Tag Archives: NC Wine

foodie b’eat: Competition Dining Dates Announced…Get Your Pre-Sale Tix!!

Greetings, foodies!

Here’s the latest from our friends at the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Competition with schedule details for all the cities plus a link to PRE-SALE tickets!  The chefs are building their teams and we should know soon who’s on the Dream Teams. There will be teams this year in Winston-Salem AND in Greensboro, along with Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte and Wilmington and the winners of those cities will go to the battle of champions in the fall. And guess what? Once again, this year, I’ll be in WS and GSO for all the action so be sure to follow along at @compdiningnc on Twitter for photos and descriptions as well as chatter!  Below is a photo of last year’s winners. Winston-Salem’s own, Chef Richard Miller, of Graze, was our local winner and  Chef Ryan Conklin (second to left) of Rex Healthcare was state champ (that’s right…a HOSPITAL chef won…but Chef Ryan is no ordinary hospital chef.) Tickets are on sale beginning in April for the Durham event. Be sure to check out their webpage for PRE-SALE tickets . Many events sell out, so you might want to get a jump on it before tickets go on sale for the masses.

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Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series Announces 2016 Schedule with Battles in Six North Carolina Cities

Interactive Chef Tournament Launches Dream Team Concept for the Ultimate Dining Experience

The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, a single-elimination tournament highlighting the best of the state’s food, agriculture and culinary talent, is back for 2016 with a total of eight tournaments across the state, each made up of four chef teams vying for the local title. The touring competition will have dual brackets in both Raleigh and Charlotte, and one tournament in each of Durham, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Wilmington. It all culminates in October with the Battle of Champions to name a statewide victor.

Applications for chefs interested in competing are currently being accepted for all locations. This year, the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series is switching formats to allow chefs to create All-Star Dream Teams. The change allows chefs from different restaurants to partner together to create their three-person team, upping the potential caliber and creating a more fun and competitive atmosphere for all.

“We’re excited to introduce this new Dream Team concept that will further showcase the immense culinary talent and agriculture in North Carolina with the 2016 Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series,” said Jimmy Crippen, Competition Dining Series founder and host. “Our mission is to connect and celebrate with foodies across the state through this dynamic, entertaining culinary experience. We look forward to sharing unique chef collaborations with our diners to make for an unprecedented year of highly competitive events with innovative dishes like never before.”

Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series battles include two chef teams each preparing three courses centered on a featured ingredient that comes from a North Carolina farmer or artisan producer. Featured ingredients are revealed to the chefs the morning of the dinner event and must be used in every course. Ticketed guests get in on the action, savoring the full-service, six-course meals without knowing which chef prepared which plate. Alongside culinary and guest judges, diners rate each dish using an interactive app, ultimately determining who moves on to the next round and who goes home.

The 2016 Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series dinner battles will be held in:

Durham: April 18, 19 and 21
Winston-Salem: May 22, 23 and 25
Greensboro: June 20, 21 and 23
Raleigh (two brackets): July 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21 and a finale to name one Raleigh champion July 24
Charlotte (two brackets): Aug. 8, 9, 11, 22, 23, 25 and a finale to name one Charlotte champion Aug. 28
Wilmington: Sept. 19, 20 and 22

The six winners will move on to compete in the Battle of Champions at the end of the year. Since Raleigh and Charlotte teams must compete in an extra battle to win their local title, these chefs will receive a bye for the first round of the championship.

Tickets to attend an interactive dinner battle are $59 to $69 each and will officially go on sale for each series once that local bracket is announced. Discounted pre-sale tickets for all tournaments are available now for $10 less than standard pricing at http://www.competitiondining.com. Tickets are expected to sell out quickly, and people interested in attending are encouraged to signup for the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series e-newsletter for the most recent ticket updates and news.

All chefs are invited to apply to compete in any of the six tournaments. The application and a complete list of rules are available at www.competitiondining.com/compete.

The Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series is sponsored by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Pate Dawson-Southern Foods,Certified Angus Beef®, and local and regional partners throughout the state. The goal of the series is to celebrate North Carolina products and agriculture, and to showcase the culinary ingenuity and talent across the state. For more information, visit http://www.competitiondining.com or get in on the conversation at www.facebook.com/competitiondining and @CompDiningNC on Twitter or Instagram.

Giveaway!! triadfoodies finds for Valentine’s Day

From the latest Chow in YES! Weekly….

Can you feel it? That’s love in the air. The love of local food. We just loved putting together our Holiday Gift Guide and thought it would be lovely to do the same for Valentine’s Day. And once again a lucky reader will win this entire basket. We chose items that we thought celebrated this much-hyped “holiday” in a slightly different way. Sure, we’ve got some token chocolate, but we tried to think a bit out of the heart-shaped box too, all the while celebrating some wonderful North Carolina purveyors. 

Foothills Brewing Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout

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This is one sexy lady. Foothills Brewing releases this vintage annually, to much fanfare. The night before the release (which was this past weekend) Foothills throws a pre-release party. The party then heads outside where people literally camp out to be one of the first to get their hands on a coveted bottle. The Foothills team encourages the fun with swag. Then the doors open at 8:00 am with the tap flowing (with breakfast even) and then bombers go on sale at 9:00 am. Foothills Marketing Director Ray Goodrich says, “it’s really a fun party. And it’s become such an experience that it’s gone from a craft beer tradition to ‘Winston-Salem tradition’.” You can get Sexual Chocolate at the tasting room and at the pub and most local beverage stores for a limited time (and often limited sales customer). What to pair it with? Foothills’ Dave Goliszek says, “Grilled meats because the char of the meat pairs with the roasted barley. But also any dessert that would go great with coffee. Think molten lava cake or especially a raspberry cheesecake because the bitterness cuts the sweet, just like coffee.” foothillsbrewing.com

Cloister Honey (Ghost Pepper)

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Why not add a little heat to your night?  Produced in Charlotte, Cloister Honey’s Ghost Pepper was named Southern Living Magazine’s Honey of the Year. The honey is many a favorite of chefs around the state. Ghost Pepper will bring a bit of heat to your flavor party. How we love it….Drizzled over some goat cheese or brie, it has a sweet and spicy kick to jazz up whatever it touches.  Or warm it up and drizzle it over a pizza with some arugula and pancetta or sopressata. Owners Randall York and Joanne Delarionda have also dressed up their other honeys with lavender, bourbon, vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon. If you are not quite sure what to do with your flavored honey, they can help you with that.  Says Randall, “We have recipes on our website that are easy and the flavors are very interchangeable.” You can take a look at the full line of honeys on their site and find it on the shelves of several local retailers. Savory Spice Shop in Greensboro for one, almost always has a good variety. cloisterhoney.com

Two Triangles Sparkling Wine

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The signature sparkling from Carolina’s Vineyards & Hops. We’ve featured CV & H before as the destination to enjoy North Carolina Wine and craft beer with local menu items like charcuterie and panini, plus desserts. In addition to the celebrated vineyards across the state, CV & H produces their own line called Two Triangles. This sparkling is is one of the first wines they created and bar manager Ashley Jones says it’s a top seller. “This wine is a toast and tribute to North Carolina. It’s not too sweet and not too dry and a reminder of how balanced our state is from the mountains to the coast and the two triangles that represent the Triad and Triangle.” This wine features tropical flavors, peach and honeysuckle and a hint of effervescence.  What we love it with….artisanal cheeses like a creamy brie or something spicy with jalapeno. Chorizo would be marvelous, as would a great spicy curry dish. 111 S. Marshall Street, Winston-Salem; carolinasvineyardsandhops.com

Brasstown Chocolate

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Named after the town in Western, NC because it’s home to one of the premiere folk art colleges in the country (John C. Campbell Folk School). Brasstown Chocolate’s founders Rom Still and Barbara Price wanted the name to be a reflection of the artistry of their chocolate. Still is an award-winning chocolatier tempering and molding handcrafted chocolate in Winston-Salem since 2010, when it simply started out as a hobby. His bars have won International Chocolate awards for the past few years running. We love this chocolate because of the complex flavors imparted by the native region from which the bean hails. Our winner will enjoy Ecuador, awarded the Whole Foods Market Good Food Award and the bronze winner in the 2015 International Chocolate Awards. The bar is made from organic Nacional beans from Manabi and has flavors that are more floral than fruit, with spice and the natural taste of honey. These bars average $8 retail. Obviously meant to be savored.  brasstownchocolate.com 

Granny Roselli’s Pasta Sauce & Pasta Wench Fettuccini

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What’s more decadent and romantic than light, handmade pasta topped with a satisfying and rich pasta sauce passed down from generations? There’s just something about this simple Italian dish that says “romance.” And not because of Lady and the Tramp. But feel free to do that, when no one’s looking on your date night in.  Maybe it’s the twirling of the pasta. Of course it’s definitely the red. Granny Roselli’s pasta sauce is made in Surry County and inspired by Daisy Roselli, who owned Sunny Italy Restaurant in Wilkes County for years before her passing a few years ago. Now, her son, John, keeps the tradition alive. Pasta Wench All Natural Gourmet Pasta (formerly of Boone) is now made right here in the Triad, on site at Musten & Crutchfield in Kernersville. Our winner will enjoy Original flavor but when you see this pasta (available at locally-owned markets), check out their other flavors like Chocolate or Cabernet, Wild Chipotle or Black Pepper. It’s mostly available in noodle form but they are working on a ravioli to be available soon. Granny Roselli’s Pasta Sauce, Salad Dressing and her famous Seasoning Blend are available at area supermarkets, as well as Musten & Crutchfield.
For more info about Pasta Wench, visit the online store, pastawench.com

Tart Sweets Macarons

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Special for Valentine’s Day, Tart Sweets Boutique bakery and coffee shop created these lovely conversation hearts with messages of love for your sweetie. Why we love them? Have you seen them? They’re adorable. And crazy deliciously, crispy light and creamy. You’ll find all kinds of yummy confections at Tart Sweets, in addition to bourbon cherries, chocolate dipped stemmed berries, and other delights.  Not to mention rows of French macarons filled with flavors only limited by pastry chef, Chelsea Tart’s imagination. Our winner will love their gift card to customize their selection.
848 W. 5th Street, #110, Winston-Salem  tartsweets.com

As always, reach out to us if you know of a product that deserves to be loved and gifted, maybe you’ll see it in a future guide. If you want to get your hands on Valentine’s Day basket, follow the YES! Weekly Facebook page to learn how you can win! The winner will be announced on Friday, February 12. And be sure to watch WFMY’s Good Morning Show at 6:45am on Friday as I share this on live TV!

foodie b’eat: Quanto Basta and Raffaldini Vineyards and Pizzette is sexy!

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Last week, as part of the Salute! NC Wine Celebration festivities, mr. foodie and I were busy representing Food and Wine University.  In case you didn’t know, we manage the food/chef events for the festival including helping pair up the wine dinners and tastings throughout the week. A fun, challenging and rewarding task, to be sure. We had the privilege of joining Chef Tim Grandinetti at his new restaurant, Quanto Basta: Italian Eatery & Wine Bar for an “Italian Gathering” which celebrated his new collaboration with Raffaldini Vineyards, the NC Wine Region’s only true Italian vineyard.

This “gathering” wasn’t like your typical wine dinner. There were tasting stations throughout the loggia with some meat, cheese, olives, veggies, pasta, breadsticks at will. For more info on what was served, keep reading :D.

As you can tell, Chef Tim loves to have fun and loves to entertain a crowd.

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mr. foodie, Chef Tim and blogger/caterer Heidi Billotto of Heidi Cooks

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We paused our noshing to join chef in the kitchen as one of his sous chefs for a pizza demonstration. Here we learned how in Italy, pizza—or pizzette at QB, is considered street food and that no two are alike, which Chef Tim says makes it a very sexy snack, to enjoy with your hands and with wine and with friends. He made a couple for us…the seafood pizzette is amazing. All the pizzettes are amazing.

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The event celebrated the heritage of two Italian Americans who are so extremely proud of their heritage and who’ve made their mark here locally to celebrate it and bring it to us for enjoyment.

So what does this announcement mean to you, foodies? Raffaldini has been chosen to make QB’s house wines!

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Photo: Courtesy QB

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Here’s the official QB statement….

Raffaldini Vineyards is located in both the Yadkin Valley and Swan Creek American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Owner Jay Raffaldini comes from an Italian family, and the winery specializes in national award-winning Italian varietals. Raffaldini has been a frequent guest and supporter of Spring House Kitchen, Restaurant & Bar, the first Winston-Salem partnership between Grandinetti and Lynette Matthews-Murphy. When Raffaldini and Grandinetti met about three years ago, they instantly bonded over their Italian family heritage.

“When we told Jay we were going to do an Italian restaurant, he was immediately supportive,” Grandinetti says. “With the quality of his wines, it was a natural fit for him to make our house wines.”

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Winemaker Jay Raffaldini and Chef Tim Grandinetti

Grandinetti worked with Raffaldini to select two wines, a white and a red, for Quanto Basta’s house labels. The white is a Vermentino Riserva, and the red is a Sangiovese Riserva. The white sells for $35 a bottle and $7 a glass, and the red for $45 a bottle and $9 a glass.

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Raffaldini Vineyards is the only Italian vineyard in North Carolina. The area’s soil and climate remind Jay Raffaldini of Italy, where his family started making wine in 1348. Once Raffaldini and his staff harvest the grapes, they dry a portion of them to concentrate the flavors before pressing and blending. This process is known as appassimento in Italian.

“We’re intensifying all of the wonderful bits,” Raffaldini says. The Raffaldini wines are ideal for food pairings because they complement the food instead of overpowering it.

About 60 guests joined Grandinetti, Matthews-Murphy and Raffaldini during a wine dinner leading up to Saturday’s Salute! NC Wine Celebration in downtown Winston-Salem. The Italian gathering included a chef’s culinary demonstration of barbera-infused handcrafted pasta. Tasting stations reflected the restaurant’s rustic Italian menu with such offerings as salumi and cheese, pizzette, shrimp arrabiata (one of the restaurant’s most-popular dishes) and eggplant Parmesan. Dessert included tiramisu and butterscotch budino paired with Le Dolce Vita, a Moscato d’Asti-style wine from Raffaldini Vineyards.

Quanto Basta means “as much as you like; as much as you need” in Italian. Since opening in March, the eatery has experienced an overwhelming response with a consistently full dining room and growing reputation for authentic Italian food in a casual setting. The Raffaldini house wine collaboration furthers Quanto Basta’s mission of celebrating the art of food and the joyful voice of the Italian culture.

Quanto Basta features Italian favorites and fresh pastas topped with rustic sauces; pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy. The current wine list includes 60 labels and will eventually grow to include more than 200. The restaurant is located at 680 W. Fourth St., Winston-Salem, NC; (336) 893-6144. Hours: Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight, and Friday-Saturday, 4 p.m.-late night. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations. www.facebook.com/quantobastaNC

Raffaldini Vineyards was named one of Wine Business Monthly’s Top Ten Hot Small Brands in North America. Known as “Chianti in the Carolinas,” the vineyard produces Central and Southern Italian varietals, such as vermentino, pinot grigio, sangiovese and montepulciano. The winery tasting room is open daily (except for Tuesdays) at 450 Groce Road, Ronda, NC; (336) 835-9463; www.raffaldini.com.

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Eat local, foodies!

Hearth Restaurant at Sanders Ridge

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My extended family on my Daddy’s side decided for our Christmas celebration to meet at a restaurant…to keep it easy so we don’t all have to cook and run after kidlets. And though I didn’t mean to “take over” and make a strong (?) suggestion of where we should eat, I will say I do not regret my nudging 😉 to dine at a local restaurant that just happens to be on a beautiful vineyard and winery. Once we knew that Hearth Restaurant at Sanders Ridge would gladly accommodate all 23 of us for a Saturday lunch, everyone was excited.

To start, Sanders Ridge is a vineyard located in the heart of Yadkin Valley Wine Country, in Boonville, just a 20 minute drive from Winston-Salem. And since Hearth is on a vineyard, it’s quiet, lovely and serene. The restaurant and tasting room is gorgeous with its timber frame details and view of the pond, gazebo and natural surroundings. Much of their ingredients are locally sourced, some right there on their own farm.

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Chef Christian Froelich actually provided us with a personal menu, but allowed us to order off the main menu anyway. I can really only speak to what mr. foodie and I ordered, but I did take pictures of just about everything. We did order a bottle of wine—I mean when in the Yadkin Valley Wine Region, why not? For my entree, I ordered the Muscadine Chicken. What is known as their signature dish, it’s grilled chicken breast with a sweet and slightly tangy muscadine glaze that Chef created to mimic a hoisin sauce. So you get this element of Asian flare along with an incredible jasmine rice stir fry that has a crispy soccarat that is oh, so satisfying. I don’t know about you but if I eat at a hibachi style restaurant, I always ask for the scraped up rice bits. So yummy! The entree also comes with sauteed spinach.

IMG_1205 IMG_1212Mr. foodie ordered the Pork Chops Milanese. Crunchy, tender, flavorful with sweet potato puree and sauteed spinach.

Oh and I almost forgot, as an appetizer we ordered the Truffle Scented Country Ham Mac & Cheese. It came out so piping hot I captured steam in my photo! Anyway, it was so good, I could’ve eaten it by itself. So cheesy and smoky, perfectly cooked macaroni with chewy bits of country ham and just enough of an essence of truffle oil.

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My kidlets split their chicken tenders, which were terrific and I told the chef they’d be even MORE yummy with the muscadine glaze as a dip. And my boy ordered the Chocolate Torte for dessert and gobbled it up. Let’s take a look at what everyone else ordered…I did do my due diligence and got many praises from all of my family members, even the little ones so I’m so glad my suggestion met with positive reviews.

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Chicken tendersIMG_1208Shrimp & Grits

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Veggie Wrap w/ Sweet Potato Fries

Pimento Cheese Dip

Pimento Cheese Dip

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Blurry..sorry! Smokestack Turkey Sandwich w/ Sweet Potato Fries

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Chocolate Torte

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Creme Brulee

Hearth Restaurant at Sanders Ridge officially became Chef Christian Froelich’s pride and joy last summer. He most recently was the Executive Chef in the Twin City Quarter and at Graze (formerly WS Prime). It’s so great to see him at the helm of such a beautiful restaurant and kitchen and we know he’s excited.

Chef Froelich and his excited face!

Chef Froelich and his excited face!

The Sanders Ridge winery’s tasting room is open every day beginning at noon. The winery and restaurant are on holiday until Thursday, January 15, so stay excited but be patient :D.  And if you want to just picnic and explore, there are 155 luscious acres for your pleasure. And if you’d like a little getaway, there’s even a tiny cabin in the woods! I can’t wait to go back when everything’s in bloom to do a little picnicking and ‘splorations.

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Hearth Restaurant at Sander’s Ridge
3200 Round Hill Road
Boonville, NC 336.677.1700

Lunch/Brunch
Friday, Saturday Lunch & Sunday Brunch 11:30 – 3 pm
Supper
Thursday Night Family Style with live music 5 – 8 pm
Friday & Saturday 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Diamondback Grill

Here’s a rule we should all abide by in the world of restaurants and food: Never judge a book by its cover. Many friends have recommended Diamondback Grill for a foodie review. And since April is Grapes & Small Plates month (where local restaurants feature small plates paired with a NC wine), I thought Diamondback Grill would be a great place to spend a Tuesday evening. I had only been to Diamondback Grill once and that was a looooooonng time ago. I remember beer and nachos. And though it doesn’t appear to have changed much, I’m told the food and philosophy have definitely changed. I first started hearing about Diamondback from local produce markets who promoted that the restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients when possible. So, that got them on my radar. Then another friend said, the food is really good and that it’s family-friendly, so that got them on my calendar.

When you see the place, the outside is more office building than restaurant. And it truly is a neighborhood place. It is completely surrounded by homes and apartments. And when you walk in, do not be alarmed. It is definitely old school. The decor might need a bit of updating, I’m not going to lie. It’s a combination of sports bar (with 5 screens), alpine lodge and living room. But the smells emanating from the kitchen are delightful. We sat down, asked about the Grapes & Small plates features, and started scanning the menu. One of the features was a Tuna Tartar with the recommended Raffaldini Vineyards Vermentino (a full-bodied white). The tartar was served on wontons with sesame noodles on top with a sweet and spicy wasabi glaze and it was wonderful. And my Asian-fare-loving kids ate the noodles. My eldest has always loved those peanut-ty sesame noodles since she could chew noodles. That has not changed.

Diamondback Grill, Tuna tartar,

Tuna Tartar

Kidlets ordered chicken tenders and sweet potato fries which the kitchen split for us so they had their own plate. The chicken was thick and juicy and the crispy outside was just like Southern fried chicken. There was plenty for take home and WE ate them a couple of days later after a simple reheat. See my Facebook post about what we did with the kidlets’ leftovers.

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I decided on the Fire Roasted Salmon with Lavender Honey. Uhwarrie Mountain Honey coated the salmon giving it sweetness with just a hint of fresh lavender. It was served with asparagus and rice pilaf.

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Mr. foodie ordered the special pork chop of the day with a blackened garlic glaze topped with peach chutney. It was a perfectly cooked chop with a nice spicy kick, served with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.

Pork chop special with blackened garlic and peach chutney

Pork chop special with blackened garlic and peach chutney

See, mr. liked!! We do not mind it if you gnaw on the bone. That is nectar of the gods.

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And while we were there, the kids enjoyed local dairy, Homeland Creamery’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream and we ordered the Sweet Potato and White Chocolate bread pudding. And all I can say is OMG.

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What I appreciated about the meals at Diamondback Grill was that the protein was a great sized portion along with modestly-sized sides.  They are very Paleo-friendly (google it, if you are not familiar). The ingredients were fresh and tasty and why wouldn’t they as they strive to be farm to table via Stauber Farms, Let it Grow Produce, among others. And of course, last week and apparently all the time, Chef Jon Vidovich was “chef-ing” and came out to say hello and talk about his busy week catering furniture market (yes, they cater!) and all those hungry people. He’d been up since 3am. He came out and said hello. What a champ!

Chef Jon Vidovich

Chef Jon Vidovich

Look for Chef Jon in Competition Dining’s Fire in the Triad as he takes on Meridian on May 21st.

Diamondback Grill will definitely be a place that we will go back to as they have an extensive menu but offer interesting features each week and of course, featured local produce. They even have a Farmer’s Market dinner featuring all kinds of goodies from local farms. And though it doesn’t have a stylish, sleek fancy decor, it’s definitely comfortable and the locals seem to appreciate that.
751 North Avalon Avenue, Winston-Salem
336.722.0006

Open for dinner 7 nights a week.

April 30 is the last Tuesday for Grapes and Small Plates. For more info, click here
Diamondback Grill on Urbanspoon