Watts Grocery, Durham

Really delicious food does not always need to be accompanied by high prices and a pretentious atmosphere.  Sometimes, you just want a wonderful, gourmet meal in a relaxed, casual atmosphere; Watt’s Grocery provides exactly that!  The space is casual and simple with loft style exposed piping and pastel colored walls.  We arrived for our 7:30pm reservation and the room was bustling with energy.  The front portion of the restaurant is bar seating and the rest of the space is long with a bar occupying the right wall and seating down the middle and the left.  The back of the restaurant is more seating but seemed to be where the tables could be more easily rearranged for larger parties.

The menu focuses on locally produced and sourced ingredients and changes seasonally.  We decided to start with the Beer-battered Shrimp served with Jalapeno Fritters and Seaside Tartar Sauce.  What a wonderful, simple dish!  The shrimp were perfectly fried with a delicate, not overly bready, coating.  The tartar sauce was a nice piquant accompaniment.

G had the Braised Rabbit Sauce Piquant with cheesy Anson Mills polenta and Seasonal Vegetables.  The rabbit was cooked to perfection in a rich tomato based sauce.  The polenta added just the right counter balance in both taste and texture to the rabbit.  The creaminess of the polenta balanced the chewy bite of the rabbit and the saltiness of the rabbit was balanced by the sweetness of the corn polenta.  A perfect combination!

For my entrée I had the fish special of the evening which was a Local NC trout served with sweet potato puree and a coleslaw with bacon.  The fish was perfectly fried and simply seasoned with salt and pepper.  The coleslaw provided a nice crunchy texture and delicious salty smokiness with the bacon and the sweet potato puree was just the right sweetness to balance the entire dish.

Finally, we decided to share a slice of the Red Velvet Cake for dessert.  It was light and delicate with just the right sweetness in the cream cheese frosting.

All of the entrees were less than $20 which seemed quite reasonable for the quality of the ingredients and preparation.  We were also impressed by the wine menu which offered a nice variety (many sustainable and organic) and all the bottles were under $50.  They also offered several options in a carafe size, which is about a glass and a half.  This is a great way to try several wines.  In fact we shared a carafe with of our three courses.  We both agreed that this significantly increases the ‘fun factor’ for the restaurant!  Our waitress was very attentive and helpful.  When we couldn’t decide which wine to try with our dessert she made a suggestion and then also brought us a taste of the wine we didn’t select to try with the cake.  She was absolutely right with her suggestion!

Overall, we had a wonderful experience at Watt’s Grocery!  It is completely understandable why it is getting national attention and Chef Amy Tornquist deserves every bit of it!

Watts Grocery
1116 Broad Street
Durham, NC 27705

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