Tag Archives: Fun with friends

Sir Winston Restaurant & Wine Loft

It’s time you all tried Sir Winston!

Years passed as many walked by wondering what is going to become of the The Pepper Building, a 1928 art-deco landmark ,when several years ago, it was announced that the building had been sold and would become a boutique hotel and restaurant.

Indigo Hotels, owned by IHG, like to spring up in areas that provide their guests with a more local experience. As you walk into the hotel, you’re at once in the Sir Winston Restaurant & Wine Loft and immediately are immersed in a local experience. From the walls adorned by local artists, to Sunnyside Millwork’s handcrafted banquettes, tables, chairs, in fact all of the new woodwork in the restaurant, the focus on those local details are quite obvious.  The restaurant was at one time in the basement of the Pepper Building and the new Sir Winston is a nod to its predecessor of the 1960s and its inspirational namesake, Sir Winston Churchill. People who have eaten at Sir Winston in the 60’s, will see familiar quotes as well as light fixtures found in the sub-basement that have now been repurposed in the bar and dining room. The attention to detail is impeccable.

I mean it’s just lovely. Go upstairs in the loft and enjoy the view. I first enjoyed Sir Winston right after it opened on a date night with my 10-year-old.  Chef sent out a few things for us to try, a boiled egg appetizer, a flat bread with lamb meatballs. My seared scallop dish with pickled local melon was outstanding.  I knew David would kill it at at a Chef’s Table.

I spoke with him for my podcast, “At the Table with Triadfoodies” which you can hear here. 

David was hired to design the menu and lead the kitchen of the new Sir Winston, which opened in the spring. Swing, was born in Winston-Salem, grew up in Wilmington, gained his culinary skills in New York City and worked his way back to the City of Arts and Innovation several years ago. He says to build the menu, he had to go all the way back to the late 60’s. “I was given the original Sir Winston menu. I took some ideas from that, but I had to assure management that I would not implement that pricing structure,” David joked.

For context, prime rib back in the day was $2.25.  Sir Winston endeavors to take you back in time enough to appreciate classic details and flavors but bring you back to today’s modern techniques and flair and Swing’s influence of southern cuisine.

Chef took the popular items like seafood and prime rib and put his own spin on it. “Shrimp cocktail was very popular, so I came up with Sutler’s gin pickled-shrimp, which is on our small plates menu as well as on our NC trout dish.” David says they didn’t want to be a steakhouse but did want red meat options on the menu. “To play off the prime rib, all of our signature steaks come off the rib loin, which we break down in-house, including my personal favorite, the cap steak which is featured in the Bulldog’s cut.” He says this steak made the menu after he got his hands on Sir Winston Churchill’s personal cook’s cookbook. Between researching original menus and Churchill’s indulgences, writing and re-writing menus, Swing says he spent at least two months preparing for this gig.

Chef Swing introduced a few new ideas to the guests that will be featured on the upcoming fall menu, but the tasting courses were a great balance of the tastes of summer and a nod to the spiciness of fall.

Course One

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossom, Apricot Mango Chutney

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I love the delicate texture of a stuffed squash blossom that’s been flash fried and it seems like they were made for pimento cheese. This appetizer tasted like summer in the South.

Course Two
Texas Pete Dust Cinnamon Maple Smoked Pork Rind Encrusted Chicken Lollipop

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This beautiful chicken drummie was a conversation starter at most tables. The sauce was rich and robust and the pork rind crust added another crispy dimension. I could see this dish on a menu anywhere and it would be a fun lunch item. And Swing must think so too. “I’m playing with smoking Cornish hens and preparing them the say way, with bacon jam and the pork rind crust.”

Course Three
Seared Scallop, Pork Belly, Beet Purée. Pickled Watermelon

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Our very own version of surf and turf. I’ve enjoyed scallops, which are currently on the menu at Sir Winston, and the culinary team prepares them to perfection.

Course Four
Seared NC Grouper, Black Truffle Risotto, Raspberry Mole, Blood Orange Purée

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Sea dwellers…twice in one night? What a lovely treat. 

Course Five
Cheerwine Braised Boneless Short Rib, Chipotle Grits, Gremolata

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This course was the most comforting of the night. And Swing says there is a variation currently on the menu.

Course Six
Orange Ginger Cake, Wasabi Mousse

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Beautifully presented, the orange and ginger on this petite little cake were definitely reminiscent of the coming season. The mousse on top was definitely adventurous to say the least.

Sir Winston is a hotel restaurant but Swing says he appreciates the company’s approach to embracing the local story. “It does have this corporate backing, but the fact that it’s a chef-driven restaurant and that they said to me, ‘alright chef, here’s very little direction and the ball is in your court,’ was something that I’d been looking for a long time.”

 Sir Winston Restaurant & Wine Loft is located at 104 W. 4th Street, Winston-Salem.

sirwinstonrestaurant.com.

Review: Full Kee Chinese Restaurant

UPDATE:

Several weeks after this blog post, Full Key closed for business and Sue Chen retired. Since then, former owner George Yu came OUT of retirement and bought his restaurant back. It’s now called Tasty 100 and the menu and same great taste is back!  I hope to visit there soon and hopefully even have a Chef’s Table again. Until then, stay tuned and please visit Tasty 100 and show George some love!

You probably know by now (if you’ve been opening your email and clicking on the blog) that I’m am HERE for Full Kee Chinese Restaurant, a local eatery that calls itself “gourmet Chinese.”  We went back for a taste because I wanted to “research” it for a possible future Chef’s Table. And it did not disappoint. So here’s the review when I brought Sister Foodie with me on our foodie exploration.

You can read the full article for YES! Weekly here.

Full Kee has been located at 3793 Samet Drive since 2005.  It was owned and operated by George Yu, who had a very popular restaurant in Washington D.C. before he and his family moved to the Triad. What started as a takeout restaurant, Full Kee expanded into a cozy restaurant with beautiful Chinese art, dim lighting, and a full bar.  In May of last year, George retired and moved to Florida.  Sue Chen had been a partner with George in the early days but had since moved on. Now there was a very brief period of time between George selling and Sue buying the space that the restaurant was not itself.  For one, the restaurant was operated by someone else. Full Kee’s Chef, Carlos Lopez, who had worked under George’s tutelage for nearly a decade, had left to pursue another opportunity while that owner was in charge. The restaurant experienced some not so great reviews for a few weeks. Sue ultimately purchased the restaurant in November and the space its in and brought Carlos back. And now Full Kee has risen to its former glory. Some say it’s better than ever. Update: Carlos has moved on and Sue has a new chef in the kitchen, but all the recipes are the same.  UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: Sue retired and George Yu bought the place back and is in the kitchen. 

Back before my food writing days, Full Kee became a favorite. You can read that initial view here. I found it so interesting that there was actually a Chinese restaurant that claimed to be “gourmet”.  It just wasn’t the norm. Chinese was and is almost entirely takeout and often quite low-key (no pun intended). Full Kee invites your casually dressed self into an ambiance that feels like fine dining, but is very comfortable and inviting. The dim lighting is soft and elegant. And what was more thrilling, amazing, astonishing, is that my children ate their food. At a restaurant. It was then and there that my children discovered they love Asian food, specifically dumplings, stir fry rice and “sweet chicken” (as my son calls it). To this day, General chicken is is favorite food (besides brownies). 

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Egg Drop Soup: If you’re an egg drop soup fan, you’ll love this light broth with the ribbon of yolks. It doesn’t have that off-putting corn starch-like consistency. My sister, who was dining with me the evening we visited, it’s the best egg drop soup she’s ever had and that she ever feels a cold coming on, she knows where she’s headed.

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Lettuce Wraps: A perennial favorite with romaine lettuce and finely minced chicken with  vegetables. They are always a crowed pleaser for the table. The chicken was mild and seasoned wonderfully and the cool, crisp lettuce acts in contrast to the tiny hint of heat.

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Dumplings: Carlos makes all the dumpling wrappers from scratch. The result is a delicate dumpling exterior, tender on top, crispy on the bottom, while it lets the filling shine through. It comes with the typical sweet and savory dipping sauce. It is the perfect appetizer. 

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Spring Rolls: You just can’t not get some spring rolls when you eat Asian food amirite? They were super hot, super crispy, came with two dipping sauces and fab.

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General Tao Chicken: According to Sue, it is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes (as it is in just about any Chinese restaurant). Full Kee’s General chicken, with its secret ingredient in the sauce, is light and crispy and not full of breading like you might find with ordinary takeout. “We wanted it ti be a bigger piece of chicken, but not heavy with flour and not cooked too long. It’s crispy outside and tender inside,” Sue told me.  It’s wonderful. And what often comes off as an afterthought, the broccoli is al dente and actually flavorful. Sue says, “It used to be just very plain, but I asked Carlos to add more seasoning.” The result is broccoli with a hint of garlic and it’s perfectly cooked.

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Walnut Shrimp: These firm, juicy jumbo shrimp are lightly crisped in the same manner as the General Tao’s, but the sauce is a bit more robust and amber in color with crunchy walnuts in the mixture.  I highly recommend this dish as well as the Philomela Shrimp, which has a creamier sauce. Or you can get the Full Kee Shrimp, which is a combo of the two. Both come with the same tasty garlic.

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Mongolian Beef: Customers will notice a change to this dish as the protein portion has been increased and the onions have decreased. It’s very savory and peppery and hearty.

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The menu includes a wide variety of traditional Chinese noodle and rice dishes, including Stir-Fry Rice, Stir Fry Sea Bass, Boneless Duck and Curry. Sue has also recruited a wine connoisseur to help patrons with the perfect wine selection.  We agree with Sue that everyone in your dining party should order something different from one another.  “We want everyone to be able to try a little bit of everything.  It’s the best way to enjoy Chinese.”

Full Kee has retained its loyal following of customers, some of whom have a place at the table every Friday night. Andrew Priddy, who lives outside Winston-Salem, says they’ve been loyal since 2010. “We travel a lot. And this by far is our favorite restaurant. Great food, great service. They’re like family. We just love it.”

Tasty 100 Asian Restaurant
3793 Samet Dr, Ste 140
High Point, NC

A Look Back at Our Chef’s Table at Blue Denim

When you visit Blue Denim, it might be a good idea to wear your stretchy jeans.

Located in the heart of Downtown Greensboro (217 S. Elm Street), lovingly nicknamed “Jeansboro,” as an ode to the city’s textile heritage, particularly to Cone Denim, Blue Denim has established itself as a cozy, modern eatery with a focus on creole and cajun fare. Owner Jody Morphis, came to Greensboro by way of New Orleans in 2000. His first job in the Gate City was at the former Restaurant Pastiche. Five years later, Morphis opened Fincastles Downtown, a beloved burger-centric diner that became a part of Greensboro’s locally-owned burger boom. After enjoying 10 years at Fincastles, Morphis sold the diner and stepped away from the kitchen for a brief while. But the proverbial phrase, “I could not stay away” rings true here. So in 2015, Morphis and his wife opened Blue Denim, right next door to the former Fincastles (now White and Wood Wine Lounge).       

Opening a cajun restaurant wasn’t too far a stretch, as Morphis often featured a Mardi Gras menu at Fincastles that was quite popular. Morphis grew up in Meridian, Mississippi, and after college went to culinary school in New Orleans. There he stayed as a chef in New Orleans at Cafe Giovanni,and then at House of Blues. “I always loved gumbo and étouffées. Growing up in Mississippi, we grew up on that too,” Morphis told me. An eclectic globally-inspired menu with a cajun and creole focus takes special attention and Morphis says he enjoys playing around with flavors and local ingredients.

While many of the featured chefs “surprise” the guests with the multiple courses, some like to present a menu and Chef Morphis’s menu was presented beautifully with a custom printed napkin tie to mark the occasion. Each course was detailed in such a way to highlight a region or event that is meaningful to Morphis and we noted that here with each course.

Mobile (Course 1)
Rock Shrimp Zabuton

“Mobile is where the first recorded Mardi Gras took place in the United States”

Marscarpone, rock shrimp, chives, raspberry & mango puree, roasted ginger pepper demi, pea shoot pesto.

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This little crepe like “pillow” was beautifully presented. The creamy filling worked beautifully with  the sauces and demi. You know how it’s so yummy to take the last bite and dredge it through all the beautiful glazes? Every bite was like that. Guest Scott Fancett declared, “This sauce is so good, it should’v come with a spoon.”

Chabaud (Course 2)
Holy Trinity & Friends

“Chabaud is the last name of the family that kind of took care of me when I lived in New Orleans,” Morphis described of this course. “They have been family friends since the late eighties. I have had many memorable meals and experiences with the Chabaud family, and just wanted to honor them.”

Gate City Harvest spring onions, roasted sweet peppers, celery, pork, toasted gorgonzola, Blue Denim Sauce

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This dish was deemed a favorite by guest Bill Norman, who owns Fainting Goat Spirits. This deconstructed “holy trinity” had the components separately presented, but the magic happened when you combined the flavors getting a little bit of everything. The toasted gorgonzola added a beautiful cheese straw like texture and flavor.

Bacchus (Course 3)
Duck, Duck, Gumbo

“Bacchus is another Krewe in New Orleans,” Morphis explained of this dish. “Bacchus was formed in order to include people from outside of New Orleans to revitalize carnival in NOLA. Duck gumbo is revitalizing and a very inclusive dish in itself.”

Smoked Joyce Farms duck, andouille sausage, lemon-grass scented filé gumbo, Louisiana popcorn rice

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The gumbo has been a featured item in the past few weeks at Blue Denim, the warmth and spiciness is everything you love in a gumbo. It was a bit heartier thanks to the duck with a great kick of heat.

Zulu (Course 4)
Grits & Daube

“Zulu is the first parade to roll on Fat Tuesday, which to me is the meat and potatoes of carnival season.”

Old Mill of Guilford Grits, USDA Prime Denver Steak, Cabernet beef jus reduction, parsley oil

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A riff on shrimp and grits, brings us steak and grits. It was a hearty entree to cap the evening’s savory courses. 

Endymion (Course 5)
Oh My Darlin’ Lemon-Thyme

Endymion is one of the super Krewes and largest parades that roll during Mardi Gras,” says Morphis, “When I lived in NOLA, the Chabaud family lived on the Endymion parade route. I had some sweet times there, so dessert was named for Endymion.”

Lemon Thyme Cheesecake,bourbon rosemary blueberry sauce, lemon curd, mint

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The dessert, with its golden, purple and green, which I’m sure was a hat tip to Mardi Gras, was sweet, tart and herbaceous. I absolutely love a lemon dessert with some component of berry. It was absolute perfection for me.

Morphis says when considering what the city needed, he saw a place in the market for great cajun cuisine. “I make a concerted effort to do it the right way and with the right ingredients. The bread for our Po’ Boys come from New Orleans.“

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“We work closely with Gate City Harvest and get with Aubrey to find out what he’s growing and it’s getting easier to build our menus earlier now and utilize as much locally grown produce as possible.”  He adds, “I also love to read a whole lot and study cookbooks to see what other people are doing…and study what other cultures are doing too so that we might be able to do that here at Blue Denim.”

Morphis says he’s happy he has been able to discover a passion and deliver what he loves to do in Greensboro and now he has regulars that dine at Blue Denim that keeps the drive alive. “I don’t take loving what I do for granted. I knew I wasn’t going to get rich, but we make a nice living. We also found good people that work with us that share that desire to create a great experience for our guest. I don’t take that lightly.”

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Chai Pani in Asheville is a “Can’t Miss”

Chai Pani should be on your not-to-be-missed list when traveling to/by/through Asheville. It will be so worth it.

If you’re a regular reader, you know my kidlets love Indian food. So when an opportunity to be in the Asheville area presented itself, we planned dinner accordingly and made our way to Meherwan Irani’s much celebrated Indian street food restaurant. Think all the fun staples—chaat, bhel puri, pakoras…all shareable and fun. There are a few larger plates too, like the butter chicken. My kids were a bit disappointed not to see Chicken Tikka Masala on the menu but the Butter Chicken was a hit (it’s a close enough compromise). Chicken Tikka is a feature on the menu at times.

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Chai Pani is super cute and a bit retro inside. I’d say it’s on the small side but you don’t feel crammed at all.  We were there on a Monday and halfway through our meal, it was already filled up inside.  It’s been two months since our visit and now that the homeschool year is pretty much wrapped up, I finally have time to share some of the delights we enjoyed. Annnnnd that being said, I simply have no idea what the featured dish was that night as it changes often and my brain has no recollection other than I know it was wonderful. It may have been a vadouvan with a protein like lamb or goat, savory, aromatic, with a bit of a kick.

Green Mango Chaat

Green Mango Chaat

This wonderful chaat, considered a street food snack, was deliciously sweet and salty, cool and crisp and no wonder it’s the perfect snack because it has everything you want in something munchy.

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Aldo Tikki Chaat

Now heading to the more savory side, we really loved these crispy Indian potato fritters  “served on spiced garbanzo bean stew topped with tamarind & green chutneys, sweetened yogurt, and crunchy chickpea noodles (sev).” This was a warm, spicy appetizer that had all those aromatics and flavor you love in a classic Indian dish.

Kale Fritters

Kale Pakoras

Indian style savory kale fritters made with curried chickpea batter. Served with green chutney & sweet yogurt.  So unexpected, Chai Pani sent out these kale fritters that were A-MAZE-ING. Get them get them get them!  My mouth waters thinking about them. They’re like kale chips taken up 1000 notches. Super crunchy perfection.

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Butter Chicken Thali

I mean you just cannot go wrong with Butter Chicken. Marinated and seared Joyce Farms chicken in an aromatic tomato cream sauce with butter and jaggery. It’s described on the menu as a North Indian favorite and one of Chai Pani’s signature dishes. You might need two. We didn’t because of all of the above, lol.

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Vadouvan

While the Butter Chicken was mainly for the kiddos, this spicy dish was for Mr. foodie and myself. I will say that the rice at Chai Pani is perfection, but basmati done right usually is as traditionally it’s made in a large amount of water and drained off so that you get beautiful individual grains of rice. See them?

The dishes were just the perfect balance of savory and a touch of sweet with the appropriate tangy requirements from yogurt, citrus. You just can’t get any better.

The kitchen actually sent out a couple of desserts for us to try. My daughter really enjoyed the “mango ice cream sandwich” on a wafer cookie and I absolutely loved gulab jamun, which is deep fried dumplings made of milk, flour, butter and cream, soaked in cardamom & rose syrup. There’s just something about the texture of those little dumplings in the syrup. And they’re just the prettiest little things. If you’re a fan of Indian rice pudding, it’s also an option.

The Chai Pani restaurant group has locations in Atlanta and Decatur, GA and you may have also heard of Buxton Hall Barbecue, also in Asheville. Another can’t miss eatery if visiting the area. For cocktails, you’d love Asheville’s MG Road and now Irani, who must not be busy enough, has launched his own spice company, Spicewalla.

So if you’re traveling in Western NC and you see fit to make some time in Asheville. I just cannot recommend Chai Pani enough. Service is wonderful. Drinks are great. Food is incredible.  And even if you think you don’t like Indian food, Chai Pani may convert you with their fun, shareable plates.

Chai Pani
22 Battery Park Ave (58.67 mi)
Asheville, North Carolina 28801

 

 

 

Announcing our June Chef’s Table at Full Kee Chinese Restaurant

Hi, foodies!

We are on a roll with these Chef’s Tables. I am just little Mrs. Foodie Planner.  We just came off an incredible and delicious, mind-blowing globally influenced Creole meal with Chef Jody Morphis at Blue Denim in Greensboro (aka Jeansboro).

Fortunately for our restaurants, but unfortunately for the blog reader, some of our events have sold out before I even get to announce it on my blog. Today, I’m ahead of the game to announce our June 19 Chef’s Table will be with the one and only Full Kee Gourmet Chinese Restaurant and it is going to be epic! It’s the best Chinese in the Triad and a favorite of so many people here.

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Here are the details!  Click here to get tickets if details don’t matter .

Folks….we’re going to High Point to share with you the BEST BEST Chinese in all the Triad. Full Kee has been renowned for its “gourmet” Chinese cuisine for over 10 years.  Nope,  this isn’t your typical takeout fare. It’s elegant dining and gourmet Chinese and I promise you, you do not want to miss it.

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As former owner, George Yu, has retired to the Sunshine State, new owner Sue Chen has helped Full Kee retain and exceeed its former glory. Chef Carlos Lopez learned everything he knows from George and has further refined and enhanced his culinary talents with Cantonese cuisine.  From the handmade dumpling wrappers to delicate stir fry bass and savory boneless duck, you’ll be impressed with this family-style event at Full Kee.

Here’s how it works:

Reserve with a ticket here and you’ll join us at our table on Wednesday, June 19 at 7:00pm. A reminder of our pricing: Your ticket price of $35 INCLUDES your multi-course dinner as well as tax and gratuity associated with the meal. Beverage (and gratuity for the purchase of beverages) are not included in the ticket price. Please take care of your server on any beverage service. A reminder that seating will be limited. We’ll see you on June 19! Come early for drinks and relax for a bit. Full Kee has a full bar and a great wine program.

** It’s super fun to attend Chef’s Tables with friends! We totally get it. However if you are unable to arrive early and all at once with your party, please let us know in advance that you’d like to be seated together and we’ll make every effort to accomodate your request. This is especially helpful if your tickets were not purchased under one name.

** Follow us on Facebook for the latest details and get in on the chatter by tagging @FullKeeRestaurant #triadfoodiesChefsTable on Facebook and Instagram. Please notify me at Kristi@triadfoodies.com if you have any food sensitivity or if the chef needs to be aware of any concerns