Question: When is the sum of four and two not equal to six?
Answer: When Shane Ingram, owner/chef of the celebrated Four Square in Durham, opens a second restaurant in Chapel Hill and names it [one] (100 Meadowmont Village Circle; 537-8707; www.one-restaurant.com). The name is apt in more ways than, um, one.
For starters, the restaurant's decor is as sleek and modern as its name. Leather upholstery, hardwood floors and a rich color scheme of red, black and gray set a casually elegant mood in the dining room, while a food counter looking into the open kitchen affords diners the chance to observe and chat with Ingram and his staff as they work.
The menu's emphasis on healthy fare lives up to the restaurant's streamlined moniker, too, expressed in a seasonally changing offering of small plates, soups and salads, light pastas and gourmet pizzas. Ingram's fans will recognize his inventive style in the likes of antelope carpaccio, fennel spinach gnocchi, and roasted peach and ripe tomato gazpacho. The chef's reputation for fish preparations is reflected in a large-plate offering that includes ginger steamed sockeye salmon, roasted red snapper with tandoori spiced cauliflower, and steamed baby octopus with Napa cabbage.
Those not counting calories may indulge in, say, grilled rib-eye with heirloom tomato panzanella or saffron pappardelle with braised lamb leg, followed by a milk chocolate caramel tart or plum brown butter financier with Riesling ice cream.
A few more relevant numbers:
24 - price of the rib-eye, the most expensive item on the menu. Most options are in the $9-$14 range, gratifyingly affordable given the ambitious nature of the offering.
121 - wines represented by the floor-to-ceiling wine wall near the entrance. Fifteen (including one sparkler and a couple of dessert wines) are available by the glass. If you'd like to do your homework in advance, you can explore the eclectic offering on the restaurant's website, where the most helpful wine listing I've ever seen can be sorted by color, flavor characteristic or country of origin. When you get to the restaurant, you can enjoy your selection in the dining room or in the comfort of a purple leather sofa in the wine lounge.
5 - number of evenings [one] is open for business (Tuesday-Saturday). Hours will expand to include lunch in coming weeks, with plans to add weekend brunch.
In the meantime, Ingram is devoting his attention to getting [one] up to speed, while leaving Four Square's kitchen in the able hands of chef de cuisine Justin Rakes. Will the chef who built his reputation at Four Square succeed in running two restaurants in two towns? Given his batting average, I'd say you can count on it.