Sunday, June 26, 2011

Geer Street Garden: Another Durham Gem

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Gavin and I are always in search of great new places to eat and Durham rarely disappoints when introducing a new restaurant. In the past couple of years, we've been lucky enough to have a number of great new restaurants, especially in the downtown area. The next area to be developed - with more to come, I'm sure - is the Central Park district. Already home to the Durham Farmers' Market and Piedmont Restaurant, this stretch of Foster Street and surrounding area seems to be exploding. Fullsteam Brewery recently opened on Rigsbee Avenue, serving up cold seasonal and local beers along with music and food truck eats. And even more recently, this Central Park district has welcomed Geer Street Garden, an old gas and service station turned casual eatery, using local produce, meats and cheese. The restaurant combines a lot of what is great about Durham: an old, brick building repurposed to serve great food highlighting local farmers' and artisans.
I was a little nervous about trying it out when I first looked over the menu, wondering if they would have any options for me that didn't include gluten. Although their sandwiches sound and look amazing, I am unfortunately unable to eat them. For most of the gluten-eating population, however, the menu is full of great looking finds, from the locally raised beef burgers to the giant pimento cheese sandwich - a southern classic. However, when we arrived at the restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of gluten-free options and a very helpful bartender who was willing to check and assure me which menu items I could eat. Instead of being forced to order the one and only gluten free option, I actually had choices! I was thrilled with what I ended up ordering - the seasonal vegetable stew, pictured above - but I'm sure the other choices would have been equally as tasty.
Gavin and I started the evening off with the local salami and cheese board. Unfortunately we gobbled most of it up before I remembered to take a picture but it was complete with thin slices of salami, local fresh goat cheese covered in honey, apricots, and almonds, delicious little pickles and black olives. The toasted crostini rounded it out for Gavin but I didn't miss the bread with all of the other great flavors on the board. As I mentioned, I ordered the seasonal vegetable stew, which was exactly that: a mix of all of the vegetables I had just seen at the farmers' market earlier that week. Mine included patty pan squash, snap peas, carrots and greens, but yours might look a bit different depending on whatever is the freshest available that day. Topping the soup was a generous triangle of polenta cake with sprinkled Parmesan cheese. An absolutely delicious and satisfying meal, showcasing the best our local farmers can produce. Gavin chose the local, pasture-raised burger, complete with a slice of cheese and spicy red cabbage on the side. Not to mention a delicious mound of fresh-cooked French fries, which I was happy to sample. To accompany your dinner, Geer St. offers several beers on tap and in the bottle, a short but tasty looking wine list, and a number of signature cocktails along with anything you want the bartender to whip up for you. The inside of the restaurant is rather small but the big patio outside nearly doubles the space and makes for a lovely evening. All in all, our visit to Geer Street Garden was a huge success and will definitely be followed up by more visits. Nothing beats an affordable meal, highlighting both the history of Durham and the incredible food produced locally.

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