Tag Archives: bourbon

Willow’s Bistro and a bit of a foodie b’eat

Photo Feb 28

We’ve been wanting to do a review of Willow’s Bistro featuring its new chef, Travis Myers. Travis is no stranger to the foodies and we love him just about to pieces. Here’s a piece of work a couple of months in the making as mr. foodie and I have hopped over to Willow’s a couple of times just to get a feel of the deliciousness. Truly it’s so fun to watch Chef Travis come into his own.

Here’s my piece from YES! Weekly!  although feel free to keep reading for more of my personal spin.

Willow’s Bistro has always been a popular eatery in Winston-Salem and the food has always been pretty stellar, which keeps customers coming back. The open kitchen concept and great atmosphere are another plus. The brunch is one of the most popular in town. Last October, owner Will Kingery scooped up one of the city’s most endearing chefs, Travis Myers. Myers not only loves to cook, but he loves to talk about it too. You can count on Chef Travis for some good chatter when it comes to deliciousness. It’s one of the big things you notice as different when it comes to Willow’s new presence. Myers agrees, “We do a lot of social media here. A lot!” Seriously, follow chef on social media and he’ll take you on some food adventures plus tantalize your eyes with photos of beautiful food.

Myers spent ten years at River Birch Lodge, making a name for himself and honing his skills. Participating in wine dinners, special events, cooking competitions, you name it. Myers says, RBL helped him become the chef he is. “I have a great relationship with them, even after leaving. They witnessed everything major in my adult life from meeting my wife, Jen to our first child.” He says he loves the fact that a lot of the regulars that dine at RBL are regulars at Willow’s as well.

Myers says he and Will had bumped elbows the past few years and more frequently in the fall. Kingery was dividing his time between three restaurants, Willow’s, King’s Crab Shack, and Silo so he wasn’t able to spend as much time at Willow’s as he wanted. “We just started talking about working with each other,” Myers says. “He wanted someone to reflect his vision when he was a chef at Willow’s. Our son was getting old enough and it became a great opportunity to tap into my local passion and create more farm to table.” Myers says it didn’t take long before he knew he was meant to be in this new environment. “Everybody wants to be here and everybody wants to learn, to grow, and to be local.  Front of house and back of house are one complete team who work at just about all three locations, which makes us one big family. The stress level is relaxed outside of the banging of pots and pans during the normal lunch/dinner rush. Everybody pretty much does their job and is not lazy…it’s hard to explain really. We all are one tight family.”

Myers’ duties at Willow’s also fall well beyond the kitchen and keeping the business thriving is a huge part of his goals. “I’m developing a relationship with farmers, the community and our customers. I’m also in charge of developing a team but I also have to balance the business needs as well. Now that I have a grasp on the business, I can focus even more on the culinary part. We’re in the middle of launching a new menu in the next month. I want to make a move towards everything being made in-house.” You can see the new, more enhanced focus on local ingredients on the current menu. We have visited twice in the last couple of months just to get an idea of how the menu is transforming. Myers’ creativity is able to shine like never before.


From a delightful salad of roasted (yes roasted) olives, to his Bradford Watermelon molasses fries,it’s clear, the chef is having fun with local ingredients. Myers adds, “Nothing here is produced on a large scale and everything is touched by a chef. It matters.”

Myers adds that he wants to create more events as well, but go beyond the typical wine dinner. “Food and service is just part of an event. I want to host events that are created around people. More of a gathering, with food and beverage just being the vehicle for the event.” One such event was last Sunday’s Bourbon Dinner which featured five courses of locally-sourced ingredients, like Guilford Mills Grits, Hunter Farms apples, Lusty Monk Mustard, Border Springs Lamb and Fair Share Farms Micro Greens paired with bourbon inspired cocktails. Fifty-two guests enjoyed the night of pairings which ended with an olive oil cake paired with a Bourbon Root Beer Float. Like dessert with dessert! Even local energy drink, Sunshine, was infused with Jim Beam and lime juice for a palate cleanser. Not only did Myers get to show off some of his chef skills, but the innovative cocktails by the bar staff featuring various bourbons and whiskey were also a hit.

Recently, Myers’ former counterpart at RBL, Brent Andruzzi landed at Willow’s as well. Myers says he’s looking forward to working with the chef again. “I feel like we have a lot of the same passion and strive for building relationships with farmers and keeping everything in-house and local. He’s a big part of my team and will be at just about every event I will be at, but eventually he’ll be hosting his own and I will be helping. That’s the ‘team’ in us, just striving do do and get better.” Andruzzi says, “I enjoyed working with Travis and we started talking about it and the time just felt right to join him here.”

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Others are taking notice as well. If you’ll recall, last fall Chef Tim Thompson was the chef at Triad Local First’s Community Table. It’s an awesome event that raises money to fun TLF’s “Buy Local” holiday campaign. For the first time ever, TLF’s Community Table will feature a Winston-Salem chef and that chef is Travis Myers. This will be a great event for the chef to shine.

Myers says he’s enjoying playing up his new digs as #SOB40, aka South of Business 40. “For years at RBL I would refer to #SOB40 because all the marketing and volume seems to go to 4th Street and now Trade Street. Although, we have a restaurant on 4th (King’s Crab Shack), it is not our goal to take business away from those areas, but to create our very own location down here below Business 40. Kind of like creating our own district.” Myers laughs, “Who knows, maybe one day Alan will listen to my nagging and turn our movement into a district!”

One can only hope. For now, next time you see the hashtag, #SOB40, you’ll know what it means.

Willow’s Bistro is located at 300 S. Liberty Street, Winston-Salem.

Beyond the Triad: Asheville–Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder. Eat here. You’ll Be Happy

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I have several places to chronicle from my little trip to Asheville with Mr. foodie. Normally I’d start with where I, well, started. But sometimes a place is so good, you skip ahead to the last night you were there and let it be the beginning. Then you decide, nah, this place deserves a post all its OWN! So here’s a mini-chronicle of where we ate and then we’ll blaze right into Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder. A more in-depth post of the chronicle will follow suit (like in a day or so) ;).

Day 1: Charlotte: Tulips Multi-Cuisine
Asheville: Curate (holy smackers, yum)
Day 2: Green Sage Coffee
Blackbird
Chestnut
Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder
Day 3: Posana Cafe ❤ LOVED ❤

And now, about Seven Sows, Bourbon & Larder. I have heard wonderful things about Owner/Executive Chef Mike Moore and his new restaurant that opened in March. Mr. foodie visited Asheville a couple months ago, had a NC shaved ham board and bar drinks that he RAVED about. It put him in such a good mood he went to watch some comedy.  For this visit, Seven Sows was a non-negotiable. We were DEFINITELY going to eat there. Then some other very cool folks tried to sway us to a place that’s LIKE Seven Sows. Am I glad we stuck to our instincts and stayed downtown at the Sow! It’s a gorgeous restaurant. Kind of progressive farm-style with dark walls and ceiling, corrugated aluminum and little coverings for booth areas. Lots of wood and historical looking decor. It was rugged while not being manly. The side-facing patio was open by a large garage door and gave the feeling of an open air restaurant while being inside. Walls were black with lots of rough hewn beams. My kind of place. Very appropriate for a place with the name bourbon in it.

Seven Sows bar. See all those pickles?

Seven Sows bar. See all those pickles?

Wall adjoining patio

Wall adjoining patio

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The menu is “nostalgic southern created in modern cuisine” and full of locally sourced ingredients.  The first thing I wanted NEEDED to get was Chicken Cracklins. That is fried chicken skins, baby. No dip with it. Just crunchy and chewy skins with lots of salt and pepper on them. Geez!

I decided to order two small plates. The Fried Brussel Sprout Salad, with Pecorino, Soft Egg, Bacon and Root Vegetable and Jalapeño Hash. Foodies, this is one of the most satisfying things I’ve eaten. It was so delightful. If you don’t like brussels, you’d probably like THIS. Every last bite was eye-rolling. I don’t think it’s on the brunch menu, but it would be a great brunch salad. The brussels were crispy caramelized, the bacon was crispy and thick. The root veggies had a little bite to them still. And that egg when pierced just sort of created this warm, creamy sauce for the salad. My other small plate was the NC Skate Wing. It came with roasted beets, leeks and a fried green tomato with a delicious tarter sauce. The skate was lightly fried and tasted like a scallop but with the texture of something like snapper. Wonderful.

Fried brussel sprout salad, Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder, triadfoodies, Asheville

Fried Brussel Sprout Salad

NC Skate Wing, Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder, triadfoodies, Asheville

NC Skate Wing

Mr. foodie ordered a Scotch Duck Egg with bacon bread crumbs, country sausage, deviled egg aoili and a butterbean mint salad. So flavorful! And his entree was the Heritage Cheshire Pork Chop that came with these amazing LEMON corn grits, collard greens and it was all adorned with peaches, shallot and a Sweet Tea Chop Sauce. Really fantastic. Mr. foodie still talks about those creamy lemony grits. So different yet so fresh. Note: For some reason the beautiful iPhone 5 pics that Mr. took aren’t has large. Can’t figure out how to increase them.

Scotch Duck Egg

Scotch Duck Egg

Cheshire Pork, Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder, triadfoodies

Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork Chop

Mr. foodie likey! He didn’t bother to look up for his glamour shot.

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We had a couple of cocktails. I ordered the Lavender Lemonade. Refreshingly simple vodka lemonade with lavender syrup and Mr. ordered a bourbon drink—the Bufala Negra with fresh basil, balsamic and ginger ale. It was very, very nice.

Bufala Negra & Lavender Lemonade

Bufala Negra & Lavender Lemonade

After that, we could scarcely move so there was no room for dessert, I’m sorry to say. But I can tell you, the options all looked amazing, like Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta, Jasmine Creme Brûlée or Butterscotch Pudding or how about Peach Pie with Rosemary Ice Cream? Yes, please.

The menu changes often so what you see here may not be there when you go. They have too many bourbon and whiskeys to count. The bar is open with snacks late on Friday and Saturday. And, since a “larder” is a “pantry” you can also buy items, while available, like buttermilk, ham and pickles…all from the region.

I can’t wait to go back soon and try something totally different on the menu. Next time, I plan to save room for dessert.
www.sevensows.com
77 BILTMORE AVENUE ASHEVILLE, NC 28801 USA
DINNER: MON-SAT 5PM-10PM SUNDAY DINNER: 5-9 BRUNCH: SUN 10:30AM-2:30PM
(828) 255-2592