Tag Archives: Lunch

The Katharine Brasserie & Bar

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Chef Ed Witt places a finishing touch

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

 

 

foodie b’eat: A Community Surrounds Skippy’s

The story “A Grand Finale for Skippy’s” was originally published in YES! Weekly on April 20th. This blog post has the story in full and will be continually updated with participating restaurants and contributors as they become known.

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There’s a feeling of community within the culinary circles in Winston-Salem that is unmatched in just about any area city I’ve encountered. There’s just something about it. And it’s very, very evident this week as a group of restaurant owners, chefs, purveyors, and even artisans are coming together to help one of their very own.

Skippy’s Hot Dogs has been a downtown Winston-Salem institution for 14 years. No one else does a dog like Skippy’s. The hot dogs are delicious and what sets them apart is that signature pretzel bun. Growing up in Pennsylvania, twisted pretzels were kind of a normal thing. But owner Mike Rothman wanted to bring those pretzels, which were missing, to Winston-Salem, and he did just that. After a few years of selling pretzels and refining his concept, the hot dog on the twisted pretzel roll became Mike’s thing. And he’s enjoyed success since doing so. Winston-Salem is a hot dog city. And Skippy’s helped put it on the map.

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A couple of months ago, Mike had to close a few times due to health reasons. Then abruptly, the sign said “Closed Until Further Notice.” Now, if you’re a fan of Skippy’s, you know (being selfish) that this is awful news. But it got people wondering, what on earth has happened to our beloved Mike Rothman? And then came the sad announcement that Mike had been diagnosed with brain cancer and would have to close to undergo treatment for glioblastoma. And even if you have insurance, this type of treatment is extensive and expensive and when you run a restaurant and it’s your sole source of income? Disastrous.

Restaurant owners from the downtown area visited Mike during the early stages of his recovery and got the idea to run his restaurant for him while he recuperates. Will Kingery, who own’s King’s Crab Shack, Willow’s Bistro, and Silo said, “ We wanted to manage Skippy’s for him and there were folks actually volunteering to run the business for him while he gets better so he could have an income. We all put ourselves in his shoes. If we lost our income and had huge medical bills, we’d be done. But that’s just not what he wanted. He didn’t want the stress of keeping the business open. And we understand where he’s coming from. … he just wanted to focus on healing. ”

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Photo from the Skippy’s FB page when the fundraiser was just announced

So the group came up with an alternate plan.

“We decided, ‘well, let’s just open it for one more week.’ Kingery added. “As a way to raise some money for him. And Mike got really excited about that idea and jumped on board with it.”

All the proceeds from “Mike’s Week” will go to pay his medical bills, while he fights the good fight.

All kinds of folks, professional and amateur, from the community have stepped in to help. Numerous downtown establishments like Jeff and Adam from Jeffrey Adams on 4th/4th Street Filling Station, Opie Kirby from Finnigans, The Moody’s from West End Coffeehouse, Mozelle’s, DiLisio’s, Rooster’s A Noble Grille, Graze, The Tavern in Old Salem, Spring House Restaurant, Quanto Basta, Camino Bakery, The Porch Kitchen & Cantina, Bib’s, Atelier on Trade, Harrison Littell of Five Loaves Catering, Chef Stuart Ford of Pintxos Pour House and Wild Willie’s Wiener Wagon, Tart Sweets, Kabobs on 4th, and countless others, including Kingery’s eateries. Mary Haglund from Mary’s Gourmet Diner is cooking and handling the catering side of things for the week, while Vivian Joiner from Sweet Potatoes is scheduling the volunteers.

Joiner says, “At least 20 restaurants have said they will step up. It’s such an extraordinary outpouring from all sides of the community from the hospitality industry to just regular people off the street.”

Each day Skippy’s will offer the same menu you’ve been familiar with, though minus the famous pretzel buns. Kingery says, “That was Mike’s thing…he was an expert at that, so we’ll just have some really great split-roll buns.” And each day the chef leading the kitchen will feature a special hot dog of his or her own creation. “It’ll be a different twist on a hot dog…very creative ideas are being thrown out there,” Kingery says. Joiner adds that though their will be a chef leading the kitchen each day, dozens more from other restaurants will be there as line cooks, taking orders or just selling t-shirts.

Food distributors across the area are donating thousands of dollars worth of food, like Southern Foods, US Foods, Sysco, IFH. Pepsi is donating drink products. Tom’s Glass Works is donating a commemorative glass that will be for sale. Hanes Brands has a new spin on a Skippy’s T-shirt that will be available for purchase. Zoom! did all the printing. Dewey’s Bakery has offered to donate cookies to sell. The Winston-Salem Dash donated all the Nathan’s Hot Dogs and its staff has volunteered to pitch in. TW Garner’s Texas Pete and staff members will be there slinging hot dogs as well. And Skippy’s will also be featuring Birch Root Beer from Mike’s home state of Pennsylvania. When the kitchen equipment needed a bit of repair, Carolina Kitchen Repair volunteered to do it. Local advertising agency, Mullen-Lowe is even working on a video to highlight the event. And the list goes on…

Kingery says the group has been overwhelmed by all the support, yet at the same time, he’s not at all surprised. “It’s just Winston-Salem. We work together. If you need help, we are there for you. If you need product, we can call each other and help each other out. That’s just how the Winston-Salem culinary community is. We’re neighbors…really, a team.”

And it’s true. The chefs in Winston-Salem know what collaboration is. And there’s a brotherhood and yes, that includes the women, that is beyond compare. Joiner says, “It’s just a testament to how cool the city we live in really is.”

Chefs/restaurants on the line and featuring a special hot dog will be (subject to change):
Willow’s Bistro/Kings Crab Shack
DiLisio’s along with John Bobby from Rooster’s A Noble Grille
Bib’s Downtown
Mary’s Gourmet Diner
Sweet Potatoes
Finnigan’s Wake
Jeffrey Adams on 4th/4th Street Filling Station
Foothills Brewing
Graze

Kingery adds, “We just want to give a huge thank you to everyone involved. It’s going to be very busy and kind of terrifying at times,” he laughs. “But it will all be worth it in the end. We are just so grateful to everyone who’s involved and continuing to come forward.”

Kingery says after Mike’s Week, sadly, the doors will close on Skippy’s for good…yet….only maybe. “After it’s all over, we’re going to clean the restaurant and all the equipment up. And Skippy’s will be for sale. It’s a great space. It is already set up to be a pretzel factory. It has everything it needs to be a successful business. We don’t expect it to be vacant for long. It really is a diamond.”

As for Mike, who’s 53, family members say they’re taking his recovery one day at a time, but that he’s making great strides and becoming more independent.

I had a chance to speak with Mike’s mom, Harriett, and she was just so sweet and she says she’s very touched.  “He’s a warrior. It’s been an adjustment being here, not only because he has to be in this rehab facility but also because he had to leave his friends.” Mrs. Rothman says that Mike is being positive throughout it all and has been following all the activity on social media. “He misses everyone. He’s starting to reach out to his friends which makes him feel better. He’s just overwhelmed and touched by all the support he’s getting from the community and he tells us, ‘I might not have made a ton of money, but I made wealth in a much more special way…just knowing that people want to do this for me.”

Here’s a picture of a recovering Mike from Skippy’s Facebook page. Be sure to check out the page regularly for updates on Mike and #mikesweek.

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Mike Rothman, owner of Skippy’s

Mrs. Rothman says she’s incredibly proud of her son. “We’re so proud of what he’s accomplished. What’s happening in Winston-Salem is awesome and unbelievable and heartwarming and there aren’t enough words to describe.”

In addition to the benefit of a huge amount of local press, volunteers have taken to social media to help get the word out. Be sure to follow Skippy’s Hot Dogs Facebook page for the latest updates. Mike’s family members have also set up a GoFundMe page. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the restaurant community, volunteers, and people who are going to come out and show support for Mike. I don’t remember if I’ve ever seen a community pull together to support one person quite like this before. This tells me that not only is Mike incredibly special, but so is the Winston-Salem community,” announced his niece, Marissa Goldman, via GoFundMe.

The GoFundMe campaign has so far raised over $15k. Mike’s rehabilitation facility is in PA so that he could be near his parents. If you feel compelled to send a card or note of encouragement, mail to:

Michael Rothman
c/o The Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg
4000 Linglestown Rd.
Room 117
Harrisburg, PA. 17112

Volunteers are still appreciated to help set up, cook, assist and clean up during the week of the fundraiser and the week following as they prepare the restaurant for sale. If you’d like to get on the schedule, contact Vivian Joiner at Sweet Potatoes at (336) 727-4844.

Joiner says that on Saturday evening, the organizers and volunteers will re-convene for a grand finale. And when I talked with her aboutthat last day….

“We’re being asked what we are going to do….and for me, I’m not going to think about it until it happens. It’s a very touching thing….to close a restaurant. To serve your final plate and lock the doors behind that final guest. It is not an easy thing. So I’ll let that moment play out as it happens.”

Here are the details, foodies!
Mike’s Week at Skippy’s will be Saturday, April 23 to Saturday, April 30. Hours will be 10am to 8pm each day.
Skippy’s Hot Dogs
624 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem.
Phone: (336) 722-3442.

Be sure to let us know that you are going! Take photos of when you are there. Tweet and Facebook with the hashtag #mikesweek.

Prayers for you, Mike!

 

 

Miami Restaurant & Bar

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From Yes! Weekly….

Miami Restaurant & Bar, 712 Brookstown Avenue, Winston-Salem

When Miami Cafe closed its doors two and a half years ago on Old Salisbury Road in search of bigger digs, we all waited anxiously for the new location announcement, which came…and the opening (on Healy Drive) ….which never did. Problems, problems, problems….and if it was torture for you waiting, well it had to have been unimaginable for owners, Jose and Jacqueline Rodriguez and their daughter Tatiana Marquez. But a glorious light emerged at the end of that dark tunnel and late last year the Rodriguezes re-opened under a new name, Miami Restaurant & Bar.

Way back when Winston-Salem was in its quirky days, lived a restaurant called Rainbow News & Cafe….ah…the memories, right Mary Haglund? If you ate there, you know what we mean. And then after that, the restaurant was Christopher’s Global Cuisine. Certainly more upscale than Rainbow, but cozy and again with amazing food. For years the house stood silent and dark…beckoning curious restaurant owners and possibly scaring them off thanks to all the levels and corners and smallish parking lot. But it didn’t scare off the owners of this new, casual Cuban and Latin eatery. Somehow, Miami Restaurant & Bar is making it work. It feels like you are visiting someone’s house…kind of? But the quirkiness remains and is still quite comforting and familiar. You’d have to see it to know what I’m talking about. There’s still a transom etched with the its name, as well as Armand’s mural that will bring back memories of the Rainbow. You pretty much can’t leave without seeing your favorite childhood characters.

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Armand’s mural, leftover from the historic Rainbow News & Cafe

We’ve been to Miami Restaurant & Bar a few times now. Once at lunch for sandwiches and empanadas and another couple of times for dinner, just to get a good idea of what’s what. It’s improving each visit. The first time, I went with my friend, Christy, who frequented the old location. She’s from Miami and happens to be Cuban so she’s a great judge of the place. We went “halvsies” on our sandwiches. Don’t you love to do that? She got the Tripleta, a three meat sandwich on Cuban bread and I ordered a traditional Cuban with that awesome ham, cheese and pickles. We each got a side of the black beans, which was her suggestion and they were amazing. Slightly smokey and a bit spicy. The empanadas were crispy and hot filled with chunks os chicken and veggies with an avocado dipping sauce on the side.

Christy suggested that we order and share one of the their milkshakes, called Trigo. It’s a shake with milk and sweetened puffed wheat cereal. Think Kellogg’s Honey Smacks. You remember Dig’em? It’s like those in a milkshake. The first time I ordered it, it literally was like iced milk. Tasted good but wasn’t a milkshake. And Christy said it wasn’t the same as she had enjoyed previously. We were assured by Jose that he would talk to his team and correct the error. And the subsequent times we went back, the Trigo was just as milkshake-like as it should be. It’s definitely a must-try. On our second visit, mr. foodie got the mango smoothie while we waited (Trigo still wins), and for the table we shared empanadas, Ropa Vieja, pulled flank with onions and peppers in a tomato sauce. It’s served with rice and those incredible black beans. The Canoa was a hit. A bed of sweet plantains stuffed with picadillo, and mozzarella cheese. My last visit, I ordered picadillo with a side of plantains and I still prefer the Canoa. There’s just something about the savory meat mixture settling into those plantains that is so good. But ordering picadillo as the entree and choosing whatever side may be your preferred way to go. We highly recommend the Lechon Asado. It’s slow roasted pork in a delicious mojito sauce that’s been simmered with onions. You choose your side. It won the table in my opinion. I’m told to try Mofongo, from the menu, which features green plantain and garlic, pork rind in a chicken broth. Also, Shrimp Mofongo, which is supposed to be incredible, but for now it’s a feature only.

Service was a bit slow the first visit, but the food was piping hot and incredibly fresh. Service was more speedy the other times. We got to visit with Jose and he’s optimistic about the space and future business there. “It has been busy. We are just trying to get the kinks out, working on timing and training new staff.And that takes some time.” The restaurant just got its liquor license within the last 10 days or so. “We have beer and now wine. And we are adding more liquor and building a menu for our bar.” There’s a bit of porch seating if you want to enjoy the outdoors. But Jose says they are working on additional patio seating which will be ideal for the type of cuisine they serve. And he says he and his wife will decide how to best utilize the upstairs for private events or meetings. “Let’s get down here working, then we can focus on upstairs.”

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Chef and owner, Jose Rodriguez

Only a few things remain…work out some of those pesky kinks, as Jose says, AND get that bar menu really going. As a Latin restaurant, I think it desperately needs cocktails and cerveza. I bet the Trigo would taste very good in “adult” version. One can hope that it is in consideration.

All in all, Winston-Salem needs Miami Restaurant & Bar as much as it needs Winston-Salem. Definitely worth a try.

What’s your favorite Latin restaurant in the area?

foodie b’eat: Crafted Brings Its Art to Downtown Winston-Salem

From YES! Weekly….

If there’s one thing Chef Kristina Fuller has gotten the hang of, it’s how to create a bit of a clamor when it comes to “will she, won’t she?” or “what’s it going to be?” After two successful restaurants in Greensboro (Crafted— The Art of the Taco and Crafted—The Art of Street Food) Chef Fuller and her mom and business partner, Rhonda, finally announced what thousands have been hoping for a couple of years now…..Crafted—The Art of the Taco is coming to Winston-Salem. And very fittingly, to the Arts District downtown.

We’ve been talking to the Fullers for a couple of years now about expanding their “taco joint” (it’s not a Mexican restaurant) into the the Twin City. There’s always been a “oh, we want to,” from them. Then Street Food opened, so we waited. And I’ve even sent them photos of spaces for lease when I would run across them downtown. The dynamic mother/daughter team simply wanted to take their time and make sure they had the staff in place so that the chef could focus on a new restaurant. Fuller says they were ready and finally looking at a space along 4th Street when they got an email that the property at 527 N. Liberty Street was available. “it really just kind of chose us. We set up a meeting with the landlord and realized it was a great relationship. It’s perfect.”

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Owner, Mike Stinnett, has already gotten to work on improvements to the stand-alone building which used to be 3 different barbershops. The windows out front will be opened up even more, with an additional window being added to one side of the building for more light. There will be the Crafted customary open kitchen concept with a rustic, urban chic feel. Fuller says they plan on using one wall along the bar to feature the specials. The space already has exposed brick and the wood that is now the subfloor will be taken out and repurposed as table tops. “We really like to be as sustainable as possible and re-use what’s already here. Mike has barns and he’s just pulling fixtures from ” The main dining room will seat about 50, the bar will seat another 15 and the patio will hold about 28 seats. “We just want it rustic and a bit industrial, but clean and simple.” Fuller says elements of unexpected design like graffiti and chandeliers will be present at the new location as well. Fuller says Stinnett will be creating offices in the upstairs portion of the building. The lower level beneath the restaurant will be used for storage and hopefully be expanded into space for special events. “It has a lot of possibilities…art showings, parties, it’ll be a great space.”

There will be a small parking lot with about 14 spaces, then parking is usually pretty easy to find along Liberty Street. Fuller says they expect to be open in about 8 months. The Fullers also last week announced the opening of a food truck. Fuller says the truck will be used for special events but on she plans to have it On The Road 7 days a week, adding “We’ll also be putting the food truck out front at the WS location just to drum up excitement and word of mouth in the weeks leading up to the opening of the new taco joint this fall. We wouldn’t want folks to forget about us or wonder when we’re going to open.”

In the meantime, Fuller will be dividing her time between two successful restaurants and a food truck, with Street Food about to celebrate its one-year anniversary. Fuller says Crafted—The Art of Street Food opened with such fanfare that it took a while for them to find their ground. “In the beginning, we got hit so hard and sometimes we were on an hour wait and when it’s like that, you can’t always know what’s going wrong in the midst of all the crazy. But then the newness wore off and honeymoon phase was over and we were able to hone in on our recipes and know what was really working.” Fuller says the new menu that’s just come out is a reflection of that. “I feel like this is us perfecting all the food that people love, tweaking it and putting out what is a seriously good menu.” You’ll find a few more Asian dishes for sure, evidence of the chef’s recent travels. Fuller visited Thailand a couple of months back, so you will see some inspiration from trip like noodle dishes, Pad Thai, Thai curry shrimp, some Indian dishes and as always, favorite like poutine, Bao, and the ever-popular, ramen. Thank goodness….Fuller says, “Oh yeah, the ramen’s not going anywhere.”

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Wanna go? Well, you’ll have to wait until about October/November for the new location at 527 N. Liberty Street in Winston-Salem. Until then, find the Crafted On the Road wherever it may be or Crafted—The Art of the Taco at 219 S. Elm Street or Crafted—The Art of Street Food at 600 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro. eatatcrafted.com

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

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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.