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A Chef’s Table is Back! Meridian Restaurant w/ Mark Grohman

It’s been a loooooonnng 16 months since our last Chef’s Table. We had a great launch in 2020, but things went downhill fast after everything was shut down in March last year due to the pandemic. Staying open with takeout was one thing. Reopening to dine-in was another. From staffing issues to supply problems, we weren’t quite sure when we might be able to offer events again.

But one day, mr. foodie traveled for business in the beautiful city of Winston-Salem, stayed at the Brookstown Inn and walked over to his favorite, Meridian Restaurant, for dinner and cocktails and my Mark and Chef Mark resurrected the Chef’s Table.

Meridian Restaurant is located at 411 Marshall Street SW, in the beautiful Brookstown area of downtown Winston-Salem. To say Meridian is one of our top restaurants in the Triad is an understatement. From tapas to a delicious steak, excellent wine pairings and cocktails, Meridian has never disappointed. It’s modern, beautiful and elegant but unpretentious. You can have dinner in your jeans and still feel comfortable. And Chef Mark Grohman knows how to treat his guests.

Chef & owner of Meridan, Mark Grohman, always brings his best game.

Once the ticket sales for the Chef’s Table went live, it sold out in about six hours. In keeping with the spirit of distancing, we kept the event as close to 30 as we could. And on June 15, 36 happy faces greeted one another with hugs and excitement. This is meaningful because after 5 years of Chef’s Tables and it’s evolution over the years, many of our returning patrons have become friends with me and with each other! Each month, it’s like a reunion with veterans and newbies. It was so great to see everyone again. We are back!

Before I show you the courses, I’d like to invite you to take a listen to my podcast, “At The Table With Triadfoodies” on Triad Podcast Network on Apple and here on the web. I talked with Chef Mark about navigating the last 16 months, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, and what that was like as a business owner. What he had to say was really insightful from a business owner and employer’s perspective and I think you’d enjoy it.

Chef Mark wanted to simply give us a “Taste of Meridian,” five courses that represent the flavors of the restaurant. A little something different along with traditional fare we might be accustomed to seeing at this gleaming restaurant. Let’s take a look at the courses.

The menu

Course 1:
Tete de Porc with ruby port shallot marmalata & strong mustard

Course 2:
House made gnudi w/lemon cream & herbs 

Course 3
Seared yellow fin tuna with Shore Farms spring onion red pepper couscous & Gnomestead Hollow mushroom relish

Course 4
Steak au poivre garlic mashed potatoes fire roasted vegetables wild mushroom cognac sauce

Dessert course
Corsican style lemon cheesecake with caramel sauce

Beautiful Meridian Restaurant
Guests arriving and enjoying cocktails and fellowship

Stay tuned for a new Chef’s Table announcement, coming soon! You’re going to love it!

Restaurants We Love in Banner Elk

I often get asked for dining recommendations when people visit our hometown of Banner Elk, NC. For such a small little town, BE has quite the offerings. So much in fact that we often don’t feel the need to go outside the area to eat (but we still do, because duh). I am currently working on a post that is much more extensive of top spots to eat in the entire High Country, but for now, here’s a list of restaurants that rarely disappoint in Banner Elk, NC, where you can come relax and just BE. This list is in no particular order, but I did place the higher end restaurant on top. Also, don’t let the all over the place addresses fool you. All of these restaurants are in Banner Elk proper. There are some restaurants that are literally in the same complex and one address will say Linville and the other will say Sugar Mountain and don’t ask me why….we’re all just scratching our heads up here.

Artisanal Restaurant 1200 Dobbins Road, Banner Elk $$$$
Artisanal is one of a kind. The quality of the food, the service and the ambiance are simply extraordinary. You’ll enjoy a truly elevated chef curated experience with a menu that changes often. We have taken our children here (youngest is 12) and they’ll make a meal for them too if they’re picky (chicken tenders, buttered noodles). My older child loves the food here. All that to say, it’s best enjoyed as a date night or with adults. It’s business casual so be prepared to dress cute.

LP on Main 171 Main Street, E, Banner Elk (Lousiana Purchase) $$$
One of our absolute favorites and most visited for a date night, LP is in a new space in downtown BE and is just beautiful. The food and service never disappoint. I love the BBQ shrimp, but I also enjoy trying new items from the menu. The salmon, the burgers, the meat loaf, the lobster poutine! There’s a variety of price points to suit your budget and now that it’s the high season, LP is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday.

LP on Main

Reid’s Cafe & Catering 4004 NC 105 Suite #8, Sugar Mountain $$$
Hyper local and focused on seasonal ingredients and craft cocktails, Reid’s is definitely a favorite of mine and go-to if you want to really see those ingredients in play and truly promoted. They make it all in-house. I recently enjoyed brunch at Reid’s for the first time last month and it was stellar (they are not serving brunch this summer). It’s absolutely not your run of the mill shrimp & grits or duck at Reid’s. Be prepared for some creativity. Open Tuesday-Saturday lunch/dinner.

Reid’s

The Painted Fish Cafe 2941 Tynecastle Hwy, Banner Elk $$
Another frequently visited restaurant facing beautiful Sugar Mountain, The Fish, as it’s affectionately known is a wildly popular for Sunday brunch and for changing up his menu. Very family-friendly, reservations are always still recommended this time of year. We love Fried Chicken Wednesdays and Fried Catfish Thursdays and you can count on a chef’s special all the other nights as well. Open Wed-Sunday.

Stonewall’s Restaurant 344 Shawneehaw Ave, Banner Elk $$$
For a great steak, you’ll find it at Stonewall’s, which has been locally owned for decades. If the Cowboy ribeye is on the menu, we recommend as it is suitable for sharing. Don’t miss the deviled eggs or the wedge salad while you’re here.

Luna Thai & Sushi 3990 NC 105, Linville $$
BE’s brand new itty bitty baby Thai/Vietnamese/Asian Fusion restaurant just a few doors down from Reid’s (notice the address is totally different). Stir fry, pho, Tom Kha, Curry dishes with noodles or rice and sushi. It’s all just delicious and we haven’t had a bad meal there yet.

Banner Elk Cafe 324 Shawneehaw Ave, S. Hwy 184, Banner Elk $
You might call BE Cafe the most popular spot in town and I wouldn’t argue. It’s a very large restaurant, dog-friendly patio, and generally where most people go for a quick easy bite. They offer two huge menus (one is the Lodge menu) and you can find sandwiches, salads, pizza, pasta, burgers and entrees. I personally go for the burgers and the trout here. Mr. foodie loves their salads for lunch. They have a dessert case and a coffee shop too. Full disclosure: It ain’t always rainbows and fairy tales here. I’ve had some moments where I walked out disappointed, but for the price point and the vibe, I keep going back and the fact that they have live music is a big plus.

Sorrento’s 140 Azalea Circle, SE, Banner Elk $$
Not the cheapest place in town for a pizza or plate of pasta, but Sorrento’s in the Village downtown has been around a long time and the pizza is very good. You might enjoy bringing your pup and sitting out on the patio, where you can enjoy live music from the amphitheatre. We usually just get pizza here but if pasta is what you’re craving, you’ll find all the classics plus a very tasty lasagna.

Bodega’s 488 Main Street West, Banner Elk $$
We even have Cuban food in BE! Go to Bodega’s for their beautiful al fresco dining experience and load up on all the little tacos and black beans and be sure to get a Cuban too.

The Ham Shoppe 32 High Country Square, Banner Elk $
This iconic shop is now located in the heart of BE. All of the sandwiches are prepared fresh and you can even order bulk meats (call ahead to check availability) for a longer stay. I love to grab a few sandwiches and take them for a picnic. Annnnnnnnd…..if you see an entire apple pie in the case for sale, I’m going to suggest you go ahead and buy it because it is amazing.

BE. Scooped 144 Azalea Circle, SE Banner Elk $
After you visit the Village or hit Sorrento’s be sure to stop by BE Scooped for a fresh waffle cone filled with ice cream. It’s a sweet little ice cream shop with plenty of flavors and the service is excellent.

Dunn’s Deli 134 Main Street West, Banner Elk $
Another iconic sandwich shop in the heart of downtown BE, grab a warm or cold sandwich to go or BBQ. We love Dunn’s BLT’s and pastrami sandwiches. You can dine in or out.

So there you have it. I promise it’s not all of the restaurants in BE, but these are our tried and trues. Let me know if you try any of these restaurants and what you think. And if I’ve left anyone out that you think deserves attention, please comment below. Also, I’d be remiss to not tell you to give the Wilderness Alpine Roller Coaster a try for a fun family thrill. Come see us!

“Lusty” Mustard Pepper Burgers + Giveaway

Hi, friends!
The past couple of weeks I’ve been collaborating with Lusty Monk Mustard, coming up with different creations like this Chicken Schnitzel. My friends at NC’s Lusty Monk have jumped on board for a giveaway of their trio pack of mustards! Keep reading for the recipe and how to win.

Way back 150 years ago when I worked at the Village Tavern in Reynolda Village in Winston Salem, my favorite burger was called the Mustard Pepper Burger. All I know about it is that it had a peppery kick and the bun was spread with dijon. It was kind of like an au poivre meets Dijon and very simple with lettuce, tomato and cheese if you wanted it. It’s no longer on the menu but it was such a good burger, I decided to make my own with Lusty Monk Original Sin mustard. I tried this recipe a number of times and the last time, I got it just right.

Mustard is inside the mixture with a pepper crust

The burger meat (I used local Shipley Beef) is “marinated” with the mustard, worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and plenty of pepper. The mustard inside the meat mixture is key and there needs to be a crust of pepper on the burger. I like to sear this burger in a cast iron skillet so I don’t lose any pepper and because it makes such a good crust, plus at the time of this posting we were 25 degrees with gusts of 20 and that’s not grilling weather. Once the burger is cooked, place on buns and top with a bit more mustard and your choice of fixings. It really doesn’t need much in the way of toppings. Honestly, I never want mayo on a burger unless it’s a patty melt but something about mayo is good with this Lusty Mustard burger. Let me know if you make this and what you think. If you do make the Lusty Mustard Pepper Burger, tag me on Insta!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs of ground beef
2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. garlic powder
2-4 tbs. Lusty Monk Original Sin mustard (the more you use, the kickier it is)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper (enough to make a crust)

4 quality hamburger buns (potato or brioche)
Toppings of choice (lettuce is good here and I like a spread of mayo on this burger)

Instructions:
Mix the ingredients for your meat mixture and allow to rest in the refrigerator for about an hour. When time to cook, patty the meat out to your desired size. We like 1/3 pound burgers. Crank your skillet to a high heat and add a little oil to prevent any sticking. Sear the burgers on either side until desired doneness. Add cheese if you want. Muenster or Swiss are good here but you don’t need cheese. Remove from heat to a plate to rest for 5 minutes. Build your burger with more mustard and toppings of choice. Enjoy!

Fun note: My hubby added the sweet Into Temptation mustard to his burger and really liked the contrast of the peppery crust and spicy kick of the original.



We’re giving away a trio pack of Lusty Monk Mustard featuring Original Sin (a grainy dijon), sweet IntoTemptation (a grainy honey) and Burn in Hell (a spicy Chipotle). Want to win? Comment below and for additional chances to win, head over to my Facebook and Instagram and comment how you’d love to use these mustards. I’ll draw a winner next week, March 5.

Chicken Schnitzel w/ Sweet Mustard Sauce

We’re really enjoying playing around with NC’s Lusty Monk Mustard. Keeping following along as we get creative with this delicious local condiment that can be used in so many ways. Head over to Instagram to enter a giveaway for a trio of their flavors, Original Sin, Sweet Temptation, and Burn in Hell.

I just love a crispy schnitzel. Be it chicken, veal or pork, if it’s fried perfectly crispy, I’m here for it. This schnitzel pairs perfectly with the creamy, slightly sweet and spicy mustard sauce and it’s like grown up chicken tendies wtih honey mustard dipping sauce and that my friends, is another blog post that is a throwback to a childhood favorite. In case you missed it, we have Corn Dog Minis here.
Note: I bread my schnitzel or fried cutlets a bit differently. Lately, I do not dredge in flour. It gets perfectly crispy without the flour and the crispy coating actually sticks better to the chicken if you don’t do it. But if you’re a diehard believer in the flouring first, by all means, you do you.

Ingredients:

4 chicken cutlets, about 1/3 inch thick (or as many as you need). I took chicken breasts and sliced it through the middle horizontally along its equator.
1 egg
1 cup Italian or seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Italian seasoning, garlic, smoked paprika or favorite seasoning combo
Salt/pepper
2 tbs Lusty Monk Sweet Temptation Honey Mustard
1 clove grated garlic
1/4 -1/2 cup cream
1/4-1/2 cup broth
Brandy, sherry or white wine (optional)
Micro greens, parsley or chives for garnish

Instructions:
To prep the chicken, cut the chicken breasts into cutlets. You can even pound them with a mallet a bit to get them to about 1/3 inch thick. Whisk an egg in a shallow dish and place the breadcrumbs in two separate plates. Season the chicken with salt & pepper then dredge both sides in egg mixture, followed by the breadcrumbs then panko.

Heat a skillet with a good bit of olive oil. You’ll want enough oil for the chicken to sit in the oil and not be totally covered, but nearly. Once the oil shimmers, carefully place the chicken in the skillet, flipping once the bottom side is golden brown. Once completely golden on both sides, set aside on paper towel or wire rack and give it a sprinkle of salt.

For the sauce:
You can prepare the sauce before and keep warm or if you feel good about your multitasking skills while the chicken cooks, you can quickly bring it together. Add a touch of oil to a skillet, add garlic and stir a few minutes until fragrant but not browning. Next, add the mustard. Add your 1/4 cup brandy or wine, about half the broth and allow to cook down. Stir in the heavy cream and simmer until thickened. Do not let it boil too hard as I find that it can make a grainy mustard bitter. Loosen, if necessary, with additional broth.


To serve, plate the chicken and top with sauce. Garnish with micro greens, parsley or fresh chives. Serve with a beautiful veggie, spaetzle or mashed potatoes.


Corn Dog Minis w/ Lusty Monk Mustard

The following is the first in a series of posts featuring NC’s Lusty Monk Mustard. I was gifted a set of mustard to give some new recipes a go. We are so thankful to Lusty Monk to be invited in on the fun.

It might make me a grown child, but I love hot dogs, fixed all kinds of ways. I love corn dogs just as much. Here’s my once a year do-it-myself treat featuring corn dogs using local corn meal, with Lusty Monk Mustard waiting close by for the dipping. Actually it’s so yummy, I might do this more than once a year.

Ingredients
2/3 cup flour plus another 1/4 cup for dredging
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (I used Old Mill of Guilford)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper (I like it speckled)
sprinkling of onion powder, garlic powder or any seasonings you desire
1 cup milk
1 package of regular hot dogs, cut into thirds or fourths (smoked sausage is also great)
Vegetable or peanut oil for frying

Instructions:

Preheat oil in a pot or pan. You’ll need about 3 inches. When the oil sizzles with a tester of batter, it’s ready. About 350 degrees is what you’re aiming for.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the milk. You want the batter to be almost pancake like, not too thick but not runny. The longer it sits, the thicker it gets.

Toss the hot dogs or sausages in the 1/4 cup flour until lightly coated. Then dip into the batter ensuring even coverage and shaking off excess.

Note: There are a number of ways to do this and I find a fork is great. But if you skewer the ends and you’re using sausages, they make these perfect round balls (you can see in the photo) which I love. Longer skewers allow you to place them in the oil and pick them up by the stick.

Place a few in the hot oil and cook until completely golden brown. You may need to turn them a bit for even cooking. They might look a bit rustic. I wasn’t going for perfect ovals here. But the sausages did get round like hushpuppies and they were super cute!

Place cooked doggies on a paper towel lined plate. You may need to keep warm in an oven while the rest of them fry, if they make it that far.

Serve with ketchup and/or mustard …we recommend Lusty Monk Mustard’s Original Sin, which is a grainy, almost dijon like mustard with a great kick of heat.

About Lusty Monk:

Our fellow mountain-dwellers are located in Candler, NC, just outside of Asheville. It’s made in small batches and I love the grainy, course texture and spicy kick. Perfect with pretzels, on a hot dog, on sandwiches. You can choose from Original Sin, Temptation (a spicy honey mustard) or Burn in Hell ( a chipotle version of Original Sin and my personal favorite). Lusty Monk can be found in the Triad and High Country and in 22 states nationwide. You’ll find them in the refrigerated section at markets like Earth Fare (Boone), Town & Country Meats (Greensboro), Canteen Market (Winston-Salem), Over Yonder (Valle Crucis). Check their website for locations. You can also order online.

Stay tuned for more ways I’m using Lusty Monk as we dive into the sweet and heat of this amazing mustard.