Oui, Oui, Oui! The Katharine C’est Magnifique!

Stephanie and I had the distinct pleasure of dining at The Katharine Brasserie and Bar last night, as guests of Chef Adam Barnett. This was a makeup date for me since I had missed the official blogger/media night to introduce him to the town due to another commitment. We met with Chef Adam and he was one of the most genuine, sweetest guys you’ll meet. Humble and passionate about his work, he was the consummate host for the night.

Sweet Corn Soup

Chef Adam Barnett (©Katharine)

I had mentioned in an earlier podcast/blog post that I felt a little dread when it came to his comments about “southern twist.” He even commented to me about that when we talked last night. I have to tell you, he set my mind at ease. First off, there was no pimento cheese to be found. That’s a major plus. I mean, I love pimento cheese but it has no place in French-influenced food, as far as I am concerned. The bottom line on Chef Adam is he’s a “good one.” Let’s talk food.

Chef Adam, Stephanie and I discussed what we would be doing as far as food and we decided that he would just bring us what he wanted us to try. I wanted him to showcase his talents and I am quite confident they were sufficiently demonstrated and abundantly so.

First off was the sweet corn soup. This bowl arrived with a brilliant, thick, yellow liquid with specks of red in the middle. It was this amazing Espelette pepper and heirloom tomato salpicón (“medley” in Spanish) resting in the center of the creamy soup. The soup tasted just like someone took corn from a cob, added some cream to it, pureed it and added a little touch of acidity to make it pop. It was creamy and delicious. It tasted as if the corn had been shucked a mere five minutes ago. I don’t know for sure but it could have been?

Steak Tartare

I had mentioned to Chef Adam that one of my favorite dishes ever was steak tartare. Then, we had to try his, he said. Chef Adam uses flat iron steak with an avocado mousse on top with a bit of pickled mustard seed on top to give an intermittent flavor burst of earthiness. It was a little strange with the first bite; a little bitter, actually, but it certainly came through with a pop of acid once you knew what you were getting. The beef was tender and seasoned well. The avocado mousse was light and delicious. The components combined were like a chopped-meat masterpiece. I will go on record to say that this rivals at least one of the tartare dishes I had in Paris on our honeymoon, possibly two.

Shrimp & Grits

Up next was the shrimp and grits. The grits were creamy and light (no hard bits) with large chunks of shrimp, spicy sausage, a perfect mix of herbs and spices and soft, but brilliantly flavored red bell pepper. All of these flavors and textures rested beautifully together in a bowl. I will say that the shrimp and grits dish at Katharine Brasserie and Bar is probably the best I’ve ever had. I used to say that about a food truck. Now, it’s here. This is a must try for any fan of shrimp and grits or anyone who is a fan of good food.

Lobster Gnocchi

Chef Adam wanted us to try the Lobster Gnocchi and that’s what we got next. A mixture of Maitake mushrooms, chunks of lobster meat, sweet corn, swiss chard and a creamy, tangy lemon hollandaise sauce. The Maitakes were scored and chewy. I’m not usually a mushroom fan, but these were really good. The gnocchi was large and fluffy and it all worked together in a light, yet succulent dish. A lot of flavor in that dish, that’s for sure.

Cotelette de Porc

Next came a very large and generous slab of pork, seasoned and grilled to perfection on a bed of Pomme Purée (basically, whipped potatoes) with a large fried onion ring, broccoli rabe (which I mistook for broccolini, something that I feel is a common occurrence) and a moat of smoked ham hock jus. If it were just the pork and not all the accouterments, this would have still been perfect. The tomatoey sauce, the broccoli rabe and those potatoes and it jumped from “all business” to a straight “food party.” But, the pork was delicious enough to stand on its own. It was cooked to a great medium temperature and it was still a bit tender (somewhat floppy or flimsy – not a bad thing) and not stiff like a lot of overcooked pork chops tend to be. This Cotelette De Porc was really delicious.

 

We really didn’t need more food, but you can’t turn down dessert, right? Right. Stephanie had the apple tart and I had the Plum Clafoutis. I was pretty food drunk by that time and can only say that the desserts were tasty. I could taste the plums in the clafoutis and Stephanie let me taste the tart. Both were good, but being I’m not a big dessert person, I can, again, only say that they were good and tasty. If you’re a dessert person, then you will enjoy their offerings. 

Apple Tart

Our server, John, was good with the drink recommendations. Actually, it was “bring me something” instead of picking something out myself. I picked the first one, the “Bacon-Maple Old Fashioned.” From there, he picked the subsequent “Viceroy,” “Gin Rickey” and “Smoked Manhattan” for me. Their bar staff knows their drinks. So, yes, John was great with the drinks but also as a server. 

Plum Clafoutis

I asked Chef Adam about his thoughts on the “farm to table” program that the area restaurants are lucky enough to enjoy. He said that he is big into that and anything he can get from local farmers, reasonably, he does. I told him that we’re all “slave to the truck” to some degree and he agreed. But, local ingredients are what goes into the food at The Katharine. Chef Adam said, also, that he was working on some modifications and tweaks to the menu, but doesn’t want to get too far out there. People get used to a certain menu and want their favorites, but he has room to maneuver some rotating items, as well. Makes me excited for that.

So, the bottom line for me on the Katharine Brasserie and Bar is that I think Winston-Salem got its groove back. We had a gem, almost lost it and have found it again. The French-inspired food that Chef Adam brings to the table is worthy of the hype that the restaurant once had after it opened. The difference is now they have much promise to be great and much potential to grow as an establishment. I’m not going to knock the previous EC, but Chef Adam is the real deal. His kitchen staff, his sous and line cooks are amazing and they listen. Not a single piece of food that came to us was anything short of delicious. Chef Adam added to and modified an already elegant idea and location. Only it is better now that it has ever been.  Kudos Chef and merci beaucoup!

If there was any one thing that I would change it would be that it is still quite loud in there. We actually witnessed a party move because of the noise factor. I admit my hearing isn’t the best but, sitting right beside Stephanie, I could barely hear her talking, but could hear all the other folks in the restaurant. But, that’s neither here nor there, just an observation.

You can try The Katharine Brasserie and Bar for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it. They are located in the old RJR building, what is now the Residences at RJR and Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, all located at 401 N. Main Street in Winston-Salem. I’d rate it a solid A.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 53

In Episode #53, proudly recorded at Test Pattern Studios:

  • Dogwood Hops & Crops to start delivery service, via an app, on November 1.
  • Tim reviews his Katharine Brasserie and Bar experience and its new Chef, Adam Barnett.
  • Food Holidays and History.

Don’t forget my sponsors:

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

Trade Street Diner is a Great Lunch Option

©Trade Street Diner

I walked down to the brand new Trade Street Diner today. It was just a short walk from the studio where I record The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast and the other shows on The Less Desirables Network. The location is where Sweet Potatoes used to be, at 529 N. Trade Street. It is lunch time so all I can really review is their lunch offerings.

First, it was very refreshing to see that of their six beer taps, all of them were NC-brewed beer. I didn’t have any, but when a place has New Sarum and Sweet Josie from Lonerider, that’s always a plus. The wine list consists of 14 whites/sparkling and 16 reds. Not bad at all, the spread seemed pretty open with most popular styles represented. Is this a place that you’re going to go look for 123 different varieties of Chardonnay? No, and I’m quite sure they’re not looking to be. They have an extensive craft cocktail and martini list as well. I was greeted at the door by a nice gentleman who is on loan from Bleu Restaurant until the restaurant is more established. I chose to sit at the bar as I feel I get more personal service that way over just sitting at a table. I like to get a feel for the servers and see how they deal with other customers. The manager/bartender for the day was named Sarah and she was very good with the customers. Very nice and asked about my likes/dislikes when it comes to the brews and food choices.

The menu was pretty full for a diner lunch menu. Apps included pimento cheese and garlic naan, southern crab cakes (which Sarah said were some of the best she’s ever had), tuna tartare and chicken skin, chicken and dumplings and the most interesting thing in the apps, Chicken Cigars “Ode to Winston-Salem.” I didn’t have them this time but I will eventually. They are chicken livers and chicken confit served with grain mustard aioli.

Sandwiches included fried pork chop, a patty melt, a regular diner burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo and grilled onions, a housemade pimento cheese and applewood bacon burger, the Chef’s Burger of the Day (more on that in a second), fried green tomato BLT, southern egg salad, a hickory smoked BBQ chicken panini and a braised lamb “GYRO.”

They have salads, which, I think, are a staple of lunch. A house salad, mixed green salad, Caesar, and chef salad are all available and can be embellished with grilled chicken, grilled or fried shrimp, crab cakes, or roasted salmon.

Chef’s Special Black & Bleu with Bacon Burger

They have entrees, each which comes with two sides. The choices are fried catfish, grilled meatloaf and gravy, a daily quiche which changes daily, crab cakes (presumably a larger portion than the appetizer version) and a 12oz short rib and chuck chop steak. That happens to be the most expensive thing on the menu at $15. There are daily specials as well.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for a good burger and I decided to try the special burger today, the black and bleu burger with bleu cheese crumbles and a bleu cheese and tomato compote with applewood bacon. I declined the blackened part only because the spices sometimes mess with me. Instead of the standard blanched fries, I wanted to try the mac and cheese that was on the menu. Other side choices were okra, cabbage & bacon, slaw, mashed potatoes, dirty rice, pickled beets and black-eyed pea & corn salad.

I glanced around the establishment as I waited, and took some notes. The inside is bright and spacious. There’s a long bench seat against the wall where Sweet Potatoes used to have traditional four and six top tables. This opens up the floor plan a little. The walls are adorned with local art that you can purchase. I was glad to see the old bar was still in there, it’s been around for a long, long time. It wasn’t overly loud like some of the local restaurants can be. The music was a little loud, but it wasn’t off-putting.

Sarah brought me the burger and it looked great! The meat was glistening and still very warm. It stacked straight and wasn’t drooped over, although the next person that had theirs delivered was presented open-faced. I don’t know why mine was different, but it didn’t matter, you could still see what you needed to. The burger was a perfect medium and quite juicy. I left all the veggies on (including lettuce which I usually never have) and took a big bite. Very good. My take on it is that it could have used a little more bleu cheese, either crumbles or in the compote, but it didn’t take away from the burger. I just like to have a blast of bleu cheese when it’s advertised as such. Again, though, the burger certainly didn’t suffer from this. It was one of the best that I’ve had not from my own kitchen in a while. The mac and cheese was decent.The overall flavor was good but it was a little watery. There were crispy browned parts that were a little overpowering. I pour Texas Pete on my mac and cheese and that added a little extra liquid to the wateriness. Now, that being said, it wasn’t bad mac and cheese and I wasn’t disappointed with my plate. I think this is something that will probably be worked on as they go. After all, they are just a week in from opening the doors.

My overall assessment of Trade Street Diner is that it has great potential. I may have been a little skeptical when I first learned of what is going in there, but my concerns were overridden by the reality in this case. I was very pleased and can’t wait to try more of their offerings in the near future.The price points were also very good. Again, this is only for their lunch menu as I haven’t been for dinner. That will happen soon. For you, readers and listeners of the podcast, I recommend this place. You won’t be sorry. If I was rating it on the burger alone, 4.5 out of 5. Very good stuff. The Lees and their partners have a good thing on their hands.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 52

In Episode #52, proudly recorded at Test Pattern Studios:

Don’t forget my sponsors:

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 47

Beef Waterfall from Bahtmobile

In Episode #47, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

  • A brief review of Fiddlin’ Fish Brewery.
  • A brief review of Bahtmobile Food Truck.
  • Joymongers to open a barrel hall and tasting room/bar in the West End of WSNC.
  • Tokyo Shapiro is now Charm Thai on Fourth Street.
  • New “authentic” Mexican Restaurant on Fourth to be called Xcaret (EX-cah-ret)
  • Food Holidays and History

Don’t forget my sponsors:

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

Giving a New Taco a Try

(l to r: chorizo, tripe, barbacoa, al pastor)

My friend and fellow food writer, Eric Ginsburg of Triad City Beat had written about El Rancho Taqueria and their tacos in the last week or so. He speculated that “these might be the best tacos in the Triad” about them in that article. I’d like to think that as a good “foodie” that I take suggestions from my peers and run with them… or taste them.  So, when my son Trey said that he wanted tacos, I thought, well, now’s the time.

We went in and it was nothing remarkable. It was just a restaurant space with run-of-the-mill furniture and very plain interior. But, the ambiance isn’t the star here. That would be the food. They have tacos, burritos, gordita, ACP,  Carne Asada, quesadilla and all the usual fare you’d expect at a typical Mexican restaurant.

This isn’t your strip mall chain Mexican, though. You know the stuff. You sit down and get your free chips and salsa, order whatever it is you want and have it “piping hot” and “freshly made” within five minutes. The food is fairly decent, definitely hot, and you go home full. I’ll admit, I like that, but this…?

This is fresh stuff that is truly authentic. All of it. Lots of limes, cilantro and onions. Yes, I said onions. There’s a good bit to choose from, too. Lots of meat choices. Carne Asada (beef), Pollo (chicken) chorizo, al pastor (usually lamb), barbacoa (barbecued meat), Cabeza (usually from roasted heads of beef), Lengua (tongue) and tripa (tripe – stomach of beef). There may be a few more, but I think that covers it; you get the picture. I have had tongue before, but don’t remember if I liked it so I opted out of that tonight, only because I wanted to try some of the other stuff.

In my four taco plate, I got one each of the chorizo, barbacoa, al pastor and tripa. Yes, tripe. I had never had tripe before and definitely wanted to try it. When they brought out the plate, about 15 minutes later (meaning it was cooked fresh and they took the time to do it right), it was covered with cilantro and onions (light, as I requested), sliced radishes, five or six limes and a roasted jalapeno. In this bed of green, white and red sat four tacos. I asked which was which of the server who laughed nervously and indicated she didn’t really know. She pointed at what I thought looked like chorizo and said it was the tripe. Turns out it wasn’t. The tripe was next to it and I had already gone through that before I realized it. I asked another server about it and she brought me out a small plate with a good bit of tripe on it for Trey and me to try. It was pretty good. Lots of flavor. Kind of like chicken liver but without the foulness that comes with it and also without the grittiness that liver has. I don’t like liver, but I liked this; beef-like in its flavor.

The barbacoa had a tanginess to it that went well with the meat beneath the sauce. The chorizo was a little dry but that’s the way it is most of the places I’ve had it. I fixed that with the ranchero and Rojas sauces. Just a bit, I wanted to taste the tacos. The al pastor was probably my least favorite but was still pretty good. I liked the tripe taco and, as I said, I didn’t realize what it was until it was gone. A little crispy but beefy in flavor so I think that’s why I mistook it after being shown the chorizo one to be it. No worries, it was still delicious. The onions and cilantro were nothing more than accent. Cilantro, to me, creates a very vibrant, crisp and fresh flavor to everything. I cook with it often because of this. But, they didn’t overtake the flavor of the meat within the fluffy corn folds of the tortillas. I did sprinkle a bit of lime juice over the tacos to add that acid, but again, not too much. These are some darned fine tacos. Next time I go, I’ll try some of the other items on the list but tonight we were there, specifically, for the tacos.

The place was jam-packed with people and it was truly a very diverse crowd. All of them noshing, waiting or just enjoying the afterglow of fantastic tacos, having great conversation and loving life. I left there loving life. I think, though, my elation was mostly that I had tripe and liked it. But, the tacos were really that good. I can’t wait to take Stephanie for her first time and Trey back again.

El Rancho Taqueria is located at 613 E Sprague St in the Waughtown neighborhood of Winston-Salem.  You can find more about them on their Facebook page. I highly recommend trying this great place if you’re into more authentic Mexican food and especially if you’re not so much “Americanized” Mexican food. Just go try it. Let me know what you think.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 37

In Episode #37, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

  • Mo Owen, Crystal Flores and Ryan Oberle are in to talk about the new Dogwood Hops & Crops.
  • Finnigans Wake is still down and reconstructing the inside of the bar/restaurant.
  • Chef Tim Grandinetti is looking for experienced and able Garde Manger/Saute Station and other kitchen spots for both Quanto Basta locations.
  • Tim & Stephanie went to Tijuana Flats. More to come about that.
  • Food Holidays and History.

Don’t forget my sponsors:

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 35

In Episode #35, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #32

Sonny Davis (r) with son, Spencer.

In Episode #32, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

  • Mission Pizza holds Knife Fight Vol. 3 on May 8.
  • Tim reviews Irie Rhythms.
  • Sonny Davis of City Beverage passes away.
  • Food holidays and history.

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #30

In Episode #30, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Slàinte mhath!