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@Work: Truffles Restaurant

April 23, 2006 — A Crucian connection was made last year in Birmingham, Ala., that should please the palates of people dining in downtown Christiansted. Birmingham is where Truffles' new owners, Sarah Standring and Charles Mereday, met. He was teaching at the Virginia Culinary Institute, and she worked for him at a restaurant.
They found they both had St. Croix in common. She used to spend family vacations there, while he had lived on the island for a few years.
She had always wanted to own her business; while Mereday — who did a short stint operating July Place, a restaurant located in Gallows Bay, where Case Place is now — always wanted to run a restaurant.
They moved to St. Croix and became the owners of Truffles in October.
A popular dining spot for locals, Truffles is located on the second floor at 52 Company Street, across from the post office. Formerly known as the Top Hat, the restaurant's name was changed to Truffles when David and Jane Kendrick — owners of Kendrick's restaurant in the Quin House on King Cross Street — ran it.
Standring and Mereday changed Truffles' menu a month ago. Mereday said they wanted to make it more customer friendly.
The menu remains gourmet, however. On a recent visit, the roasted organic beets, drizzled with a parmesan vinaigrette, were rated as highly as were the entrees: vegetable fettucini alfredo, and pesto chicken with grape tomatoes and a parmesan cream. The chocolate soufflé should please any chocolate lover.
The menu selection is extensive. Other entrees include grilled salmon, spicy shrimp stir fry, grilled yellow tuna, roasted chicken supreme, seared duck breast, pan-roasted pork loin, braised lamb shank and filet mignon.
Truffles does not have the ocean view that some of St. Croix's restaurants have, but what it lacks in view, it makes up for with comfort. The dining area is spacious, and tables are not packed too closely. It is easy to carry on a conversation before dinner and hear oneself speak.
The staff is small and friendly. The couple employs two full- and two part-time workers.
If all works out as planned, Standring and Mereday should be preparing meals in Christiansted — and be part of the St. Croix community — for a long time to come.
The couple plans to exchange marriage vows in May at a ceremony at Carambola Resort.
Arrangements can be made for a special chef"s night tasting — in which the chef prepares 10 dishes of his choice for all participants at the table to sample. The cost is $100 per person.
For reservations at Truffles, call 778-8783. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday, six to 9:30 p.m.
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