I have been dying to try Ãn in Cary and was waiting for the right moment to come along to give me the excuse to splurge a bit and go. Ãn is not exactly cheap, but oh, so worth it! Luckily, one of my oldest and dearest friends, Toni, was coming to town for a quick business trip so I told her to meet me at Ãn, since she was staying near the airport. Ãn is located in the Arboretum, at the corner of Harrison Boulevard and Weston Parkway. When I first turned into the parking lot, I was impressed by the sheer size of the building. I had no idea the restaurant was that big! Upon entering, I was impressed with the various areas, the large, wooden piece that looked like an ancient kayak adorning the ceiling in the bar area, the very high, dark wood ceiling in the main dining room gives the restaurant an Asian lodge feeling.
I had heard that Steven Deveraux Greene, formerly of Heron’s Restaurant in the Umstead Hotel, had been lured over to Ãn last year and I know he has a really great reputation. So I was happy to finally get a chance to try his food. I was not disappointed!
We were celebrating, so we started our meal out with a cocktail. My friend had the apple-infused bourbon with cinnamon, vanilla bean and fever-tree ginger beer and I had the Lychee Cosmopolitan, which was made from Absolut Citron, St. Germain mixed with lychee puree, some sour mix and cranberry juice and a lychee fruit on the bottom. It was very flowery and sweet. I think I really liked Toni’s cocktail better, but only because I love bourbon and this was a little sweet, but crisp.
Our server was a nice young lady who served us some edamame while we were sipping our cocktails.
I started my meal with the Asian-pear salad. It was served on a grey slate plate and looked like a piece of artwork. There were small deep red beets and a few yellow beets cut in half, slices of Asian pears, with little leaves of baby arugula, pieces of very crisp country ham (I thought it was bacon) and flower petals with a sesame-walnut dressing. It also had some pickled Asian pear with mustard seeds that gave the dish a little contrast in sweet and sour. It was very good and I would highly recommend this dish.
My friend had the Ikura roll to start her meal. The pieces of sushi were beautiful with the dark pink salmon roe wrapped in the dark seaweed, and very fresh. The salmon roe was really good, according to Toni.
We also were served some little muffins and scones. We each tried one and while they were nice, both of us wondered why this came with the meal. The muffins and scones are a bit sweet and don’t really go with an Asian meal.
The server gave us a taste of lemon and cucumber sorbet to clear our palettes between the courses. It was very clean tasting, the cool crispness of the cucumber and the tartness of the lemon were a good combination.
My friend had the Miso Sea Bass, which was a nice sized piece of sea bass that was broiled and served over a ginger carrot puree. Some sliced pickled lotus roots were on top of the fish and bean sprouts were layered on top of the cabbage that came with the dish, with a few salmon roe and some flower petals added as garnish. The flavors were subtle, but distinct. The sea bass was very fresh and beautifully presented. I was, again, so impressed by the presentation. It looked like a piece of artwork!
I got the Duck Breast, which I mistakenly asked to have done medium well. It came out a bit dry, which was obviously all my fault. Next time, I will order it medium. It was served with two scoops of barley that were in the middle of a ring of sweet onion. The barley had a nice, rich flavor and paired well with the duck. Baby carrots and arugula were served on the side with little garnish of clover and a hoisin-plum jus, which was to die for! The dish also came with a pickled black plum, which was a sour explosion in your mouth, but went perfectly with the sweetness of the hoisin sauce and complimented the richness of the duck very well.
We ended our meal by splitting a dessert. We ordered the Gala Apple Tarte Tatin, which had a caramelized apple served with a cinnamon creme fresh, a garnish of what might be described as freeze dried apples, and a side of home-made maple ice cream with a huckleberry compote and sesame walnuts. Wow, what a great dish! The tartness of the huckleberries married well with the sweetness of the maple ice cream, the apple was sweet, but not overpoweringly sweet, the tart below that was flaky and chewy. The walnuts added some crunchiness. The only thing I would have eliminated was the dried apple piece, but it was more for decoration than anything and it was very pretty!
Ãn Cuisines is located at 2800 Renaissance Park Place in Cary and is open Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. for lunch and from Monday – Saturday from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. for dinner. You can make a reservation using Open Table. You can follow Ãn on Twitter, or like their Facebook page to find out the latest specials and events.