Vin Rouge, Durham

One of our new favorite places is Vin Rouge in Durham.  I know, as usual, it took us awhile to ‘discover’ it even after all the wonderful press and reviews.  But, recently we have been there for dinner three times which is quite frequent for us to re-visit a place.  Our first experience with Vin Rouge was brunch a little over a year ago.  While our bunch meals were good, we weren’t wowed and weren’t feeling compelled to go back for dinner.  But, with all of the great great buzz on the place we finally tried it again for dinner in February and had a wonderful experience and have been back a few times since!
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Bonne Soirée, Chapel Hill

I keep a list of restaurants that I want to try.  One of those in the ‘for a special occasion’ category was Bonne Soirée.  When I heard that they were planning to close at the end of April, we made my birthday the special occasion to try it.  It is located in the Courtyard Complex onWest Franklinwhich seems to be a bit of a revolving door for businesses.  There is no marking or name on the door, just a beautiful, hand-written menu on a stand in the window.  The dining room is elegant with light blue walls, wainscoting, dark grey ceilings, hardwood floors, and simple gold framed artwork on the wall.

We were seated and within a few minutes we were brought our hand-written menus.  It was such a treat to have such a beautiful menu.  Though, we were a bit confused by the fact that they didn’t have a wine menu but rather would help us select a wine based on our preferences.  I wasn’t sure if that was because they weren’t restocking their wine since they are closing soon.  We opted to do a wine pairing with our meal for $35 each.  It was a nice way not to have to decide or think too much about it.  We were each brought a different rosé to start.

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Locke Ober, Boston

For our March NRT gathering we decided to take advantage of Boston Restaurant Week and try Locke Ober.  During this week participating restaurants offer prix fixe menus for $20.09 at lunch and $33.09 at dinner.  It is nice chance to try a restaurant which you might otherwise reserve for an occasion.  Every year we try to test out a new place during this week and have found some favorites which we return to often.

Locke Ober is one of the old guard restaurants which are synonymous with Boston dining.  The room is magnificently elegant with warm mahogany, huge plate glass mirrors, decorated tin ceilings, and graceful chandeliers.  You almost felt as though you have stepped back in time.  We were seated and were looking at the wine menu as we waited for the rest of the gang.  We selected a bottle of Pinot Noir and the waiter returned telling us they were out.  Then we selected another and they were out again.  Finally, they had our fourth choice.  This was a bit disappointing as they only had about eight Pinots to choose from.  But, more disappointing was our waiter’s lack of interest to help us find a wine they had.  Instead he just said no to each one we selected.

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L’Espalier, Boston

Elegantly perfect! When I found out that L’Espalier was going to move out of their current location to the new Mandarin Hotel we decided our anniversary would be a good excuse to try this restaurant before the move. I wanted to try this Boston institution in the location they have been for some 20 years rather than a fancy new hotel.

We arrived a little early for our 7:30pm reservation and were taking pictures outside. The hostess came out and asked if she could take a picture of the two of us, so kind! Then we walked into a lovely long corridor and she asked for the name on the reservation. I told her and she said she would get the maître d’. When he came to seat us he greeted me by saying, “Good evening Mrs. X, Happy Anniversary!” How nice!

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Gaslight, South End

On Sunday, G and I met some friends at Gaslight Brasserie du Coin for brunch. Gaslight is one of the newer additions to the South End and is part of the Aquitaine Group. The restaurant is in the newly developing ‘SoWa’ (South of Washington) area of the South End and in a renovated large brick building. It is a fairly large space but still had a nice cozy, brasserie feeling. The brunch menu was straightforward offering a few varieties of eggs, sandwiches, and salads. We started with the basket of assorted baked goodies. It included a Butter Croissant, Chocolate Croissant, Raspberry Croissant, and a Blueberry Muffin. The croissants were buttery, flaky and just delicious! It was a perfect start!

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