Tag Archives: Downtown Winston-Salem

Quiet Genius at Bernardin’s Restaurant

Chef Freddy Lee has been stealthily creating extraordinary cuisine for nearly three decades as the chef for his restaurant, Bernardin’s.  The restaurant celebrates 27 years this year, no small feat for a restaurant these days.

Quiet and a bit shy, with a complete lack of bravado that you might expect from some chefs, Lee and his brother, Terry, are a stronghold in the Winston-Salem dining scene. Before there was a popular downtown, Bernardin’s, at its unassuming shopping center location on Jonestown Road, was the go-to for that “special night out” for anniversaries, prom’s, romantic dates. Back in the day, a restaurant in a shopping center was the thing to do, Freddy told me. 

And then it wasn’t the thing to do. 

Then, nine years ago, the 200-year-old Zevely House, which had enjoyed its own iconic status as restaurant in the Historic West End, became available. The Lee brothers adapted and moved the restaurant into the 200-year-old Moravian style house nine years ago and it was as if Bernardin’s at the Zevely House was always meant to be. 

“Downtown was starting to really happen back then and we thought the West End would be a perfect location, it was more central and nearer to everything.”  More businesses, bakeries, the ballpark and condos added to the happening little neighborhood vibe.

The romantic atmosphere of the purported “oldest home in Winston-Salem” adds to the already elevated masterful dishes coming out of the Lee kitchen. White linen tablecloths and a full place setting in dining rooms make for intimate feels. Service is always top-notch.

Freddy was born in India and raised in New York. As a teenager he started working in fine dining restaurants in the city and after high school and graduated from Culinary Institute of America.  Although he learned a great deal about French culinary techniques in school, it’s on-the-job training that he’s found invaluable. “You learn some basic skills from school, but it’s working at different restaurants and with different chefs that you get the most experience.” Freddy worked in New York City in restaurants like Tribeca Grill and in California for a bit before he and Terry followed family members to Winston-Salem with the intent to open Bernardin’s, and they’ve considered themselves North Carolinians ever since.

 

Bernardin’s was the location of a Chef’s Table which was so popular that it sold out in a matter of hours.  Thirty-two guests were welcomed on the beautiful Bernardin’s patio where Freddy embarked on an adventurous, culinary tour of flavors from around the globe with local ingredients.

Course One
Roasted Tri-Color Cauliflower Salad
With Granny Smith Apple, almond walnut crunch, grilled corn,  feta cheese, grated salt cured fermented egg yolk. anchovies. micro greens, sherry vinaigrette

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Listening to Freddy talk about this dish was fun and made me want to replicate it. The intricate flavors of the lightly roasted cauliflower along with a sweet crunch of roasted nuts was a fun take on a salad.

Course Two Tandoori
Kangaroo
With raised savoy cabbage, lentil curry potato cake, papadam,
mint yogurt, tandoori sauce

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Did you say “kangaroo?” Yes, I did. Bernardin’s is kind of famous for their kangaroo dish. What does it taste like, you may ask. It’s slightly stronger in flavor than beef but not as gamey as venison. It’s very lean and very clean and you should have it at least once.  Freddy’s preparation of this classic Bernardin’s dish is lovely and let’s the flavor of the meat shine.

Course Three
Roasted Sea Bream
With sunchoke, asparagus, rainbow carrots, lobster chorizo broth
The light and flaky fish was pan-seared with a crispy skin in a simple, earthy smoky broth. 

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Course Four
Pork Belly Ramen Tonkotsu
With half boiled egg., enoki mushrooms, nori, green onion, black garlic, chili oil, pork broth 

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  A true crowd-pleaser, this dish was light and flavorful with the jammy egg.

Course Five
Cheesecake Parfait
Blackberry, raspberry. white chocolate, caramel. coconut pistachio crisp, oreo cookies
Grand Marnier, creme anglaise

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This little dessert had it all… Creamy layers of fluffy whipped sweetened cream cheese layered with chocolate and coconut, berries with hints of orange. Dive straight down and pull it up for the perfect bite, Freddy told us. And perfect it was. I’d go back for that anytime.

I’d go back for any of it. Guest, John McPherson, who’s attended a number of Chef’s Table said, “I love how the chef has taken us all over the globe with this meal.”

Every course was exquisite. And that’s true for anything I’ve ever had at Bernardin’s. 

Some versions of the dishes served at A Chef’s Table are dishes that have made or will make an appearance at Bernardin’s at any given time. Lee says he loves to work with different game and changes his more adventurous offerings based on what quality ingredients he can get. “I like to work with emu and bison and different kinds of seafood,’ he says.

Lee encourages taking the leap when dining out. “Many people order off the menu but sometimes they’ll want to be surprised. That’s the best way to eat, really. Order different entrees and share them.”

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The Lee brothers also own Bernardin’s Charlotte and Blue Fin in Columbia.  And Freddy has partnerships in other restaurants as well, Trade Street Diner, Bleu Restaurant & Bar, and Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse.  How he has time to cook in addition to looking after all these restaurants is a wonder. But now with his children grown, he enjoys quick trips with his wife, even out of the country, but never for very long. “I like to get out of the restaurant and travel and eat fast food,”  he laughs. “Opening restaurants is stressful but to me, I love to cook and it comes easy.  I will always be cooking.”

foodie b’eat: Winston-Salem’s Getting an Open Market

If you have trouble like me getting to the farmer’s market on Saturday, then you might enjoy what’s coming to Winston-Salem…in what is the up and coming-est part of town.

Winston Junction Market, an open-concept indoor market, will be located at 901 North Trade Street behind Earl’s. 

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The market will feature food and beverage vendors, artisans and a handful of farmers.  David Dalholt, who also owns Sunnyside Millworks and Sunnyside Mercantile, says when the owner of the building showed him the converted warehouse space, we wanted to turn it into something special.  “It’s such a cool spot. It got my wheels turning.” Since it’s hard for some families to get out the door to a farmers market on Saturday mornings, he wanted to take advantage of the lunch crowd. “Folks can come in, grab lunch, grab a beer and get a little shopping done.”

Dalholt wanted to control the vibe and the look of the space so he and his team are providing tables and custom signage. Vendors won’t event have to bring tables or signs. Menu boards will also be very visible in the event that if you’re waiting in line, you can read the menu easily as you wait.  And just so you know, Dalholt has a way with aesthetic. His tables and woodworking are incredible, so this place is going to look great. 

Patrons are welcome to come and just hang out. Seating will be provided on the patio on top and rows of seating are provided throughout the length of the market indoors.  You’ll be able to shop for food,  order something from vendor like Wine Merchants and Vin 205 Bistro, Lavender and Honey Kitchen, Golden Rule Kombucha, buy plants from House of Plants. You’ll be able to find artisanal products and a few farmers will be there as well.

Wanna go? Grand opening is Saturday, March 30th 11:30am-2:30pm. It will be open each Saturday with hopeful plans to extend hours in the future. 

I’ll be stopping by there tomorrow to get a closer look so more information to come! Until then, follow Winston Junction Market on Facebook for updated vendor announcements and future dates. 

 

A Chef’s Table with Adam Barnett and The Katharine Brasserie

A version of this story can also be seen at YES! Weekly.

After 18 months in full-blown get-to-know-you mode, Chef Adam Barnett is feeling very much part of the culinary scene in Winston-Salem.

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Barnett, who was hired in July 2017 as Executive Chef at the relatively new The Katharine Brasserie and Bar, which was the location of the first Chef’s Table of 2019 on January 8th. The event sold out in less than eight hours and then Barnett agreed to add another 15 seats for a total of 45. Those additional seats sold out in less than 30 minutes. Needless to say, people are interested in what Barnett is doing. Many of the attendees of Chef’s Table, which was held on January 8, had never been to The Katharine and they were ready for what he was cooking up.

Named for Katharine B. Reynolds, The Katharine has been written about by me and others a number of times, from media events and regarding seasonal menu changes or new additions, so if you’re a regular reader of YES! Weekly or Triadfoodies, you know I’ve walked away impressed with the food and service more than once.  And just about every time I’ve dined at the brasserie, we’ve enjoyed some of the best wine pairings I’ve ever experienced.

I got to know Barnett a bit better when he was a guest of my podcast, “At The Table with Triadfoodies.” Barnett grew up as a regular kid in Columbus, Ohio and enjoyed summers with his mother’s family in Nova Scotia, which he attributes to his sense of wanderlust. After deciding that academia was not for him, he took a more “hands-on approach” in construction. And you know how winter is in the construction field. “I needed some winter hours and I started working in a restaurant,” he says. “I had one chef take some interest in me, then I got shuttled along to another restaurant and then I hit the road.” Barnett has had stints in Aspen, Colorado; Toronto, Ontario; Vermont, Big Sur, and Los Angeles, California; and most recently Washington D.C. “I spent eight years in the school of hard knocks, real world training and eventually landed in the advanced placement program at the New England Culinary Institute.”  Afterward, it was in California that he honed his skills in modern French techniques, which serves him well at the Katharine, a French-Inspired brasserie, but Barnett says they don’t want to be too dogmatic about it.

“I’ve worked with some very, very good classically French chefs and that’s always been the underpinning of what I do,” he says. “But like everything else, cuisine evolves. You sit back and take a look at who inspires you or you look at re-discoveries of ethnicities and I try to incorporate that into what we’re doing here.” While we may think of French cuisines as heavy with butter and cream and bread, Barnett feels that France’s influence in its former colonies in places like the Mediterranean allows him to offer a more relatable, global approach and the menu of the Chef’s Table was a reflection of that.

Course One
Apple Rutabaga Soup garnished with Parsley Oil.

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Course Two
Arugula and Shaved Fennel Salad, Parsnip Crisps Preserved Lemon Dressing

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Course Three

Seared Diver Scallops, served with a Ginger – Carrot Emulsion, Batonet Beets and Radish Sprouts.

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Course Four (Meat Course)

Grilled Painted Hills Flat Iron Steak, Caramelized King Trumpet Mushroom, Foie Gras and Madiera Sauce.

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 Cheese Course
Thomasville Tomme (from Sweetgrass Dairy in Thomasville GA), Campo d Montalban (a blended Cow, Goat, and Sheepsmilk Cheese from Spain), Honey-Walnut Spread, House-made Ginger-Apple Butter, Herb Salad

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Okay okay…so you’re wondering where is dessert…heh heh…funny story.  I actually really enjoyed the cheese course, after all it IS a French-themed restaurant. But there’s the story of a pastry chef and rice pudding gone awry. We’ll leave it at that. 

Barnett took some time to get to know the space and cultivate an air of good community with the culinary team itself. The Kimpton hired new management, a new sommelier and he says now The Katharine is better than it has ever been. “I feel so tremendously honored to work with this group, from our back of house to our management and our sommelier. They’re a big part of the engine. It’s never a one person show.”

Barnett says he’s enjoyed the community and has felt the embrace and he can’t imagine doing anything different.  He says, “I love the visible, tangible marker of a day well spent. And that’s one of the great things about working with food.  You get raw ingredients in, you apply technique, you hand it over to someone and you get to see the satisfaction. There’s a profound sense of enjoyment from that.”

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By the way, this wasn’t served at our Chef’s Table but if my favorite dish at The Katharine is this Beef Tartare. It’s divine.

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Wanna go? The Katharine Brasserie & Bar is located at the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, 401 North Main Street, Winston-Salem. katharinebrasserie.com 

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 

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.