As many of you know, I spent many hours collaborating with Kate on her and Cormac's wedding. I was happy to do it (thrilled, actually -- I love weddings, especially weddings for my favorite people!), but they still felt a gift was in order when all was said and done. I have to say, they made an excellent choice. They're both very rational people, and decided that since the biggest sacrifice I had made for their wedding was spending time (or at least attention) away from J, they wanted to give us back some of that meaningful time. I will let them explain:
"Here's the deal: every month for the next year you'll get a $50 gift card to take yourselves out to dinner. There are a few stipulations: 1) You have to go to a different place each month. 2) You have to send us a picture of the restaurant, yourselves, or your food for each trip. 3) If you don't use all $50, you can spend the rest however you want."
Very generous and very thoughtful, no? J and I were delighted to take our first trip to a French restaurant in nearby Durham, Vin Rouge. We had both been to Vin Rouge previously -- me about a year ago on my first trip to the Triangle area, and J many years ago when first visiting colleges with his sister.
The restaurant is in kind of a strange area, with busy Ninth Street right next door. However, there is plenty of free parking in front.
We made our reservation on Open Table, which turned out not to be necessary, as we were almost the only ones on the side patio when we arrived around 6pm. It was a gorgeous day with blue skies and dry air, and we definitely felt a bit Parisienne sitting at our bistro table and nibbling on crusty bread and olive oil. Our waitress was happy to refill our bread basket as many times as we finished it without making us feel like crazy carbivores, which earned Vin Rouge high marks in my book.
We had fun trying to remember our high school and college French as we perused the menu. Poisson, boudon, roti, oh my!
Having dined at Vin Rouge before, we knew the portion sizes were something to be reckoned with, and so decided to skip an appetizer. Our service was wonderful, and our entrees came not to soon nor too late.
John ordered the Steak au Poivre with sauce bearnaise and pomme frites. He ordered it medium to medium well and it was cooked perfectly. The frites were delicious, crispy and sufficient without accompaniment.
I ordered the Gratin de Macaroni with bacon and Gruyere cheese and oh my it was delicious. As you can see, the portion sizes were more than hearty -- I ate half of my dish that night, and enjoyed the rest as leftovers the next day.
Our bill with tip came to exactly $50 by (happy) accident. We are already plotting out next month's meal and have been asking everyone we know for recommendations in the meantime. Thank you again, Kate + Cormac! What a wonderful gift.
P.S. We finished the evening with ice cream at Hillsborough's Maple View Farm. Delicious, and brings the meaning to "farm fresh!"