The Fairview Dining Room at the Washington Duke Inn: A Private Club of Your Own
I don’t belong to a country club, but if I did I’d want it to be like the Fairview Dining Room in the historic Washington Duke Inn on the Duke campus. Most months you can sit on the patio overlooking hundreds of acres, including a world-class 18-hole golf course, with unimaginable sunsets. At other times, relax in the warm ambiance of the wood-paneled dining room while looking out over the snow-dusted grounds. The Fairview is magical.
The restaurant itself looks back in time, and yet manages to be modernist, too, with both its traditional décor and a staff of first-rate professionals who greet their regular guests by name. Old-school formality -- with a twist. (For a more boisterous bar scene check out the Bull Durham Bar, also in the hotel.)
The menu, under the guidance of executive chef Jason Cunningham, is completely of the moment, with an emphasis on local ingredients from area farms. Some of my most recent favorite dishes included the “woodfruit salad” with grilled shitake and smoked greydove mushrooms, parmesan-crusted diver scallops, and the seared duck breast atop an apple sweet potato hash.
I’ve eaten at the Fairview for more than a decade, and Cunningham’s preparations are consistently excellent no matter the year or the season. The dining experience is crowned with top-flight service; it’s as though there’s a wizard behind the curtain making sure everything runs perfectly.
What do I like best about the Fairview? I don’t have to golf to live the life.