Chapel Hill: Kitchen

I do not mind driving to Raleigh or to Durham to have a great meal, but I was instantly joyous when I was able to dine at a place only a block away from my house.  Living close to Franklin Street, you hear about the same places over and over again, but Kitchen was never spoken of because it is such a well-kept secret.  It is set in a very intimate setting and caters to a more mature crowd.  I was instantly attracted to the decor mimicking the setting of an actual kitchen, aprons hanging on the walls and dish towels used in place of cloth napkins.

To start us off we ordered the Goat Cheese and Onion Tart, which I was really excited about because my mother makes an onion pie that is similar except she uses gruyere instead of goat cheese. This was definitely a great start to a wonderful time with a friend.   I was not expecting the structure of the tart–instead of mixing the goat cheese and the onions together it was more similar to a layered tart with a spongey (probably egg / goat cheese combination) first layer and then an onion layer before the crust.  And they did not skimp out on the use of goat cheese, which was awesome because I LOVE GOAT CHEESE!   Great dish, I just wish they would have lightly drizzled a sweet vinaigrette (raspberry) over the tart–this fruity sweetness would have brought out the naturally sweet flavors of the goat cheese and the sauteed onions.

For my next course, I opted for the mussels mariniére, which is a white wine based broth with garlic, herbs and butter.  Most restaurants use farm raised mussels, so I am never too worried when ordering these in a nice dining environment. The mussels themselves were great–they were juicy, fat and not chewy.  However, the mariniére was just not what  I expected.  Instead of bringing lots of flavor to the mussels, it was almost as if they just put a water/butter broth at the bottom of the bowl.  I could barely taste the garlic, let alone, the white wine.  If ordering the mussels, I strongly recommend choosing a different one of their four sauces to pair it with.

 I am not a huge fan of fries, so when I saw that the mussels came with a side of fries I asked the waiter if I could make a substitution.  He was very accommodating and allowed me to substitute the fries for a cup of French Green Lentils with Bacon.  I was ecstatic that I was able to do this.  The lentils gave off a fresh, homey taste and there were chunks of bacon throughout the mix that did not overpower the natural flavor of the lentils.

 My friend Morgan ordered the Potato Gnocchi, which was served with roasted vegetables and a ricotta salata.  I did not get a chance to taste this dish, but she said it was awesome and it looked great!!  Other than a soup or salad, this dish is probably the best option for a vegetarian, as most all of the dishes on the menu either have meat or fish in them.

I definitely recommend giving this place a shot, just remember if you order the mussels pair it with a different style sauce (unless you are looking for a really bland flavored dish).  The majority of their dishes are moderately priced, but as with most restaurants there are some dishes that are a bit more pricey, but of course with increased price, an increase in quality is expected.  A good meal for the  price we paid!  Please comment about your experience, I would love to hear about what dishes you tried!

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