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Durham: Starlu on V-day


Restaurants & Bars 3

Durham: Starlu on V-day

Dweendaddy | Feb 15, 2006 08:44 PM

I went to Starlu with my wife last night for their Valentine's Day special set menu of four courses.
Here's how it went....
Shrimp Bisque "Martini with marinated poached shrimp - it was served lukewarm (my wife wanted it hot) and the shrimp was freezing.... but the flavors were good and the bisque good and creamy without being too heavy.
Golden beet pate with water crackers and pistachios. Beets are one of the (very few) things I don't like... but if you like their earthy flavor, this pate captured it. They just taste like dirt to me.
Crab and avocado timbale over frisee in sherry and roasted red pepper vinaigrette - perhaps the best dish of the night - this was a winner - good fresh ingredients.
Caramelized Onion and Rosemary Tart with Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese - also served lukewarm (was this because we were on the late side and things were not as fresh out of the oven?). This little tart was a good mix of the above flavors, but the crust was a little hard and dry, for my taste.
"chicken and Waffles" - herb fried chicken over white truffles with scallion gravy and molasses drizzle. This dish had great flavors, but the chicken was lukewarm (would have been MUCH better fresh out of the frying) and the waffle was cool and soggy.
Crispy fish tacos with marinated cabbage, mole fojo and cilantro cream - this was similar to the chicken, with just a little more spice - also lukewarm and too long out of the frying.
Sliced Roasted Magret Duck Breast with currant jus and crispy shallots - a winner for me - good gamey taste of duck breast.... served in thin slivers.
Lamb Pot Pie and root vegetables, red wine, citrus and herbs de provence - this was hot inside with a wonderful flaky pastry on top - I was a little full by this point, though, so we didn't finish it!
Roasted herb and red wine marinated beef tenderloin skewers. Again, lukewarm and had been (over)cooked long before they made it to our plate! My wife asked me if it was tenderloin or tendon-loin!! A few too many tough parts.
Homemade chocolate truffles - moist and succulent.
Blood orange curd tart. The curd was wonderful, but the cake it was served over was a bit stale.
Hazelnut genoise torte with espresso-mascarpone gelato. This was good, though the gelato was more icey and less creamy than you might find at, say, Magnolia....
A funny thing at the bottom of the menu "Tax and twenty percent gratuity will be added to all checks this evening." This went with the fixed price idea, but for the easiest night for servers (no menu to remember, no specials, and no substituins, we only saw our waitress a couple of times), to force 20% without asking was "interesting". The price was 85 per couple, plus booze, tax and tip.
So, I think we suffered a bit from being at the end of the night, so things were not as fresh as they might be. Starlu reinforced what I thought of it before: a good looking place with creative minds behind the menu, imperfectly pulled off!!

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