Zesto Burgers and Ice Cream

I was able to eat at Zesto Burger and Ice Cream last week.

It’s in the former Church’s Chicken on New Walkertown Road and 14th Street. It’s also just around the corner from the new waterpark. Which, of course, now it’s getting colder but in the warmer months, you can go get some soft serve ice cream, burgers, dogs, chicken, etc.

The place is clean, spacious, has a large menu (both literally and figuratively, it takes up a wall), a drive-up window, the ability to call-ahead your order and they’re getting delivery approval from several of the big delivery services so that will be up and running soon, too. I really hope the community that they’re part of will serve them well. It’s worth having and Algenon Cash and his folks are doing a great job. But, let’s get to the food, shall we?

I ordered the Chubby Decker and a dog.

The Chubby Decker is a double burger and it comes with a lot of freebies like lettuce, cheese, tomato, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. I had them replace the lettuce with onions. Their burgers are served on Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls & Bread buns. When the burger came, I was expecting a huge burger. It didn’t look like a huge burger. That is until I took a bite and realized that it was hiding down in that bun.

Chubby Decker

Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t too much bread for the burger and it wasn’t too little burger for the bun. That burger was huge and the bun was perfect for it. Juicy, flavorful, lightly seasoned and the condiments didn’t mask anything. They only accentuated the goodness of the burger. It stood for itself. That’s a good thing. The burgers are also cooked to order. Nothing is “pre-made.”

“The Dog”

I also got one regular “dog.” It was a good sized dog and I got to choose what was on it. I went for ketchup, mustard, onions, relish. There was a lot of each on there. I think it could have had slightly less relish but again, it was right on with the condiments letting the dog take center stage. The dog was also served on Martin’s potato bun. The relish was a little tangier than I expected but that was okay. It was still good stuff. 

I opted, too, for the french fries as my side, like I needed it, right? That was a lot of food. But, in addition to the fries, they have onion rings, cole slaw, sweet potato fries, mixed veggies and the ability to mix the onion rings and fries in what Zesto calls “half and half.”

Other burgers include a spicier model called “The Flame.” There’s also a bacon and pimento burger, a veggie burger, a patty melt on Texas Toast, and the option to make your own burger with toppings of your choosing. Burgers not your thing? How about a fried pork chop sandwich? A chicken sandwich? An Alaskan cod sandwich, a chuckwagon sandwich, shrimp po’boy, grilled cheese and BLT. That’s a lot to choose from.

But wait! There’s more! Wings, tenders, fried shrimp? Fish, shrimp, chicken, or steak platters or salads await those wanting more of a diner experience.

And, of course, there are the soft serve ice cream options. Get floats with your favorite soft drinks. Try a vanilla, chocolate or strawberry shake or better yet, try them malted! Have your soft serve in a cone or cup and cover it in chocolate, cherry or my preference, butterscotch. There are actually 20 custom toppings to put on your soft serve. And then there’s something called a “concrete.” That is where you combine soft serve ice cream with your choice of premium toppings and blend at high speed to produce a tasty concrete. I guess it’s like a shake but thicker maybe? I don’t know. I’ll have to try it the next time I’m out there, which will be soon.

I enjoyed my visit to Zesto and I enjoyed my talk with Algenon Cash. Everyone who worked there came by to check on me and my food, including the cook who prepared it. I believe her name was Jasmine. I could be wrong and I apologize if that’s not correct and yay me if I am.

I recommend trying Zesto. It gets compared to some off-shoot “Dairy Queen” but as someone who grew up eating a good bit of Dairy Queen. This is similar but it’s also unique. I think it’s better than DQ and I’m okay with that. You can find more by visiting their website and be sure to go by 2600 New Walkertown Road and try this stuff. Or, get it to go or have it delivered. You won’t be sorry.

I want to make clear that this was not a compensated post. This was my thoughts and they were based solely on my experience and not what I got “out of it.”

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 85

In Episode #85, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

“The Tims” talk about:

  • Tequila Time with Tim featuring Casamigo’s Reposado.
  • The Bar on 4th has sold and closed. New location named Thirsty Palette hoping to open this weekend.
  • Billy Bob’s Silver Diner to be demolished and replaced with new Breakfastime.
  • Crazy Crab & Seafood to open in old Hero House location on Peters Creek.
  • Humble Bee Shoppe featured on WGHP.
  • Tim B talks a little about Honky Tonk Smokehouse.
  • Tim B talks about Urban Soul on the Farm event by Soul Food Sessions
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

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 84

©Sweet Aromaz

In Episode #84, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

Tim B flies solo and talks about:

  • Sweet Aromaz moves into the old Atelier on Trade Space.
  • Tim & Stephanie ate at Providence Kitchen at BB&T.
  • Tim & Stephanie ate at Honky Tonk Smokehouse and Tim talks about the blog post that was published for the tasting.
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

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!

Honky Tonk Smokehouse: Strumming the Right Chord

Stephanie and I were invited to visit Honky Tonk Smokehouse to try their offerings and report to our readers (and listeners). I will say that we were very pleasantly surprised at what we found.

I actually had never heard of them before they reached out to me. I will honestly recommend folks give it a try and push that point from now on. They are located at 145 Jonestown Road in Winston-Salem. The location had been home to B&D’s BBQ and another barbecue restaurant before now-owners Sam and Susan Platt bought the restaurant and turned it into what it is today. The older restaurants were take-out only and from what I knew only had a so-so reputation as far as barbecue goes. But, the Platts have done some great things.

Honky Tonk Smokehouse Dining Room

Let’s focus for a second on the fact that we live in one of the areas of the country known for “barbecue.” In this state, while there are several unique styles, they usually fall into two categories: “Eastern” and “Lexington.” Eastern is more of a vinegar-based liquid where Lexington is tomatoed up and is a bit thicker. Personally, I prefer the Eastern style, but I do love me some Lexington as well. There are people in this town who say they are “barbecue fans” or they “love barbecue.” However, those folks will only go to one restaurant and deem it “the best.” These same folks have a propensity to not visit anything new. And, yet, they still call themselves “barbecue fans.” What they mean is that they’re “Brand X fans,” not fans of barbecue. They are closed-minded and that’s fine; not a bad thing. It just means they’re missing out on the other facilities that this area has to offer. This is the case here at Honky Tonk Smokehouse, I feel.

Let’s also get something straight, this isn’t rocket surgery. There is an art to barbecue and I will never say it isn’t tough, but it really doesn’t open to a lot of experimentation. So, when some say they’re fans of this place or that place, it is because most places do one thing and they do it well. I don’t mean they only serve pulled or chopped pork or may serve chicken or a hot dog or whatever. I mean, it’s barbecue. Now, on the converse of this, we will have to agree that familiarity can be a glorious thing. That’s where we get “comfort food” from, right?

The Parade of Sides

At Honky Tonk Smokehouse, they have all the comforts down pat. They don’t necessarily do “chopped” sandwiches as they serve at many of the area’s BBQ restaurants. That’s not saying they won’t do it, it’s just not what they do. What they do do is take regional and national staples and offer it their way; the delicious way, and yes, that does include BBQ sandwiches, just not chopped. Sam Platt hand-rubs the meats with a proprietary blend of spices, long-rests them and slow-cooks them over a hickory fire. That’s traditional, right? No rules broken, no dissenters complaining. Some of their meat offerings are baby back ribs, turkey, chicken, chicken wings, brisket, pulled pork, and smoked sausage. They also offer a wide variety of veggies and sides. All the items are made in-house.

Stephanie and I were treated to a full complement of delicious offerings both in the meat and sides department.

We had white meat chicken, baby back ribs, brisket, turkey, pulled pork, green beans, hush puppies, jalapeño-baked beans, “honky tonk taters,” mac-n-cheese, collard greens, cole slaw, and a broccoli salad that was a special “side of the month.”

To appease the good graces of my lovely wife, we started with the veggies first, each taking just a bit at a time of the same thing to compare notes to see what we tasted and if we liked it or not. We started with the broccoli salad. It was crisp, sweet and creamy with craisins which gave it a bright fruity taste, as well. Sam said they had partnered with Little Black Dressing (made locally, served broadly) which is the dressing that helps make this dish what it is. This is only for September and in October they will have another month-long surprise for you.

Baby Back Ribs

The green beans were hearty and savory. That surprised me, but I really liked it. They weren’t mushy as some can be and still had a bit of snap. I really enjoyed the green beans as did Stephanie. We both remarked about enjoying them.

The hush puppies weren’t every spiced or overly fried. They had a great flavor and it was subtle. That enabled them to be the perfect accompaniment to the selection of sauces that Honky Tonk Smokehouse has available (but more on that later). Crispy and good. They way hush puppies should be, I think.

The jalapeño-baked beans were dark and rich and the pepper wasn’t too spicy. It really just added a little kick that broke from traditional baked beans. You still got the brown sugar sweetness and the pepper helped to offset that a bit. I really enjoyed them. Stephanie who has a well-documented aversion to beans outside of black beans and green beans also enjoyed them and that was a big win for Honky Tonk Smokehouse’s recipe!

The “honky-tonk taters” were boiled red/new potatoes that were seasoned, buttered and filling. I don’t really know what to say other than they were good. I eat potatoes but they’re not my favorite thing, but I did enjoy them.

The mac-n-cheese was cheesy, creamy, thick and not overly baked. Sometimes mac-n-cheese can be too crusty and that makes the top cheese taste kind of tinny and this wasn’t like that. Again, I emphasize the thick part (I love that). Stephanie is a big mac-n-cheese fan and enjoyed these as well.

White Meat Chicken

The collards, as one would probably want, were a bit bitter, fatty and wilted but still firm. They had a great deep green color and were vinegarish-tart, which I love about collards. I never liked collards (or greens of any kind) until I was much older and now, it’s one of the things I seek out. These were good. Earthy, pungent and slightly salty.

The coleslaw reminded me of my mother’s coleslaw, minus the carrots. My mom used to put shredded carrots in hers. But, it’s fine granules and not long thick pieces of cabbage. I like that. This is a barbecue restaurant, right? That’s what goes on barbecue in this area (and yes, they do have a BBQ slaw as well). It was sweet and creamy. Again, Stephanie, who has never liked coleslaw remarked about how much she enjoyed this. Great stuff, this. But, you didn’t read this blog to hear about sides, did you? I didn’t go for the sides, so let’s talk about the star attractions.

Brisket

We started with the baby back ribs. At first glance, I thought they were going to be dry because the rub was so firm and I noticed they weren’t doused in sauce. Well, I was wrong. The meat was plentiful, it was moist and tender. I don’t like my food all over my hands so I eat with a fork and knife when I eat ribs and I didn’t have to fight this rib at all. It literally fell right off the bone. I tried it plain, with their honey chipotle glaze, and with their brown sugar glaze. The rub wasn’t overpowering but certainly enhanced the meat.

The white meat chicken had a small wing attached and that literally fell apart while eating it. It tasted so good. The breast was tender and still juicy which sometimes is difficult with white meat. The rub on it was delicious as well. We tried this with the sweet apple glaze. We tried all the meats plain before putting sauce on them to know what they each tasted like. The chicken and ribs each have their own special rub and then they are smoked. The turkey is brined and then smoked. Speaking of the turkey!

Turkey with Sweet Apple Glaze

I don’t usually get excited about turkey, even at Thanksgiving. It’s just a lackluster bird in my opinion. However, I will say that the turkey was my absolute favorite item that I tasted. It was coated in a bit of the sweet apple glaze, too. The flavor was smoky and sweet. The slices were thick and tender. Whether it was plain (with the glaze), or embellishing the turkey with more of the sweet apple glaze, the brown sugar glaze or the honey chipotle, it was delicious all the way around.

We tried the brisket next. The spicy rub created a crust and the meat fell apart as we tried to pick it up. It was so good. Not at all dry, either; very moist. Stephanie said that the brisket was her absolute favorite and we both agreed that while it was great plain, we really enjoyed the brown sugar glaze on it. Thick, meaty, sweet.

Finally, we had the pulled pork. I realized with this as with most of the other meats (except the turkey), that Sam and Susan don’t pre-sauce their meat. That’s brilliant. I know a lot of BBQ restaurants have their “sauce” that they put on the pork/beef when they serve it, but not at Honky Tonk Smokehouse. Their meats are sauceless and you are free to dress them as you like, not as someone else likes. The pulled pork was smoky and tender. I tried it with their “original” sauce which is a Memphis-style sauce that they make in-house, as well as the brown sugar glaze and the honey chipotle glaze. I could pictures that as a sandwich. Again, pulled, not chopped.

Pulled Pork

I believe Honky Tonk Smokehouse has a fantastic thing going on. They offer styles not only in the “Lexington-” style but have an Eastern dip, their ribs are kind of Kansas City-style and the brisket is definitely Texas-style. They’re touching the standards and they’re making them right. The flavors from the food and the touches the sauces bring, there are plenty of mouth-watering options at Honky Tonk Smokehouse. Their dining room is open and inviting. Don’t forget $.50 wing night Tuesdays from 5-8pm. And Wednesday night is Brisket Taco night. They also offer catering services, as well.

Again, I know that barbecue can be boring but it doesn’t have to be. This isn’t. It’s nothing flashy, though and it isn’t supposed to be. The Platts aren’t trying to dazzle you. They are trying to satisfy you with good food and a great food experience. I believe their location is good but not a lot of people know they’re there. It’s kind of off the road and unless you are coming from Country Club Road toward US421, you may miss it, but then again, you’ll be on the other side of the road. There are several other restaurants in this shopping center and if you stop for those, you can certainly stop for Honky Tonk Smokehouse. I’m putting it at the top of my list of recommendations. Is it my favorite BBQ restaurant? I can’t say, but I know it is right up there. I am a fan of barbecue and this is one darned fine place to get it. You won’t be sorry. Tell them that I sent you!!!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 82

Warm butter lobster roll from Rabia’s in Boston

In Episode #82, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

The Tims talk about:

  • Chef Travis Myers named Chef of the Year by the NCRLA
  • Mary’s Gourmet Diner updates hours and a new menu coming September 17.
  • Tim and Stephanie visit Boston.
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

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 81

In Episode #81, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

The Tims talk about:

  • Atelier on Trade closes “Forever.”
  • Canteen Market & Bistro opens today
  • Tim and Stephanie visit Penny Path Café & Crêpe Shop.
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

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 Goes to Mozzarella Fellas

Last week, Stephanie and I were invited to Mozzarella Fellas to taste their fare. 

The location is spacey with a comfortable atmosphere. There’s a to-go bar up front where you can watch all the magic happen and then the rest of the dining room has some cool embellishments like sparkly cubes in mason jars dangling from the ceiling. It was nice. The servers were all friendly.

We were told that we were getting a large sampling of their food to give us an idea of what MF was all about.

The first things that came out were the “Fellas Mozzarella” and “Cauliflower Bites.” The Fellas Mozzarella is basically their house-made deep-fried house mozzarella. It was pressed and compact and crunchy, but the cheese inside was gooey. Great seasoning and taste. It was served with their house-made marinara sauce.

Fellas Mozzarella

The Cauliflower Bites came to us (and are on the menu as such) in both buffalo and bbq flavors. I was kind of skeptical when a friend of mine told me about them but, wow. They way they do them, which I assume is grinding them up and pressing them and then frying them and tossing them in sauce, makes these babies taste just like boneless chicken wings or bites. It was amazing how much they really were chicken-like. But, Stephanie was happy that I was eating plants and I was happy that they didn’t taste like cauliflower. You may get a hint of cauliflower here and there and that’s fine. I don’t mind cauliflower, it’s just not my favorite. If I could do this at home, I’d eat much more of them.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Next came the “Fellas Margherita.” This is one of their specialty pizzas with a house-made crust, house-made mozzarella, house-made marinara, garlic, pickled red onions, sweet basil, heirloom tomatoes and a tangy balsamic glaze. The crust was done quite well. It wasn’t overly chewy or tough that you nearly lost teeth pulling apart and it wasn’t burnt. There’s something to be said for wood-fired pizza but I believe this was done in an electric oven. I’m not saying I like one or the other better, I think I like them equally. But, sometimes they can be overdone. The heirloom tomatoes were acidic and more of that house-made mozz. The pickled onions were slightly tart and paired well with this pizza. We have started eating a lot of Caprese salads and this was like that but on pizza crust (which is basically what a Margherita pizza is).

Fellas Margherita

We then got two pappardelle dishes. One was “Pappardelle Carbonara” and the other was my favorite dish of the evening, “Pappardelle Bolognese.” Both are made with house-made pappardelle noodles. The Carbonara is made with smoked prosciutto, egg, black pepper, green onions and parmesan cheese. I loved the creamy egg mixture and salty prosciutto matchup. Black pepper made it earthy while the green onions gave a little bite and all of that’s a great thing. But, the star was the Bolognese. It’s made with an “eight-hour house-made meat sauce,” house-made marinara, basil and Parmesan cheese. The eight-hour meat sauce, I believe is made from veal, beef and pork. It was meaty (I know, duh), acidic with the tomato-y marinara and the earthy basil.

Pappardelle Bolognese

Finally, we were served a “Pie – O – My” dessert pizza. It’s made with the house-made pizza dough, Nutella, strawberries, bananas and coated with a sweet powdered sugar. Yum!

After it settled down a bit, owner Brian Ricciardi was able to come out to speak with us. He’s a young guy and has a passion for what he’s doing. One thing that MF is making a name for themselves doing is having a lot of gluten-free options as well as vegetarian-friendly options and he says that’s a lot of his business. He’s proud of that and that he can offer it to his diners. I have plenty of friends who are either gluten-intolerant, sensitive to gluten or have a full out-and-out gluten allergy. You can get sandwiches on gluten-free bread and small individual pizzas with gluten-free dough.

MF’s sandwich selections include a Philly, grilled chicken, chicken parm, a “Brando” (salami, ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, house mozz, pickled onions, tomato, pesto aioli), a meatball parm, prosciutto, a jackfruit filly (mushrooms, bell peppers, sautéed onions, mozz, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ranch), jackfruit bbq (arugula, pickled onions, fried shallots, ranch) and a vegan chicken parm, which must just mean the chicken because it has mozzarella and parm on it and I don’t think those fall under the moniker of vegan.

Pie-O-My

They have several salads, including the standards and a strawberry arugula salad. I like the sound of that. Sweet juicy strawberries and peppery, crunchy arugula? Yes!

They have make-your-own pizzas and a long list of specialty pizzas. Some of those include the “Camel City” (mozz, marinara, bell peppers, mushrooms, red onions, pepperoni, sausage), “Popeye” (mozz, ricotta, spinach, garlic, olive oil), “S-P-O” (mozz, marinara, sausage, roasted peppers, onions, basil, parm) and a “Nashville Hot Chikin” (mozz, cheddar, pickles, tomatoes, marinara, ranch drizzle). There are plenty more on the menu and remember you can get that on gluten-free dough.

You know one of the things I’m going to look at is the beer and wine selection. He had New Sarum’s 142 Blonde Ale and I really dig that beer. Stephanie had a red wine and I didn’t write that one down. We both liked it, though.

Brian has a great thing going here and he’s a cool guy. We did talk a little about my “official sponsor” DiLisios and it turns out he worked with Maria Di Lisio’s brother at another pizza joint. He spoke highly of them. So, I didn’t feel too guilty that I went to another Italian restaurant. And, really, they do different things so it wasn’t the same anyway.

You can find Mozzarella Fellas at 336 Summit Square Blvd in Winston-Salem (that’s the Sam’s Club parking lot off of University Parkway) or on their website. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And, if you or your friends are gluten-free and are missing your Italian food… this is the place for you. Tell them that I sent you!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 80

In Episode #80, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

We welcome Tim Johnson (that’s right, “The Tims”) to the show as new co-host until Kelly is able to get back to us. The Tims talk about:

  • King’s Crab Shack and Oyster Bar opens its second location today.
  • Tim and Stephanie visit Mozzarella Fellas.
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

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 78

In Episode #78, proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

Tim flies solo.

  • First Street Draught House Closing July 14.
  • Washington Perk Southside gets a new name.
  • Tim talks about watching Biscuitville’s 2018 Certified Biscuit Makers Bake-Off Finals.
  • Food Holidays.

No poll this week.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

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 Beer Dads Go To Cúrate

I know that Winston-Salem is “the town” in The Man Who Ate the Town. But, every once in a while you have to step outside the box. Sometimes that’s to Greensboro or High Point. Sometimes it’s further out. This time it is Asheville, NC.

Yep, Stephanie and I went up the hill (I can’t call NC mountains “mountains” being as I’m from WV; these are hills) but we didn’t go alone. We met up with my cohorts from The Beer Dads, Jon Lowder and Paul Jones and their pilots Celeste and Susan (respectively). We were going up to celebrate Susan’s birthday month. It was a milestone one and I won’t get into which milestone that is. We set out to have a grand time with some great food, great drinks, and especially great company. We got all of that in abundance.

But, this post is about one restaurant in particular. This restaurant is called Cúrate (pronounced coo – rah – tay). Cúrate means to cure yourself in Spanish, or according to their website, to eat Spanish tapas. That’s what the restaurant specializes in, tapas. It has a reputation for being amazing and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. Paul and Susan had been there before and the restaurant had changed a bit, expanded, since then.

Sangria

Our server, Michael, got drink orders from us all, which we opted for the pitcher of red sangria. The glasses were kind of small but perfect for the setting and the service. Each pitcher got us about two glasses each and there were six of us. Twelve glasses is a good amount for a pitcher. The sangria wasn’t overly boozy and it also wasn’t overly winey. The fruit didn’t take over either. To me, it was a perfect blend. It was very refreshing and light but you still felt like you were getting your drink on.

Tabla de Jamónes

Michael then explained to us the concept of the “Spanish Experience.” That is where Michael and the chefs come up with a custom menu for the table, ensuring we all get to try each item, and they bring until we say we can’t have anymore. We decided, as a table, that this was the right course for us. Basically, he asks us questions like: are there any food allergies or is there anything you just won’t eat? The answer to both was no. I was willing to eat (around) asparagus had it come out on a plate. I don’t know how much asparagus is used in Spanish cooking. Something to research, I guess. Paul ate octopus and while it wasn’t his favorite dish, he said it wasn’t “bad.” Props for that. And, I think we were all ready to experiment and just try new stuff. That’s the point, right?

Pan de Cristal con Tomate

Before we got into the heart of the meal, we did order something from the “para el aperitivo” (appetizers) and “charcuteria y quesos” (charcuterie and cheeses). We had the tabla de jamónes or a selection of all four of their cured hams. Most of these were Ibérico pigs. The difference in the four was the length of aging and the cut of meat. They ranged from being cured one year up to three years. The nutty flavor of the Ibérico and the stronger flavor of the longer aged pig was magnificent. We got that at the same time we also had the pan de cristal con tomate which is toasted crispy bread with fresh tomato, garlic, and olive oil. With that, we got the manchego cheese. So, let me explain something. When you take the manchego cheese and have that with the Ibérico ham and the chase it with the tomato bread… magnífico!

Gambas al Ajillo

Then came the fantastic Spanish Experience.

First, we had the gambas al ajillo which was sautéed shrimp with sliced garlic, sherry, and a chili. To me, the one thing that made this one of my favorite dishes of the night was that broth! The broth was spiced just right, the right consistency, garlicky, and when they bring you sliced bread, you sop that broth up – greedily. I was moaning and laughing I was so giddy and the table laughed at me for it. I deserved the laugh but it was so good. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, not overcooked and it was tender. The garlic slices were sautéeed with the shrimp in the sherry and I just shuddered writing this. This dish was so darned good.

Berenjenas con Miel

Berenjenas con Miel
One of the surprises of the night! This was fried eggplant drizzled with wild mountain bees honey and garnished with rosemary. I’m not the biggest fan of eggplant but ¡Dios mío! this was great stuff. The eggplant, fried, wasn’t watery but it wasn’t chewy, either. It was easy to cut through with a knife but firm. The wild bees honey was so sweet but savory as well. Add the rosemary and those flavors burst in your mouth. It was one of the dishes that we all talked about the rest of the night and some of the next day. Stephanie is a huge fan of eggplant so it was definitely one of her faves.

Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la Gallega
Galician-style octopus served warm with sea salt, olive oil, Spanish paprika, and Yukon Gold potato purée. This was the oddest dish of the evening. I enjoy octopus. It’s a little chewy but usually flavorful. This was indeed that. It had a warmth from the Spanish paprika and it was prominent. That spicy was a little offset by the sea salt and olive oil. The meat itself was chewy but it wasn’t overly so. It was near-perfect consistency. The potato purée was very smooth. Almost too smooth to know it was even potatoes. Almost. They were buttery and were a nice compliment to the octopus. I believe it was the least favorite of the table. It was my least favorite but I also didn’t mind it.

Pimientos de Piquillo Rellenos

Pimientos de Piquillo Rellenos
This was one of my favorite dishes, as well. Roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with Spanish goat cheese. The peppers were sweet and powerful while the goat cheese was creamy, earthy and only subtlely tart. It was a perfect marriage of those flavor profiles. I have mentioned many times about how I’m a sucker for microgreens and there were some nice earthy microgreens on this dish. I couldn’t believe the deep red color of the peppers. Their texture was fleshy as you’d want a pepper but so very tender. I can’t write enough adjectives to describe how good this was.

Pincho Moruno

Pincho Moruno
Moorish spice marinated lamb skewers carry a little of its marinating juices on a plate with housemade pickled cucumbers. The lamb was good bite-sized morsels that were cooked to a medium rare temperature. It was so succulent and juicy. I could taste hints of cumin, cilantro (or coriander), cinnamon, anise, and nutmeg in there among others. The meat wasn’t at all chewy. In fact, when I held it in my mouth, it melted. Of course, I sopped up some of the spice marinade, too. The pickles reminded me of Niki’s Pickles but they were made there. A briny concoction that wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t too heavy on the dill. I like pickles that are a good balance of the in-between of those profiles. There was none of this left.

Migas con Verduras

Migas con Verduras
Another odd dish for me and one of my least favorites, but others around the table were oohing and aahing over it. Still, I did like what I had, I just didn’t want a lot of it. It was fried breadcrumbs with roasted brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and raisins finished with a celery root/yogurt mousse. The meal was crunchy and you didn’t taste the oil, you tasted the bread, the veggies, and the fruit. Sometimes fried things leave too much of the oily taste from its cooking. The mousse was creamy and earthy, but the lemon zest on top of it gave it a fresh and vibrant kick. Like I said it wasn’t my fave but I did think it was done well. The next three items came out about the same time.

Migas con Verduras

Setas al Jerez
Sautéed mushrooms with a splash of sherry. I’m not the biggest fan of mushrooms but I have really started to get into the oyster mushrooms from our own local Gnomestead Hollow and these had both oyster mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms. There was a third variety in there and I don’t remember what that was. The sherry made a sort of umami-flavored sauce that coated the mushrooms, adding to their earthy flavor. The mushrooms were very tender and had a slight hint of saltiness.

Patatas Bravas
These crispy fried potatoes were topped with a slightly spicy tomato and garlic sauce. They were a bit red and its color was beautiful. Unfortunately, my picture for these didn’t come out very well, so I left that out. The potatoes were indeed crispy but not too hard. I don’t like my potatoes nuggets of rocks, I like them to be firm on the outside and soft on the inside. These were that, just with a bit of a bite on the back end. The potatoes weren’t spicy hot but were spicy “warm.” You could still taste the potatoes through the sauce. That’s a plus.

Cerdo Ibérico a las Finas Hierbas

Cerdo Ibérico a las Finas Hierbas
Another of my personal faves of the evening. Grilled Fermin pure Ibérico pork “skirt steak” with fresh rosemary and thyme. Oh. My…! This was great stuff. The pork steaks were perfectly medium/medium rare and there was this crust around the tips. Wow. The herbs were so prevalent in the flavor, too. Thin slices but, oh so juicy. I fell in love the first time I had Ibérico pork at Spring House. This made me fall in love all over again. There is nothing like Ibérico pigs from Salamanca. Now, the trick here was to have a piece of the potato, a bit of the mushroom mixture and this at the same time. Luckily, everyone was getting full and they were keeping back a bit. That left room for me (the fat guy) to have a little bit extra. Man…

Flan de Huevo

 

Flan de Huevo
Orange-saffron egg flan with smoked caramel and sherry poached raisins. This delightful, sweet custard was warm but cool at the same time and the whipped cream made it extra fluffy. The sherry poached raisins were thick and saucy, too. Great addition.

Tarta de Manzana
Apple tart with roasted apple butter, goat milk pastry cream, hazelnut praline and crème fraîche. The glaze of the roasted apple butter was amazing. It was tart and the goat milk pastry cream, tangy. If this was had earlier in the evening, it would have been even better but we were all getting stuffed by this point.

Tarta de Manzana

So, our one pitcher of sangria turned into two. Susan had a couple of beers and then I had to do something silly (but fun). I tried the Spanish porrón, which is a drinking vessel that is a lot like a watering can for your indoor plants. Some call it a wine bong and that’s pretty much what it is. A filling shaft, a belly, and a pouring spout. It’s meant to be used communally so the idea is to pour it into your mouth, extend your arm, still pouring and then bring it back. Well, all that is well and good except the bringing it back. That was kind of difficult. I was really the only one to pull it away from my face. I ended up with shandy (Estrella lager mixed with lemonade) all in my beard, up my nose, in my lap and so on. The table close to us was having a ball watching me.

Tim doing the Porrón

So, the night came to a close and we did a communal check divided three ways. We were all bracing for the worst because we didn’t hold back. It was a celebration, it was meant to be a blowout and we expected it to be really bad. Divided three ways, it came down to (pre-tip) about $118 per couple. I was expecting $120 per person with all that, but it wasn’t. The food was really reasonably priced and so very good. We were all in shock.

Michael took such good care of us, never letting our water glasses get empty, pouring the sangria when someone was low, choosing our food, expediting that food (with the help of his friends) and entertaining us. He also helped me keep track of what we were having on the giant menus I got to bring home.

I have dined in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, London, Edinburgh, Walt Disney World, Costa Rica, Charlotte, Wilmington, and so on. I’ve been a few places. This was a Top FIVE dining experience for me. The food, the service, the ambiance, the experience. Five stars over here. I think we were all taken aback by the amazing time they provided for us.

#BeerDadsDoAsheville

I will say that I believe you should experience this restaurant in a larger group, say six or more people. I believe if you’re just two people your choices will be more limited because you’ll eat more at once and not spread it out. It’s a great time with your friends. It was a great time with mine! Memories we won’t soon forget. I told the assistant manager that.

Cúrate is located at 13 Biltmore Ave, in Asheville. Find more about them on their website and on Facebook. We are already talking about our next Beer Dads trip there and taking even more friends!