve this type of alcohol called Krupnikas, which is made by Lithuanian brothers in Durham. It has a strong flavor of honey and spice, and it’s best when you drink it ice cold. And the Crunkleton in Chapel Hill is a cool bar with a huge whiskey selection.