Ambitious multi-restaurant project in the works at Durham’s Straw Valley

Posted on October 14, 2013 

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Il Palio executive chef Adam Rose, left, held a healthy cuisine cooking demonstration at UNC Children's Hospital in March. Rose is teaming up with master sommelier Fred Dexheimer to develop an ambitious dining and drinking complex at the former Straw Valley Café in Durham

HARRY LYNCH — hlynch@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Il Palio chef Adam Rose is teaming up with certified Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer to develop an ambitious dining and drinking complex at the site of the former Straw Valley Café.

The first phase of the project, Straw Valley Café and Juicebar, is targeted for a mid-November opening. Dexheimer promises “killer coffee,” as well as pressed juices, snacks and fresh juice cocktails.

That’s just a teaser for the second phase, slated to open in December in two adjacent Scandinavian modern buildings in the complex, which Dexheimer aptly describes as “a labyrinth.” In one of these, a casual restaurant and lounge tentatively named Sanderson House will offer small plates, cocktails and a rock and roll vibe.

Sanderson House will also serve as a receiving area for patrons of Black House, the 50-seat fine dining restaurant taking shape in an adjacent building. There, Rose will offer a menu that he’s billing as “farm to table with an international flair.” The selection will evolve with the seasons - and with the chef’s whim.

“The people at Il Palio have been very good to me,” Rose says, “but after several years of cooking Italian I’m looking forward to being free to do whatever I want.”

Dexheimer, a New York transplant whose star-studded resume includes Gramercy Tavern and wine director for the BLT Restaurant Group, is developing a destination-worthy wine cellar and specialty cocktail list.

He’s also working on an extensive selection of brews for the third phase of the project: a beer garden, projected to open in the spring in the courtyard. To go with the beer, Rose plans on offering burgers, sausage sandwiches, oysters, mussels - “anything that goes with beer,” according to Dexheimer. At least once a month, “anything” will also include live entertainment on an outdoor stage.

The restaurant complex is located at 5490 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd.

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