By Kathy M. Newbern ©2012
I had a delicious visit yesterday (March 29) to Durham’s Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club located on Duke University’s West Campus as part of a small group invited to the first-ever Fairview Dining Room Seasonal Menu Bloggers Lunch.
Executive Chef Jason Cunningham plied us with wonderful creations from his Spring Menu, which just premiered. Over lunch, at tables for four on the awning-covered outdoor patio, we watched golfers on a bright green fairway just beyond a low row of blooming spring flowers. In the distance is a downtown Durham high-rise.
The setting and the menu would be perfect for Easter brunch, a Mother’s Day outing, or a night out if the beautiful weather is bringing guests to your house.
The Fairview Dining Room inside is elegantly appointed and has earned the AAA Four-Diamond award.
For our luncheon, each course was titled — “bloom” for the appetizer, “sprout” for the salad, onward to “blossom” for the entrée, and ending deliciously with “flourish” for dessert.
Start to finish, the event and the food were a huge success.
Here’s what we sampled course by course:
• Ahi Tuna Tartare, featuring citrus shaved fennel, chickpeas, cucumber, tomato, smoked sea salt, avocado mousse, and finishing with a cumin lime vinaigrette (hear the chef discuss it and more in the accompanying video);
• Spring Salad, featuring artesian blend baby lettuce, strawberries, feta cheese from a local purveyor, shaved vidahlia onions (always one of my seasonal favorites), roasted pecans, and finished with honey poppyseed dressing. A tasty Spring Sweet Pea Soup was delightfully presented alongside the salad in a petite cup — I wanted more;
• The duo entrée was Chesapeake Wild Striped Bass and Pan Roasted Rack of Lamb. The perfectly-cooked fish, featured Elodie Farms goat cheese polenta (the cheesemaker is in Rougemont just up the road), long-stemmed artichokes, basil pesto crust, crispy shallots, and roasted tomato caper sauce. The fish was so outstanding that less sauce was needed.
The Rack of Lamb, perfectly cooked toward rare, was served with a fava bean purée, baby squash ratatouille, and horseradish au jus.
• The flourishing finish was a delectable tray of three tasty treats. First, Pistachio and White Chocolate Cheesecake with raspberry chambord reduction and pistachio brittle, which was a nice touch. Next, Vanilla Angel Food Cake with blackberry coulis and almond chantilly cream, and a very interesting small piece of candied basil (delightful). Lastly, a beautiful miniature Strawberry Shortcake with Lavender, quite tasty. The plate also held a stand-alone Chocolate Strawberry Cream Cookie stood on its side as one perfect bite.
I sampled the white and red wines, nicely paired with the courses, and for desert, the Royal Cup Rainforest Aliance Blend coffee.
This is definitely a dining experience worth your time.
If You’re Going: The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club (washingtondukeinn.com) is now accepting reservations for its Easter buffet, Sunday, April 8, 2012. Reservations are recommended for the three seatings: noon, 3 and 6 p.m. Cost is $59 for adults, $25 for children ages 6-12 and children under 6 are free. Call the Fairview Dining Room at 919.493.6699.
Easter Buffet (including a its children’s buffet), served in the Inn’s Presidents Ballroom, will include chilled and smoked seafood, artisanal cheeses, chilled salads, chef’s carving station of Angus beef and Virginia ham, a wide array of hot side items inspired by the spring, and desserts. There will be a special Easter chocolate fountain. Live piano music performed by Paul Holmes from noon to 5 p.m.
About The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club
Located on the campus of Duke University, 20 minutes from Raleigh-Durham International Airport and ten minutes from Research Triangle Park, this is the only AAA Four Diamond hotel in Durham. Nestled on 300 acres filled with tall pines and hardwoods, the Inn is known for its beautiful facility and grounds, 271 luxury guest rooms and suites, award winning cuisine in the Fairview Dining Room, its Bull Durham Bar, and the Robert Trent Jones-designed 18-hole championship golf course.
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Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern and spouse, J.S. Fletcher, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.comand YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.