12 November, 2009
Nasher Museum Cafe (Durham) — Restaurant ReviewPosted in : Dining in Durham - NC, Restaurants on by : becca
Nasher Museum Cafe
2001 Campus Drive
Duke University Campus, Durham
Sandwiches and Salads: $9-13
Open for lunch Tues-Sun and early dinners on Thursday
The Nasher Museum Cafe is not your average museum restaurant. First off, it’s a sit down and be served restaurant, rather than a cafeteria, where you must hope to god that the carrot cake more closely resembles baked good than a brick. Secondly, both the indoor and outdoor seating areas offer great views.
Seated inside, I loved the shadow pattern on the wall that came from the Nasher’s glass roof and beams. Around the corner from the large, open foyer, the cafe’s design minimized its vastness. The ubiquitous silver chairs and tables so common in eateries lately are used here, but I appreciated the contrasting touch of the blue bread plates. Right from the start, I was set up for a fantastic lunch as my iced tea was strong and bitter, just how like it.
I had a difficult choice to make for my lunch with their fall menu. Both the hamburger with goat cheese and balsamic onion jam and the panini with tomatoes, mozzarella, and pesto caught my eye right away but against my better judgment, I chose the “Overnight” Smoky Barbecue Pork with blue cheese slaw on a toasted brioche roll.
It was the novelty of blue cheese slaw that sold me on the sandwich, as I am not a big fan of Carolina’s vinegar-based barbecue (Please don’t shoot me!). I usually find it too tart and the pork too dry but this barbecue, well, it made me a convert. It was spicy, it was moist, and it was soaked in brown sugar that paired very well with the blue cheese slaw. The slaw needed more actual slaw ingredients mixed in with the cheese, but it was so good with the pork, I didn’t really mind. I was worried the brioche roll would be too soggy, and it was a little, but the fluffy top portion made up for it. I was also pleasantly surprised that it was served with a roasted jalapeno and pickled okra spear. The jalapeno was really good and I actually liked the okra, which is definitely a first. Okra, to me, normal means a slimy seed-filled tube with no flavor other than yuck. The inner workings of this spear were crisp! I didn’t know that was possible.
All of their sandwiches come with either quinoa or potato salad. I opted for the quinoa and enjoyed all the color that came from diced scallion, tomato, chives, cucumber, and possibly mint. It was seasoned well and had a light vinegar binding.
With fresh ingredients, fabulous dishes, and a nice view, what’s not to love about lunch at the Nasher Museum Cafe?