Category Archives: Restaurants

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A Look Back at A Chef’s Table at The Painted Fish

We had such a wonderful experience at our latest Chef’s Table, the dinner series that’s taken the Triad by storm that is now catching on here in the High Country.  We had a great event a year ago at Vidalia Restaurant in Boone and we really thought Chef Tom Jankovich would be the perfect chef to celebrate as we relaunch our series.  We have always loved visiting the mountains for vacation (to get away from the summer heat) and when we visited we regularly enjoyed having brunch or dinner at The Painted Fish.  If you’ve been following along you know that in the summer of 2017, we took the leap and moved here.  Twenty-five of us gathered at The Painted Fish Cafe for multiple courses, each course so different from the rest and a full testament to Chef Tom’s cafe menu that is short and sweet but diverse with something for everyone.

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A Chef’s Table celebrates our local chefs and restaurants and the farms and makers they support. It’s food and fellowship at its most fun. Typically, a Chef’s Table is all about letting the chef surprise us, but Chef Tom let us have a sneak peek of his menu and he also told us what to expect when he greeted us before the courses came out. Let’s take a look back!

Course 1: Lobster Chili with lime sour cream, salmon caviar.

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This had all the elements of your traditional chilis with spices and smokiness but with lobster. The lime sour cream was a beautiful contrast to the earthy chili.

Course 2: Baby Kale Salad, toasted walnuts, dried cherries, shade radish, goat cheese, honey white balsamic vinaigrette

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This pretty salad made for a nice palate cleanser following that robust chili. Chef Tom made a little setting of goat cheese on the bottom so that every bite got a little bit of it. And cherries and walnuts were the perfect complements. 

Course 3: Tuna Tartar, wasabi cured egg, soy foam, pickled ginger, Asian micros, grilled crostini. The Painted Fish Cafe and Beer Bar

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I don’t normally declare a “favorite” dish of the night but this had everything I loved. Tuna tartar, cool and herby, a wasabi cured egg (that the chefs had been working on for three weeks)…it was ooey and gooey but not runny…oh yum and buttery crostini. A little of the soy foam on the crostini with the tartar…seriously I could eat something like this every day.

Course 4: Lamb Chop, rosemary pesto crusted, pear croquette potato, haricot vert, lamb jus lie The Painted Fish Cafe and Beer Bar

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At this point, we’re feeling good and full, but who’s saying no to a precious little lamb chop? Not me. It was perfectly cooked with herby crust and the little potato croquette (shaped like a pear …in the spirit of Christmas) was a touch of whimsy.

Course 5: Chefs Trio Dessert, chocolate Cabernet truffle w/sea salt, tomato stuffed strawberry with balsamic syrup, champagne shot.

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This dessert trio had strawberries and chocolate but not just strawberries and chocolate. Each berry half was filled with a balsamic-y tomato jam. The truffles were a riff on The Painted Fish’s Chocolate Torte which is on the menu. Just in truffle form. Incredibly rich and decadent.  Plus there was champagne. IMG_1955 2

In between courses we enjoyed hearing from Shannon Carroll who was there as my guest representing Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture’s High Country Food Hub, which serves as an online farmer’s market for residents in the High Country.  Definitely check them out as they’re a great supporter of our local farms and makers in this area.

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It’s always so fun to check out what’s going on behind the scenes and get an idea how the chef is handling all these dishes. Imagine 5 courses x 25 people and we’re all getting served pretty much at once, staffed by two servers. It’s intense but I can tell  you Chef Tom Jankovich is just go with the flow. He and his sous chef, Adam Johnson, actually looked like they were having fun! I’m guessing they did.

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Toward the end, this little one, Chef Tom’s granddaughter, Kaydn, was tuckered out enough to just catch some zzz’s. So cute.IMG_0188

We’re making plans for another Chef’s Table up here in the High Country. We would love your input and suggestions on where we should go in the future. We’re thinking late January and would love to have a Chef’s Table on a monthly basis or at least every other month. Yes, during all the seasons!

Those of you who attended, we’re so grateful for your support and fellowship and we hope we see you again. Those of you just taking a look here, we hope we see you soon!

Mission Pizza Napoletana

It’s easy to talk pizza when it’s your mission in life.

And yes, we’re talking pizza today. But we also wanted you to get to know our favorite “pizza geek” a little bit better. 

ps: you can find the YES! Weekly version of this story here

Mission Pizza Napoletana has been enjoying business in downtown Winston-Salem for almost five years.  Owner and pizza-maker-in-chief, Peyton Smith, fell in love with Neapolitan style pizza after a visit to Naples, Italy years ago.  When the economy was in a state of flux, Smith started out as a mobile pizza business, “My inspiration was to produce the exact kind of pizza you’ll find in Naples.” 

Peyton Smith, Mission Pizza Napoletana, outside pizzeria

And it made perfect sense at the time, since the pizza, which originated in Naples is actually a street food. “Napoletana pizza, or Neapolitan pizza, is the original pizza,” Smith explains.  Established circa 1800’s, Napoletana pizza is wood-fired at temperatures that reach 1000 degrees for about 90 seconds or less.  What you get is a light pizza, with a crispy cornicione (that’s crust to you and me).  Sounds pretty basic and simple, right? But to hear Smith describe it, it’s almost poetic to achieve the perfect Neapolitan style pizza. “It starts with high-quality flour, but the big thing for a finished product is the baking method.  A stone hearth or live fire, traditionally wood-fire, cooking at about 800-1000 degrees,” Smith says. “Because of the nature of the high heat and softer flour which gives you a pliable dough, the interior crumb is soft with an open cell structure. And it’s not crunchy, but the veneer has crispiness.” Smith adds, “It can be folded and that’s encouraged. The tell-tale sign is you can fold Neapolitan pizza and it doesn’t crack.” It also allows use to use your hands to eat it, which Smith encourages because it requires all the senses.

The poetry doesn’t stop there. Now Smith is on a roll. “The pizza should smell sweet and bready, with a little blistering, which are the small black or dark brown spots and it should have micro-bubbles.” Because it’s a softer product and baked at a high heat at minute to minute and a half, Smith says what goes on top is important. Or not.  “It should be topped with light ingredients. The dough is the fundamental starting point, but it should work in balance with the other toppings, like a fresh cheese, salumi, tomato, herbs.” And then, “Finally, it should be light on the stomach. You can crush that whole thing and feel satisfied and not heavy in the gut. If we can do all that right, we’ve produced something pretty special.” 

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It’s best consumed right out of the oven. My personal fave at Mission is the Billy Jowl with its ricotta cream, smoked mozzarella, guanciale, fennel pollen, black pepper, oregano. Yum…my mouth waters just thinking about it. Sorry no decent photo. Just trust me.  The Margherita is also incredible and it’s how the youngest learned that he loves basil. The Diavola is another with its fresh mozzarella, hot sopressata, chilis, honey, pecorino, basil (below). 

 

Smith says though ingredients are extremely important, like the flour and the tomatoes, he doesn’t import a lot and gets many ingredients locally. “I use an Italian ethos but I want to use as many local ingredients as possible. An our tools and technique are very important here.” One of the major tools is the huge pizza oven that takes center stage in the kitchen.  Built by Stefano Ferrara, a third-generation oven builder, it’s hand-made, brick-by-brick with a traditional low dome for the ultimate in wood-fired high-temperature retention. 

Although a self-proclaimed pizza geek, Smith conceives the menu as well as plating, and likes people to know that his mission is actually more than just pizza. The name Mission Pizza Napoletana should indicate that their pizza is not what you’re accustomed to.  He asserts, “We’re really an osteria, a small tavern with a limited full-service menu that happens to be pizza-centric. I love the non-pizza items we dish out like our salads, pastas and appetizers.” Few are the places where you can get freshly made pasta.  “On occasion we do sheeted pastas and cut into noodles, we make stuffed pasta. Right now we’re making a cavatelli for our bolognese. Our wood-fired oven is used to finish other dishes, like our cauliflower, which has a life of its own.  And on the weekend, we can do funky stuff like porchetta, lamb shank and the occasional whole fish.”

 

(photo cred: MPN)

Smith’s approach landed him an opportunity this summer to cook pizza alongside 25 of the top American pizza makers at the New York Pizza Festival. “These are makers who really are executing pizza at a high level.  It was a humbling experience to be invited. I got to hang out with my friends and make pizza all day.”  Smith also met Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We had a nice chat. He was really interested in our ingredients. We fed him our pizza and he wouldn’t put it down.”

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The pizza man and the mayor

Not too shabby for a chef with no formal culinary training, however Smith has worked in the restaurant business in nearly every capacity from bussing to serving.  “When I was resolute about opening a place, I worked with Chef Jim Noble and I gave him al that I had. I developed a passion for food 20 years ago and how it’s a vehicle for lubricating social celebrations.  I’ve taken a real interest in learning techniques and have curiosity about how things are done. The biggest thing for me and thinking about food and the plate. There’s no doubt about how I want it to taste and look.” Smith says he gets much inspiration from travel.  “I want to eat the best food I can, wherever I am. It gives a really excellent perspective of how things are executed at a high level. Back in my kitchen, whether someone likes what we do or not, we certainly know what we wanted to do.”

As for his place in the very communal Winston-Salem food scene, Smith, who grew up here, says he has enjoyed the support and he’s proud of how they’re executing at a high level. “I’m happy with what we do and I intend on making us better every day.”

Mission Pizza Napoletana is located at 707 Trade Street NW, Winston-Salem. Open Tues-Thurs 5pm-9pm; Friday & Saturday 11am-2pm and 5pm-10pm.  missionpizzanapoletana.com 

White Pinot Noir Could Be Your New Fave

Caleb Flint of Wine Merchants in WS offered me a bottle of Amity Vineyards White Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2017 for an honest review. We are grateful for the opportunity (and the wine). All opinions are my own.

My favorite kind of wine is red wine. And of the reds, my favorite has been Pinot Noir. And no that has nothing to do with the film, Sideways. 😀 . Though a Malbec sometimes does sometimes hit the spot.  I also do try to support NC Wine as much as possible but I do like to change up.  So when Wine Merchants talked about a White Pinot Noir, I was intrigued. After grabbing a bottle,  I took a little time and meal planning for when to enjoy it. Mr. foodie and I like wine, but we have two kiddos at home and sometimes we can’t just open a bottle up and enjoy. And we rarely finish a bottle between the two of us in one night. Plus, I wanted to have a mushroom pasta dish. I am particular like that.

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Then the night came. Opened up a bottle of the White Pinot on a pasta night. I enjoyed a glass while cooking. What we found was a lightly fruity, very clean wine with body that drinks quite easily alone and is wonderful with pasta, cheese and poultry and particularly, mushrooms. Bonus points if you can manage that in one dish, which we did (a browned butter balsamic mushroom sauce over ravioli with grilled chicken). The photo of the dish didn’t come out well. But I’ll make it again and share the recipe.

The wine went perfectly. I have a feeling this is going to be in the regular rotation.

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i see you

White Pinot Noir is gaining in popularity but is still considered somewhat “rare” compared to other varietals.  it takes a special process because Pinot Noir grapes are obviously red. This is an excerpt from VinePair.

To make white wine from red grapes, winemakers take careful steps to ensure that there is minimum contact, or maceration, between the pre-fermented must and color-giving grape skins. To eliminate maceration for white Pinot, only a small amount of the grape’s juice can be fermented into white wine.
Free-run juice is released when grapes are piled, and their skins break under their own weight. In white winemaking, this produces the highest quality wines because there’s minimal contact with bitter skins and seeds. Free-run juice, and occasionally must from a very light pressing, are used to make Blanc de Noirs still wines.

White Pinot Noir also listed as Pinot Noir Blanc or Blanc de Noirs.  In Winston-Salem, you can find Amity Vineyards for about $25 at Wine Merchants & Vin 205 Wine Bar at 205 S. Stratford Rd. in Winston-Salem.  (336) 765-8175.

By the way, if you haven’t been to Wine Merchants or the bistro next door, get yourself over there. The restaurant is one of the most underrated spots in all of the Triad. Read about them here.  Site of 2 Chef’s Tables! That’s how good.

Cheers!

The 411 on Canteen Market & Bistro

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!

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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! 

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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! 

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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.   

Get Your Foodie Self to Roots!

UPDATE: Earlier in October, Roots Restaurant announced it has closed. We are so sorry to see them go. I’m leaving this post up a bit longer to share the vision and what a good time we had at our Chef’s Table.  

Behold, quality casual fine dining. In Yadkin County. WHERE I GREW UP! It’s not a chain or seafood or a steakhouse or hot dogs and ice cream, which is basically YC. Roots Restaurant at Sanders Ridge Winery opened its doors in April with two young, eager superstar chefs at the helm. And the YC should be thrilled about this. And you should drive to the YC to be thrilled about this too! O

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Hailed as a hidden gem, Roots is located at the vineyard’s grounds in Boonville. Within the gorgeous timber-framed tasting room, Roots is at least the fourth incarnation of the restaurant space in recent years. For whatever reason, previous tenants of the kitchen space haven’t been able to make a go of it. It’s not the easiest place in the world to get to even though it’s only about 25 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. But folks from Guilford County and beyond have said Roots is well worth the drive. And what a scenic drive it is, with the Yadkin County pasteur land and beautiful rows of corn and tobacco.  It is quite best to make a day of it, tour the wine country and let your final stop be at Roots. In the winter months, a stone hearth fire located in the center of the room will welcome you. A perfect a bite or for a larger function, as it’s available for private events such as weddings receptions and celebrations.

You have seen the work of Chefs Ben Hurst and Brent Andruzzi if you follow your favorite eateries on any social media. Hurst trained Andruzzi at River Birch Lodge and Andruzzi left Willow’s Bistro to take on this new venture. Hurst says he actually was going to open a food truck and use the kitchen as a commissary when owner Cindy Shore approached him about running a full-fledged restaurant there. “I wasn’t sure about it. I hadn’t even managed a business much less started one. And then I asked Brent to come on board.”

Andruzzi said, “no.” 

Andruzzi clarifies it was a kind, apologetic no. But an entire month later, Andruzzi had a change of heart and the no became an enthusiastic, “yes.”

Hurst graduated with two non-culinary degrees but his first job was at River Birch and that’s where he met Andruzzi.  After a few stints in other kitchens, Hurst went to culinary school at Guilford Tech and finally at Johnson and Wales. After searching for his place in the kitchen, Hurst took some time and worked at Harmony Ridge Farm, where he learned the other side of food. “That’s worked out really well. because I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned with me.  Now we have a greenhouse on the hill where we grow a lot of our own vegetables.” Andruzzi grew up cooking with his parents encouraging his creativity in the kitchen by buying him whatever ingredients he wanted. After some time working at Lowes Foods, he also found himself at River Birch under Chef Travis Myers. “Like Ben, I worked at all the different stations.  We learned a lot there. A good foundation was built there.” Andruzzi eventually joined Myers at Willow’s Bistro where his creativity was truly allowed to shine. “When you have that kind of freedom, you learn what works and especially what doesn’t.”

Andruzzi says he’s been gardening too and the fact that Hurst has been farming, that there’s a  greenhouse and farm and the opportunity that exists here was a strong factor in his decision to take a chance and exit his place at Willow’s. “We have freedom to grow whatever we want as well as cook whatever we want, so that’s a bonus.” Roots also sources other local farms when they can.

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Hurst says his goal at Roots is to create dishes that people can’t get at home. “Even as a chef, I when I eat out, I don’t want my experience to be something I can create at home. I want it to be surprising, full of flavor, creative…something you can’t quite replicate in your own kitchen.”

Course One
Duck Two Way Tostadas with duck sauce, radish, scallion, house made pork rinds

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Out of the gate, the chefs immediately showcased their ability to take an upscale protein and make it attainable tapas-style.

Course Two
Pimento cheese stuffed poblano with bacon jam and cilantro scallion cream

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This course may have been close to my favorite dish of the evening simply because it was so different than anything I’ve ever had before. The spicy poblano filled with Sanders Ridge now famous pimento cheese AND bacon jam. Both. Together. Some of us had to clear our throat but the scallion cream cut the heat of the slightly devilish kick from that pepper.. And the people, said “wow.”  The pimento cheese and bacon jam are available for purchase at the winery as well as Cobblestone Farmer’s Market in Winston-Salem.

Palette cleanser
Lemon basil freeze pops

Before the courses emerged, Chef Hurst gave the guests a teaser of what was to come and simply said there would be a surprise in between two of the courses. So these platters full of freezer pops that looked like smaller grown-up versions of the colorful pops we all grew up with were met with delight from each table. The basil complemented the fresh slightly sweet lemony-ness. I kind of felt myself wanting another pop later.  A freezer full of those on a summer day would not be the worst thing.

Course Three
Shortbread herb crusted scallop, greenhouse salad, strawberry vinaigrette, pickled onions

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I’d heard accolades from the scallop dishes so I am glad the chefs decided to feature these on their menu this evening.  If I’m coming back to eat in the future (and I will), I’m getting scallops.

Course Four
Ribeye over basil bread pudding, local mushrooms, fig jam, Fair Share Farm micros

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A very close #2 to my favorite, a beef course will always be a winner in my book and for most carnivores.  The steak was perfectly cooked and the savory bread pudding was so delicious with it.  Note: Roots has a menu item that is called “Deconstructed Beef Wellington”. I imagined the flavor profile is not so different though the execution might be. I’ve been told it’s incredible.  After tasting this dish, I have no doubt.

Course Five
Strawberry and blueberry Shortcake and sugar cookie with homemade ice cream

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A beautiful summery dish with sweet berries, perfect cake and richly textured ice cream rounded out our evening. A great ending.

And then the chefs re-emerged from the kitchen to applause and a standing ovation. Chef’s Tables are always stellar but these young chefs received such praise that it was truly heartwarming.  Hannah Waggoner, of Rural Hall, has been to a number of Chef Table events and she even got the proverbial ball rolling on getting the Roots event off the ground. “My first visit to Roots made my foodie heart happy,” she said.  “All the dishes my table ordered were loaded with flavor, finesse, and beautifully plated! The staff were friendly and accommodating. I knew that Roots would be an excellent location for a Chef’s Table.” Waggoner says she knew it would pay off.  “The guests were not disappointed. Each of the five courses was unique and delicious! It was great to get a taste of some of Roots’ specialty dishes with a few surprises!”

By the way, I’d suggest you follow Roots on Facebook and any other social media and perhaps get on their email list because on Thursday nights, the chefs do a little something different by having a Thursday Supper. And it’s amazing. And if you can get in there for the fried chicken, you’ll send me a thank you letter and maybe, if you really love me and are super thankful, you’ll send me gifts. That’s a how delicious that fried chicken is. Super crispy every inch. See?

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And how’s this for making a name for oneself?  In a reader’s poll,  USA Today’s 10 Best just announced that Roots Restaurant was just named in the top 10 of the best winery restaurants in America. Roots placed 6th. Way to go!  Read about that here. 

If there’s anything I’d say at this point it’s this: Yadkin County, this is your moment. Finally there’s a restaurant in the area that celebrates not only the wine country but the wonderful bounty that the area brings forth. I grew up in Yadkin County and having to go to Winston-Salem for a great meal was a top complaint.  If a restaurant of this caliber can succeed with Yadkin’s and its big city neighbors’ support, it will pave the way for other restaurants like it. Napa wasn’t built in a day. It’s taken 170 years, plus it survived Prohibition and the Great Depression. You might consider the Yadkin Valley winemakers pioneers here. And the restaurant owners want to blaze a trail much like their West Coast counterparts. The talent and deliciousness is there and Roots Restaurant is digging deep and taking a chance on the area’s support.

Wanna go? Roots Restaurant at Sanders Ridge located at 3200 Round Hill Road, Boonville.   Open for dinner Thursday from 5:30-9:00 for Family style supper (check website or Facebook for features). Full service menu Friday & Saturday 5:00-9:00. Full service lunch is available in the tasting room Friday-Sunday 11:00-3:00. The wine bar also has a full menu available from 12:00-5:00. Visit sandersridge.com for info.