Eatery - Nasher Museum Cafe (NC) Revisited
2001 Campus Dr, Durham, NC 27708
Pricing - $$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - American
Ah the Nasher Museum, what a destination spot for those visiting Duke University or even just Durham itself. The museum has several exhibits throughout the year that draw many visitors but what it also has that should get people's attentions is a wonderful cafe that focuses on sourcing from local farmers. The Nasher Museum Cafe was one of the places I enjoyed frequenting as a Duke student (previous write-up here), and on our visit back to the area during Homecoming, I made sure we would stop in to see how their delicious menu had progressed. The great thing was, it was just as fantastic as I remember it being.
Because the cafe resides within the museum, it already is set in an enticing space. With tall ceiling-to-floor windows surrounding the restaurant, there is plenty of natural sunlight that shines in on the stainless steel furniture. Looking out at the trees surrounding the museum, we felt like we were in a chic space that just happened to also give a nod to nature in both view and ingredient choice. To start our late lunch, Duc chose their Napoleon Iced Tea, Sweetened ($2) for his drink while I sipped happily on their Chai Tea Latte, Iced ($4), available both hot and cold and although mistakenly named as such (chai already indicates a milky tea which is what tea latte stands for too), was delightfully creamy and spiced.
Lunch is the main draw here for any diner but breakfast is also a major player. Thus, brunch dominates their weekend menu and our options were wide and far for such. He could not resist some sort of benedict to start the day off right so his choice was the Nasher's Smoked Salmon Benedict ($13 - smoked salmon, wilted arugula, roasted tomatoes, English muffin, two poached eggs, hollandaise, mixed greens, and home fries) which came out with perfectly poached eggs. The home fries were a little burnt as were the tops of the halved muffin but the rest was a superb mix of smoked salmon flavors with bitter arugula and some tart sweetness from the tomatoes.
I, on the other hand, went for their Warm Mushroom Salad ($12 + $6 shrimp - roasted wild mushrooms, grilled leeks, marsala shallots, toasted hazelnuts, breaded goat cheese, spinach, arugula, and sherry agave vinaigrette) which was very good, especially for its inclusion of toasted hazelnuts that gave a nutty crunch to the bites. I also really enjoyed the grilled leeks and marsala shallots for their textural differences to the crisp greens, and the smoothness of the goat cheese under its breading lent a contrasting texture we both appreciated. Adding the shrimp was a good call to fill out the meal because even though the mushrooms were plentiful, they were still thin and not as hefty as I initially imagined. Overall, I'd certainly pick this salad again and as with all of the other times I've visited the cafe, I left very satisfied with my lunch. A big thumbs up for the Nasher Museum Cafe even years from my initial visits.
Photography by Duc Duong.