Friday, December 18, 2009

REVIEW Bergama Cafe Durham NC [Closed August, 2013]

Bergama Cafe
3520 Hillsborough Road
Durham NC
(919) 383-0300‎

In a word, delish!
3.5/5 stars - $$ (to use Greg Cox 's shorthand ratings)

Recorded 12-17-09

[After dragging myself to the finish line on a very burdensome writing project last night, I was exhausted, unkempt, grizzled, and hungry. I took son Jon to Tommies for smokes and a Coke, and easily determined we were both hungry, and a Middle Eastern supper at a new neighborhood restaurant was appealing. About 8:30 we were seated. The place was empty. Sad, and so unfitting. They have wonderful food and are lovely and interesting people. He's from Chechnya  and his wife is from Turkey.}

The venue: Was a Burger King for many years on heavily traveled Hillsborough Rd near I-85 and US 15-501. Was converted to a "serious" sit down place a few years ago, and has yet to foster a place for a great restaurant, although the need is real for that part of town.

Me: Dolmas and Roasted Potatoes with vegetable gravy - Excellent $12, including sides. Glass of Sutter Home White Zin, $4.25,
$20 with tax and tip.
Sides Pizza Bread Sticks/herb-seasoned EVOO - V. Good
Salad Bar One Trip - Limited but Excellent

The stuffed cabbage rolls (5 were presented) were lovely, as were the roasted potatoes. The whole was covered with a flavorsome gravy of cooked cabbage, onions, and the pan gravy. The seasonings were subtle, peppery, and aromatic. The salad bar was limited in offerings but all the ingredients were fresh and crisp. Very tasty ranch dressing. The bread sticks were baked from pizza dough, and so were nicely chewy. A plate of flavored oil on the side for dipping was provided. More bread was offered later in the meal. Service was friendly and attentive (we were initially the only diners) although our waitress seemed new and knew little about the menu.

Wine list (on a Corona placard!) is brief and laughable with the odd surprise. Greek vin ordnaire at $8/glass. "Straight from Greece" it says. Where else for Greek wine?

Jon: Gyro platter. Very attractively sliced and folded roast meat, arranged on a bed of grilled pitas. $10.95;
$16.00 with tax and tip. Sides: Bread sticks, salad bar, rice pilaf,  steamed vegetable medley - Jon pronounced it all excellent. He drank ice water. A Best Buy.

This place needs some changes to succeed. It would be a shame if tasty ethnic fare doesn't succeed. Bergama needs menu design advice; a better web presence; a better street impact to attract diners from heavy traffic on street. Better wine list. Ethnic clarity of offerings. Pizza? Italian? Greek? Turkish? "Middle Eastern". Menu needs to educate better.

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