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3 December, 2009

Guglhupf Cafe (Durham) — Restaurant Review

Posted in : Dining in Durham - NC, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez

Hello everyone!  I just got back from Costa Rica last night — the reason why there haven’t been any posts in a week! I will have a travelogue up for the trip in a few days but in the meantime, let’s get back on track. Here’s a restaurant review of one of my favorite spots in Durham.

Guglhupf Café
2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd.
Sharing/Small Plates: $8-12
Entrees: $16-20

Full Disclaimer: I am already a huge fan of Guglhupf for brunch, afternoon coffee and writing, lunch, dessert, whatever.  So, I was very excited to try it for their new dinner menu, which they’ve been serving for two months and I was probably predisposed to love it.  That said, it wasn’t perfect but my review is probably a bit rose-colored.

For their night service, Guglhupf has created a warm lighting scheme with the addition of large globe lamps in pastel shades. European jazz played quietly from the speakers.

They now offer a cocktail list as well as an affordable wine list, which one of my friends suggested was probably sourced from Wine Authorities. I couldn’t resist trying the Spiced Apple Martini and it was a very nicely done drink.

It was made with apple cider, muddled cranberries, gin, lemon, and ginger beer.  I thought the solitary cranberry garnish was an elegant touch.  The ginger beer was vibrant and the spice and sourness from the cranberries, not to mention the tasty bits of fruit, were fantastic. My only complaint was that it wasn’t chilled enough.

We were offered multiple bread selections from Guglhupf’s bakery to start out. Somehow, none of us ordered one of the new entrees (Great move for a food blogger, I know). Instead, we ordered a few of the small and sharing plates. First up, my husband and I split the house-cured duck confit salad with roasted new potatoes, walnuts, watercress, frisee, and warm huckleberry vinaigrette.

The duck was good if a bit too salty. I would have preferred it off the bone to make it easier to eat as a salad. I didn’t expect the breading, but who can complain about fried poultry? The huckleberries were sprinkled about the plate and not incorporated into the vinaigrette, which made for a pretty presentation but didn’t give much flavor.  The frisee was ungainly to tame but good quality.

Next up were the potato latkas with house-cured salmon gravlox, quark, watercress, capers and red onion.

Their cured salmon is always top-notch and it came in plentiful quantities in this dish. The latkes, however, were rather small and there was only a pair of them. I liked what I had but it wasn’t enough to form a solid opinion of the latkas. The quark mixed with herbs was lush and a great companion for the salmon, as were the sprinkles of caper and red onions. It was a gathering of simple ingredients, which seems to be a focus of their menu.

By this point, I was on my second cocktail, the Lorelei. The menu had little mention of what it was beyond calling it a blond twist on a cosmopolitan but I was still lured into trying it.

My guess at the ingredients is vodka, lime juice, and either pineapple or pear juice.  It was too sweet and definitely not as good as a cosmo (my standard cocktail) but not bad, either. It just was.

Our second small plate was the kaseplatte (cheese plate).

It consisted of cheddar, Spanish, goat, and blue-veined cheeses. The accompanying raisin compote was very good, as were the marcona almonds. The figs were a bit caramelized and seemed dry. The bread was dark, yet somehow light and airy in texture. I’ve had more interesting cheese plates but I was happy with it.

Our friends had the beef goulash, which they thought was good. The beef was especially well liked, but they suspected from the dish’s dried edges that it had been hanging out under the heat lamps too long. They also ordered a chicken liver pate with maple sautéed pears, cornichon, mustards and house breads.

They raved about the black forest cake they had for dessert. We opted for a German-style cheesecake topped with poached pears, walnut toffee, candied cranberries, and a marsala wine sauce.

Yum. Not that I’m hard to impress with dessert, but it was really good and the best incorporated dish of the night. The gummy cranberries were so delightful and I loved the fluffy texture of the cream cheese.  The toffee tasted a little burnt, though.

I still love Guglhupf, but I think I’m more inclined to go there during the day, when the porch is an option or the sunlight streams through all the windows. The dishes we tried were similar to their daytime offerings, though classed up with fancier presentations.  Of course, we didn’t try the entrees and it’s very possible that they provide a little more variation from the (excellent) ingredients piled and tossed on a plate that many of their smaller plates use. Don’t get me wrong, Guglhupf does that simplistic style well, but I’d be very interested in hearing if any of you have tried an entrée!

3 stars

3 stars

Reviewed 11.19.09.

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