Durham St. James seafood restaurant to reopen after COVID
Saint James Seafood, Durham’s restaurant that reopened just 39 days last year between a nearby gas explosion and a global pandemic, will return next year.
Chef and owner Matt Kelly announced on Tuesday that his Bull City Seafood Palace will reopen at the end of January. The popular restaurant served take-out for several months in 2020, but has kept its dining room closed since the start of the COVID pandemic.
Kelly, who also owns Mateo Tapas and Mothers and Sons restaurants, said he felt lucky to be able to reopen Saint James.
“I’m lucky,” Kelly said in a telephone interview. “I feel so grateful to be able to stand where we are now. “
A wonderland of the sea
Saint James opened in 2017 as a seafood wonderland, putting towers of oyster shells and crab claws on the same menu as gourd fried fish. Drinks leaned towards tiki and wines and beers that pair well with oysters.
But the restaurant closed for almost a year following a deadly gas explosion on its block in Durham’s Brightleaf neighborhood. Saint James reopened on January 23, 2020, but then closed its dining hall in March before the pandemic.
Kelly said the timing of the reopening follows a period of more normal activity at her other restaurants, allowing her to open the third.
Saint James will reopen with a menu similar to the one before, with popular dishes like Crab Dip, Juan’s Aguachile, Chowder Fries, and Buttery BBQ Shrimp making a return.
“Great fish from great purveyors”
The new menu will also include additions to Saint James’ temporary take-out menu from 2020, including a double cheeseburger and a pickle-fried chicken sandwich.
But the spotlight will remain on fresh seafood, Kelly said.
“As before, we will have the most extensive raw sea bass in the area,” Kelly said. “Good fish from great purveyors. We will continue the hard work and have a good time.
When it opens, Saint James will serve dinner Wednesday through Saturday and later add brunch on Sunday.
This story was originally published December 14, 2021 10:14 a.m.