Restaurant Week Comes to Downtown WSNC February 20-26

The 2017 edition of Restaurant Week is upon us, starting today! Like The Big Eat before it, Restaurant Week highlights the fantastic food in Downtown Winston-Salem, offered by many delicious restaurants on uniquely made prix fixe meals.  Reservations are highly recommended and if you’re not going to make your reservation, be courteous to the folks who may want your spot, and to the restaurant themselves: call and cancel as soon as possible.

You can find all the specials for each participating restaurant on the official page for the event, HERE.

According to the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership the following rules apply:

Restaurant Week Specials are dine-in only.
Restaurant Specials are subject to change, excludes tax and tip.
Please check with individual restaurants concerning food ingredients, allergens, and any additional restrictions, thank you.
Restaurant Week Specials are subject to availability.
Restaurants may run out of the Special.
If there is an error on this page, the official restaurant special at the Restaurant is correct.
Please check with restaurants prior to dining if you have questions about the Specials.
The restaurant is not obligated to provided a replacement dish.
Coupons are not accepted in conjunction with these specials. Check with restaurants for coupon policies.

The restaurants that are participating are:

6th & Vine, Bernardin’s, Bib’s Downtown, Burger Batch, Carolina’s Vineyards and Hops, DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant, Downtown Thai & Pho, Foothills Brewing, Hutch & Harris, Jeffery Adams on Fourth, King’s Crab Shack, Mellow Mushroom, Meridian, Miami Restaurant, Mission Pizza, Mooney’s, Mozelle’s, Old Fourth Street Filling Station, The Porch, Quanto Basta, Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar, Sweet Potatoes, Thai Harmony, Tokyo Shapiro, Twin City Slice, and Willows Bistro.

The Big Eat – February 7, 2017

It’s the fifth and final week of The Big Eat (WSNC) and here’s what I have for this week’s lineup:

6th & Vine: Chicken Marsela with onions, mushrooms, bacon, and tomato, in a Marsala demi-glace– $9.50

Bernardin’s Restaurant: BRAISED AUSTRALIAN LAMB SHANK with CURRY Rainbow Carrots, Fingerling Potato and Jasmine Rice – $13

Bib’s Downtown: Pulled Pork Sandwich Plate: $4.25

Bleu Restaurant: Grilled Mahi Mahi Coconut Rice ,Spinach, Red Curry ,Pineapple Salad$11

Camel City BBQ Factory: BBQ Sandwich Basket and Tea for  $4

Camino Bakery: half-priced cheesecake slices

Hutch & Harris: Choice of their Humorous Hummus App or Tasmania Tuna app free with the purchase of 2 entrees (only with purchase of two entrees).

Jeffrey Adams: Crab Stuffed Salmon 8 oz. salmon , crab, onion, peppers, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, bearnaise sauce –  $10.50

Krankies: Sauerkraut-smothered, bone-in Pork Chop with Fries $12

Local 27101: 50% Off all Burgers, Sandwiches, and Salads

Mellow Mushroom: 50% off bruschetta, 20% off large specialty pies

Miami Restaurant & Bar: Media Noche Sandwich Slow roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard on sweet bread, served with French fries. $5

Mooney’s Mediterranean: Garden Chicken Pita OR Garden Pita w/ Choice of Hummus or French Fries $5.50

Old Fourth Street Filling Station: Grilled Salmon with lemon caper dill butter, wild rice, sauteed vegetables $10.50

The Porch Cantina: Porch Naked Burrito Bowl With jasmine rice, borracho beans, veggies, Mimi’s Queso, verde sauce, sour cream, guacamole, jalapeños & tortilla chips.With: Chicken or Avocado – $6 | Steak or Shrimp – $7

Quanto Basta: Chicken Parmesan – $6.50

Señor Bravo: Steak Fajitas – $n/a

Spring House Restaurant: BBQ BISON MEATLOAF with creamed Spinach, Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes Applewood Smoked Bacon Demi-Glace – $10

Thai Harmony: Half Price Pad Thai

Tre Nonne: PASTA BOLOGNESE Beef and Pork cooked in tomato sauce with fresh herbs and served over the homemade pasta of your choice. – $6.75

Twin City Slice: 2 for price of 1 Slices of Pizza

West End Coffee House: Brownie Sundaes and Affogatos for $4 each

Willow’s Bistro: Nashville Hot Chicken and Waffles with blue cheese foam and fried arugula $12

If you are a restaurant that is participating but I haven’t listed you here, please send me a message or call me (336)403-2076 and let me know. I want to make sure that you’re all represented for the awesome work you’re doing in bringing recognition to our town and your restaurants. These specials are dine-in only and on a “while supplies last” basis.

Go out tonight and support your local cuisine and have a great meal in the process!

The Big Eat – January 31, 2017

It’s week #4 of The Big Eat and here’s what I have for this week’s lineup:

6th & Vine: Blackened Chicken over penne with a bacon, basil Alfredo sauce – $9

Bernardin’s Restaurant: Sauteed Black Pepper Crusted Jumbo Shrimp with braised white bean ragout, tarragon, spinach, crispy onion ring – $12 

Bib’s Downtown: Pulled Pork Sandwich Plate: $4.25

Bleu Restaurant: Goat Cheese Crusted Chicken Breast Nicoise Vegetables & Sweet Mustard Sauce$9.50

Camel City BBQ Factory: BBQ Sandwich Basket and Tea for  $4

Camino Bakery: half-priced cheesecake slices

Hutch & Harris: East Asian Orange Salmon 1/2 off

Jeffrey Adams: 14oz. Ribeye served with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus – $14.50

Krankies: Steak Frittes steak, fries and a salad  $9

Local 27101: 50% Off all Burgers, Sandwiches, and Salads

Mellow Mushroom: 50% off whole order pretzels, 20% off large specialty pies

Miami Restaurant & Bar: Lechon Asado House marinated roasted pulled pork with sautéed onions. Served with white rice, black beans and choice of plantain  $7

Mooney’s Mediterranean: Garden Chicken Pita OR Garden Pita w/ Choice of Hummus or French Fries $5.50

Mozelle’s: Fried Chicken with mac & cheese and haricot vert (substitutions are allowed) – $9.50

Old Fourth Street Filling Station: Shrimp-N-Grits shrimp, andouille sausage, tomato, baby spinach, chipotle cream sauce, grit cake – $10

The Porch Cantina: Porch Naked Burrito Bowl With jasmine rice, borracho beans, veggies, Mimi’s Queso, verde sauce, sour cream, guacamole, jalapeños & tortilla chips.With: Chicken or Avocado – $6 | Steak or Shrimp – $7

Quanto Basta: Chicken Parmesan – $6.50

Señor Bravo: 4 Tacos de pastor marinated pork meat with pineapple,grilled onions on a chile guajillo rub served with corn tortillas, fresh cilantro, onions and hot sauce – $5.99

Spring House Restaurant: BBQ BISON MEATLOAF with creamed Spinach, Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes Applewood Smoked Bacon Demi-Glace – $10

Thai Harmony: Half Price Pad Thai

Tre Nonne: SPAGHETTI WITH MEATBALLS A one-of-a-kind, fully homemade experience. Fresh pasta and a generous helping of our special blend of meats and seasoning, served with our very own marinara sauce – $6.75

Twin City Slice: 2 for price of 1 Slices of Pizza

West End Coffee House: Brownie Sundaes and Affogatos for $4 each

Willow’s Bistro: Blackened Grilled Cafe Steak with arugula, french fried potato stick, grape tomato, horseradish aioli and blue cheese crumbles  $12.50

If you are a restaurant that is participating but I haven’t listed you here, please send me a message or call me (336)403-2076 and let me know. I want to make sure that you’re all represented for the awesome work you’re doing in bringing recognition to our town and your restaurants. These specials are dine-in only and on a “while supplies last” basis.

Go out tonight and support your local cuisine and have a great meal in the process!

The Big Eat – January 24, 2017

It’s week #3 of The Big Eat and here’s what I have for this week’s lineup:

6th & Vine: Peachy Pork Tenderloin with a peach cognac sauce – $9.50

Bernardin’s Restaurant: ROASTED ATLANTIC SALMON with Horseradish crust, spinach, sweet roasted garlic, port wine sauce – $12.50           

Bib’s Downtown: Pulled Pork Sandwich Plate: $4.25

Bleu Restaurant: Blackened Catfish with Dirty Quinoa ,Collared Greens, Crawfish Brown Butter Sauce$10

Camel City BBQ Factory: BBQ Sandwich Basket and Tea for  $4

Camino Bakery: half-priced cheesecake slices

Hutch & Harris: Chicken Pie 1/2 off

Jeffrey Adams: Southern Fried Chicken panko encrusted fried chicken, wild mushroom and bacon gravy, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts – $9

Krankies: Housemade Bolognese over pappardelle with Parmesan  $9

Local 27101: 50% Off all Burgers, Sandwiches, and Salads

Mellow Mushroom: 50% off hummus, 20% off large specialty pies

Miami Restaurant & Bar: Picadillo Minced beef stewed with peppers, olives and tomatoes. Served with white rice, black beans and choice of plantain  $6

Mooney’s Mediterranean: Garden Chicken Pita OR Garden Pita w/ Choice of Hummus or French Fries $5.50

Mozelle’s: Meat Loaf with collards and grits (substitutions are allowed) – $9.50

Old Fourth Street Filling Station: Filet Mignon grilled 4 oz. beef tenderloin, sauteed vegetables, smashed red potatoes$7.50

The Porch Cantina: Porch Naked Burrito Bowl With jasmine rice, borracho beans, veggies, Mimi’s Queso, verde sauce, sour cream, guacamole, jalapeños & tortilla chips.With: Chicken or Avocado – $6 | Steak or Shrimp – $7

Quanto Basta: Chicken Parmesan – $6.50

Senior Bravo: 4 Tacos de pastor marinated pork meat with pineapple,grilled onions on a chile guajillo rub served with corn tortillas, fresh cilantro, onions and hot sauce – $5.99

Spring House Restaurant: BBQ BISON MEATLOAF with creamed Spinach, Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes Applewood Smoked Bacon Demi-Glace – $10

Thai Harmony: Half Price Pad Thai

Tre Nonne: CHICKEN ALFREDO with Our in-house fettuccini, covered in our signature creamy parmesan alfredo sauce –  $7.75

Twin City Slice: 2 for price of 1 Slices of Pizza

West End Coffee House: Brownie Sundaes and Affogatos for $4 each

Willow’s Bistro: Shrimp & Grits with smoked tomato & andouille cream sauce $15

If you are a restaurant that is participating but I haven’t listed you here, please send me a message or call me (336)403-2076 and let me know. I want to make sure that you’re all represented for the awesome work you’re doing in bringing recognition to our town and your restaurants.

Go out tonight and support your local cuisine and have a great meal in the process!

The Big Eat – January 17, 2017

It’s week #2 of The Big Eat and here’s what I have for this week’s lineup:

6th & Vine: Peppercorn-Crusted Sirloin with a creamy cognac sauce  – $11

Bernardin’s Restaurant: SAUTEED BRIE STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST Prosciutto, shitake, asparagus, Turnip, puree potato, thyme natural jus – $9.50           

Bib’s Downtown: Pulled Pork Sandwich Plate: $4.25

Bleu Restaurant: Grilled Angus Flatiron with Whipped Potatoes, Asparagus & Au poivre Sauce– $12

Camel City BBQ Factory: BBQ Sandwich Basket and Tea for $4

Camino Bakery: half-priced cheesecake slices

Hutch & Harris: Olympic Pasta with Chicken: 1/2 off

Jeffrey Adams: Beef-N- Grits beef tenderloin tips, white cheddar grit cake, roasted red pepper, spinach, wild mushroom bacon gravy – $11.50

Krankies: Pork Schitzel with spaezle and braised red cabbage $9

Local 27101: 50% Off all Burgers, Sandwiches, and Salads

Mellow Mushroom: 50% off bruschetta, 20% large specialty pies

Mooney’s Mediterranean: Garden Chicken Pita OR Garden Pita w/ Choice of Hummus or French Fries: $5.50

Mozelle’s: Shrimp & Grits – $10

Old Fourth Street Filling Station: Crab Cake Dinner two house made crab cakes, creole remoulade, roasted cream cor sauteed vegetables, smashed red potatoes – $10

The Porch Cantina: Porch Naked Burrito Bowl With jasmine rice, borracho beans, veggies, Mimi’s Queso, verde sauce, sour cream, guacamole, jalapeños & tortilla chips.With: Chicken or Avocado – $6 | Steak or Shrimp – $7

Quanto Basta: Chicken Parmesan – $6.50

Senior Bravo: 4 Tacos de pastor marinated pork meat with pineapple,grilled onions on a chile guajillo rub served with corn tortillas, fresh cilantro, onions and hot sauce – $5.99

Spring House Restaurant: BBQ BISON MEATLOAF with creamed Spinach, Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes Applewood Smoked Bacon Demi-Glace – $10

Thai Harmony: Half Price Pad Thai

Tre Nonne: BAKED ZITI Fresh homemade ziti baked with ricotta and mozzarella cheese, topped with our special marinara sauce – $6.50

Twin City Slice: 2 for price of 1 Slices of Pizza

West End Coffee House: Brownie Sundaes and Affogatos for $4 each

Willow’s Bistro: Scottish Salmon with smoked risotto, curry lime aioli $15

If you are a restaurant that is participating but I haven’t listed you here, please send me a message or call me (336)403-2076 and let me know. I want to make sure that you’re all represented for the awesome work you’re doing in bringing recognition to our town and your restaurants.

Go out tonight and support your local cuisine and have a great meal in the process!

Reminder: The Big Eat is tonight!

Just a reminder for you all that tonight is The Big Eat! Here’s a list of who’s participating, once again. I included the special for those that weren’t listed the last time:

6th&Vine
Bernardin’s
Bib’s Downtown
Bleu – Shrimp & Grits with Andouille Sauce, Creamy Grits, Spinach & Cherry Tomatoes – $11
Camel City BBQ Factory – BBQ Sandwich Basket and Tea, $4
Camino
Hutch & Harris
Jeffrey Adams
Krankie’s – House Butchered Pork Chop with garlic green beens and mashed potatoes– $11
Local 27101 – 50% Off all Burgers, Sandwiches, and Salads
Mellow Mushroom
Mooney’s  – Garden Chicken Pita OR Garden Pita w/ Choice of Hummus or French Fries: $5.50
Mozelle’s – Tomato Pie and Cheese Grits $8.50
Quanto Basta – Chicken Parmesan – $6.50
Senior Bravo – Pollo Chicken (no price listed)
Spring House (has changed since I last reported) – BBQ BISON MEATLOAF with creamed Spinach, Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes, Applewood Smoked Bacon Demi-Glace – $10
Thai Harmony
Old Fourth Street Filling Station
The Porch – pending
Tre Nonne – RIGATONI Y VODKA – $7 Our smooth homemade tomato vodka sauce seasoned with herbs, heavy cream and cheese, served over fresh homemade penne pasta.”
Twin City Slice – 2 for price of 1 slices.
Willow’s Bistro

Check my previous post or call the restaurant for more info. Reservations are recommended. It’s only for dining in and it’s while supplies last; when they’re out, they’re out. Support your local establishments and enjoy!!

The Big Eat Returns

I wrote an article for Piedmont Local Magazine, a few weeks ago about this event called The Big Eat, that starts up this coming Tuesday and wanted to clue you in on what’s going down.

First, what is The Big Eat? It’s a collective of restaurants in downtown Winston-Salem (and some outlying areas) where participating restaurants take signature menu items, reduced up to 50% off regular price, to highlight and showcase what the culinary scene downtown is all about. There’s a little more to it than that, but the gist is this: become better acquainted with the great local food establishments you have in your town.

This is no longer an event through the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, but is put together, mostly, by Piedmont Local Mag. Not all downtown restaurants are participating, so don’t be upset if you go into one that isn’t unless you call first.

Also, know that the specials are dine-in only (so, no take out) and are subject to availability. If you go to Restaurant A because you wanted the free shrimp cocktail with a surf ‘n’ turf, and you get there and they’re out of shrimp cocktail and surf ‘n’ turf, well, then that’s the breaks. It’s all based on availability. And the offerings are subject to change at any time. Perhaps they change it to some other special when they run out, or decide to change it; it happens. *(that’s not really happening anywhere, I just wanted to give an example)*

The dates for the events are: January 10, 17, 24, 31 & February 7, 2017. Greensboro will be doing the same thing two weeks after WSNC, February 21, 28 & March 7, 14, 21, 2017. I don’t have as much reach in Greensboro so my intel may be a little light but I’ll do what I can.

This is not a full list, as some of the restaurants haven’t reported but here’s what I know as of now:

6th & Vine
Featured Dish:
Tequila Mango Salmon – $11

Bernardin’s Restaurant At Zevely House
Featured Dish:
50% Off Ahi Tuna Rare
soba noodle, baby bok, choy, shitake, tahini sweet chili sauce

Bibs Downtown
Featured Dish:
Pulled Pork Sandwich Plate: $4.25

Camino Bakery
Featured Dish:
half-priced cheesecake slices

Foothills Brewpub
Featured Dish:
50% off Fish ‘n Chips

Hutch and Harris
Featured Dish:
West Bank Bean cakes 1/2 off

Jeffrey Adams on Fourth
Featured Dish:
4oz. filet
served with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus $13
Toppings
– butter poached lobster – $6  crab cake – $5  sea scallops – $6 grilled diablo shrimp – $6  mushrooms and onions – $2 boursin cream sauce – $2

Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar
Featured Dish:
Fred Flintstone’s Pork Shank
Savannah Inspired Red Rice
Lemon, Parsley and Dijon Bread Crumbs
House Pepper Jelly: $12

Thai Harmony
Featured Dish:
Half Price Pad Thai

The Old Fourth Street Filling Station
Featured Dish:
Jambalaya
– shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage, tomatoes, peppers, celery, onions, celery, rice  
$9.50

Willow’s Bistro
Fried Chicken, butter whipped potato, grilled asparagus and grilled portobello demi. $15.

Again, that’s just a portion of what’s going to be available. I’m still waiting to hear from Bleu Restaurant & Bar, Graze of Winston-Salem, Mellow Mushroom, Mooney’s, Quanto Basta, Tre Nonne, Vin 205 and West End Coffeehouse. When I do, I’ll either update this post or create an addendum. I do know that Finnigan’s Wake will be participating the following weeks but not this coming week as they’ll be doing some long overdue kitchen remodeling. It’s minor work but necessary.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #8

Last week was Labor Day and that meant some vacation time, I figured you’d forgive me missing an episode, right? Thanks!

In Episode #8:

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!

Farm 2 Fourth Harvest Dinner a Success for Downtown WSNC

I recorded a podcast of this this past Tuesday (see previous post). 14095926_10154296661620490_1926267465363315423_nThis past Sunday, Stephanie and I were lucky enough to get tickets to the very first “Farm 2 Fourth Harvest Dinner” event hosted by the Winston-Salem Journal’s own, food editor, Michael Hastings. The event was a highlighting of local chefs using only local ingredients from local farms and making basically, a seven course feast for 140 diners to enjoy. Before I talk about the food, I do want to say that there were RayLen and Childress wines and port and, of course, the official “liquid reward” of The Man Who Walked the Town, as well as Presenting Sponsor of The Beer Dads, Hoots Roller Bar and Beer Company brews on hand. We had plenty of that, too. Now, on to the food!

The hors d’oeuvres were from Chef Lucas McGill, of Hutch & Harris. It was crostini with country ham, farmers’ cheese and radish sprouts. I had two of them and Stephanie one, at the insistence of one of the service captains; they had two left they needed rid of. Very good, not overly salty and the microgreens were right on spot. Good stuff. 14079830_10154302032545490_2702548163340851777_nQuaint but delicious. Chef McGill does great stuff over at Hutch & Harris.

Next came a very colorful and flavor-packed morsel of cherry bomb compressed watermelon with balsamic-basil syrup prepared by Chef Jeff Bacon of Providence Restaurant and Catering. The color was vibrant red, almost glowingly so and the bright greens on top with the darker balsamic-basil syrup created an almost mind-blowingly beautiful square of wonderful. The flavor of the greens disappeared mostly but the crunch they left behind was what the melon needed to balance the soft texture and spiced vinegar glaze. If I’m not mistaken there were tiny chunks of walnuts and feta or some other soft cheese to accompany the dish. Chef Bacon loves his watermelons and this was his pièce de résistance.

Chefs Christian Froelich of The Hearth at Sanders Ridge and Richard Miller of Graze prepared a fantastic veggie 14102433_10154302082135490_840297715253272217_nbaba ghanoush with red onion and cucumber relish and homemade naan. Baba Ghanoush (or ghanouj) is generally eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. I can only suppose that was what was in there. I do believe I tasted the eggplant, so I figure they stayed true to form on it. Yes, for those of you wondering, I did eat the pickled red onion and cucumber relish. There were also beets and microgreens on top. The naan was firm but not leathery or tough, it was still soft and delicious. Michael Hastings of the Journal made sure to get a picture of me eating the onions as anyone who knows me knows that I hate onions. But, for the benefit and integrity of the dish and festivities, I ate them. Pickled, they’re not that bad. Not something I’d want all the time but in this dish, it was definitely outshined by the baba ghanoush. Chef Christian couldn’t be there because of another commitment but Chef Richard Miller handled it quite nicely. It was delicious.

14192188_10154302097210490_4766992602351391198_nNext up, Chef Jared Keiper of the Tavern in Old Salem provided us with basil marinated goat cheese, charred red onion and heirloom green tomato pie. Now, again, with the onions, I ate them because they weren’t prevalent. And, neither was the green tomatoes. I’m not a huge fan of those either. But, don’t hear me wrong; I loved this dish. I’d have this dish again and again. The Tavern in Old Salem is always a fantastic place to dine and the wit and skills of Chef Jared are what makes it so. That combined with his brother, Jordan creating some of the best craft cocktails, made from the best local and regional spirits he (or we) can find. The Tavern is tough to beat. The crust of the pie was flaky, yet firm, great tasting and when topped with the heirloom cherry/grape tomatoes and microgreens (you know I love me some microgreens) and the tangy, tangy goat cheese (I also love me some goat cheese)? Holy smokes. Another winner!

Chef Harrison Littell of Honey Pot provided the sides for the night. This was a roasted potato hash (which I didn’t get14141643_10154302122435490_3872696077436112559_n a picture of because it was already being passed around before I could get to it) and Hoots braised greens and green bean salad with feta cheese. The seasoning on the potatoes were perfect. It was salty without being overbearing. The seasoning on the bean salad was kicked up a few notches. It was some spicy stuff. Not too spicy for me, but when you’re not expecting it, it can be a surprise. The cauliflower was from my pal Niki Farrington’s Niki’s Pickles. I am quite sure that’s where the spicy came from. Chef Littell held nothing back on this dish. Vibrant colors, punchy taste, smiling faces afterward. I’d say it was a hit. The “greens” came after as well and I had it with the next dish.

The main course for the evening was a combo dish from Chef Travis Myers (my buddy) of Willow’s Bistro and Chef John Bobby of Rooster’s: A Noble Grille. 14100398_10154302174700490_353053953512636586_nChef Travis smoked a porchetta and the meat was banging. I don’t usually use that word with food, but it was. Tender with the meaty middle and the crisp skin on the outside. The flavor was right on point; hearty. Chef Bobby made smoked lamb with chimichurri. He made it both in slices and in “pulled’ style. Both were great and seasoned just right. Both Chefs Travis and John shared the smoker and it is always fun watching Chef Travis use his knife skills. It was also fun watching Michael Hastings come around getting “privilege tastes” of everything. This, of course, was my favorite dish. Why? Because this food had a mother. Kudos to both Chef Travis and Chef John Bobby.

Then it was time for dessert. Dessert was also a tag-team effort. Chef Janis Karathanas of Providence Restaurant made a mascarpone cheesecake with a port wine reduction. She told us all what she made this of and I had no time to write it down. Plus, I was too busy tasting it. Even though I don’t know exactly what was in it, I can tell you it melted 14088459_10154302224620490_649515975873410144_nin your mouth and if you have it, you won’t care what was in it. I promise. Also on the plate was a sea-salt caramel stuffed fig dipped in dark chocolate and a honey ganache truffle prepared by Chef Tirra Cowen of Black Mountain Chocolate. The sea-salt caramel was that sweet, salty deliciousness that you knew you were going to get and the honey ganache truffle was perfect. To see these two desserts on the same plate lined 140 en masse on the old Community Arts Café bar? That was a thing of beauty. And the flavors were even more beautiful than the taste. Hat tip to Chef Janis and Chef Tirra.

And hats off to Michael Hastings, Justin Gomez and all the Winston-Salem Journal staff on hand to make this a wonderful event. And to all the chef and local growers, farmers and suppliers, thank you for all that you do for us in food fandom. You make us so very happy and we can’t thank you enough. The volunteer staff and restaurateurs were fabulous, as well. This event was a first for Winston-Salem but Michael Hastings said they were definitely doing it next year. I refuse to call anything “First Annual” because how do you know, really? You don’t. So, next year can be the “second annual” edition. I loved it.

A Contemplation of Fourth

This is reprinted from an article that was published today from Tim’s daily blog, Useless Things Need Love, Too.

Salutations™!!

There have been two high profile (at least to me) closings announced this week in my favorite part of Winston-Salem and on the same city block.  This past Tuesday Augustine’s Bistro sent out a very short, but to the point, email to the restaurant’s closest supporters, friends and family announcing that they were closing as of that day.  No head’s up, no closing ceremony, no time for goodbyes.  About 45 minutes prior to that I received texts from both Aly Reich, the manager and Chris McDonough, the Mixologist (Intoxicologist?) Extraordinaire informing me that they were closing.  They had just found out minutes before.  According to an article by Michael Hastings of the Winston-Salem Journal, Eric Muck, the owner said that business just wasn’t there, as well as some preconceived notions of potential clients about the location.  We’ll get to that in a bit.

Today, in an article from Lynn Felder of Relish and WSJ, it was announced that The Community Arts Cafe is closing as of March 31. CAC was a performance center, cafe, wine & beer bar with a kitchen that was, for a time, a restaurant and catering area.  I saw a performance by Spirit Gum Theater Company there as well as some of the SoundLizzard showcases there.  The kitchen was the kitchen for La Rana Loca and Encore restaurants before that, complete with some beer taps.

Fourth Street is the new main street in Downtown Winston-Salem. a/perture Cinema, Camino Bakery, Washington Perk, Mellow Mushroom, Jeffrey Adams on 4th, Hutch & Harris, Kings Crab Shack & Oyster Bar, Downtown Thai, The Honey Pot, Kabobs on 4th, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Jimmy John’s, Foothills Brewing, Skippy’s Hot Dogs, Corks Caps & Taps, Quanto Basta, West End Coffee Shop, Mozelle’s, Olde Fourth Street Filling Station, Mooney’s, Downtown Deli, West End Cafe, Recreation Billiards, Bulls Tavern, The Stevens Center, The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and The Less Desirables are just a FEW businesses on this street within a 9 block (or so) area.  This is the street to be on.  Now, both of these are on the 400 block of 4th Street.  That’s two locations in one week announcing closings within 100 yards of each other. What in the world is going on!?  I have some theories and I’m going to expound on them.  These may be slightly off base or they may be close, but they’re mine.

CAC

Let’s start with CAC.  When it opened, it was an innovation to what was going on downtown.  It was Fourth Street’s alternative to Trade Streets art galleries and had a performance center area that had a decent beer and wine selection.  They eventually added catering and a restaurant. The space is huge and they’ve sublet some of it.  But, really most people didn’t even know it was there.  There was a sign, yes, but it wasn’t flashy and didn’t get in your face.  Even when people did see it, it wasn’t really clear what it was. A chalk sandwich board outside becomes commonplace on the street and people tend to stop reading or looking.  Posters in the windows weren’t really indicative, either.  So, there was challenge number one. Then not too long ago, the WS Chamber took over the entire upper part, of the building. In doing so, they basically branded the whole building as WS Chamber.  That’s the prominent signage and I’ll admit, that while I knew about CAC being in there, it was lost on the appearance that it was WS Chamber’s building and they did everything in there.  If someone didn’t have business to do with the Chamber, then why go in, right?  The Chamber are so dominant in that space that when they moved in they demanded (and got) all the parking behind the building and no one is allowed to park there without having credentials. The Chamber are brutal, at times. Yeah, I said it.

UNCSA Stevens Center

Let’s talk Augustine’s.  Augustine’s was at 401 W 4th. It was located in the UNCSA’s Stevens Center complex. Notice I said in the complex. Yes, it was in the same building but it wasn’t necessarily part of the Stevens Center.  However, that is one of the major problems.  People see the decorative awning of the Stevens Center that wraps all the way around the building and it full encompasses where Augustine’s was.  In fact, the Stevens Center’s branding was on the extreme edges of the awning, beyond any signage that any restaurant had out there. You can see from the picture here, what I mean. Thank you to Fam Brownlee for that picture.

So, with the perception of Augustine’s being part of the UNCSA, there are a few stigmas.  You get the low-brows who think the theatre is snooty and pompous and “I don’t want anything to do with those artsy-fartsy kind.” Or, because it’s in there, then it must be expensive.  The fact is, I believe that Augustine’s prices could have actually been a little higher; the quality and portion size (no matter what some ridiculous Yelp! reviewers may have said) were very reasonably priced and I think Eric and Audrey shorted themselves slightly.  I commend them for keeping the prices down as best as they can.  I just think it was particular component of the problem. Another thing, being that no matter how much signage you put out, UNCSA isn’t going to let you outshine them so your signs will never be indicative of what is inside. That being said, they think the restaurant is just part of the Steven Center which gives the misconception that they’re only open when there are shows going on.  They were open Tuesday through Saturday and even opening for lunches in the last month or so.

Another thing about this location is no restauranteur is going to have money to spend on upfitting the kitchen and refrigeration of the place and they’re in dire need of it.  UNCSA certainly isn’t going to pay to replace that, but they’ve had a problem with it for a while.  Compound all these ingredients and they either all are the problem or they contribute to it.

I’m not putting down either the Chamber nor UNCSA’s Stevens Center, but their being there is killing the potential for smaller businesses, namely restaurants in their presence.  The 400 block of Fourth Street at least on the northern side is dominated by those two locations. The irony is that the Chamber is supposed to be there to help businesses not oppress them. Whilst they maintain such visible and occupied presence, nothing else can survive.  Like grass when there are large trees around.  The trees absorb all the nutrients and the surrounding area is barren.

Both CAC and Augustine’s were reliant on word of mouth, however, if no one knows you’re there, they can’t tell anyone else. These locations have no money for marketing and without a marketing budget, there will be no traffic to your place.  Places like I mentioned before on this street had prominent signage that represented their establishments.

I’m challenging you all to become more aware of what is happening in this town that we love or if you’re from out of town, at least try to be more aware of what this town has to offer.  I’m bracing for the next big closure.  Which, sometimes when one thing goes another takes its place, but I’m afraid that the two spaces I’ve discussed are prompted to fail no matter what goes in there unless something changes on the marketing/signage front.  According to Hastings’s article about UNCSA there’s talk that they’ll re-purpose Augustine’s for something that isn’t a restaurant. I’d be relieved if that happened because anything that goes in there, to would be doomed for failure.

None of these factors are the lone factors, I believe.  It’s a culmination of many things, these just being the prominent ones in my mind. These are great locations that happen to be horrible locales.

Enough of my venting for the day.  Don’t let our foodie town erode away.

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!


For an adult, the world is constantly trying to clamp down on itself. Routine, responsibility, decay of institutions, corruption: this is all the world closing in.” – Bruce Springsteen