Monthly Archives: June 2013

Emma Keys Flat Top Grill

There haven’t been many times I’ve driven through the intersection of Elam and Walker in Greensboro and NOT seen a line out the door of the very hippy chic Emma Keys Flat Top Grill. The night of the Spring Garden Food Truck Rally, the line was out the door. Out the door on a totally different Sunday. Burgers must be popular on Sunday. Hopefully, you won’t wait long in the line. Your order will be handled by someone completely charming (bearded or otherwise) and though it will feel like forever waiting for that juicy burger, you can easily pass the time people watching on Elam and Walker (and if you partied at Wahoo’s or the Blind Tiger or Wild Magnolia in the past you can reminisce). By the way, does anyone else get confused as to which direction is which at that intersection? I never know if I’m headed to Friendly or Holden or Spring Garden and it’s been many, many years. 🙂

This is about Emma Keys and not about directionality though. Owned by Emmett Morphis, a partner at the now legendary Fincastle’s Diner in downtown Greensboro, this flat top grill is named after his grandmother, Emma Key. It is super tiny with just a handful of tables inside but also counter seating where you get the birds-eye view of what grilling diner burgers is all about. These mostly college age guys are slapping burgers on the grill and creating awesomeness right before your eyes. They even grill pound cake (more on that later).

The team

The team

There are so many burgers to choose from and you can customize them however you like if you can’t manage to find something to suit your tastebuds on the menu. I ordered El Diablo—a burger with melted cheese, sliced jalapeños, with a spicy mayo AND tabasco ketchup. Yes…pretty devilishly spicy, I must say.

El Diablo

El Diablo

Emma Keys, Flat Top Grill, El Diablo, triadfoodies

El Diablo

Mr. foodie ordered the MPB with melted provolone, sautéed mushrooms and grilled onions. Delicious.

MPB

MPB

Burgers don’t automatically come with fries. You should order a basket of them. A regular is enough for 2 people easily. We went ahead and decorated our baskets with fries. Burgers always look better with them, don’t you think??

I can’t remember what the boy got but the girl got a kid’s cheeseburger and it looked like this…

Kids Cheeseburger

Kids Cheeseburger

And a milkshake looks like this. I wish it was in a glass. But it was fought over by 2 adults and 2 children so no complaints about the taste.

Chocolate shake

Chocolate shake

Emma Keys offers so many choices from Hotel California, which has provolone, guacamole and sriracha pepper sauce, to the Lou Lou with pimento cheese, the James Taylor (basically a Carolina burger with chili, slaw, the works) and lots of crazy yummy looking hotdogs and melts. And there are shakes and don’t forget a plethora of fries. This is a great place to branch out of your burger comfort zone. Try something new…live a little. And speaking of live (there’s no pic here) but once upon a time, I went to Emma Keys for dessert. And I ordered a Grilled Baby Sweets Pound Cake. It’s local pound cake grilled on the flat top and served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. And I have never forgotten it. And you won’t either.

Emma Keys Flat Top Grill, 2206 Walker Avenue, Greensboro, NC
336.285.9429

Emma Key's Flat Top Grill on Urbanspoon

Southern Roots

This Southern girl sure loves true Southern cooking. There are plenty of restaurants that offer entrees that are Southern inspired but not many mid-to-upscale that specialize in it. One of the few is Southern Roots. As Southern as their name and with a touch of refinement. A glance at their menu will tell you why this lovely little Jamestown restaurant is so popular.

Southern Roots is tucked neatly off Main Street in downtown J-town. They used to be in the JH Adams Inn in High Point but moved several years ago to a place that is, as owner Lisa Hawley describes it, so much more  “them.” It’s a cozy, yet open restaurant with a truly awesome patio complete with fireplaces and heaters (and blankies) for those chilly nights or fans for the summer. When live music is playing on the patio, you might not want to leave.

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Bar at Southern Roots

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The patio

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We were there on a day that Chef Wes Patterson was teasing us with his butt. His smoked butt that was still smoking outside and NOBODY could have it for lunch which was terrible because it smelled so heavenly.

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The butt that was “smoking”—a few flames here due to high winds that day. Wes kept the lid closed 🙂

Alas, different Southern fare would be our lunch on this day. What to choose? A shrimp BLT with fried green tomato? Wedge salad? Meat loaf? Pimento cheese? Okra pizza? Southern baby!  There’s a whole slew of pizzas, salads, sandwiches and appetizers to choose from.

My mom-in-law chose the Thai style shrimp (not so Southern) and a side of their famous sautĂ©ed okra. This okra is literally sautĂ©ed in some olive oil and salt and pepper and it is divine. I get it every time I’m there. Her shrimp were plump and sweet and spicy, but not too much so. She also added the sweet potato fries for the table. By the way, Southern Roots might be one of her top places to eat in the Triad.

Thai shrimp, okra, sweet potato fries

Thai shrimp, okra, sweet potato fries

Her friend got the Beef Tenderloin. She was quiet about the sandwich. I trust she liked it since she said it was “pretty good.”  I try not to question people too much….they may not be as into food as I am ;).

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After thinking it over I decided to order the fried cajun catfish, which came with 2 sides. I got, yes, the okra and a side of eggplant fries. Sounded good and they were! They were reminiscent of onion rings but with a little heartier texture inside. The catfish did not disappoint with its lime caper tarter sauce. It had a light crusty exterior and the inside was delicious and juicy.

Catfish

Cajun Catfish

Kidlets shared some chicken tenders and mac & cheese. They were fab. And eaten so that’s saying something.

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I’d been wanting to go back to Southern Roots since I started my blog but something always got in the way of my plans. I was especially excited to go back since meeting Chef Wes Patterson in Competition Dining’s Fire In The Triad and experiencing his awesome dishes in Rounds 1 and 2. I’d still love to see him do a bluefish and beer BLT like he did in the quarterfinals. Awesome!

Chef Wes Patterson

Chef Wes Patterson

You definitely should check out Southern Roots if you haven’t had the chance. They also do catering and you can find prepared foods in their large refrigerator case at their entry. They take reservations for lunch but NOT for dinner, so sit down at the bar and enjoy a beverage while you wait. Enjoy the music too. And get your Southern on!
www.southernrootsfoods.com
 

Southern Roots Incorporated on Urbanspoon

Beyond the Triad: Triple C’s– Columbia, Charleston, Charlotte

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Occasionally during summer break, the fam gets the privilege of joining the Mr. on biz trips. That was just the case a couple of weeks ago when he had plans to travel through SC, including Columbia and Charleston. Considering Charleston is one of my favorite places in the world, this was considered a real treat. Of course, it’s just another opportunity to share our adventures with our foodies.

First stop, lunchtime in Columbia, SC. I’d heard Bluefin in the Village at Sandhill was great, but the price point for a family of four at lunch was higher than I wanted and the neighboring restaurant Al-Amir just sounded so darn good, that we decided to eat there. My kidlets like flatbread and if nothing else, they’d eat that and hopefully some chicken. We got comfy and ordered Falafel, Damascus Bread, Hummus and a selection of kabobs featuring chicken and lamb. Check out the pics!
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Falafel

Falafel

Hummus

Hummus

Side Salad

Side Salad

Damascus Bread

Damascus Bread

Chicken Kabob

Chicken Kabob

Lamb Kabob

Lamb Kabob

This food hit the SPOT! I mean seriously, delicious, all of it. The salad was fresh and crispy with that deliciously tangy Mediterranean style dressing, the Damascus bread (we ordered large) was huge and had wonderful texture with the toasted white and black sesame seeds. I could’ve eaten a plate of falafel myself. And the kabobs were awesome. Oh and the hummus was smooth and creamy and delightful. Mr. foodie then went on sales calls and we did a little walking around the shopping center until he returned. When he did, it was off to Charleston, baby!

Did I mention I LOVE LOVE LOVE Charleston? It’s where Mr. foodie and I honeymooned. We’ve been back a couple of times since then. It’s pretty much the place I became a “foodie” and the food scene just keeps getting better.

We couldn’t get into Husk even though it was pouring down rain from the beginnings of Tropical Storm Andrea. There was about a 90 minute wait. So we walked next door to Poogan’s Porch. The place is pretty much legendary and probably not quite as touristy as some other spots in the area.

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We were seated very quickly, ordered some cocktails and Pimento Cheese fritters and She Crab Soup. It sounded good and warm since we were dripping wet. Because we took a Rickshaw to dinner. In the pouring rain. Not smart…life lessons, foodies! Anyway, they also brought out these most delicious, fluffy incredible biscuits ever. Awesome.

She Crab Soup

She Crab Soup

Pimento Cheese Fritters

Pimento Cheese Fritters w/ Green Tomato Jam

The. Biscuits. Wowza!

The. Biscuits. Wowza!

The fritters were crispy and cheesy and so was very satisfying. For entrees, Mr. foodie ordered the Crispy Skinned Snapper  with cheddar grit cake, pulled pork, local radish, wilted arugula, finished with NC bbq reduction. This dish was amazing. It won the table.

Crispy Skinned Snapper

Crispy Skinned Snapper

I ordered the Pan Seared Scallops. They were fresh and lovely and were served with a smoked bacon risotto cake, citrus scented spinach, tomato & green onion buerre blanc. Yummy and not too heavy.

Pan Seared Scallops

Pan Seared Scallops

The kids got mac and cheese and a grilled cheese. Something got eaten and something didn’t really. That has nothing to do with the food but more with the kids. And since it was raining so hard and we didn’t feel like it would be a good idea to go searching for dessert in the rain, we opted for a couple of the offerings on Poogan’s dessert menu. Are we glad we did. This beauty is the Chocolate Pecan Pie. With Buttermilk Smoked Bacon Ice Cream. Yes indeedy. Roll your eyes amazing. The pic doesn’t do it justice one bit.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

The kidlets wanted banana pudding. This was pretty much a standard banana pudding except it had sugar cookies crumbles instead of the vanilla wafers I’m used to. I think that’s what the kiddos were missing because Mr. foodie ended up eating most of it.

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

For lunch the next day, Travis Myers, chef at River Birch Lodge in Winston-Salem said I just HAD TO check out Butcher & Bee on King Street. This is a tucked away little joint that has farm to table goodness and stays open late for the culinary workforce in the area. A place for chefs! I’m there. It’s a very cool industrial place with remnants and this crazy hive. The scene comes with great fresh sandwiches and pop up dinners. Definitely a must try if you are there.

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Roast Beef Sandwich

Roast Beef Sandwich

Korean Short Rib Sandwich

Korean Short Rib Sandwich

Kale Slaw

Kale Slaw

Fries

Fries

Then it was time to say goodbye to rain soaked Charleston. We were supposed to drive up the coast to Wilmington, but the tropical storm thwarted those plans so we decided to travel more inland to Charlotte.  Dinner was at Zen Asian Fusion. What was it fused with? Spanish. Wild, right?

We stuck with the traditional: Edamame, Hibachi for the eldest and sushi. Oh and the wee boy got spaghetti. Something for everyone, hooray! There was also live music and everything was very enjoyable.

Sushi at Zen

Sushi at Zen

And finally, my fellow blogger in Charlotte, Fervent Foodie, suggested a great family friendly place…7th Street Public Market. This is like a tiny little version (way tinier) of the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle. It has various vendors offering sandwiches, pizza, sushi, coffee, confections, cupcakes, wine, beer, etc. plus it’s a real market where you can buy veggies, spices, salts, meat and all things local. Like Disney World for me.

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Panoramic of 7th Street Market

Panoramic of 7th Street Market

I ordered a pizza from Pure Pizza and a grilled cheese on focaccia for the kidlets and Mr. foodie ordered a sandwich from Local Loaf. The pizza was amazing. A little spicy and so very fresh. Mr. foodie’s sandwich was killer. He got the Hot Steak with horseradish garlic aioli, red onion jam, melted aged white cheddar, cress microgreens served on a fresh crusty Baguette. Mmmm!

Chorizo Pizza @ Pure Pizza

Chorizo Pizza @ Pure Pizza

Check out 7th Street Market’s link for a list of their vendors and what makes them so unique as a public market. Truly, it’s a place worth visiting. After a little walk around uptown and a brief ride on the light rail, we headed home to sunny skies and lots to blog about!

What are some of your favorite local places to eat in Columbia, Charleston and Charlotte?

Beyond the Triad: Boone/Blowing Rock—“Girls Trip!”

The Bridge to H'Appyness

The Bridge to H’Appyness

I LOVE the mountains. LOVE. We call the bridge that takes you on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Highway 421 over the Watauga County line, “The Bridge to H’Appyness.” Mr. foodie’s stress level can be seen leaving his body as we go under it. He becomes so blissfully happy. I graduated from Appalachian State and a new event was created last year for my (not going to mention how many years) college reunion. My college girlfriends and I started an annual girls weekend. Basically all we do is sit on the deck of our rented mountain house and reminisce, laugh, relax, drink cocktails and plan our next meal. So here’s a little recap of our exploits. And by exploits I mean here’s a recap of all the places we dined :).

I got to Boone just in time for lunch. I looked around and found Black Cat on Depot Street. It looked popular and a burrito sounded about right. Plus they had a great selection of NC beers. I ordered the Jerk Chicken to go, went around the corner to eat it and noticed my order was wrong (I had TWO burritos instead of one and one was a spinach tortilla). Went back, they made it good and let me keep the the other two. So I had 3 burritos and luckily, my friend, April, arrived in time to share some of it with me. With a beer! Oh and those burritos were awesome.

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Boone and Blowing Rock, NC are just so precious. And there’s no shortage of delicious restaurants. Why, it’s where Competition Dining Series got its start with the now legendary “Fire On The Rock” chefs challenge. I hope the students at ASU realize how good they have it up there because when I was in Boone, the pickins were slim in the culinary scene.

View from the house...bliss

View from the house…bliss

After the rest of us arrived and we got settled in our mountain house, we made plans to have dinner at Canyons, which has THE best view in the High Country. Be sure to check out Canyons for their great live music in the evenings. They are open for lunch, dinner and jazz brunch. It’s very casual. The food is typical bar fare and Canyons has great specials featuring locally sourced ingredients.

View from Canyons, Blowing Rock

View from Canyons Restaurant, Blowing Rock

On Saturday we had lunch at Kojay’s Cafe in downtown Blowing Rock. Delicious, healthy and fresh. They also have fresh baked goods and pastries every day.

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I can’t remember what everyone got but you get the idea of how fresh the wraps and salads are in these pics. And the chicken salad is delicious. The little cheddar biscuits are lovely. And incidentally, if you want to feel great about your complexion, go check yourself out in their ladies room. Very flattering light ;).

After a relaxing tubing ride down the New River (highly recommended), we went back to the house to unwind some more then it was off to one of my favorite restaurants on the Rock…Bistro Roca. You have to give them a try if you are up there. They NEVER disappoint. Dinner and Brunch are always amazing. And their libations are pretty fab too.

My order of Mussels

My order of Mussels

Flat bread pizza

Flat bread pizza

Flat bread pizza

Flat bread pizza

Lobster Roll

Lobster Roll

Moroccan Meatballs app

Moroccan Meatballs app

Me and My Girls

Me and My Girls

Service at Bistro Roca is always top notch, the place smells fantastic because of the wood-fired oven and the atmosphere is wonderful.

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Finally on Sunday, we headed into Boone for a little change of pace and had brunch at this cool place called Char. We were there way before anyone else. But the music was pumping and we enjoyed our time on their spacious covered porch and the open air dining concept of the old warehouse location.

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April and I ordered the farmer’s breakfast which featured eggs our way, bacon gravy, bacon, biscuits and fruit. My friend, Jacqui, ordered the Fried Green Tomato BLT and Kim ordered Shrimp & Grits and had sautĂ©ed spinach added. She says it was the best thing she had all weekend. And we ate pretty well so that’s saying something.

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And guess what? The CHEF was chef’ing. Here’s Chef Lucas who came out to say hello.

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Char is located on Howard Street among a string of hip cafes and boutiques in the old Warehouse area (those of you familiar with that area will know what I mean). I wanted to stay and try the tea shop but it wasn’t opening until later. Oh well, thankfully Boone is less than 2 hours away.

After that, it was time to say goodbye. So sad to say farewell to my girls and not at all pleased to leave Happy Appy. Coming home in the torrential storm didn’t make it any better.

Click on the links to find out more about these restaurants. And next time your are up there, give them a try. This post could go on forever with more recaps about the other great places to eat up there (namely, Gamekeeper and Vidalia). You’ll just have to wait until the next time I’m on the Rock. Which should be in about a month, so until then!

Five Points

To celebrate the last day of school, Mr. foodie and I decided we’d treat the kidlets to a special lunch followed by ice cream. The graduating first grader’s school is near Five Points Restaurant so we though what better opportunity to give these folks and try…and if it’s awesome then all my foodies get to hear about it.

Five Points is housed in the former Lucky 32, followed by Big Shotz, location. Why restaurants have struggled here is beyond me…it’s a fabulous location so I’m thinking it’s a lack of marketing…but that’s a totally different soapbox. Today’s soapbox is about food, baby.

I’ve heard great things about Five Points, especially their awesome appetizers so the first thing we ordered was the Smoked Salmon Bruschetta.

Smoked Salmon Bruschetta

Smoked Salmon Bruschetta

It was tasty and fresh with pastrami smoked salmon, goat cheese, avocado, sweet tomatoes and a drizzle of white balsamic… and a crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside french bread. And here’s where I’m supposed to STOP eating so I don’t get full but it was an “appetizer” after all and I was appetized for more.  By the way, I’m told I haven’t lived until I get the Coastal Fritters or the Fried Green Tomato Stack so I’ll go back and I’ll let you know if it lives up to the hype :).

For my main course I’d heard ramblings of the Lobster Roll and the ladies at table next to me had EACH ordered that as their meal so I thought, all these people can’t be wrong so I’ll try it. I love lobster and I especially love Lobster Rolls that are more buttery than mayonnaise-y so you can imagine it is very hard for me to find.

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Now although this lobster roll has “some” mayo, it certainly wasn’t too much. The lobster was still fresh, the finely diced celery and onion were crispy and though it may not rank as #1 it certainly was delicious. Mr. foodie has had Lobster Rolls in Maine and he said it rivaled so, how about that!? I ordered sautĂ©ed bok choy as my side. The bok choy was great but I wish I’d ordered fries. Doesn’t everyone?

Mr. foodie enjoyed his Grilled Steak Salad with mixed greens and bacon bleu cheese vinaigrette. He’s so healthy. It was served with a precious little bleu cheese shortbread.

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The kidlets ate the bread at the table and barely saved room for their chicken fingers and fries.

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These tenders were yummy…almost tempura like was the coating and the honey mustard dipping sauce was great.

Five Points has a set lunch and dinner menu but offers these wonder features every few weeks or so that tantalize the taste buds like burger features, etc. The month of June is “Surf & Turf.” They also serve Brunch on weekends which I’m looking forward to trying sometime soon, plus great bar specials every week.

I can’t wait to go back and try those fritters. And the fried green tomato stack. I just love rounds of appetizers for dinner, don’t you?

www.fivepointswinston.com
109 South Stratford Road, Winston-Salem, NC
336.448.0970
Five Points on Urbanspoon