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Federal News

Posted by DID 15 Dec 2010 31 Comments

So by now you’ve probably heard beloved chef Blue is leaving the Federal come January. A moment of silence. Now onto the good news, rumors are flying around town that he will be replaced by the Sous Chef/Chef de Cuisine at Nana’s, Scott Mckinney.

New kitchen equipment has been ordered and Scott is spending a lot of time in the kitchen with Blue learning the ropes of the Federal. No rumors on whether the menu will be changing but my guess is he’ll want to put his own stamp on things. We have been assured that the level of quality of the specials will not suffer.


  • Patrick said:

    How about the price of the specials?


    DID replies on December 16th, 2010 at 12:23 pm:

    Been told the special price will stay the same – though we have noticed them creeping up slightly in the past few months – one or two in the $16 range.


  • Jessica said:

    I second patrick’s question…big difference between nana’s and the federal.


  • Ted said:

    … and where is chef Blue going?

    If he doesn’t tell us, we can simply smell him out … his signature garlic fries won’t keep it a secret for long :O


    DID replies on December 16th, 2010 at 12:24 pm:

    He says he doesn’t know – more than likely out of state – Seattle, Portland, FL


    Prop1 replies on January 29th, 2011 at 7:45 pm:

    He his redoing the menu at aliva’s, check it out first week in febuary!


    Prop1 replies on January 29th, 2011 at 7:52 pm:


  • allison said:

    Good riddance. I have been to the Federal time several times and have never been impressed with the food. The garlic fries alone have so much garlic on them that they are inedible. I could excuse the trendier than thou waitstaff if the food and beer selection was actually good. Maybe I wasn’t drunk enough when I was there, but I never really got what the fuss was all about. My only hope is the food will improve as the Federal is an option I would like to put back in my restaurant repertoire.


    RPP replies on December 16th, 2010 at 1:54 am:

    Crazy talk!


    wow. replies on December 20th, 2010 at 8:31 pm:

    Ummmm, you should just stay away from The Federal permanently if it’s THAT terrible. Problem solved and crisis averted, smart girl. Yay, everybody wins!


    JME replies on January 18th, 2011 at 1:52 pm:

    You are very mad.


  • Vinay said:

    Goodbye Chef Blue!! Thanks for all the amazing food. I will not forget, two of my favorite specials. The hanger steak with chimichurri..and the el gordo sandwich..


  • Sant said:

    I have eaten there a few times since Scott McMinney’s arrival and I dare say it’s as good if not better than before. They are using some really high class ingredients is their specials. Last time I went I had rabbit with shitake mushrooms with gnocchi. The gnocchi was a little tough (Pop’s gnocchi down the street is to die for) but for $10 I still give it a big thumbs up. Other dishes on the menu I’ve seen included grilled quail, various fish dishes, risottos, and they are still great values.

    Keep up the good work, Federal!


  • hlh827 said:

    I went to the Federal last night for dinner and enjoyed it as much as I ever have before! (Sigh of relief…) My friend and I arrived early enough to beat the crowd and sat in the back room, which has been redecorated in the past few months and really looks lovely! I opted for the house red – so I could splurge on my dinner, and was pleased with it. I had the ribeye for dinner and it was amazing! The meat was seasoned and cooked perfectly. It was served with onions in a balsamic glaze(?) and a turnip and potato gratin. The gratin was very tasty, although it could have been a bit hotter. The presentation was attractive and simple and our server was appropriately attentive.

    Great evening overall!


  • sarah said:

    please please please bring back to the corn cob with the cheese on it!

    It was a side to the NY steak and possibly the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Not to mention I’ve never seen it anywhere else. I would go to the federal and get the steak every time just for that side.

    The food and beer is still fantastic but I miss that corn!


    Tooth replies on February 2nd, 2011 at 12:10 pm:

    You can get that corn at many Durham area taquerias. Look for it listed on menus as simply, “elotes”. Or sometimes “elotes con queso”. I know for certain you can always get it at El Superior on Roxboro or from one of the many food vendors at the Durham Green Market.


    blue replies on February 4th, 2011 at 4:50 am:

    Yes! I love fresh grilled corn with crema and lime, Tooth knows.

    unrelated, but the pudding and rashers at the James Joyce is the best thing I’ve had in awhile. Go get some.


  • William said:

    The Federal has really gone down hill with this new chef. There was a time when you could order anything off the specials menu and it would be delicious. Not so anymore. The specials are now just plain weird and sometimes unappetizing. They usually consist of the following: veal, lamb, rabbit, duck or some bizarre game meat you have to Google. What does the chef have against a good steak or pork chop? Did he order a cargo container of lamb from New Zealand? It’s been on the menu every single time we’ve been since he took over in January. Also, the menu is not seasonal. Who wants a Caprese salad sandwich in the middle of winter?

    I know of a dozen friends who would frequent the Federal 1 or 2 times a week and now refuse to go because the food has gone south. The chef killed the goose that laid the golden egg and is currently cooking it up with squid ink and calf tongue.


    scc replies on May 9th, 2011 at 9:56 am:

    perfectly put William. i am near broken-hearted about the decline of the Fed’s food, and the increase in price and lack of variety from what is now the normal quail/rabbit/veal/etc. what was easily a twice-a-week restaurant is now just a nice bar with a good grilled cheese…..


    JNB replies on May 9th, 2011 at 2:31 pm:

    Agree with both of you. We went yesterday for Mother’s Day and the specials were indeed ‘special’. Octopus Salad? Lamb sandwich? Duck and lamb chorizo? Who are you trying to draw in? How about a few different sandwiches (chicken, pork, beef, portabella), maybe a pasta dish and seafood of some sort instead? As for the prices, if I’m spending $14 for one of these specials, I’d much rather go to Watts Grocery for $2 more and get something that will be really amazing & not as weird. I’m so sad about this & hope that things can be tweaked. We really love the Fed but with Bull McCabes and Geer Street offering decently priced specials using not-so-strange ingredients, Fed won’t win.


    Andre replies on May 30th, 2011 at 11:51 am:

    Since when did lamb and duck become “weird?”


  • William said:



    Is this what the new chef thinks of the clientele? Do the owners know that he is using their public-facing Facebook & twitter feed for his own verbal diarrhea?

    I will never set foot in the Fed again. Thanks for the memories.


    DID replies on May 31st, 2011 at 1:57 pm:

    We actually caught that as well – one of the Fed’s owners says it was the chef – and an accident.


    William replies on May 31st, 2011 at 2:15 pm:

    Accident or not, I would be out of a job right now if I posted something that moronic and hateful to my company’s facebook/twitter feeds. The fact that it was indeed the chef does not surprise me one bit.


    DID replies on June 3rd, 2011 at 10:20 am:

    well from experience it is really easy to tweet from the wrong account when you have multiple – he was out in Raleigh and meant to tweet from his personal account – and unfortunately with twitter there are no take-backs.

  • chaydgc said:

    I don’t want to get involved in a spat, but will call attention to my note on the Federal on the other thread or board or whatever it is on this site.

    Truly I don’t understand the venom. The Federal’s specials are spectacular.


  • BeGood said:

    Having read the commentary here and in the forum thread regarding the Federal’s specials, including chaydgc’s recent comments, I want to chime in with my recent experience of the Fed.

    I only began frequenting the Fed last year, but in the time that Blue was there, like many posters here and in the forum thread, I ordered often from the list of specials, and I never once had a meal I didn’t enjoy. The Fed was one of my favorite places in town for a good, affordable meal, and the specials offered a nice variety. Since the new chef took over, I’ve been to the Fed a few more times, and frankly, the difference was night and day.

    Take, for instance, one of the last meals I had at the Fed, from the specials menu, a rabbit ravioli. Looking back, warning bells probably should have gone off in my head immediately upon ordering, when the young waitress essentially began apologizing for the dish already, informing me that it was “very green”, even as she took my order. When it came out, it was indeed “very green”. To put it bluntly, the words “soylent green” come to mind. The dish placed before me was an indiscriminate green goop, supposedly populated with mushrooms and other ingredients that might have made a fine dish, if not for the fact that it was impossible to distinguish any of them, whether by appearance, taste, or texture, amid the sickly, soupy green mess. Moreover, the ravioli itself was less than satisfactory. In fact, the ravioli held a couple of nasty surprises — beyond just the rabbit, which was hardly ideal — as I found a couple of bones the size of marbles inside, not the sorts of things you want to bite down into unexpectedly.

    I’ve seen references to occasional issues with the wait staff. I’ve never had any problem in that regard. I will say, however, that no compensation was made for the above meal, a meal that certainly warranted it.

    The Fed is a place that had built up a lot of good will with me prior to the new chef, so that was not my last meal there, but having given it more than one chance now, I can definitively state that I’ll be returning in the future only when either 1) the new chef moves on to some other unsuspecting restaurant, or 2) Gordon Ramsay comes in with the Kitchen Nightmares crew and gets the place sorted.

    To chaydgc, although you missed out on the Fed while Blue was there, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your experience there with the new chef. I don’t think venom is the right word for what you’re seeing from many of the other posters, though; I think in many cases it’s simply calling a bad meal a bad meal.


  • Mark said:

    I too have eaten at the Federal many times over the last four or five years. they seemed to have had a few chefs over this period and every time a chef left you would notice as the specials would change. The one thing to me that hasn’t changed is that the food although different is still very good. I guess its easy if you have a bad meal to write about it but the amount of hate someone can generate from having ravioli which was not to their liking, although amusing, is a little over the top.


  • Blue Law said:

    embarrassing.. (don’t blog much, just filling in the blanks/deletions)

    I cannot recall why I would just throw the word at the man. It did seem rude, but fitting at the time. You can not critique what you have not experienced.

    Scott hopefully has worked as hard as I did at The Federal. Working and putting your heart into anything is is hard as you want it to be.

    We have all moved on, and if you ever move on to San Antonino TX, be sure to taste The Monterey. http://www.themontereysa.com/

    I’m in AZ on my way to WA, I hope you can smell my C**T from here.

    Cheers Durham, I do miss


    ScorpioCurse replies on March 15th, 2013 at 7:52 pm:

    Scott is not Blue, but has done a good job nonetheless. Different style. The venom is totally over the top.

    Blue, hope you kick ass in WA, BTW. Give me (Heath) a buzz if you get back to Durham or MDF anytime soon.


    Blue Law replies on March 17th, 2013 at 8:50 am:

    Good to hear from ya Heath..hit my email to make this more private. Good news all around on my end!


    happy paddys Durham. I do miss the JJoyce, where I didn’t have to have a good time to drink. Cheers to Fergus, his wonderful wife,and his fun but slightly mental brother. I say that in a nice way, I’m quite a case myself.


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