A new year brings a new vibe to one of downtown Durham’s long-standing restaurants: Piedmont.
Still under the leadership of Chef & The Farmer alum and Durham native, Chef John May, the restaurant temporarily closed for a couple weeks in early January to reconcept and rework the menu from scratch, introducing a more fun and casual version last week.The new menu highlights inspired local bites ranging from small snacks like chorizo toast with ember roasted beets to larger appetizers like rice crusted fried chicken to pastas made in house and larger entrees for the table like whole roasted fish. The drink list includes creative cocktails, North Carolina beers, wine, and even interesting house sodas in flavors like cinnamon, agave and ginger/kale.
During our visit after Piedmont’s reopen, we tried the whole menu — literally, a bite of every single thing from raw bites to desserts. What we enjoyed most was how each bite was distinctly different from the next and there were many unexpected surprises, and that’s where the fun new concept really comes into play.In fact, our favorites for the night were items from the “raw,” “veggies” and “snacks & bites” portions of the menu, basically making a meal of tapas that would include items like beef carpaccio with capers, smoked tuna and pea shoot pesto; fried mushrooms with black garlic, benne seed and scallion; braised greens; catfish corndogs, and slow-cooked grits with trout pastrami and miso pickled onions, all ranging from $4 to $13.Dessert gets a delightful twist, too, with a deconstructed “cookies & milk” featuring dried milk meringue, and something we’d never thought we’d see on a dessert menu, a homemade version of “Dunkaroos” (only this version is much better than the one we ate as kids; it even has homemade sprinkles)!Piedmont is also planning to host pop up dinners once a month, starting with “Seoul Food,” featuring Korean street food small plates and a la carte, with fun cocktails and cool music on January 31st. (Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome too.)
Photos: Tommie Watson Photography