Tag Archives: Lunch

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.

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 

Course 4

  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.”

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.   

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