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Restaurants & Bars

Cafe 195 in Southern Pines, NC

Dee Gustay | Sep 7, 200110:35 PM

If any chowhounds are headed to the Pinehurst/Southern Pines area of NC (for golf, I'm sure), check out Cafe 195. My sister took me there for dinner during a Labor Day visit. When she described it as part of a health food store I did not have high expectations. Wrong. The food was quite good.

For an app, the soba noodles with peanut sauce, veggies, apple slices and coconut shrimp were good...and not a dish I would expect to encounter in that part of NC. My sister had a fine salad of grilled portobello with very lightly steamed mesclun.

Sis and Mom went for pork tenderloin with an apple compote and an interesting sauce with adobo. I would have preferred it SLIGHTLY less cooked but that's really a nit. The chef hadn't killed it. And the side of sweet potato gratin was to die for. I consider this one of my signature dishes, served up at holidays. And while this was similar to what I make, there was a spice/spice mixture that I couldn't identify, no matter how many bites I poached from my mom's plate, that really made it special.

I had one of the specials, halibut lightly dredged in blue cornmeal, served over a black bean coulis and topped with tomato/avocado salsa. As with the pork tenderloin, I'd have pulled the fish off the fire about 30 seconds earlier...but again, it's a nit, because, IMHO, the fish was only the slightest bit overcooked. Not enough to interfere with my enjoyment of the great flavors on the plate. Which also included well-seasoned black beans, a chili relleno (honorable if not overwhelmeing) and chive mashed potatoes (great, but I largely ignored them because I was into everything else).

Overall interesting menu. The chef is working with spices/flavors from different parts of the world (global fusion?), and based on the dishes I tasted, doing so with a deft hand. Not to sound like an urban snob, but I really don't expect this kind of cooking in a small southern town. Cafe 195 was a revelation and a treat. And very good service. Whew! Long post for me. I need a nap.

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