A classic in the courtyard

Aug 9, 2007

This summer, while Erin and I and the girls have been back and forth to Cleveland, our friend Jonnelle Allen has been staying out at our home while she tackles her dissertation proposal. Knowing that our anniversary is this week — 11 on Friday — Jonnelle sent Erin and me to the fabulous Franklin Hotel in Chapel Hill for a night away.

After we checked in and admired our swank balcony room, we walked in the heat (record high of 102 yesterday) to the intimate Bonne Soiree, in the Courtyard complex where 3CUPS and Locopops are. The service was perfect (the check arrived late, but only because our server — a former Londoner who traded Thames River barge stories with us — waited for chef Chip Smith to visit our table) and the food delicious: a smooth and velvety gazpacho, a souffle of Celebrity Dairy goat cheese on a bed of greens, baked halibut, stuffed quail on succotash, a delightful French chardonnay, chocolate gelato with toasted almonds topped with Italian meringue.

As we were ordering our meal, co-owner Tina Vaughn brought two flutes of champagne to our table. “These are courtesy of the gentleman sitting at the corner table.” I looked behind me to see Phill Lyons, the financial guru who keeps the MEASURE Evaluation project humming. When I told him Erin and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary, he was doubly happy that we were there to experience the fine, fine dining of the restaurant.

Anton Zuiker

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