Category: Durham

Dos Perros: The Review

As posted at Carpe Durham on August 28, 2009:

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I went to Dos Perros last Thursday with a group of ten for a birthday dinner.  Since the original review was of the soft opening, I figured I’d give an update of the restaurant running at full-force.  I was extremely excited to try the restaurant as buzz has been excellent and I am a big fan of Jujube.  Also, how adorable is their logo?  Major points to the design team.

My date and I arrived a bit early and were greeted immediately by a friendly hostess.  Since the rest of our party was absent we decided to have a drink at the bar while waiting.  I had a lovely light and summery glass of sauvignon blanc which, as the menu described, tasted pleasantly of grapefruit.  We were also brought a bowl of toasty flour tortillas and complex salsa to munch on while we waited.  The interior of the restaurant is a definite win.  I love the bold yellow-gold colors and the fantastic works on the walls, especially the old film posters in the bar area.  Look for the one called “They Say I’m a Communist.”

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Our party arrived and we were led into the dining room which, as XOR noted, has the original stamped metal ceiling intact (love it).  I was a bit nervous as to how a medium-large party would be handled so soon after a restaurant’s opening, but our waitress was a pro and there was not an issue with orders being confused or food arriving late.  Chips and salsa were refilled regularly.  Also, one of our party is gluten and lactose intolerant, and I am happy to say that she was easily accommodated by the establishment.  She’d e-mailed Dos Perros the day before to inquire about food possibilities, and she received a response within twenty minutes of her inquiry.  Dos Perros clearly cares about their customers, which I appreciate.

Allright, onto the food.  The fun part about large groups is that you get to try many a dish!  My date and I split the plantain fritters ($6) for an appetizer.  I love plantains (had them every which way as a kid), and the plantains in this dish were perfectly sweet and crispy.  I could have used a bit more of the filling, however.  My gluten and lactose intolerant friend ordered the orange, jicama, and cilantro salad ($6), which she described as an excellent pairing of summery tastes and textures, although I think that I like jicama more than she does.

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Gluten and lactose intolerant friend’s (I should think of an acronym for her, especially since she is a frequent dining buddy) husband ordered the tamal oaxaqueno ($4), banana leaf wrapped chicken with mole negro.  Since I heard no negative comments, I assume he found it enjoyable.

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I was unable to get pictures of all of the appetizers ordered–one of the perils of eating with a group, people don’t like to wait for the foodie to photograph everyone’s food before digging in!  However, I did try the ceviche ($8), which I highly, highly recommend.  I love a good ceviche, and Dos Perros’ is excellent.

I ordered the mole poblano ($15) for my entree, which was fantastic.  The chicken was slow cooked and extremely tender, and the mole was perfect: subtle, complex, with a chocolatey flavor that was pronounced but not overwhelming.  Also, there was a lovely heat to the dish.  The rice and beans which accompanied the mole were a little underwhelming in comparison; they were perfectly cooked, but the flavor of the mole was so intense that it blotted out all other foods.  Mixing the rice and beans with the mole sauce provides an easy remedy, however.  The mole was served with hot flour tortillas for wrapping but I was content eating the mole with a fork.  My date ordered the garlic and chile sautéed shrimp ($16), which would have been the perfect amount of garlic for a normal eater.  He and I are garlic freaks, however, so I say more garlic please!  Also, thumbs up to the zucchini-based veggie side.

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My gluten and lactose intolerant friend and her husband ordered the roasted whole red snapper that came with a lovely tomato and olive based sauce ($18).  They loved the fish and the sauce, although grew a bit nervous when our waitress suggested that they eat the fish cheeks.  My friends raved about this dish.

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I photographed, but did not try, the chile relleno ($12), a vegetarian friendly cheese and vegetable stuffed pepper with black bean puree, and tried but did not photograph the baked corn pudding ($12) with grilled poblanos, garlic sauce, and queso asadero (awesome, I will have to get that next time I am at Dos Perros).  Apologies for not getting photographs of every dish!  The table was long and people were hungry.

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We were all too full for dessert, so that will have to be another trip.  The flan looked yummy, however.  Dos Perros is an excellent restaurant in a lovely space.  The staff win major points for being so accommodating, especially to the dietary restrictions of my tablemate.  And, of course, great food.  Hopefully the establishment will become a staple in the downtown Durham scene.

Dos Perros

200 N. Mangum

Durham, NC 27701

http://dosperrosrestaurant.com/

Appetizers: $4-8

Entrees: $12-$20

Rue Cler

Friday I met my friend Annah at Rue Cler in downtown Durham for lunch.  Rue Cler is a casual bistro-and-bakery in an airy, stark space on the corner of East Chapel Hill and Rigsbee.  We went around 1:00 on a Friday afternoon and the place was doing business.  I also assume they get a decent crowd from the downtown Durham workers.

Anyhow, I’m a fan of French bistro food: filling ingredients prepared simply, a major win.  Because I am always a sucker for mussels I had the moules frites.  Annah got the omelette du jour which had zucchini and mushrooms.  My mussels were good, a small but classical prepared portion in a broth of white wine and saffron with a ton of fries on the side.  The fries were thinly cut and well salted but some of the fries were a little soggy and I prefer my fries with a crunch.  The fries also came with a side of some sort of chive-mayo dip, which I guess was the restaurant’s nod to the fact that some people prefer their fries with mayo.  Some people are weird.  I requested a side of ketchup and the waitress was happy to comply.  Whenever I have mussels I always feel like I should just try to make them myself one day, but we’ll see.  The idea of having to buy something that is still living makes me a little nervous.

I stole a bite of Annah’s omelette and it was excellent–why don’t my omelettes taste like that?  The bread that comes immediately after you sit was crusty, crunchy, and excellent for sopping up the white wine broth.  The restaurant does dinner as well but I think it is more of a winner at lunch.  Also, their brunch looks awesome–check out the Frites Rue Cler on the menu.  I want that.

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Shiki Sushi

Everyone needs a solid, afforable sushi place with better-than-average sushi that acts as their weekly sushi joint, and I think I have found mine in Shiki Sushi.

Shiki Sushi is in a little strip mall semi-close to Southpoint in Durham.  They have a nice two-for-one deal which is a bargain if you order any of the rolls that are less than ten dollars.  While this is not the best sushi I have ever eaten in my life, it is pretty damn good sushi, and some of the rolls are creative.  Also, incredibly filling.  The space is large and Asian fusion-y designed and fairly pleasant.  Also, there’s a TCBY around the corner, if that’s your bag. Sometimes, it happens to be my bag.

Jon and I went the other night and shared a Nemo roll (spicey tuna and avocado with some salmon on top), a North Carolina Sunset roll (spice tuna, salmon, cream cheese, and spicy mayo with little red fish roes that pop in your mouth, I love that), a Special Maguro Roll (spicy mayo, scallop, fish roe, tempura crunch, tuna) and I forget what the last roll was but it involved some tempura and eel sauce.

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That picture makes me want sushi again.  I seriously could eat sushi every day for every meal for the rest of my life.  Just saying.