Monday, August 8, 2016

LaRue Elm

LaRue Elm Restaurant in downtown Greensboro has some new digs, and the community could not be more excited for this team. They've moved from across the street from the Carolina Theatre to the old Blu Margarita spot in NoMar (North of Market) and had just over a month to make this transition. To further put things in perspective, Chef Trey Bell says their new kitchen is larger than their old restaurant! Their new spot is spacious, with ample seating, and it was packed for the soft opening last week. Pops of color like turquoise and seawater blue line the walls, and there's live music, too! Servers use flat iPads instead of large glowing computer screens to manage orders. It's clear they thought of just about everything to make this new space their dream home.

Can you spot who made LaRue's instagram?
Peeking into the kitchen!

Upon being seated, slices of mini brioche with chicken stock-infused whipped butter and microgreens arrived to the table. This is a giant leap up from frozen dinner rolls that you might find at other restaurants. The sweetness of the brioche was a nice balance to the umami flavor found in the butter.
Brioche with Whipped Butter
The wine list is extensive and contained many selections I was unfamiliar with, but Chef Bell is incredibly knowledgeable about wine - I knew anything we chose wouldn't disappoint. The menu is broken up into three sections - starters, small plates and entrees. The starter simply named "Roots" combines microgreens with Chevre cheese, sweet balsamic vinegar, beets and what I believe were turnips. It's incredible how something so simple can have such a gorgeous presentation, a variety in textures and a perfectly balanced combination of flavors.
Roots!

The Foie Gras a la Paul ingeniously combines slightly sweet banana bread with savory, succulent foie gras. The bread reminded me of French Toast, and the tangy gastrique is almost like maple syrup. My favorite starter was the Pork Belly - I don't recall ever having pork belly this tender! It was cooked perfectly, not chewy or rubbery, which can sometimes be problematic with this protein. It's served with grilled zucchini for crunch, and citrus for some acid. Each plate was tastier and more beautiful than the last.
Banana Bread + Foie Gras
Pork Belly

LaRue's selection of entrees offers something for everyone. I was excited to see Drum, a flaky white fish, on the menu. It's like a fish steak, one of the less common fish we see on menus around here. The caramelized leeks made the dish. They were buttery and tender, and took it to the next level. As did the Romesco sauce, a personal favorite. It's traditionally made with roasted red peppers and almonds - YUM.
Drum with Romesco and Leeks

Fans of duck will enjoy LaRue's presentation: 4 thick medallions cooked a beautiful medium rare, with a hint of spice - maybe Chinese Five Spice? - and notes of orange. It's served with tender lentils, which makes for a hearty dish.
Duck with Lentils

My tablemates agreed that the Rabbit was the star of the entree show. We called it "rabbit paella" because of the Freekeh (a grain) and peas, that provided a perfect pop of color and texure. Notes of mustard and truffle also make this dish outstanding. Bet you can't have just one bite!

We felt it our duty to sample both dessert offerings, to please chocoholics and vanilla lovers alike. It's hard to mess up Creme Brulee, and I especially liked how the buttery, slightly nutty, crunchy top had flavors reminiscent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. (I mean this as a sincere compliment. I adore CTC.)

A "deconstructed macaron" will satisfy those with the strongest chocolate cravings. Chocolate ice cream (or gelato, perhaps) is enrobed in chocolate ganache, with a thin chocolate disk and some sort of chocolate sponge cake. This is all incredibly rich. It gets a touch of color and acid from fresh raspberries. Both desserts disappeared before I had time to take photos. You could say we were pleased.

I am so excited for the crew at LaRue. I also hope they are ready - people will be coming in droves. I think they've hit the nail on the head with this one.

2 comments:

  1. Another amazing, informative, and well-written article. LaRue Elm looks absolutely fantastic. It's nice to see Drum on a menu. I wish I lived closer. I'd make a reservation right now! Excellent article for an excellent restaurant.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for commenting, Dave!!

    ReplyDelete