The Fearington House Restaurant is located in Fearington Village, just outside Chapel Hill in Pittsboro, NC. They have been in operation over 40 years, with the restaurant being in the original farmhouse. The couple that started it, R.B. and Jenny(she ran the kitchen) Fitch had a dream to turn the dairy farm into a community. The property itself has an inn and homes for sale as well as stores and event space to rent. The restaurant has several rooms in the building, one of which houses the bar. The widely spaced tables are double clothed with matching napkins and armless chairs. Lots of windows look out onto the property and the interior lights are lowered. They offer an a la carte menu as well as a Chef’s tasting with optional wine pairings. We had the Chef’s tasting menu and the pacing was really slow and the portions were on the large side. While service was trying to be friendly it was almost intrusive with the constant query of “what are your thoughts on this one?” It was a beautiful place to stay but the food would only rate okay – nothing made me want to lick the plate or wish I had more.
The Amuse Bouche was a semolina cake topped with turnip which was sweet and tender. Tuna salad was on a cracker. The salad was nicely dressed and light on the crisp thick disk. Good.
A second amuse was an herbed cream cheese tart with beets. It was creamy and sticky in an ultra thin shell. The beets were chewy and blended well with the cream cheese. Good but large.
Bread service was a parmesan cornbread that was tender and delicious. A whole wheat roll was like a regular toll and the epi was chewy with good crust and interior. It was served with an unsalted butter and one covered with Maldon sea salt.
Smoke Cured salmon was with vanilla creme fraiche, pear, mandarin and cucumber. The salmon was in a “salad” form with a spreadable consistency, topped with one crisp chip. The seasonings were all on the side for you to mix and match. The creme fraiche was thick almost like a gelatin. The smoke in the fish was mild. It was good but with a very mild flavor all around.
Boneless quail was with Sultana and Pink peppercorn, basil, sunchoke and honey mustard. The quail was like a roulade and nicely moist. The pear was tart, the sunchoke crisp and a pile of cooked sweet fruit (maybe apples) were all on the plate. Another chance to mix and match your bites. Overall it was good.
Seared scallop was with Yukon potato, caper, raisin, creme fraiche and cauliflower. The sweet scallop had been browned on one side and was cooked nicely. The bigger pieces of cauliflower were barely cooked and harder to eat. The smaller pieces were sweet and softer. Mixed success here.
Roasted lamb loin was with carrot and rosé, lamb shank, garlic and pearl barley. Some red pepper purée and sweet potato were in the mix here. The boneless meat was cooked medium rare and oddly gray on the exterior. The browned onions were fun as were the grains the meat was sitting on. The carrots were cut into fancy patterns but barely cooked. This plate was missing a spark altogether.
The cheese course was Chapel Hill Creamery Carolina Moon with hazelnut, black currant and honey mustard. Some pieces of financier cake, seasoned with hazelnuts, were good alone and with the cheese. The mustard had a touch of horseradish which gave it a spark but the grain in the center was dull. Mixed.
The pre-dessert was a vanilla cake with guava mousse and topped with a lace twill. The nice dense cake was good with the fruit flavor and the twill added a texture variance. A fun bite.
Warm sticy toffee pudding was with butterscotch sauce, Madjool date, caramelized banana and maple ice cream. This was sweet and heavy. Good but not as good as what we’d had at Crawford and Son.
Valrhona Coeur de Guanaja soufflé was with dark chocolate, vanilla and whipped cream. Thankfully not a full sized soufflé it did come with dark chocolate sauce to pour in the middle and a dollop of vanilla bean whipped cream for the top. This was a real chocolate fix. It has been on the menu since the beginning and developed by Jenny Finch that started the restaurant. It was very good.
Finally some petit fours that we had the server box up since we’d already been there almost 3 hours. That included a housemade marshmallow, pineapple gummy, a shortbread cookie and a blueberry caramel (in clear plastic cup). They were all fine. They also sent a box with some candies, a chocolate, some loose black tea and a copy of the menu – which I had requested. The odd thing was that there was only one of each of the petit fours but there were two of us at the table.