A Taste of Tandem

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Photo by Kate Sayre
Photo by Kate Sayre

After Tandem opened in early April, I kept hearing positive reviews around town, although not just about the food. People continuously commented on how lovely the ambiance was, which is not something I often hear. When Emma Dunbar, one of the owners, emailed me about coming to dine, Alex and I were in. I wanted to taste the food for myself and see this atmosphere that I heard so much about.

As Alex is a builder in town, he is rather particular about spaces and always tells me what he thinks places did well and what could be improved in terms of design and construction. After sitting in our booth and taking a look around, Alex said “this is what always needed to be in this space”. The use of various materials, comfortable seating options and twinkling lights complimented the original beauty of the building. Even as the restaurant filled with patrons, we felt like we had our own space and were able to enjoy our conversation during the meal.

Now the food, y’all. As the restaurant is still in its infancy, I expected that they would be getting their feet under them and that there may be a couple of hiccups during service. This was not the case, as each dish from chef Younes Sabouh‘s kitchen was beautifully presented and tasted even better than it looked. One of our favorite appetizers was the trio of spreads, which came with a goat cheese, sunflower seed and sumac dip, sofritos with red bell pepper and carrots and finally avocado with fennel beets. The little things are what really do it for me, so the crostini served warm and sprinkled with flaky salt to go along with the spreads made a big impression on my opinion as well as my taste buds. We also enjoyed the chickpea fritters (pictured), which came highly recommended from our waiter and were flavored with garam masala, feta, and yogurt and adorned with brussels sprout leaves and roasted whole chickpeas.

Like the name, the flavor continued in tandem with the entrees-a perfectly cooked piece of salmon with black rice, cucumber kimchi, coconut curry and peanuts for me and the lamb shank with freekah and apricot for Alex. I wish we had saved room for dessert, but the generous portions and irresistible dishes left us with no space. The options sounded lovely, and all that means is that we will be back and a little more intentional about making sure to try at least one of the sweets.

If you have yet to visit Tandem, make time to do so. And if you happen to see the Sayres there, which is a real possibility, do not hesitate to say hello.

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Kate Sayre

Kate Sayre is a Registered Dietitian who counsels clients through her private practice and works in the Department of Nutrition at UNC. On the 1st and 15th of every month, she guest blogs here. 
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