As it turns out, Four Square isn’t as off the beaten path as I imagined, just yards away from the intersection of West Cornwallis and Chapel Hill Roads. (Having only lived in Durham for a little more than a year, I’m still getting my bearings straight.) And I was all too happy to enjoy the added bonus of dining in the magnificent Victorian architecture of the historic Bartlett-Mangum House, the symmetrical layout of which is where Four Square took its name.
The $30 dinner menu gave two options for each course: a caprese salad or shrimp bisque for the first course; London broil and mushroom-barley wontons or grilled organic salmon for the entrée; and lemon mousse or dark chocolate torte for dessert. I started off with the shrimp bisque, which was delicately spicy, and the tomato-eggplant confit underneath a plump shrimp in the middle of the soup was tantalizing in both presentation and taste. I paired it with Bennett Valley’s Grey Stack “Rosemary’s Block” Sauvignon Blanc, which was the suggested wine for the salad, but I found it appealing with the bisque and my salmon entrée that followed.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I have not had salmon as succulent and well-seasoned as the grilled salmon at Four Square. The red cabbage slaw and herb spaetzle, warmed by the fillet of fish on top of it, had so much more flavor than I expected, and the pool of citron butter sauce surrounding it tied the dish together. I cleared off my plate before any of my friends were even close to finishing their entrees – I can only imagine how ravenous I must have looked – and so I waited excitedly for dessert, since I had already caught glimpses of the options being brought to other tables.
All apart from one of us chose the dark chocolate torte as our dessert, and it was exquisitely beautiful. A work of culinary art, I almost felt bad demolishing it with a vigor that was only matched by my hasty destruction of the previous course. Almost. Each component of the dessert – the whipped milk chocolate, raspberry curd, toasted almonds, chocolate smear, dollops of sweet raspberry sauce, the candied crisp with almonds atop and, of course, the torte itself – lent itself to a wholly rich, filling and luscious end to a savory meal.
There are 19 more Durham restaurants participating in Triangle Restaurant Week, from June 3 - 9. Leave a comment about which restaurants you’re looking forward to trying out – maybe I’ll see you there!