Better Late Than Never – Butcher & Bull

A few months ago, when Butcher & Bull opened their doors, they had a media preview night and while I try to always get to those, I had a prior commitment that night and couldn’t make the event at the Marriott in downtown Winston-Salem. But, thanks to Chef Richard Miller and Meagan Byrne at Bolt PR, Stephanie and I finally got my tasting, so we made it a date night.

Arugula Salad

The decor is more straight-lined and gray than I expected but it was modern and welcoming. I thought it looked great in there. While there were some “standard” restaurant fixtures, they remodeled the restaurant into a destination. We liked it a lot, especially the focus on the “bull” aspect. But, other than what to expect whilst eating there, you didn’t come here for interior design lessons. You came here for the food. Let’s do that!

Bison Carpaccio

Chef Richard started us off with a salad. Yeah, a salad. This was the “Arugula Salad” and had baby kale, toasted almonds, shaved fennel, beets, feta and a brown butter miso vinaigrette. I generally do not eat beets as I feel they taste like I’m eating dirt. But, I ate every bite of this salad. I tried to get all of the feta, all of the miso dressing, the almonds, everything. To me, it had a lovely nutty/earthy quality that was very appealing and mixed with the umami miso, the peppery arugula and toasted almonds made this a savory-like salad. I really enjoyed it. Stephanie did as well. It went well with her red wine and my salty gose.

That’s when the fun really started. You know when I say fun that usually means meat! And, since this is a twist on the modern steakhouse, you’d expect meat. How about Bison Carpaccio? Very thinly sliced extra rare bison topped with a quail egg, “Everything Bagel” seasoning, more arugula and Manchego cheese. It also included caper berries which I’ve never had before. I have had, and love, capers but never one of these beauties. The bison was so thinly sliced that they wilted around the fork as I placed it on Stephanie’s and my plates. So, delicate, so tender and so delicious. Mixing the cheese and quail egg around it was tangy and semi-sweet all at the same time.

Smoked Shrimp Cocktail

Next was the Shrimp Cocktail. Boring, right? Not!!! It comes out on a plate with a glass cover and you can barely see what is inside the glass dome because it is so smokey. Cold smoke, actually. When Chef Richard removed the dome, the aroma of the smoke attacked the senses and it was amazing. These shrimps were anything but. They were rather large, drizzled with preserved lemon and sitting on a housemade cocktail sauce mixture of not ketchup like many generic cocktail sauces can be but a tomato jam with horseradish mixed in. And, if you’ve ever read my reviews before you know that Stephanie and I are both fans of pea shoots. The crunchy, earthy greens were the perfect topping for this dish. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and smoked. There was much rejoicing.

Spanish Octopus

Then came the Spanish Octopus. I love octopus. When we have sushi, I like “extra” octopus. It can be chewy, yes, but I really enjoy it. So, this came to us with crisp-yet-tender cauliflower, chorizo bits, a creamy sauce and a tangy chimichurri sauce. The octopus itself was not tough. Its texture was somewhere between a scallop and shrimp. Not mushy and not chewy. It was just right. All the flavors made a delicious plate of goodness. I had to point out the chorizo bits to my girl as she was skipping them, mistaking them for pieces of the cauliflower and octopus. Delicious.

Wagyu Shoulder Tenders

The “real meat” was on its way, next. The Wagyu Shoulder Tenders had their turn. Chunks of pure perfection. They were all done medium rare and had a crusty outer layer that was perfectly seasoned. Very earthy, salty, peppery and was like a hug for the shoulder. You could see the juices between the fibers of the meat and that made it even more appealing. Like most of Butcher & Bull’s steaks (from what I can tell), they come with blistered cherry tomatoes. These things were on the verge of popping but, man… the flavor burst when you bit into it was amazing. Because I was savoring the taste of the beef, I was neglecting the tomatoes but put a bulb on one of the last pieces of this I had and it was a party in my mouth. Acidic. Juicy. Tangy. Savory. Divine. Should I keep coming up with descriptors?

The Bone-In Dry-Aged Ribeye was the last of the big stuff. Although, Chef did ask if we

Bone-In Dry-Aged Ribeye

wanted more meat. I assured him that we had had our fill after this plate. Again, prepared medium-rare, If you’ll remember back when Chef Richard was on our podcast he talked about the dry-aged beef. Dry-aging allows for more flavor and tenderness to permeate through the meat. This plate arrived with a huge bone with the meat morsels already cut for us, more for presentation, I believe. Chef explained that usually it comes intact but he cut it up for us. So tender and being a ribeye, there was a good bit of fat on it. But, as we know, fat equals flavor. It wasn’t so much fat you couldn’t eat it. It was enough fat to make the flavors burst, plus the seasoning on it was making it even better.

Cheesecake

Finally, after we had had enough of heavenly meat, we were treated to the no-frills Cheesecake. It was “plain” (a misnomer, of course), nary a compote to be found, on a graham cracker crust and served with house-whipped cream. It was anything but plain, but it had no “toppings.” And, it didn’t need any. Truth is, we ate the cheesecake with only a bit of time paying any kind of attention to the whipped cream, and even that was delicious. I just didn’t think the cheesecake needed anything but its own volition to make my palate happy. And it did just that.

Chef Richard Miller

There’s a reason why Chef Richard Miller won the NC Competition Dining championship a few years back. That reason is that he’s that darned good. He has great culinary ideas and the culinary skills to back those ideas up. That, and he has an amazing team that he can depend on. The flavors were lightyears beyond ordinary. They were adventurous, experimental, subtle, bursting, everything rolled up in one. A true culinary delight. This is a premier location in this city and if you haven’t tried it, or you haven’t booked your own dinner there, you are doing yourself a disservice. It isn’t often that I attend a tasting where every plate is on par with the one before it. Usually, there are fluctuations, but not this time. Trust me.

Visit their website. Give them a call at 336-722-5232. Use Open Table or any other reservation apps. Just get over there. Sooner than later. Butcher & Bull is located in the Marriott downtown, 425 N. Cherry Street.

Thank you, Chef Richard, Butcher & Bull, Meagan Byrne, Bolt PR, for a most fantastic meal and evening.

It’s Burger Season!!

I have teased a Top 5 Burger list for a while and have at least three solids for the first three, but one of those is under renovation from a fire. So, perhaps I’ve been waiting to do the “definitive” list because of that. But, truly, the reason is I don’t know if I’ve had the best burger in WSNC. There are a lot of burgers here.

Today, Tuesday, May 28, is National Burger Day. And, while I can call every single day Burger Day, for the majority of people, I think between Memorial Day and Labor Day, both the unofficial start and end of Summer respectively, that between those dates it is “Burger Season,”

I’m going to start a three-month journey into WSNC “burgerdom.” I’m going to get recommendations from our listeners and readers and from today through Monday, September 2 which isn’t only Labor Day this year, but Stephanie’s and my 5th Wedding Anniversary, I will then compile my Top 5, maybe Top 10 Burger List.

So, again, I’m going to need your help, both my podcast listeners and blog readers. Tell me your favorite burger in town.

There are some caveats, though. Instead of generalizing it and say “fast food burgers” I’m going to give a specific list. I say that because there are a few non-traditional fast food joints that I do frequent, the biggest being Zesto Burgers & Ice Cream. Incidentally, that’s what I have said is my top burger. But, because I haven’t tried all the others, I don’t know.

So, here’s where I will not eat and won’t accept a recommendation about: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Hardees, Five Guys, Cook Out, Steak-N-Shake, Sonic or Red Robin. I also won’t accept “You should try mine!” This is for everyone, it’s public and should not be private parties. There may be a time when I put something like that together, maybe a TMWATT Burger Cookoff or something. But, not for this.

Also, you can recommend specialty burgers like the “Smoke Batch” at Burger/Small Batch or “Bootlegger’s Bourbon Burger” from Cin Cin Burger Bar or whatever. I may make a special category for those, but, the main focus will be a Cheeseburger (single or double) with mayo, mustard, pickles, onion and tomato. That’s my standard and what I go for when I go for burgers. But, if there’s something that I just absolutely NEED to try, tell me and I’ll work it in.

If you’re not sure how a burger falls in my caveat, ask, it may or may not qualify. I will take recommendations for food trucks if burgers are their specialty. Also, if it’s in Kernersville, Clemmons, North WSNC, heck, even as far as Yadkinville, I’ll take the recommendations. They’re most likely eligible. Does your favorite BBQ or hot stand do burgers and you just have to have them? Then let’s talk!

Now, I have to be smart about this. I can’t just go crazy having burgers every day. Stephanie made me promise that if I do this that we have to watch everything else that I eat, so I have to have a lot of plants and green things. I may see if Sha’Retha at Happie Food can help me with that. I will not go vegan, or really even vegetarian but I can make better choices.

Eating all these burgers will rack up some expenses, so if you are a restaurateur that wants to donate your burger for the project, I would greatly appreciate that. Also, if anyone is interested in introducing me to a burger and picking up the tab, I’m probably not going to turn that down.

I’m also in the market for sponsors for this, as well. I don’t need to make tons of money, but I would like to cover my expenses and gas. Even if you’re not in the food biz, I can work out some advertising on one or more of the podcasts or me doing blog posts or public appearances for or at your businesses. I’d greatly appreciate anything that you can help with, and I will be promoting a lot of people here. I actually think a non-burger restaurant or business would be a great sponsor, that way it’s not looked at like bribing me.

So there you have it. Send me recommendations to tim@themanwhoatethetown, on our Instagram or Facebook platforms. I really want the public’s input on this. I think we need a definitive list. Not just for me but for the town I eat.

Buie’s Market to Open in Buena Vista Early Summer

Buie’s Market Location in Buena Vista ©Buie’s Market

Construction is underway on Buie’s Market, which is expected to open in early summer adjacent to Diamondback Grill at the corner of Avalon Road and Spring Garden Road (749 Avalon Road).  Buie’s Market will serve Buena Vista and surrounding areas.  Named in honor of the legendary Buie’s Pharmacy, which occupied the space decades ago, Buie’s Market will offer a variety of fresh, packaged and prepared foods.

Majority owners of Buie’s Market are Stacy Doss and Kristin Holcomb.  Buie’s Market will occupy approximately 3,000 square feet and will have eight full- and part-time employees.  Cassandra Bryant, a former member of the management team at Trader Joe’s, will serve as the manager of Buie’s Market.

Buie’s owners Stacy Doss (l) and Kristen Holcomb (r) (©Buie’s)

Buie’s Market will offer a selection of brewed coffee; craft beers and wines; non-alcoholic beverages; cheeses and dairy items; and an assortment of dry goods as well as canned and packaged local and regional staples. The market also will offer pastries, desserts and breads and a variety of fresh and frozen products including beef, pork, chicken, bison, fish and produce.  Prepared foods to go will include selections from familiar local vendors.

“Our focus will be on local products and fresh produce and meats,” co-owner Kristin Holcomb said.  “We believe that Buie’s Market will rapidly become a community destination as a place to come for coffee, beer and wine with friends or to take home ‘grab and go’ delicious prepared foods.”

“We considered a number of names for the business but kept coming back to Buie’s Market because the name is so well known among neighborhood residents,” co-owner Stacy Doss added.  “Wayne Buie, who operated a pharmacy on the same site for many years, enthusiastically gave us permission to use his family’s name, and we greatly thank him for his support.”

 

For updates on the opening and what the market will be offering visit: facebook.com/buiesmarket or watch this blog or listen to our podcast!

A Blogger Tasting at Zesto Burgers & Ice Cream

This week I organized a blogger/food writer tasting at Zesto Burgers & Ice Cream at 2600 New Walkertown Road in Winston-Salem. Algenon Cash and his team knocked it out of the park as they do every time I eat there. But, this time it was to sample just about everything on the menu. And, when we left, there was not one of us who needed to eat the rest of the day. In fact, Stephanie, Trey and I didn’t.

BLT

The three of us were joined by my co-host Ray Morgan, Tim Clodfelter from the Winston-Salem Journal, Carroll Leggett, Nikki Miller-Ka and Ja’Net Adams. Once the food started coming, it seemed like it never stopped coming. So, I’m going to recap what we ate but know that as the day went on, I got a little food fatigue and may be vague in my descriptions. Also, we may have tasted a few things in a different order than the other writers, so if you read their accounts it’s not in any real order, here.

Let’s get to it!

Let’s start with the BLT. Who doesn’t love a BLT? All buns and bread sold and served at Zesto are now from Martin’s Bread out of Pennsylvania. Trey and I use Martin’s buns when we make “Beeman Burgers.” The butter bread from Martin’s is what this is on. It replaced the old “Texas Toast” that it used to be on and adds another dimension to the sandwich alongside the hardwood smoked bacon with lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo. Great stuff.

The Chuckwagon

Shrimp Po’Boy

Up next was the spicy veggie burger, which is a black bean burger and, surprisingly I liked it. Usually, my burger needs to be some kind of sacrificial animal but I could have one of these and be happy, only if there was no meat to be seen. But, Stephanie, who loves and pushes veggies on me thought it was good. The general consensus at the table was that it was good, but some said it may be too spicy for those not into spicier foods. I liked it.

The Chuckwagon was next which is basically chopped beef with onion and spices, battered in buttermilk with lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo. Stephanie gets this a lot and she’s a fan. It’s not in my top of what we had, but that just shows that Zesto has something for everyone’s tastes. I know a few others who think this may be their favorite item on the menu.

Carolina Cheesesteak

Some of the more exotic sandwiches on the menu was the shrimp po’boy and I understand it’s not really exotic but for a “burger joint” it is. Lightly battered and fried popcorn shrimp, in a healthy portion, on a hoagie roll with lettuce, pickles, and chipotle mayo. This may or may not be on Martin’s bread but it was very good. I had it late in the afternoon so I don’t know that I got the full effect because I was being the “full effect.” A great visual sandwich, too

Chicken Philly

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Algenon and Jasmine brought out a few baskets of fries with the first round of samples, so that added to the fullness. They also brought out an order of their crispy and their charred wings. The sauces available for the wings are “Buffalo,” the spicy honey, BBQ and one more, that I didn’t catch. I had one of the crispy wings and they nailed it. Later they also brought sweet potato fries topped with a house-made seasoning which I know consists of maple sugar. I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries so I passed, but everyone else seemed to enjoy them.

I never realized how much I love Philly Cheesesteaks but lately, I’ve been finding cheesesteaks that are really up my alley. We were served two different styles, the “Carolina” cheesesteak and a chicken Philly. Zesto’s is just the right size, not too large that you feel bloated afterward and not to small that you feel you don’t get what you paid for. The steak was juicy and the mushrooms, peppers, and onions were just right with the creaminess of the provolone. That really goes for the chicken Philly, too. In fact, as much as I never choose chicken over beef, for this sandwich, I choose chicken. It was really good!

Chicken Tenders

A hot dog is a hot dog and I will say that while there isn’t anything that jumps out and grabs you about the Zesto hot dogs, they are certainly a solid hot dog. It is everything you want it to be and the toppings are fresh. I have one about once every two weeks or so, much to Stephanie’s chagrin. I just like them.

Chicken sandwich with BBQ sauce

One of the biggest surprises for many of us at the table was the chicken tenders. I know when I think of chicken tenders, there is always some flattened, over-breaded sliver of chicken, usually overly fried and tasting of last week’s cooking oil. This, especially from other restaurants or bars. Tenders at Zesto do not fit any of those descriptions… at all. They are chunks of real chicken that are perfectly fried and you taste the chicken and not the over-done breading (because there is none of that). You can get dipping sauces, as well.

Chubby Decker

Next, we tried The Classic Chicken. 100% natural, fresh, and marinated chicken breast served charred, grilled, or crispy with lettuce, pickles, and mayo and, of course, on those fantastic Martin’s potato buns. We also tried the sweet bbq chicken (sauced) and the spicy honey chicken. I really enjoyed the flavor of the bbq and I have the spicy honey often, too. I enjoy that spicy honey sauce on the pork chop sandwich, too. We didn’t try that, but I like it. You can’t go wrong with the sauced chicken sandwiches.

Patty Melt

The next item I was no stranger to. In fact, I have one at least once a week. This is the Chubby Decker, double cheeseburger and it is so good. I have called it, and I reiterate, my #1 burger in town. Is it the best in town? I don’t know, because that’s subjective, but I know it’s the one I enjoy eating the most. I usually get mine without lettuce and add a little onion.  I get this so much that Joe (behind the counter) doesn’t even ask how I want it, he just rings it up. I’m there a lot, can you tell? Anyway, I stand by this burger. We also had a pimento and bacon burger, as well.

We got to sample the patty melt. The other side of the table got to try it earlier when we were still getting ramped up. We had one made specifically for us at our table and by the time we had it, it was past our stop time. Zesto makes theirs with a beef patty, top it with steak, grilled onions and American cheese on two pieces of the delicious butter bread from Martin’s, nice and grilled and the meat was juicy. I will definitely have another of these when I can enjoy it more.

Ribs

The topper to everything was the ribs. Yes, I said ribs. Zesto’s sauce is slathered on and they’re grilled to where the meat just falls off the bone. Ray said he has ribs all over town and he’d put these up against anyones in town. That’s saying something because there are a lot of places that do it well. I really enjoyed eating them. Tangy and acidic, as they should be, the meat literally can be pulled directly off the bone. I think we were all surprised how good these things were. It was certainly a treat and they came at the end, so even as stuffed as everyone was, we still made room for the ribs.

One thing that Zesto strives to do is make it possible for you to come in and get a meal for $10 or less per person. If you get add-ons, that will be an increase, but for the most part, meals (fries and a drink) come in right around $10. The ribs are a little bit more, but c’mon, they’re ribs.

Soft-serve ice cream, milkshakes, malteds, cones, cups and “concretes” which is soft-serve milkshakes with your choice of premium toppings and blended at high speed to produce a tasty concrete.

Zesto Burgers & Ice Cream is a fantastic little fast casual restaurant. Yes, it’s fast food but it’s not traditional fast food which is why I don’t mind eating it, sometimes more than once a week. What can I say? I love this place. I think you’ll love it, too. Ray and I will be talking about our experiences on the next podcast. We will go into more details about the food than even here, I’m sure. Again, I am telling you, you really need to go try out Zesto Burgers.