I normally don’t write posts immediately after enjoying a meal (which results in a lot of lost blogging opportunities, whoops), but due to the time-sensitive nature of this one I figured I’d pop it up. It’s currently Triangle Restaurant Week here in North Carolina, and I had a great experience last night at ONE Restaurant in Chapel Hill that I wanted to share with y’all. Enjoy this special before TRW ends (June 5-10).
My good friend Andrew is currently in town — we met back in Mrs. Maxwell’s 7th grade algebra class, and rekindled our relationship over the past year. 🙂 He had spent the previous night swilling PBR and eating overpriced seafood on the coast, and so we decided to go for something a little different to enjoy some of what Chapel Hill had to offer.
The dinner menu is an absolute steal at $30 for three courses.
Mason Jar Pate
Chicken liver and foie gras mousse ∙ sparkling orange gelee ∙ grilled baguette ∙ summer salad with compressed peach
Littleneck Clams with Provencal Essences
Pink peppercorn ∙ shaved fennel and crab salad ∙ rosemary, thyme and lavender oils
Diver Scallops with Summer Vegetable Mosaic
Tomato ∙ avocado ∙ cucumber ∙ watermelon ∙ jicama ∙ arugula
black pepper and blueberry gastrique ∙ buttered popcorn foam
Veal Four [One]
Sous vide veal loin ∙ braised veal breast ∙ forty-one individual components
Turkish coffee ganache ∙ raspberry cremeux ∙ chocolate hazelnut shortbread ∙ caramelized rice ∙coffee ice cream
Mango semi freddo ∙ mango bavarois ∙ pineapple carpaccio ∙ soft mango puree ∙ fresh banana ice cream
Note that the mango was replaced with (if I remember correctly) a sweet corn dessert (souffle? crepe?) with blueberries. In addition, the mason jar pate had already sold out for the evening by the time we arrived (9pm).
This is probably the fifth time I’ve been to ONE, and every experience has been solid. In regards to Restaurant Week, their menus are consistently interesting — I went with my roommates for the winter restaurant week and thoroughly enjoyed myself then. Some restaurants seem to just “phone it in” during TRW, but ONE goes above and beyond. Props to Sean McCarthy, Deric McGuffey, and the rest of the ONE team.
To be totally honest, I didn’t realize the night would be so merry when we first arrived/we were having so much fun chatting, that I am shamefully having trouble remembering exactly what we were served as an amouse-bouche — it was a small amount of creamy soup (I believe mushroom), with a swirl of greens and mint, and quite delicious. Andrew and I both chose the clams for our appetizer, and we realized the ante had been raised when our plates arrived with small pipettes of the lavender, rosemary, and thyme oils.
“You can play scientist,” said one of our servers, to which Andrew excitedly replied, “This is great, because I am one!” From this point onward the the dinner progressed in a happy eddy of flavor and color.
The clams were perfectly done, subtly flavored, with generous chunks of crab meat scattered throughout the salad. The oils were nicely mixed, with a good aroma but not overpowering — great to mix a drop or three per clam. A charred piece of bread anchored the salad, and provided a great way to sop up the delicious juices.
For dinner, Andrew chose the scallops, which came beautifully presented with thinly cut produce (melons, tomato, etc.) and an arugula salad. The scallops were cooked perfectly, great texture and so wonderfully fresh.
I chose the veal, which was just so so so so so so killer. Perfectly cooked in a sous vide, the loin was flavorful and tender, while the breast provided a great contrast in texture while being just as delicious. A rich sauce was poured around the meats when the dish was set down on the table. But the happiest part — it was served with “forty-one individual components”, which I honestly just assumed was some sort of sauce made of forty one ingredients… And I was so wrong! It came with bits to taste with every bite of meat, the perfect meal for someone with a short attention span 😉 Look at this beautiful presentation…
We were able to get a peek at the kitchen cheat sheet from our waiter (sshhh!)…
I have only recently started accepting molecular gastronomy as a valid form of cuisine. I had previously seen it as a technical exercise, one that stripped food of its context, culture, and love in the cold, scientific pursuit of breaking down molecular structures. However, after watching the nostalgic video of Next restaurant’s childhood menu, my tune changed (unfortunately the video has been removed due to music copyright issues, I wish I had a copy to share with you!). ONE isn’t as experimental, but I definitely am at the point where I can enjoy the foams and gelees that came with the meal instead of scoffing at them. Plus, eating dinner with a man who has a PhD in cell biology makes for some interesting conversations on the molecular gastronomy front 🙂
The only real concern I had with the TRW menu was that there was no vegetarian option (there was a veggie option for the winter TRW). I know this probably has to do with cost, set-up, etc., but as someone who eats veggie about half the time, I was a bit disappointed.
For dessert we both went with the chocolate plate, which moved from left to right in terms of heaviness: Turkish coffee ganache, chocolate hazelnut shortbread with coffee ice cream, and raspberry cremeux. Again, no complaints, a nice contrast of texture (the cremeux had the most lovely mouthfeel), although I would’ve liked a more distinct flavor profile difference between the ganache and shortbread. I loved the caramelized rice on the cremeux, made me a bit nostalgic for a rice krispy treat!
We enjoyed all of this with a chilled bottle of Chenhalem’s “Chemistry” blend, which was light, slightly floral notes and a sweet development that happily (and surprisingly) ended nicely dry — a lovely, non-cloying summer wine. Our friendly waiter kept it well chilled and was consistent in refilling our glasses.
All in all, a wonderful night with wonderful company! What struck me was just how much fun I had… Definitely recommended.
ONE has a modern, open interior, with a long bar that faces an open kitchen. The restaurant isn’t very dark (mainly due to the open kitchen), but there is a darker wine bar area should you want a little more subtle ambiance. I’ve been there in groups from 2-12 and they handle all admirably.
100 Meadowmont Village Circle
Chapel Hill, NC 27517