A previous version of this story can be found at YES! Weekly
Oh my, have I found my happy place!
Children get Disney. What’s my adventure land? A beautiful little restaurant that has a little market inside so I can order food, shop while I wait, or just swing in and shop, seeing something new every time. Look!
That’s Canteen Market & Bistro. Billed as a gourmet market and dining experience, you have no doubt of its intended function as soon as you breeze in. Plus there’s a beautiful, communal bar right in the center to ground the entire gleaming 6,000 square foot space. It’s dreamy. Heaven I tell you!
The business, opened in September, is the love child of Claire Calvin and Eric Swaim, (I’m sorry if that sounds awkward). She of The Porch Kitchen and Cantina and Swaim, her neighbor at Hoots Roller Bar and Beer Co at West End Millworks. The two had talked for a couple of years about opening up an urban market. When the space at 411 West 4th Street, also known as Commerce Plaza, became available, it was originally conceptualized by the property owners as a fine dining restaurant. But Claire and her dream of a downtown market with a distinct urban feel could not be dissuaded. “This space would be too big just a market or just a restaurant but altogether, it just works.”
I have to agree. The market side of the restaurant features staples like pasta and sauces, some on the higher end, but still budget friendly for a night “in,” as well as local sauces like Ya’ll Sauce, made in Winston-Salem, and international sauces, mustards, grits, gourmet crackers, bread mixes, jams, jellies, endless varieties of pickles, you name it.
Mr. foodie will tell you that I get positively giddy in places like Canteen.
Claire says they’re just getting started and happily takes suggestions for fun items to add. During my visit there, she had to step away to help a customer who had a request for a product not on the shelves but Claire took note of it…the customer also had her arms full. She had come for one thing (don’t we all) and appeared to need a basket. Claire hastily retrieved a mini-cart. We joked that her budget was no longer limited by what she could carry in her arms and she went on her way. So helpful!
In the back, the dining area sits adjacent to a beautifully curated wine and beverage area,called “The Cellar,” with hard to find boutique wines, fortified and specialty styles, and local and international craft beer, kombucha, coffee and artisanal mixers featuring companies that have a story to tell.
Eric and the bev team put a great deal of thought into the beverage program. The large communal space features the obligatory craft cocktail menu. For beer, there’s a NC focus behind the bar, with everything on draft while the cooler includes beers from around the world. And the wine at the bar boasts a relatively new, tap concept. “All wine by the glass is all being poured draft. It eliminates waste and ensures freshness, which is something we really wanted to commit to. When it’s on draft, there’s no light and no oxygen to make it go bad. It’s the perfect temperature for white and for red and gives you control over your pour,” he says. “It’s very concise at the bar with a trip around the world in the back.”
In front, the kitchen is where Chef Chris Almand, formerly of West End Cafe, is making menu items for the bistro for dine-in and take home and the pastry chef is making the sweet treats. The refrigerator case is stocked with local pimento cheese, goat cheese, deli items…items a customer can run in and grab to go for a quick snack or lunch on the run. Calvin says the menu will change often to reflect what is in season and what is available from their partner farm, Whit Acres.
This restaurant and market is already seeing tons of support from the local restaurant community. It’s getting some much deserved attention. Y’all check it out!
Canteen will have an official grand opening this weekend featuring market samples, wine tastings, demonstrations and giveaways. Visit their social media for more details.
Wanna Go? Canteen Market and Bistro is located at 411 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem. Hours are Monday-Sunday 10am-10pm.