One (Chapel Hill, NC)

one

This place has been garnering some high praise, like 5 stars from Greg Cox and an online community buzz saying the food at One is on par with some high end NYC places.  The location of One is a little odd in the Meadowmont Village shopping center in Chapel Hill, but once inside the space is sleek and modern, with an open kitchen allowing you a great view of the chefs doing their meticulous work.  It’s not a terribly cozy space, in fact it seems more appropriate for suits with bottomless expense accounts.  This is the kind of restaurant where the dishes are sauced table-side from tiny copper all-clad pots, with extrememe deliberation and precise descriptions.  But some of the food we had was just impeccably exquisite, with soaringly clean flavors.  The rest was just very very good.  Just about everything was really well balanced.  And the presentations were elaborate but not ridiculously so.  I won’t bore you with a long review, but here are some notes on what we ate:

Some delightful little snacks came out first:

  •       Chocolate macaron with chicken liver mousse – Wow, this was the pinnacle of the whole meal for me.  Just perfect.
  •       shortbread with pimento cheese – a little round cookie.  The least successful morsel of the evening, it just kind of fell flat.
  •       tiny whiskey-honey cornbread madeilines.  I mean really tiny, like the size of a big man’s thumbnail.  Very tasty.
  • Pretzel rolls with house-made butter.  The elevation of Auntie Anne’s pretzel to it’s peak.

Then appetizers:

  • caramelized milk gnudi/raddichio jam/crisp apple/wood vinegar ($12)- ridiculously tiny light dumplings, matchstick apples, rich, thick earthy “jam”
  • fresh chorizo/tiny potato/celery leaf ($14) – cold sausage paste was not terribly exciting

Then mains:

  • pork loin/braised endive/duxelle/cooked pears ($28) – Outstanding rendition of a classic flavor pairing.  Very tender meat
  • duck/salted plum/rice/shiso/ramps/radishes ($28) – two little railroad ties of duck meat, great sauce, tiny amount of tiny-grain rice. As with everything else, perfectly cooked and seasoned.

Then more:

  • cheese plate ($12) – farmer’s cheese with carrot/coriander, calvander with celery slaw, blue cheese with apple compote, something creamy with pepper jelly.  All served with really nice toasted sesame crackers.  This was too much for us to eat at this point.
  • lemon meringue ($12) on shortbread with bergamot ice cream, black sesame, rhubarb – an artful presentation on a huge plate, a light refreshing dessert but not incredibly memorable
  • toasted chocolate egg with liquid passion fruit filling – a little surprise with the check

And two excellent drinks: (full disclosure, Brice, the bartender, is my wife’s brother)

  • rose hips/pomegranate/cucumber/balsamic drink
  • fauxito with mint/kiwi

To sum it up, One may be the best restaurant in the Triangle, as some have proclaimed.  It does present a level of cooking/presentation that I have not personally experienced elsewhere in the Triangle (though, not being rich, I’ve yet to hit many of the elite restaurants around here), although I must say some other meals I’ve had have been equally or more memorable.  Let’s just say I would rush back if I was spending someone else’s money.

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