Okay okay…I KNOW that technically a restaurant inside a major hotel that’s part of a major hotel chain doesn’t exactly fit my “all local all the time” mantra. But…this was for research, foodies…and if I’m being honest, for YES! Weekly. But I would’ve attended this tasting at The Katharine Brasserie & Bar even if I wasn’t a full-fledged legit food writer for a legit publication. Why? Well, have you SEEN the place? And all of us in Winston-Salem have been stoked to see the iconic Reynolds Building turned into something other than its previous dormant, sad (yet beautiful) self. The Reynolds Building was yearning for the right tenant and I think they’ve found it.
No matter what you think about big hotels, people gotta have a place to sleep when they come here and The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel raises the bar here. And The Katharine will only add to the “scene” here in WS. It makes us raise our game on 4th Street, Liberty, Main, The Arts District, etc.
So with that, we welcome you, Lady Katharine. And you too, Chef Ed Witt….
keep reading below 🙂 from YES! Weekly ..
After all the excitement and hype, it’s finally here. The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel. And with it, The Katharine Brasserie…a hotel restaurant that doesn’t exactly act like a hotel restaurant. We already enjoy a fabulous one here in downtown Winston-Salem, Graze (part of the Marriott). Like its neighbor, The Katharine acts quite independently from the normal status quo hotel food fare that might cause someone like me to begrudgingly use the restaurant out of convenience, offering locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. And the space is beautiful. The hotel still looks like the Reynolds Building. Many features of the iconic office building still remain. They say every guest room is different. There’s a slide in the rec room. And then there’s The Katharine, with its mix of modern and art deco…brass and copper and marble…beautiful light and ambiance…if you don’t get ambiance right the first time, many a chef will tell you, good luck with the rest.
I visited The Katharine last week during a private chef tasting for media. They kept our group small, limiting to a max of six, over the course of three separate evenings. That was a great call. It allowed us to have a quiet, intimate tasting with fellow curious media people, and we were all allowed to just have a conversation, hear the server describe the plate, and overall enjoy our evening even more. Our tasting was literally just that… it included singular plates of several appetizers and entrees that we basically all just shared. And there were wine pairings for each round that came to the table. If there’s one thing I walked away with, the folks at The Katharine absolutely know their pairings and with each delivery of appetizer or entree, the match of wine to food was spot on.
What was served:
Chilled Melon Soup, Cardamom, Country Ham & Pink Peppercorn: This is an item I did not see on the menu. I’m not a fan of chilled soup, but this was light and refreshing and the saltiness from the ham, spicy bite of the peppercorns was really great with the cantaloupe puree. I don’t know about you, but this Southern girl loves pepper on cantaloupe.
Rappahannock Oysters with Minuet and a House Cocktails Sauce
Beef Tartare with mustard seeds, jalapeño, quail egg (as in nearly raw): Quite delicious actually. Not everyone has the stomach for tartare but it was delicate and flavorful.
Seared Sea Scallops with an incredible pea risotto and a black truffle butter. One of my faves.
Escargot was a huge hit and these got a little Southern top hat of hushpuppies.
Rounding out what came to the table: Beet Salad, Trio de Pate and for entrees a wonderful Bistro Filet with Fries, Hen of the Woods (a type of mushroom and served as a vegetarian dish) Pork tenderloin, and Grouper.
For dessert, a frozen lemon soufflé with fresh berries and lemon curd, the Katharine cookie plate and the sweet potato creme brûlée with benne wafer. Typically, I like my creme brûlée unfooled-around with, but this incarnation had a lovely autumnal flavor, not too sweet…in fact there was a slight savoriness that was delicious.
We were all impressed with the execution of the dishes. My favorite dish had to be the the escargot (surprisingly) and the scallops were a close second because the black truffle butter on the risotto was divine. Fellow diner, Chef Harrison Littell, said the maitre’ d butter on the escargot was what set it apart for him. And though we’re having dinner in a Kimpton Hotel, he feels the restaurant will raise the game for all locally-owned restaurants in the area…and that’s a good thing. His wife, Andrea, of the blog TowniesWS, agreed. “It’s a beautiful space and really adds to the fabric of our city.” The hotel and restaurant do make you forget that you aren’t in a more metropolitan city, meanwhile it’s comfortable enough that no one feels out of place.
General Manager Herbie Gimmel says it’s important for the Kimpton to identify with the city and building that they are becoming part of. “Katharine Reynolds exemplifies the past and future of Winston-Salem. As a brasserie, we want to become part of the culture here.”
A brasserie is not supposed to be a fancy French restaurant, but rather be quite comfortable. Executive Chef Ed Witt, who moved to Winston-Salem from D.C., says the goal of the menu is approachability. “We want you to be able to come in and have a burger or steak and frittes or a Caesar salad. It’s a little bit of something for everyone and we want everyone to feel comfortable enough after the end of a long day to just hang out.”
Wanna go? The Katharine Brasserie & Bar is located at 4th and Main Street in Winston-Salem. Open for breakfast and dinner. Lunch hours will be added in the coming weeks. katharinebrasserie.com