Award-winning Hospitality Group Celebrates North Carolina’s Rich Culinary Heritage With Regionally Inspired and Globally Influenced Restaurant
PRESS RELEASE – 21c Museum Hotels, the award-winning boutique hotel, contemporary art museum and restaurant group, is pleased to announce the opening of Counting House, located at 21c Museum Hotel Durham at 111 N. Corcoran Street in downtown Durham; the hotel is scheduled to open in the coming weeks. Under the direction of executive chef Josh Munchel, Counting House offers a global perspective on regional dishes with a menu celebrating North Carolina’s rich heritage of fresh seafood, locally sourced seasonal ingredients and a strong emphasis on rotisserie and roasting techniques.
Counting House and 21c Durham are located in downtown Durham’s historic Hill Building. The restaurant’s name references the building’s long history as a bank. Munchel’s menu highlights local ingredients with a fresh, light-handed approach to the regional cuisine of North Carolina. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Munchel attended culinary school in nearby Louisville before returning to his hometown to practice his thoughtful approach to ingredients and love of fragrant spices and bold flavors in the city’s best kitchens. Munchel worked as a sous chef at 21c sister restaurant, Metropole, since its opening in 2012, helping it earn accolades including a place on Bon Appetit’s list of Best New Restaurants 2013 and Cincinnati magazine’s Best New Restaurant 2013. “Counting House is one of the most exciting and dynamic projects I’ve been a part of,” says Munchel. “I am honored to join the local community of chefs and restaurants and help celebrate Durham’s thriving restaurant scene.”
Chef Munchel’s philosophy of “thinking globally and acting locally” is evident in his menu, which offers the chef’s own interpretation of classic dishes. Munchel relies on North Carolina’s abundance of fresh ingredients and incorporates an array of spices and fresh herbs to put an international spin on regional fare. The menu offers both a selection of oysters and a separate “Sea Snacks” section that goes beyond traditional raw bar offerings, including Marinated Mussels with sumac soda crackers; Trout Terrine with smoked roe and crème fraiche; and Tobacco Tuna with almonds and olive oil. The “Taste” section of the menu features small plates ideal for sharing, including Beets Tartar with orange, cashew puree and arugula; and Griddled Romaine and Cauliflower with plump raisins, chilies and oyster aioli. A dedicated “Meat & Cheese” section is featured, as well as “Mostly Vegetables” including Burned Haricot with red eye aioli, crispy ham and boiled peanuts; Roasted Squash with cranberries, cress and goat cheese; and Farro and Puffed Barley with fines herbs, yogurt and pomegranates. Entree items highlight local seafood and meat and make use of the restaurant’s custom-built rotisserie, including Seared Carolina Bass with roasted broccoli, cashew butter and lemon; Rotisserie Chicken with aji verde, red beans, avocado and lemon; B&B Brined Pork with braised swiss chard, cornbread and croutons and more.
Munchel and his team have partnered with a number of local purveyors to showcase the food community and establish robust produce, bread and coffee programs. Munchel has provided Blue Sky Farms in Wendell, NC, with seeds to produce Peruvian black mint and will also be utilizing its Aji peppers, Amarillo peppers, mushrooms and greens in several dishes on the menu. Main Street Bakery and Weaver Street co-op bakery provide bread for the restaurant and local roaster Joe Van Gogh provides the coffee.
The team at Counting House has created a well-rounded beverage program focusing on wines, cocktails and light aperitifs that complement the fresh herbs and bright flavors on the menu. The bar and lounge is a welcoming place to taste innovative house-made cocktails, sample local craft brews and explore the broad bourbon and wine lists. The cocktail list includes both classics and new creations, including the Ellis-Stone with ginger syrup, lime juice, Green Chartreuse, vodka and Peychaud’s bitters. The Little Empire, with Punt e Mes, Carpano, Rittenhouse Rye and Blended Orange Bitters, is a nod to the Hill Building’s architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, who also designed New York’s Empire State Building. For guests interested in dining at the bar, the full dinner menu will also be available.
Like its sister properties, Counting House and 21c Museum Hotel Durham will be woven into the fabric of downtown Durham, welcoming both visitors and members of the community to experience the museum’s rotating exhibitions, participate in its cultural programs and enjoy the restaurant’s culinary offerings. Counting House combines contemporary design with historic details highlighting the building’s original terrazzo floors and double height windows. The restaurant will also feature site-specific contemporary art installations and rotating exhibitions.
Counting House occupies a space that was once the Ellis Stone department store on the corner of Corcoran and Main streets. The design aims to fully engage diners by bringing the constant buzz of activity in its open kitchen into full view, with a chef’s table nearby offering a front-row seat for curious and culinary-minded guests. The open kitchen features a large grill and spit roaster highlighting the restaurant’s focus on slow-roasted dishes. Counting House offers a private dining room displaying a glass-front wine cabinet. The interior also features a graduated ceiling starting with soaring heights of 23 feet and gradually lowering toward the heart of the restaurant, enhancing the space’s intimate character.
Counting House is open daily for dinner, from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sunday – Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The lounge is open Sunday – Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is located at 111 N. Corcoran Street in the 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Durham, North Carolina. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 919.956.6760.