I have a compulsion when dining out in the Triangle – I must try a new place every time! We are spoiled with amazing options, and I’m lucky enough to have friends just as excited to try them all as I am.
My dining companions on this particular evening all work in the American Tobacco District in downtown Durham, so we wanted somewhere nearby. The usual suspects like Revolution, Rue Cler and Dos Perros were quickly eliminated – we’d all been to them before!
Where we hadn’t been is an Italian restaurant just half a mile away in the redeveloped West Village warehouses. Unless you happened to glance into the courtyard between the Flowers Warehouse and Cooper Shop buildings as you walked down Fernway or Morgan streets, you wouldn’t know 604 West Village was tucked away inside.
The Location: On the bottom floor of the Cooper Shop building in Durham’s West Village. Find the sign and follow the walkway into the courtyard to discover two Italian restaurants hidden out of sight. 604 West focuses on finer dining and the attached pizzeria is mainly for pizza orders and pasta dishes. The interior is dimly lit with modern, sweeping booths in the bar, intimate tables in the dining room and a cellar room for large parties.
The Company: My husband and a pair of our friends, ready and willing to splurge on a great meal and drinks together.
The Meal: We started with a round of drinks, and I chose one of the less sweet options from their regular cocktail list, a smooth, floral martini made with pear vodka and St. Germain liqueur ($9). As an appetizer, my husband and I split the delicious chopped salad ($7) of crisp mixed greens, olives, roasted bell peppers and artichoke hearts. There was too much dressing overall, but the zing of the Italian vinaigrette was appreciated. Our friends were very happy with their choices of grilled octopus salad ($16) and beet salad ($9).
My main course was the lobster cognac dish ($24) with crab, shrimp, mussels and scallops all served in a creamy cognac sauce over a black squid ink pasta. The cognac sauce worked nicely to accentuate, rather than dominate, the seafood flavors. I loved the bright tomato of my husband’s lamb ragu ($18) mixed in with the earthiness of the lamb’s juices.
Dessert is always a highlight of the meal for me, so I saved room for the rum-soaked apple cake, served with vanilla ice cream. Normally, I’d like something more adventurous in ice cream than simple vanilla, but it paired great with the creamy cake that was almost like bread pudding in texture.
The Service: When the dinner rush hit, service was little slow, but that was quickly made up for by extra attentiveness for the rest of the meal.
The Final Bill: Including two drinks each, a shared appetizer and dessert, two pasta courses, and two espressos, our final bill was $99.28. You can order the pizzas from their sister restaurant for a more affordable night out in the same atmosphere.
The Verdict: 604 West Morgan was an unexpected treat in the heart of Durham’s warehouse district. If you’d like a nice evening out and somewhere a little hidden to spend it, then give it a try.
Rebecca Gomez Farrell is a Durham-based fantasy, horror and romance author and a freelance editor. She reviews the Triangle’s restaurants and cocktails on her blog, the Gourmez, contributes to the food blog Carpe Durham and writes television commentary for All My Writers.