Thursday, July 17, 2008

Serena Restaurant & Bar - Miami Blvd., Durham

Last night I met two former co-worker gal friends for dinner at Serena Restaurant and Bar in RTP. I suggested it due to it's proximity to all of our current work locations and I was interested by their menu after reading a review online over at eclectic glob.

The ambiance seems a little undecided. There's mod lighting, soft electronic music, the makings of something very pleasant – but then there's a big sports bar style tv in the corner, bare walls and a soda fountain. It's cafeteria meets hotel restaurant and bar. Kind of an odd mix. It was relatively empty, a few people dining and having after work drinks outside.

In the 3 hours we were there, I don't think we managed to get a smile out of our server even once. I hate that. You know the type, when you come in, it's like you ruined their night by sitting in their section. He was semi-attentive, unhelpful with menu questions and not friendly in the slightest. He actually reminded me of most of the waiters I encountered in San Francisco. Except we're not in a big city on the west coast. This is the south y'all and hospitality goes a long way. Or at least it does in my book. I'm rambling. Anyways on to the food...
I ordered the pan seared scallops with an orzo & vegetable griddle cake and smoked seasonal fruit salsa. The presentation was lovely. The scallops were delightfully seasoned, perfectly cooked and large. The griddle cakes were tasty as well. Although, I did expect them to be more robust with vegetables. From what I could tell there were just random diced carrots interspersed. I devoured them nonetheless! The fruit salsa just plain didn't go. I don't know if I didn't like the fruit, or I'm not a sweet salsa person, or it just wasn't a good compliment, but it was the only thing left on my plate. This was all plated on a fan of cold blanched sugar snap peas. They were also an odd compliment. It would have been overall better if they had been warm. For $15, I was pleased with my big fat scallops.
One of my friends had the pesto pasta with chicken. It was just that. She described it as bland and it was served at room temperature. I thought for $13.50 that the portion was rather small too.

My other friend had the Paella which features Spanish chorizo, grilled shrimp, chicken, garlic, mushrooms, onions, peppers, peas and saffron rice. They allow you to order this extra spicy if you like. She ordered it just as it comes and had a little difficulty with the heat. I didn't try it so I can't vouch for how hot it was. She did take her leftovers home so it must have been pretty tasty. At $16 I feel that 3 shrimp (which were by no means tiger prawns or similar) was pretty stingy.
With all the excellent dining options in Durham these days, I don't see this place hanging around long. It's good for the after work crowd because of location, but I feel overall the menu is overpriced, the service is lacking and the ambiance is just plain strange. You're better off meeting at Mez. Perhaps Serena is a better lunch place?

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1 comment:

Deborah said...

Hi Jeni...I saw you name over at Vanessa's Vanilla Lavender and I see that you are in Durham. I'm in Raleigh - we just keep finding more NC girls!

I'll be back in a week, maybe more - I'm going out of state tomorrow morning. I'll come to check out more of your blog then.

Good to meet you!
Deborah

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