Category: Restaurants

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

Margaret’s Cantina, The Station, Water Rings

Friday night Jon and I were lazy and didn’t want to cook.  We went to Margaret’s Cantina, a reliably good Mexican place in Timberlyne.  The place has fairly excellent, fresh Tex-Mex style food and some vegetarian-inspired choices such as a “Greek Quesadilla” and any number of dishes involving tofu and/or hummus.  I decided to try the (also vegetarian) huevos rancheros which were oddly disappointing.  Way, way, way too much cheese on the dish; the cheese overpowered the egg and turned what should be a light and flavorful dish into a heavy, gloopy mess.  I actually just made huevos rancheros for dinner and my version was way more interesting and flavorful than Margaret’s.  So go to Margaret’s, but don’t get the huevos rancheros.

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After dinner we headed to Carrboro to catch the opening of the new show at Wootini, one of my favorite galleries in the area.  Wootini caters to a decidedly nerd/sci-fi/horror set, and sells everything from fantastic, unique works of prints, painting, and sculpture, to vinyl figures, stickers, and ball-jointed dolls.  Some of the items are one-of-a-kind, some are mass-produced, but if you are looking for a gift at any price range and you want it to be a little unusual, definitely head to Wootini.  I remember stumbling upon Wootini when I was visiting Carr Mill for the first time when I moved here a few years ago, and I believe I jumped for glee and clapped my hands a little bit.  Mike, the owner, is a friendly guy, and my friend Liz works there as well, so go to Wootini.

Also, from whence does the name Wootini come?  If anyone has the answer, please let me know!

Many of my friends were at the opening, so afterwards a few of us headed to the nearby Station for some sitting and drinking and talking.  The Station is a favored bar of mine here, all train-like and antiqued and vaguely speakeasy-ish.  Also, every few Fridays there is an excellent DJ who spins classic soul music.  Good times.

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Also, I made a ring design with the condensation from my drink.  Never underestimate the creative drive.

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Oishii

I love Japanese food, partially because of the presentation.  I mean, who doesn’t love a bento box?

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This lovely little bento box is from Oishii, a restaurant in Timberlyne.  I met Tammi and Diane there for lunch the other day.  Decent sushi, nothing special, but certainly nothing at which to frown.  The bento box was a lovely deal and came with an appetizer of miso soup.  The box came with three tuna rolls, three california rolls, yellowfin, tuna, salmon, not sure, and shrimp sushi, a green salad with ginger dressing, and a yummy little dumpling.  Also, an orange slice for something sweet.

Not the best sushi I’ve ever had but definitely not the worst, not a bad option for lunch if you’re in the area.

Ferran Adria’s El Bulli: I Would Love to Eat Here One Day But Probably Never Will

The Amateur Gourmet posted about his experience at Ferran Adria’s restaurant, El Bulli, in the most witty and lovely way: a comic book form with pictures and even videos of some of the bizarre and wonderful foods he and his partner Craig ate during their time at the restaurant.

Read the article, it is really charming, some of this food looks like martian food but also seems like it would be an entirely new way to happen upon familiar foods and flavors.  I suppose that is what makes Adria so successful: he delivers foods in a way that causes the eater to rethink their very definition of “food.”  Evidently El Bulli really lives up to all the hype.  I want to go to there.