My wife and I checked out Piedmont in downtown Durham this evening. They just opened on Thursday and my wife has already been twice. All four of her lunch companions gave it good reviews and I have to say that it was definitely one of the best meals that I have had since moving here in August.
We started out with a salad of local greens, nothing special, but nice to have some local, fresh winter produce.
My wife had a roasted chicken breast with sweet potato gratin and braised cippolini. It was great. Everything was well balanced, chicken was cooked perfectly. It is a rare thing to find a kitchen that takes the time to cook a piece of chicken well and extract the true potential. It is still not on par with a good piece of veal or lamb, but most resturants see chicken as a throw away dish and it speaks well to the care the chef puts in overall to take the time to make chicken into something worth eating.
I had a braised pork shank with red wine rissoto. Again, the pork was cooked exactly as it should be. Fall off the bone moist, and finished in the pan for a nice crackle. A little less seasoning than I like, but I can't argue with the skill of the preparation. The risotto was also on point. I tend to make risotto myself and shy away from it in resturants given the time that it takes to get it right and how few cooks take that time. This was the best resturant risotto that I have had in recent memory. Great flavor. There were enough shallots to stand up to the red wine, and the rice had the right amount of bite.
For dessert we had a vanilla panna cotta with grapefruit and honey. Again, great. It was the perfect consistency, and the honey accented the fresh grapefruit nicely. Panna cotta is another of those dishes that is easy to make, but almost never gets done right. This was right.
So, overall good time. I guess the chef and his wife, who own the place are from Federal if that means anything to anyone. I have not made it over there yet. If they can keep the quality up to this standard going forward, I am looking forward to regular visits. I guess they already had some opening week snafus, apparently they ran out of food and had to bag being open for brunch on Sunday because they didn't expect to be as busy as they were right out of the gate.
Looks like the wine list may take a but to get up to speed, but we had a nice glass.
Anyway, definitly worth a visit. It's about on par with Rue Clear pricewise.