I've taken a lot of suggestions from this board during the past several weeks, so I thought I should post back.
A friend and I were looking for a casual, reasonably priced, but nice place to have dinner last night. I read back through the board and decided to try Laurel.
We had an 8:30 reservation and were seated right when we arrived (between 8:30 and 8:35). They brought a bread basket right away--part foccacia, part...something else. Multigrain, maybe? Both were good, neither was outstanding.
The wine list was reasonable--most options under $40. We had the Kendall Jackson reserve chardonnay (my friend's pick), and at $35 the markup seems better-than-average.
For an appetizer we shared the baked brie. I'm used to baked brie being wrapped in phyllo or similar; this was not. But it was nice and gooey, and served with very good baguette--steaming hot, crusty on the outside, light on the inside. The brie could have used another 5 minutes to get the center fully warmed up, but really...brie and bread, I have no complaints.
I had the "Maple Glazed Rotisserie Duck, Crimini Mushroom Wild Rice, Orange-Jicama Salad." The duck was very good, with the skin well-crisped. The maple glaze seemed to run into the rice (duck served on top of the rice), so the rice was too wet and sweet. The orange-jicama salad was nice and crisp, and had a lot of red peppers. I think the idea was to get a little tartness to offset the maple, but I'm not sure it worked...the citrus was pretty sweet as well.
My friend had the "Roasted Portabella & Crispy Polenta, Fresh Mozzarella, Roma Tomato Sauce." I didn't try it, but she liked it very much.
For dessert we shared the chocolate fondue. The fondue was served in a little dish, on the plate with a couple of strawberries, a few slices of granny smith apple, and a broken-up fudge brownie with chocolate chips. It was SO good, and very very rich. We ate the fruit and had a couple of bites each of the brownie. I am a complete chocoholic, and the couple of bites of brownie were perfect. More than 2 bites would have been excessive, though :). We had cappucino with dessert; it was fine (served in regular coffee mugs).
We had before-and-after drinks on the patio at Cuffy's, in Jury's hotel next door. We liked the before drinks/atmosphere enough to go back afterwards, but didn't care for the "scene" that developed later at night. For an earlier drink, though, it was lovely--quiet patio, nice service, good cocktails.
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