26 July, 2010
A Gracious Plenty (Durham) *CLOSED*Posted in : Dining in Durham - NC, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez
A Gracious Plenty Cafe *CLOSED*
3530 S. Alston Avenue, Durham
Hours: Mon–Fri, 11–2
A Gracious Plenty is tucked away at the corner of Cornwallis and S. Alston Drive. It’s another of those cafes and catering companies that primarily exist to cater and serve lunch to the RTP crowds, so hours are quite limited. Much less limited than those of Good, Better, Best Bakery down the road, which I had planned to try out instead: it appears that RTP lunch spot is closed down for good.
A Gracious Plenty looks appealing from the outside with a yellow storefront, green awning, and a deck peeking around the corner of the restaurant. That deck is quite lovely on a nice afternoon, and there are potted herbs arranged around it that I’m sure are used in the kitchen.
The inside was stuffy by contrast, with very plain décor and tables. Definitely opt for the outdoors if it’s not too warm of a day. The staff and owner are very friendly and get props for remembering my name right away. Fewer props go to the length of time it took for my food to come–far, far too long for lunch time. I overheard someone saying they had catering problems that morning, though, so it may generally be faster than the thirty minutes I waited for my meal.
Varieties of quesadillas, salads, flat bread pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, and wraps are the standard menu options with plenty for vegetarians. There’s also a specials menu that rotates weekly. This week’s was all variations on club sandwiches. I went for a regular menu option, the mesquite grilled tuna sandwich on a kaiser roll.
It was fantastic. The tuna steak was huge and very juicy. The mesquite seasonings were perfect, and rubbed off onto the roll, making it tastier, too. Lettuce, coleslaw, and a thick tomato were piled on top, but didn’t contribute much to the sandwich and really, the tuna was plenty delicious all on its own. A small side of pasta salad (potato chips or coleslaw are also options) came with the sandwich.
It was made with corkscrew pasta, and had a good amount of bright, fresh herbs, especially rosemary. Pasta was the main component but bits of garlic, cucumber, roasted red pepper with a nice char, and parmesan were also mixed together in a light vinaigrette.
I also tried a piece of their apple cake ($3.29).
I often find apples boring for dessert; that might be because they are a million times better in cake form than the boring old apple pies and tarts on every dessert menu. This was super good. It was made with very thinly sliced apples like you get from using a slicer/corer/peeler thingamajig. I happen to think those slices are the perfect thickness for baking apples. The cake was somewhere between a yellow cake and coffeecake in flavor and density, with a good amount of vanilla extract. It was very moist and had the ideal amount of sweetness and spice for me.
Assuming that it doesn’t usually take thirty minutes to get your food, A Gracious Plenty is a great spot for a tasty lunch. Don’t forget dessert, also!