Lantern is a restaurant which has received acclaim far beyond the Triangle area for the creative dishes of Andrea Reusing and use of local and seasonal ingredients in Asian inspired dishes. We met some friends for dinner there a few weeks ago. The restaurant has a nice modern, yet cozy feel to it. The dining room is done in all black and white however this starkness is softened with large white lanterns and elegant flowers between each seating area.
We started with the Lantern local pasture-raised pork and chive dumplings, the fresh black mushroom and cabbage dumplings and the chaat. The dumplings were both delicious! The black mushrooms added a nice depth of flavor to the otherwise simple cabbage filling. The key to dumplings though is the wrapper and in this case they were thin and delicate! The chaat was also a tasty appetizer. This appetizer was crispy cauliflower, chickpeas, potatoes, pickled red onions and mint chutney. It was a fun take on a common street food in India. The dish had a nice spiciness to it with cumin, coriander, and mint. The only thing missing was the crunch typically provided by puffed rice.
I had that evening’s fish special for my entrée. It was fried local caught catfish in green curry sauce, with a spicy, cilantro, grapefruit salad and jasmine rice. It was delicious! The curry sauce added a nice spiciness to the sweetness of the catfish. And the coconut milk added just enough richness to compliment the spicy yet light grapefruit salad. It was a wonderful combination of flavors! One of our dining companions had the housemade red curry and tofu stew with local pumpkin, local greens, red onions, fresh curry, leaves and steamed jasmine rice. It too was very nicely prepared. The curry sauce was spicy and yet delicate with just the right combination of flavors so that nothing was too overpowering. Finally G and our other dining companion had the Korean-style braised beef short ribs with Pine Knot Farm white sweet potato-chile pancake and local Napa kimchi. The ribs wonderful! They just melted in your mouth with a sweet and spicy sauce. The potato chili pancake also added a nice crunchy texture. The only complaint G had was that the dish should have come with a heartier starch such as rice or potatoes to balance the large portion of beef ribs. In general the portions were quite large and none of us were able to finish. We did, however, manage to share a couple of desserts! Our friends had the persimmon pudding which was light yet quite rich with the whipped cream. We shared the hot chocolate cake which was nice however, nothing too exciting.
Overall, it was a lovely meal! Though they weren’t amazing, all of the dishes were skillfully prepared and beautifully inspired by Asian flavors. The atmosphere is nice and relaxed and provides a great venue for delicious food and to catch up with good friends!
423 West Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2314