Wanted to try someplace 'different' for dinner last night, and DH suggested Time out Taverne in Durham (http://timeouttaverne.com/ ) . We had been there a few times for a quick lunch and enjoyed those. I wasn't too thrilled with going 'all the way' to Durham, but he really wanted to try it for dinner, so off we went. And I am really glad we did!
First off, the parking lot was FULL, always a good sign on a random Wednesday at 7:30! When we first entered, there was no one at the hostess stand, and we stood there for quite a bit (maybe 5 minutes) before being acknowledged, although the servers clearly saw us standing there--Not a good start and DH began to scowl....
Evidently there was some kind of corporate/club gathering in the dining room, hence the crowd in the parking lot and bustling servers. We did opt to sit in the dining room instead of the bar regardless.
For those who don't know, this place burned down a few years ago and was entirely rebuilt. The new building is spacious, with very high ceilings and lots of windows. this seems to have resulted in some acuoustical problems, which they resolved by hanging that sound-absorbing foam on the walls, in a 'sort of' decorative pattern (you can see this in the pics on their website) The space is really nice, casual. There is a section of the dining room that has tables and a section with booths. We were seated in a booth since the large group occupied the tables. I am not a fan of booths in 'nice' resturants; however I do think they served in this case to help with the acoustics.
We ordered a bottle of chardonnay while we perused the menu- a Wente Morning Fog, which was very good. They have extensive raw bar selections, salads, chicken, pasta and steak. They also do offer sandwiches and burgers at dinner.
I ordered the 'middle eastern' carrot soup to start, which was a special that night, and it was very good. Velvety with nice spices (cumin, paprika, ginger...). DH ordered the house salad, which was pretty large for $4....Nothing too exciting, but a decent enough salad. For mains, he ordered the rib eye, medium. He said it was a really good steak, and cooked 'perfectly'. I had the chicken alecia, which is a parmesean encrusted chicken breast stuffed with artichoke hearts and spinach, in a lemon-basil sauce. It was really good. sides were roasted garlic mashed potatoes and snow peas. The potatoes were piped onto the plate (really? in 2009????), and the peas had a bit too much butter on them. These are my only complaints about the food.
Service (minus the hiccup in the beginning) was excellent and the waitress was attentive and friendly.
We were out the door for under $90. I could imagine a similar meal costing $30 more elsewhere. We would definitely return.