Includes Six Plates, Durham, N.C.
Last night I supped (and sipped) at Durham’s Six Plates for the first time. It took me awhile to get over there, despite plenty of glowing recommendations. I’m not sure why.
I’m getting kind of tired of tapas. Often there are too many unrelated dishes with ingredients that try too hard but don’t quite make the cut.
I am not, however, tired of wine bars that offer small plates to complement their wines. And that’s what Six Plates does.
The establishment’s schtick is that is offers six plates — or dishes — that change every few days. Plus a handful of other popular favorites that are always on the menu.
Wines by the glass are proposed for each of the six plates, and there’s also a chalkboard that lists other glass specials. In addition, there’s a large bottle list.
Last night my friend Erica and I shared two plates from the specials and two of the favorites.
We both agreed that the truffle frites were some of the best fries we’ve ever eaten. (I rank them right up there with Belgian frites with mayo, and German frites with curry ketchup.)
I’m a thin-and-crispy fries fan (versus thick-cut, waffle, curly, spiced, etc.) and these were so crispy that I assumed they were twice-fried (which they weren’t).
Truffle oil is strong, and when used with a heavy hand can just be too much. The sprinkling on these frites was just right. The finely grated parmesan and house-made ketchup were perfect finishing touches.
We couldn’t stop eating them. In fact, Erica ate so many she couldn’t finish her cheese plate even though she’d been craving and anticipating cheese during the entire Raleigh-to-Durham drive.
Unlike the frites, the cheese plate was not ginormous; however, the size was adequate and all the components were beautifully presented on a piece of slate. The cheeses weren’t super-exotic, but satisfying all the same: a goat’s milk gouda, Chapel Hill Creamery’s cow’s milk Calvander and a gruyere.
Those were the two always-on-the-menu items. The one I must go back to try is the Lamby Joes — sloppy joes featuring lamb. Ummm … I heard several people order them during our visit. The sliders must also be wildly popular. There’s a board on the wall that the bartender/servers use to count down how many servings remain. We watched the number decline during our visit.
We also ordered two of the six special plates.
Erica gamely gave it a try, but didn’t care for it. Which meant, of course, I got to eat the whole thing.
It was delicious and pretty healthy. Beets, lentils and cucumbers — virtuous! The salmon cake was small and fat, and the texture (crispy exterior crust, tender interior) and taste were very nice.
I think foam is silly, but this version actually tasted good and looked pretty. It was much more substantial than other foam I’ve seen and eaten — in fact, it might not really qualify as foam, which is fine with me. No big bubbles, no breakdown.
And finally, we shared a risotto that featured pork shank, parsnips, smoked gouda, butter peas, orange honey and crispy shallots.
I planned to have just a bite, since I’m trying hard to honor my meat-only-when-traveling pledge. The pork shank had been cooked down and practically melted into the risotto, with no obvious, detectable pieces. So it didn’t seem so sinful.
The dish wasn’t pretty — so no photo. But the flavor was wonderful. So rich — with a nice, smokey-and-sweet flavor — and such a large portion that we only managed to eat about 25%.
Oh, I almost forgot about the wine. And that would have been a shame. I had a fantastic rose from Italy (not so easy to find) — Fontanavecchia Aglianico.
Even though we were both stuffed, we ate dessert — but not at Six Plates.
When we’d driven up to the shopping center I nearly squealed with delight when I spotted Local Yogurt. You might recall I enjoyed frozen yogurt far too often when Raleigh’s only LoYo was operating in my neighborhood strip center. I’ve missed it terribly since it closed.
I was so happy to have some (original tart, please — with honey and almonds) that I didn’t even think about taking a photo. And I finished my serving though I only planned to eat a bite or two. And I ate it so enthusiastically I dribbled on myself and went home a sticky, satiated mess.
A quick aside — I just wanted to share a photo of a clever (and tasty) amenity that a favorite Pinehurst staff member sent to my room during my first visit in four years earlier this week. Putter Boy chocolate-covered strawberries, anyone?
Oh. About that meat-only-when-traveling pledge. I’m going to cheat tonight at the annual Toast to the Triangle food and drink extravaganza. With no shame.
Stay tuned …