Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club has long served as one of Durham, North Carolina’s premier hotels for tradition done with a high-end touch. That being the case, it is only fitting that the property’s signature restaurant, Fairview Dining Room, has carried itself in a similarly refined manner since opening its doors back in 1988. Twenty-five years ago, however, Fairview had a buttoned-up air about the dining room. Long banquettes felt cold. Stark white tablecloths were intimidating. After loosening its collar somewhat (more booths, less delicate place settings) in 2012, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant moves at an easygoing pace but still takes its stellar table service very seriously.
Goings-on in the kitchen aren’t a laughing matter either. Executive chef Jason Cunningham’s menu is one that’s filled with New American cuisine that’s done with subtle preparatory winks to the old South. Parties of all shapes will enjoy the seasonal dishes — couples on date night, folks visiting from neighboring Duke University and golfers just back from playing Duke University Golf Course. And while a few of them will tap their feet to the nightly piano tunes, all will certainly leave with a smile.