Epicurean

A good haul for seafood lovers

CorrespondentJuly 11, 2007 

This week brings a double dose of good news for seafood lovers. Two new restaurants specializing in fresh fish and shellfish have landed on Triangle shores.

North Seafood Bistro (10630-104 Durant Road; 847-1141; www.northseafoodbistro.com) sailed into North Raleigh this month, dropping anchor at the spot formerly occupied by Jezebel's Salty Fare. Skipper and first mate Dana and Christy Gustafson have given the place an overhaul, transforming it from deli to upscale casual bistro with a cozy bar. They're serving beer (including Carolina Pale, Yuengling and Amstel Light on tap) and wine initially, with plans to add cocktails once they get a liquor license.

The Gustafsons hail from California, and they have brought a taste of the West Coast along with them in the form of fish (or shrimp) tacos. That's one of many options in the Bistro's broad sampling of regional American seafood favorites, which also includes coconut shrimp, Cajun catfish, oyster po' boy, shrimp quesadilla, fried seafood combo, steamed crab legs and crab cakes.

A daily changing selection of grilled fresh fish is offered, and landlubbers are accommodated with options ranging from grilled portobello sandwich to pan-seared sirloin with a peppercorn and red wine reduction. A kids menu is also offered. North Seafood Bistro is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and may remain open later on weekends.

In Durham, Tim Lyons has docked Blu Seafood and Bar (2002 Hillsborough Road; 286-9777; www.bluseafoodandbar.com) in the space recently vacated by Grasshopper. Lyons' resume includes work in highly rated restaurants spanning the continent from California to Vermont to Key West, where he was chef de cuisine at Louie's Backyard, which Zagat has rated as one of the top 50 restaurants in the United States.

The chef's impressive background is evident in an ambitious bill of fare whose offerings include queen conch seviche, citrus-cured salmon with avocado, clams steamed in Red Stripe beer, and sage- and cognac-cured beef carpaccio. And that's just for starters. Entree options include pan-roasted trout with preserved lemon vinaigrette, shrimp and grits, bourbon-glazed salmon, and a seasonal whole fish selection. Blu Seafood and Bar serves lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. The bar remains open late every night.

Fine French fare

Now that we have celebrated our own Independence Day, how about a little equal time for our good friends in France? Granted, it isn't our patriotic duty to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14. But when the prospects for a celebratory meal include foie gras and Burgundy, why not?

BISTRO 607 607 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, 828-0840.

BONNE SOIREE 431-10 W. Franklin St., in The Courtyard, Chapel Hill, 928-8388.

DREAM CATCHER CAFE 1129-O Weaver Dairy Road, in Timberlyne Shopping Center, Chapel Hill, 933-9410.

LA RESIDENCE 202 W. Rosemary St., Chapel Hill, 967-2506.

PIEDMONT 401 Foster St., Durham, 683-1213.

PROVENCE 203 W. Weaver St., Carrboro, 967-5008.

RUE CLER 401 E. Chapel Hill St., Durham, 682-8844.

SAINT JACQUES 6112 Falls of the Neuse Road, in North Ridge Shopping Center, Raleigh, 862-2770.

VIN ROUGE 2010 Hillsborough Road, Durham, 416-0406.

Greg Cox can be reached at ggcox@bellsouth.net.

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