Straw Valley Cafe and The Black House – A Unique Dining Experience for All

Staw Valley

Straw Valley Café and Wine Bar, which opened last December, now also includes a fine dining restaurant, The Black House. The restaurant opened its doors just over a month ago and from the reviews I’ve read and my own personal experience, it is easy to see why people are raving about it.

The property is home to a unique labyrinth of buildings and outside areas providing multiple dining options. The overall space includes the café, which is open for breakfast and lunch, a wine and raw bar at night, outside patio bar, and The Black House, offering modern American cuisine.

Fred Dexhiemer and Chaf Adam Rose (photo from website)
Fred Dexhiemer and Chaf Adam Rose (photo from website)

The concept was a collaboration between owners Executive Chef Adam Rose, previously of Il Palio in the Sienna Hotel in Chapel Hill and partner Fred Dexhiemer, North Carolina’s only Master Sommelier. They wanted to create an opportunity for people to have multiple dining experiences in one location. The Café offers an assortment of pastries, small bites, fresh juices and coffee from Carrboro Coffee Roasters for breakfast and soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch. At night, swing by after work for a glass of wine and nibbles from the raw bar, or treat your special someone to a romantic meal at The Black House.

The Black House, set in a mid-century modern house features a series of elegantly decorated small rooms, creating an atmosphere that is comfortable and cozy. The artwork that adorns the walls is mostly pieces by the previous owners, Robert Black and Ormond Sanderson. They started Straw Valley in 1959, selling pottery and sculptures from the farmhouse and surrounding buildings once owned by Sanderson’s uncle. They lived on the property until 1998 after which the buildings sat unused for almost a decade until purchased by a new owner who opened Straw Valley Café. Rose and Dexhiemer later purchased the buildings and continue to update and preserve them and the property. Look for a large outdoor beer garden, surrounded by towering bamboo and oak trees to open later this year.

Chef Rose designed the menu at The Black House with an emphasis on fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. The menu consists of modern American fare with an international twist. I was recently invited to enjoy dinner in the new space and I couldn’t have been more excited.

My husband and I arrived early and took advantage of the time look around. We walked around some, got lost once or twice, scoped out what will eventually be the beer garden before grabbing a seat at the patio bar to enjoy a pre-dinner glass of wine.

When seated for dinner, we were directed to a small room at the back of the restaurant with a large window overlooking the grounds. There were only two tables for four in this room and would be a great location for a small dinner party.

view from table
Our view from the table

Our server was attentive and knowledgeable about the menu and very helpful with any questions we had. Dexhiemer offered wine pairings with each course that both complimented and enhanced the dishes. Not only that, he gave us a brief history of each wine, it’s grape, the region it came from and made our meal that much more interesting.

Appetizer Course

Baby Kale Salad: Calvander, Crispy Chickpeas, Lemon
Baby Kale Salad: Calvander, Crispy Chickpeas, Lemon
Oysters: Carolina Barbecue Sauce
Oysters: Carolina Barbecue Sauce

Chef’s Surprise Course

Scallop Ceviche
Scallop Ceviche
House Cured Smoked Salmon
House Cured Smoked Salmon
Paccheri Alla Bolognese: Tomato, Painted Hills Beef, Parmesan, Basil
Paccheri Alla Bolognese: Tomato, Painted Hills Beef, Parmesan, Basil

Main Course

Whole Fried Fish (Black Bass was the fresh fish that evening): Fermented Black Bean Sauce, Haricot Verts, Thai Chili
Whole Fried Fish (Black Bass was the fresh fish that evening): Fermented Black Bean Sauce, Haricot Verts, Thai Chili

 

Ham & Eggs: Grilled Iberico Pork Shoulder, Twice Cooked Farm Egg (egg is sous-vide to 140 degrees then battered and fried)
Ham & Eggs: Grilled Iberico Pork Shoulder, Twice Cooked Farm Egg (egg is sous-vide to 140 degrees then battered and fried)

Dessert Course

At this point my husband and I were beyond full and could not possibly eat another bite. Chef and Fred sent us home with the LEMON RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE: Passion Fruit Gelee, Raspberry Coulis Passion Fruit Gelee, Raspberry Coulis. It was all they said it would be and more when we devoured it for breakfast the next morning.

Having had the experience at The Black House, and a tour of the cafe and raw bar, my husband and I can’t wait to go back to enjoy the raw bar offerings along with a glass of wine or cold beer.

While many reviewers call Straw Valley Cafe and Wine Bar and The Black House a hidden gem, to me it is a hidden oasis just waiting to be discovered.

Happy Eating

Johanna

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