HEAD TO MONUTS, BUT HOLD THE DONUTS

Mika Deshmukh

Okay, so maybe you should still grab a donut when you brunch at Monuts, but you definitely need to order something other than two donuts and a coffee. Without a doubt, Monuts doesn’t get enough credit for it’s amazing, ever-changing array of breakfast sandwiches and plates. They change their menu regularly in order to serve dishes that reflect seasonal produce and flavors. Monuts is my favorite place to brunch in Durham because it’s the only place that I’m able to get a sandwich loaded with beets and pea shoots (try the BL-Beet!) or a quiche with feta cheese and root vegetables.

A caprese-inspired sandwich on focaccia (PC: Mika Deshmukh)

A caprese-inspired sandwich on focaccia (PC: Mika Deshmukh)

Monuts’ breakfast sandwiches are constantly changing, but the base is either a hearty bagel, flaky biscuit, or crisp focaccia. I tend to choose my sandwiches based on the other ingredients, but a biscuit base is definitely the classic way to brunch or breakfast. After looking at the base, I scope out the cheeses on the menu. Every ingredient lives up to Monuts’ high standards for quality and freshness (another reason I love to eat there), but my personal favorite is the luxurious chèvre cream cheese. If you’re anything like me, you’ll narrow in on anything with applewood-smoked bacon or avocado first thing when picking out your perfect breakfast sandwich.

If you’re not feeling up to the task of wrestling a loaded Monuts sandwich, check out the breakfast plates available. I’m a big fan of the seasonal quiche; it has an unbelievably light, buttery crust and is served with a crisp side salad. There’s something for everyone on this section of the menu, with an Indian-inspired hash, breakfast tacos, and a seasonal granola-greek yogurt bowl. Trust Monuts to elevate breakfast staples into gourmet plates.

Root vegetable and feta quiche--the quiche special off of the "Plates" section of the menu (PC: Mika Deshmukh)

Root vegetable and feta quiche--the quiche special off of the "Plates" section of the menu (PC: Mika Deshmukh)

If I made your mouth water, I apologize. It’s difficult to remain resilient in the face of such delicious, unique brunch options. There’s only one thing left to do: head to Monuts this weekend, pick out a one-of-a-kind savory dish, and maybe just maybe, get a donut to start things off right. 

    

OCTOBER BITES BUCKET LIST

Mika Deshmukh

Fall is upon us! Throw on a jean jacket, pull on some lace-up boots, and grab some cash because it’s time to take advantage of the October Bites that Durham and Duke’s campus have to offer. Now’s the perfect time to sample pumpkin spice drinks at all of the coolest coffee shops in Durham or browse the Saturday morning farmers market for some delicious seasonal produce. Use this list as your guide for the best ways to eat your way through this month:

Cocoa Cinnamon’s Harvest Latte- Go above and beyond basic pumpkin drinks this October. Essentially autumn in liquid form, this latte is made with housemade pumpkin seed and cinnamon syrup, and is accompanied with ginger, allspice and cayenne and topped with maca. 

PC: Susie Locklier (Cocoa Cinnamon)

PC: Susie Locklier (Cocoa Cinnamon)

Apples- Suncrisp and Fuji apples are two notable varieties of the many apples in season during October. Slice them up and slather them with your favorite nut butter (Big Spoon Roasters, anyone?) or dip them in caramel sauce to get into the Halloween spirit. 

Nasher Museum Café’s Autumn Salads- The Nasher's Warm Squash Salad (pecorino, sunflower seeds, purple potato, and butternut squash) and Autumn Fruit Salad (grilled peaches, almonds, burrata, pear) will make you rethink healthy eating. These two salads are full of flavor and nutrition! This is definitely the best way to maximize your food points. (Yes, Nasher still accepts food points from everyone, even Class of 2020 students!) 

PC: Mika Deshmukh

PC: Mika Deshmukh

Carrots- Buy some real carrots (not the weird mini ones from grocery stores!) from the farmers market and pair them with hummus for a snack to fuel you through midterms, projects, and papers galore. 

The Parlour’s Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream- The Parlour is the favorite dessert destination for Duke students, but this flavor stands out. The real chunks of pie crust and warm spices are way better than any Starbucks PSL.

Bell Peppers- They’re not only a great source of Vitamin C (freshmen plague begone!) but bell peppers pack a punch of flavor as well! Eat them raw or add them on top of pizza!

Monuts’ Orange Velvet Donut- This donut is made of decadent pumpkin cake, topped with rich cream cheese frosting. Honestly, what's not to like? Once again, Monuts pulls through with a seasonal donut that makes all of our pumpkin dreams come true!

PC: Monuts

PC: Monuts

Your Favorite Halloween Candy- We all had that one candy bar so valuable that we would trade all of our other trick-or-treat pickings to get more of it. Bring back some childhood nostalgia by dragging your friends to Harris Teeter’s to buy some full-size bars (jackpot) and watching a Halloween classic, like Hocus Pocus

Jack & Oak Cider from Bull City Ciderworks- Set aside the Pumpkin Spice Burnett’s and grab one of these pumpkin ciders instead, you won’t regret it. The cinnamon and vanilla paired with pumpkin purée will be much more fun to sip on.  

 

PICNIC

Anna-Karin Hess & Katelyn McCracken

$$ 

Cuisine: Hybrid of Eastern and Western BBQ

Keep in Mind:

  • Limited Parking - but you'll still be seated quickly and graciously attended to. 
  • Relatively noisy atmosphere due to open kitchen and bar. 
  • Full menu is available at the bar. 

Vintage aspires to meet upscale at this recently opened restaurant. Picnic puts a modern spin on the traditional BBQ shack with a menu that includes all of your favorites like whole hog BBQ, fried chicken, and creative cocktails.

Taste Test:

The Eighth Day: A yummy cocktail featuring sweet tea and pear liqueur, this drink demonstrates what Picnic is trying to achieve - imaginative twists on classic favorites. Just sweet enough with a hint of pear, this drink is reminiscent of a hot North Carolina summer.

Brunswick Stew: More acidic than your typical Brunswick Stew - you've got to be a vinegar lover to enjoy this restaurant’s version! With a flavor very similar to their BBQ sauce, the chefs may or may not have dumped in a healthy dose of their pride and joy. Nonetheless, the generous amount of meat keeps you coming back for another spoonful.  

Pulled Pork: This thickly cut pork is nice and smoky, but a little dry. Don’t be shy with their East/West hybrid style BBQ sauce - The vinegary tomato mix is absolutely delicious and will moisten the pork. The cole slaw side is finely shredded and much less “mayonnaise-y” than most. We love it!

Hush Puppies: We love them for the super light and airy taste (hard to come by), but could do without some of the grease. 

Bacon Braised Collards: Large leafy greens meet an addictive mix of acidity and sweetness. Order them.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sorghum Glaze: Nothing crazy here, just some super sweet and cinnamon-y potatoes. They’re your dessert before dessert. 

Fried Chicken Platter:  Fried to perfection with a thick-but-not-too-thick layer of batter and a moist and tender inside, this is exactly what every fried chicken-lover dreams of. Served with a spicier (read: HOT) version of Picnic’s own BBQ sauce, this dish is sure to light you up.

Creamy Mac & Cheese: The “creamy” modifier for this side sets high expectations that fail to be met. While the taste is great, the texture leaves something to be desired. Think mac & cheese, heavy on the cheese, light on the cream.

Baked Beans: Beware! These are not your traditional baked beans. Made with red kidney beans instead of your traditional navy beans and chilli powder instead of brown sugar, Picnic’s baked beans seem more like chili than the traditional BBQ side. 

Chocolate Chess Pie:  Not our favorite chocolate chess, notably for the lack of a truly chocolatey taste. We would have liked a more caramelized caramel, but the addition of fresh whipped cream is always appreciated.

Ginger Lime Layer Cake -With the texture of a pound cake and the shape of a layer cake, this rich dessert is meant to be shared! The hint of ginger in the buttercream icing complements the lime of the cake nicely. However, your calories are better spent elsewhere on the menu.

The Verdict - A great place to go with friends to get off campus. Hopefully their recent opening explains the scarce decor and minor food hiccups, but it’s definitely worth a trip. With attentive servers and quick service, you’re sure to enjoy your experience. 



MOOGFEST DISCO BRUNCH | 1.31.2016

Mika Deshmukh

Coming from Chicago, I was worried that Durham would be a boring small town lacking the art, music, and food scene that I had so cherished back home. Oh, how wrong was I. As I’ve learned in the past five months, Durham is a funky, foodie town with a lot to offer as far as art and music go. And while Marketplace brunch is a college student’s dream, I prefer to venture out into the Dirty D for my favorite meal. Today, three friends and I tried out brunch at The Durham Hotel for Moogfest’s Disco Brunch. For those of you who don’t know, Moogfest is held every May in Durham; it combines creativity and technology conferences during the day with music performances at several venues in the evening. Moogfest also holds events throughout the year, one of which is its Disco Brunch series. Disco music pumping, with cool Afro-beats and classic songs, I had a blast brunching with my girls. The Durham Hotel offers an outstanding combination of nontraditional and classic brunch dishes, all with beautiful flavors and presentation. I’d definitely recommend the Disco Brunch experience—stay tuned in to Moogfest’s Facebook page for the location and date of February’s Disco Brunch.

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I loved The Durham Hotel’s minimalist place settings and menu.

 Even though it was close to 70 degrees, this hot chocolate still hit the spot.

This delectable pastry board has a buckwheat sugar cake; two malted barley and candied ginger scones; and three fresh fig bars.

How could you resist this dynamic duo?

This savory main dish had spicy baked eggs, drunken beans, guajillo chiles, and warm, fresh corn tortillas. 

Deviating from the typical Southern brunch fare, this Asian-inspired dish had wild NC shrimp, McDowell County rice, chili oil, greens, and a soft boiled egg.

As simple as it looks, this waffle tasted extraordinary with the housemade NC apple butter and sweet maple syrup.

I chose to order the Artstigators Avocado Toast (Duke, represent!), which perfectly complemented the Pastry Board with the savory flavors of scallion, lemon, black pepper, and seeded rye.

 

FOSTER'S MARKET

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Mika Deshmukh

When it comes to eating out, I’m a creature of habit and I’m not afraid to admit it. I always order the polenta farmers market burger at Bull City Burger, my standard order at Tijuana Flats is a veggie black bean burrito with a side of guacamole, and I strictly buy Siggi’s yogurt despite the array of options at Whole Foods. I know what I like and I don’t like to take chances when it comes to food. Fosters Market, however, is an entirely different story: a cafeteria-style mecca for people who like quick fresh food.

While it’s open all day, I would definitely recommend going to Fosters for brunch. There are chalkboards crammed with different types of breakfast dishes, warm sandwiches, and smoothies, along with glass cases of pastries and giant cakes. Every day, a different omelet special and pancake flavor is offered, in addition to the regular fare. With all the equally amazing options, it’s impossible to maintain my habits at Fosters. Since it’s difficult to choose what I want to order, I like to try different menu items whenever I brunch there.

Here are my recommendations:

1. The German chocolate cake : Divine, but that’s probably not the brunch suggestion you’re looking for (unless you’re a proponent of the “dessert for every meal” principle like I am).

2. The standard breakfast menu: Various combinations of eggs, potatoes, and a biscuit - always a sure bet. Fosters’ potatoes are crispy and seasoned, complementing any style of eggs and the buttery biscuits that accompany them.

3. The fruit smoothie menu: Features flavorful combinations, if you’re seeking a healthier option or accompaniment to your meal.

4. The pancakes of the day or the omelet special: Consistently the best flavor combinations you could imagine.

In short, Fosters is one of those places that will keep you coming back again and again, tempting you with their mouth-watering menus and consistent quality.