Friday, February 27, 2015

Carolina Crossroads to celebrate 90th year with Commemorative Chef's Dinner

Carolina Crossroads Executive Chef James Clark. For information
about the Commemorative Chef's Dinner or to make reservations,
call 919-918-2735 or email
When Executive Chef James Clark took over the kitchen at the Carolina Crossroads three years ago, he surprised some regulars by replacing the upscale fish long featured in signature dishes with lesser-known sustainable species. It took courage then to print words like grunt and jolthead porgy on the famously elegant menu, but now it's the norm.
Over its 90 years of operation - the restaurant began service when the Carolina Inn opened on Dec. 30, 1924 - each executive chef has had made his mark on an institution that has seen its share of academic all stars, blushing brides and assorted word class dignitaries. Their efforts will be celebrated at 6:30pm Saturday during the Commemorative Chef's Dinner.
The four course meal with wine pairings will reflect the contributions of Clark and two of his predecessors, Brian Stapleton and Jimmy Reale. All three are expected to cook side by side to produce the meticulously researched meal.
"We have been looking at a lot of the menus that dated back to the 1950s," Clark says. "It has been fun to see the food they did during this time. We have had some laughs on the prices in those days, but what's been the most fun is taking the old ideas and doing some more updated versions of those dishes. 

For example, a popular dish from the 1960s was a Jellied Madrilène, a cold consommé with Tomato. That has morphed into  Celery Tomato Gelee Garnished with Crawfish Salad, one of the nibbles that will be passed before the meal formally begins.  

Here is the rest of the menu:
  • Passed Items:  Pickled Salmon and Sour Cream on Rye; Crispy Oyster with Leek Country Ham Reduction and Artichoke Relish; and Cured Duck Foie Gras with Macerated Raisins and Brioche
  • First course:  Sea Salt and Sorghum Brined Shrimp served with Celery Root Black Truffle Puree and Chervil Ruby Red Grapefruit Salad
  • Second Course:  Braised North Carolina Bison Short Rib Ragout, Old Mill of Guilford Creamy Grits, Walker Farms Butternut Squash, Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Hillsborough Company Chevre
  • Third Course:  Tea Spiced Muscovy Duck Breast served with Acorn Spoon Bread, Confit Mushrooms along with Pear Watercress Emulsion and Smoked Honey
  • Dessert:  Chocolate and Salted Caramel Hazelnut Torte and Chocolate Frangelico Ganache 

Undated vintage photo of Carolina Crossroads (above) and
the dining room today (below). Photos courtesy Carolina Inn.
Artifacts from the Carolina Inn's storied history are featured in a display that stretches from the lobby down the North and East Halls past the restaurant entrance. It was built in 1924 by UNC alumnus John Spring Hill and designed by award-winning architect Arthur C. Nash, who also designed other campus landmarks. According to its website, Hill donated the hotel to UNC in 1935 with the stipulation that all profits were to be used to support the university's library system.
This article first appeared in Indy Week.

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