Saturday, March 24, 2012

An still has a long way to go

An, an Asian fusion restaurant in Cary, was the first big restaurant project of Jim and Ann Goodnight. Though first, it has stood for some time now in the shadow of its younger, much more polished brother, Herons at The Umstead Hotel. After eating a few times at An and finding the meals always good but not in any particular way outstanding or memorable, I crossed the place off my list.

Then, though, I heard that in mid February An had gained a new Executive Chef, Steven Devereaux Greene, who had moved over from Heron's. I've eaten tasting menus Greene had directed, and they were inventive and tasty, so I resolved to give An another shot.

Sadly, nothing much has changed.

I tried their tasting menu, to give the kitchen the chance to put its best foot forward. They skipped the amuse, which is unusual but acceptable. The first three courses, all seafood, were tasty, though relatively simple. The palate cleanser was both not very good and came on a metal spoon that had frost on it from sitting in the refrigerator. Surely they could have scooped a quenelle on the spot instead of delivering frozen spoons. The main course, some delicate duck slices, was quite good, though again somewhat simple.

Up to this point, the meal would have been just good enough to bring me back, but with one serious problem I'll discuss in a minute.

The dessert was simply terrible. Miso is not a good thing to put on sesame cake, as I learned the hard way. It alone was enough to make me not want to return.

The big issue was pacing. Time from sitting down to finishing paying the check, for five courses, with a five-minute wait on the check after I requested it: one hour and nine minutes. They were practically slinging out the courses. A gentler pace would be much, much better.

I'm going to choose to believe that Greene has not had time to put his stamp on An, and in a few months, I'll try it again. Right now, though, it's just another completely acceptable Asian fusion place. That's a good thing, but it's not, I believe, what An aspires to be.

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