Impromptu Drinks and Dinner Tour of Durham

My husband and I enjoyed a rare night out last Wednesday. Since our son is an early-to-bed kind of a guy, and we’re usually too lazy to get a babysitter, this was pretty special. It had been four months since our last night out, and we wanted to do the exact same thing that we did that last time: Fullsteam Brewery and food trucks followed by a movie at the Carolina Theatre. The $100 we spent months ago on two Will & Pops grilled cheese sandwiches, four beers (two at Fullsteam and two at the theater), movie tickets (The Artist), and a babysitter was so worth it, that it apparently sustained us for four months. We talk about how awesome that night was all the time.

Because I’m a Twitter fanatic, I knew that Fullsteam was debuting this season’s cherry beer on Wednesday, and, for the second year in a row, owner Sean was giving away homemade cherry hand pies to the first fifty people to ask for one. They were delicious last year, so we timed our arrival accordingly. I’m not sure how many people know this, but when Sean was planning his business, he wanted to serve his hand pies, or pasties, as he called them, at the brewery. But I think he probably got really, really busy taking over the beer world, plus, the food truck movement took off. So we only get to enjoy his killer pies once a year. They didn’t disappoint.

At Fullsteam, which is probably our favorite place to be in Durham, we ran into people we knew. Since we don’t get out much, this was phenomenal. Before we knew it, we hadn’t eaten any food truck food, and the movie time (Moonrise Kingdom) was approaching fast. Most importantly, we hadn’t gotten a chance to talk with each other at all, and, seeing as how this was supposed to be a date, this made me sad. We scrapped the movie plan and drove off in search of a foodie adventure.

I suggested a favorite, Panciuto, but Jeremy didn’t want to drive that far. Vin Rouge has served several anniversaries and birthdays wonderfully well, but I wasn’t feeling French food. Then I remembered that I had been wanting to try a fine-dining Japanese restaurant two minutes from our house forever. Yamazushi is the number one rated restaurant in Durham on Yelp! I know that because I’m a Yelp! addict. I need help (with Yelp!) actually, as it’s definitely a love-hate relationship. Anyway, I called, and they said to come by in an hour.

We swung into Six Plates, another one of our favorite places in Durham. Six Plates was part of the inspiration behind Taste Carolina. Our original food tour was an appetizer and wine tour of Durham. Jeremy, our brother-in-law, and I went to Toast, Magnolia Grill, and Six Plates in one night in October of 2008. [The next day we went to seven barbecue restaurants in six hours, and Taste Carolina was born.] Six Plates was also where we were three hours before I went into labor. We were sitting at home and I received a text from a tour guide about a tour mishap. First course portions were smaller than expected and the guide was ordering plates and plates of sliders at Glasshalfull in Carrboro. I told my husband this, and he said, ‘sliders? I like sliders’ and soon we were enjoying some of our own at Six Plates. Thirty-six hours later, Zeke was born.

Last Wednesday, we enjoyed a couple of tasty glasses of wine on the comfortable couches at the very hip Six Plates and said hi to owner, Mattie. We would have been very happy ordering food and more wine there, but we didn’t want to stand up Yamazushi. So we hopped in the car again.

Yamazushi was quite luxurious. It was very quiet and the service was terrific. We passed on the $50 tasting menu and ordered toro sashimi, sushi, shrimp dumplings, miso-roasted eggplant, a fish head (details: a sea bream collar in broth), and a bottle of sake. Jeremy was in fish head heaven – it was very fresh, and he grew up on the coast. Everything tasted amazing, and we had a wonderful time.

I think we’ve purposely not added up our bill from last Wednesday. The total for two beers (but a free cherry hand pie), two glasses of wine, a bottle of sake, several small plates, two desserts – green tea ice cream and agave-roasted sea beans, by the way – and a babysitter was much more than the $100 we spent four months ago. Once again… totally worth it.

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