Mouthful

Counting House restaurant opens Sunday night in Durham

A burger with horseradish jam, pickled onion and hoop cheddar and fries at the Counting House restaurant at 21c Museum and Hotel in Durham.
A burger with horseradish jam, pickled onion and hoop cheddar and fries at the Counting House restaurant at 21c Museum and Hotel in Durham. Magnus Lindqvist

Counting House restaurant, which is part of the soon-to-open 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Durham, starts serving dinner Sunday night.

The 125-seat, 4,300-square-foot restaurant at 111 N. Corcoran St. is run by chef Josh Munchel, who came from Metropole, the restaurant at 21c Museum Hotels’ Cincinnati location. (There are only four locations of this small boutique hotel chain: Durham, Cincinnati, Louisville, KY., and Bentonville, AR.) During Munchel’s tenure, Metropole was named to Bon Appetit magazine’s list of Best New Restaurants 2013.

The menu at Counting House (the name references the building’s long history as a bank) is divided into six sections: taste (appetizers for $8-$14), in the shell (oysters and other shellfish), meat and cheese plates ($17-$21), mostly vegetables ($8 sides) and dinner ($14-$29).

Munchel describes his style of food as using local ingredients to create global flavors. A few examples from the menu: a shrimp and grits appetizer made with with country ham, Manchego cheese from Spain and and espelette, a French chile pepper; a plancha octopus appetizer with chorizo baked butter beans and salsa verde; and a burned haricot side dish with red eye aioli, crispy ham and boiled peanuts.

The restaurant is open for dinner 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 5:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

The 125-room hotel is expected to open in a few weeks. The boutique hotel chain bills itself as luxury hotel and contemporary art museum. The restaurant and second-floor gallery feature the works of living artists and the hotel hosts art events, lectures, even yoga classes inside the art gallery. (Room rates at the Cincinnati location ranged from about $230-$350 a night.)

The 21c Museum Hotel is the second boutique hotel slated to open in downtown Durham. The other, The Durham, is a 53-room, five-story independent boutique hotel that will open this spring. James Beard award-winning chef Andrea Reusing of Lantern restaurant in Chapel Hill is overseeing the development of that hotel’s first-floor restaurant with an outdoor terrace as well as the roof-top bar with indoor and outdoor seating. (To read an earlier blog post about that project, go HERE.)

Weigl: 919-829-4848;

Twitter: @andreaweigl

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