A long-time friend of mine drove me out to a lovely restaurant called L’Uva Enoteca, within the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham, North Carolina in America, for dinner a couple weeks ago and I was pleasantly surprised. Whenever I have traveled to this triad, I had not previously seen anything like this within this region of the South East. Within the District, you’ll find restaurants, entertainment, office space, the American Underground startup incubator, WUNC Public Radio, the Full Frame Theater, Durham Bulls’ Park, and much more.

This retired Lucky Strike factory (acquired by American Tobacco Company, who were the largest tobacco sellers in the world in the early 1900’s) was reconstructed in the last decade or so to be an outdoor entertainment district. This district has not only restaurants, but a skating rink during the winter, live concerts, an art gallery, lectures, musicals/broadway, comedy shows, and baseball games.

Arriving in the car park, it didn’t look like much, but once we walked out into the open, main space, I was awed by the serene environment surrounding me – with a stream coming down from the Lucky Strike Tower and mellow lighting all around. We walked into another building to get to the main entrance of l’Uva. Unfortunately, both my friend and the signs informed me that this restaurant, as of 01-Jan-2014, would be closing its doors in this district and will be moving to a larger space – location unknown from the people asked, but they told me that they would update their website and to keep a look out. Upon first look, the restaurant had a modern and fresh appearance. And the smell upon walking in had me stop in my tracks. Even the specials looked appetising.

Aside from the lovely company, the service was good and the food was satisfying. I ordered the grilled salmon with Umbrian potatoes, rapini and sun-dried tomato pesto ($18). The potatoes were delicious. The salmon was smooth and was cooked to my liking. Surprisingly for the state, this restaurant cooks salmon normally medium (typically found in higher end restaurants), so you have to ask if you would like it fully cooked. For areas not close to an ocean/sea, I tend to request fully cooked seafood (unless confirmed as good, sushi-quality) – and avoid all Pacific-bred/caught seafood since the 2011 massive earthquake/tsunami in Japan.

For dessert, I ordered the Creme Brûlée – and glad I did. However, when I received my espresso – not so impressed. I always used to avoid coffee in America and should have kept my opinion, as it is very hard to find a good quality brew, but I’m very picky with my coffee. I had two small sips and could not take any more. Had to leave the rest. Funny enough, they pride themselves on their coffee and was told they had the best around.

Even though this particular restaurant is moving to a new location, this district is well worth a look-a-round. And there are plenty of other restaurants to explore.

For more information on the area: American Tobacco Historic District

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