The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 3

The very first The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast that was recorded in Test Pattern Studios.

This week I give congratulations to all my food and partnership buddies that won awards on Smitty’s Notes Best of 2016. I only went over the stuff that was relative to this podcast of the sister shows of The Less Desirables Network. If you’d like to read the whole thing you can find it by visiting HERE.

Also, last week I talked about Sir Winston coming back, but I didn’t have time to ask about what happened to the Brazilian steakhouse that was supposed to go in there before Mike Coe sold it to InterContinental Hotel Group’s Indigo impression. This week, I do.

Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher (just added), Podcast Addict and TuneIn. Or you can listen here.

Bon appetit!

Slap-Happy Chicken

The big restaurant buzz going around town this past week has been the arrival of Slappy’s Chicken. Slappy’s Chicken is located at 200 W Acadia Avenue in the old Acadia Grill location.

Scott Brandenburg, who’s been involved in the restaurant business for quite a while and has done stints at some of the local food establishments, decided it was time to get back into owning a restaurant. He previously owned a restaurant with his wife, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know exactly where he said it was. I think it was Brevard, but I’m not asking you to take my word on that because I could be wrong. He said he recognized me from around town, I’m figuring it was from Meridian, as he worked there as a server for a bit. 2016-07-22 09.21.27

Scott takes a very simplistic approach to chicken. Fry it, dip it in a special sauce of his own design and serve it with a side. Well, you may think that sounds very obvious, that’s what most places do. You’re right, but I don’t know if you’re getting the point. He only does chicken.

His menu consists of 3 items, not counting dessert and drinks: 1/4 dark (leg and thigh), 1/4 white (breast and wing) and 1/2 chicken (leg, thigh, breast, wing). Each of those items come with two sides and a roll.

The sides to choose from are: Mac & Cheese, Baked Beans, Collard Greens, Cole Slaw and Potato Salad. Pretty much what you’d want to see and eat accompanying chicken. The menu also invites you to gaze upon the dessert board for the dessert of the day. The day we went, it was pineapple refrigerator cake. There was a fountain with Pepsi products and, of course, you have to have Cheerwine since you’re eating chicken in North Carolina.

13690772_10154193965590490_95489159316486232_nThe sauce. That’s what makes Slappy’s Chicken unique. The sauce is sort-of-barbecueish. It’s a slightly sweet, yet quite spicy, sauce that completely covers the bird. There’s a hint of some Cajun seasoning and I’m thinking some honey. To the unaware, this can come off as really hot. Stephanie, who doesn’t do hot, was sucking wind a little bit, but she ate the whole thing (she had the 1/4 dark). She said it was very spicy but she could handle it. My son, Trey, likes spicy and he said it was a bit “warm,” but also he liked it on his 1/4 dark. I found it to be more than I was expecting but not more than I liked. I thought the flavor and the heat profile to be just right once I was acclimated. I really liked the sweet heat that came from it.

I asked Scott if he made the chicken without the sauce and he said he most certainly did. Many have asked for it “dry” with the sauce on the side. Me, being the fan of chicken breast as I am, will probably opt for that the next time I go and I will go back. I want to taste the chicken with the sauce, not just the sauce with some chicken. That’s not at all a knock, it’s just a matter of tasting the wares; knowing what I’m working with.

Stephanie had hers with mac & cheese and potato salad. Trey had his with beans and mac & cheese. I had the mac & cheese and collard greens. Mac & cheese seemed to be the side of choice for the evening as I saw a few others with it on their plate, as well.

Now, here’s the caveat. We were there at 7:40pm. They close at 8pm. We were the next to last order taken for the evening. In fact, I got the very last 1/4 white plate, Scott said he’d run out because of the run of customers. He said he’s been doing that all week. But, to me the mac & cheese was a little dry. I know they weren’t making a new batch after at least 7pm. I get that, no worries.I added the obligatory Texas Pete that I always have with my mac & cheese and it was just right. Someone asked me on Instagram on a scale of 1-10 what would I rate the mac & cheese and I said 5 but I wanted to try it again. The flavor was fine, but it was dry. Again, it was the last batch of the evening and while some may throw up that “it should be great no matter what,” I’m not of that school. I completely get it and because I plan on going back – more than a few times – I’ll have it again. I’ll rethink my rating of that after having a second helping. The collards, they were on point. I added a little vinegar, as I do, and all is right in the world. 2016-07-22 09.22.59

The decor is “old school diner” and there’s nothing wrong with that. I believe Scott wanted to keep with the history of the place and the Acadia Grill was a mainstay for a long time in that area. It’s updated and clean. There’s even an old mantelpiece with mirrors in the second dining room to corral some of that old-time charm. I like that.

I believe that Scott’s Slappy’s Chicken is what is needed in the Washington Park area. I think the food is fantastic, just beware if you don’t like spicy (order the sauce on the side to test it). The sides are simple but just the way you want them. I honestly believe that the simplicity of the establishment is what is going to make it work so well. The less you wrangle with as a customer, the less they wrangle with in the kitchen, the less wait and speculation about your food. You want fast and “comfort.” That’s what you’re going to get at Slappy’s Chicken. It’s not called Slappy’s Chicken and a Bunch of Other Stuff. Simple. Delicious.

Winner, winner chicken dinner. Yeah, I had to go there.

I rate Slappy’s 4.25 stars out of 5.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 2

This week it’s a little later than I wanted but I moved the studio on Monday and Tuesday so I didn’t have a chance to record it. I recorded this one from my house, instead of the studio.

I talk about Skippy’s being sold and a historical restaurant makes a comeback in its original location.

A review of Slappy’s Chicken.

Thanks for listening! You can find the podcast on iTunes, Podcast Addict and TuneIn. I’m still working on Stitcher. Or, you know, you can listen here.

Bon appetit!!

King’s Crab Shack Makes Another “Best of” List

Only in Your Statea website that showcases the highlights of all the United States (including two “categories” for California: “Northern” and “Southern”) with content generated from users’ perspectives and research, presented a list of “10 Best Seafood Restaurants in North Carolina.” Actually, the title used the word “EVER” just like that: in all caps.

Even though it’s about four hours from the beach, Winston-Salem was represented on this list by one of our faves, King’s Crab Shack and Oyster Bar, which is located at 239 W. Fourth Street in Downtown Winston-Salem. Congratulations to Will Kingery and Norb Cooper for making another list! Surprisingly, there were a couple of seafood restaurants even further than WSNC from the coast on the list.

You can read the entire article HERE.


The First Episode of The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast

This is it! I’ve been talking about it on The Less Desirables for about 6 months, now, but here it is. The inauguTMWATTLogoral episode of The Man Who Ate the Town.

In this episode, I talk about what I plan on doing with the podcast, what it’s about, who will be in every so often and basically all other pertinent info.

I also offer a rebuttal to a poster who left a comment on one of my restaurant reviews. It’s kind of laid back for a Tim Beeman podcast, but that’s okay. It’s the first one and I’m not yet bouncing off of anyone; it’s just me this go ’round.

I’ve submitted the show to iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, so I’ll let you know when those are up and running, but for now, enjoy the podcast here. Just click the play button below. You also have the opportunity to open it in another window and even download it.

And, in advance, thanks for listening!

A Star Loses Its Luster

I have always been a fan of Midtown Cafe & Dessertery. I used to eat there almost every single Thursday. I would go on some weekends, as well. I’d take friends there for business or just catching up. The food was always really good and the service was as well.

The food was never sub-par, but wasn’t 5 Star, either. But, the overall aesthetic and welcome feeling was enough to make up for that. But, something has changed and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Over the last few trips to Midtown, I have noticed that the place is starting to look like it is in desperate need of some attention. Not that it’s falling apart but a lot of the furnishings are starting to look dated, the tables are starting to fade and the carpet worn. I’m not advocating for obesity, but I am a large guy and some of the booths are difficult for larger folks to fit into comfortably. I do okay with it.


“Big Dipper” with chips

As I’ve said, I’ve been coming to Midtown for many, many years. I’d say I’ve been going since right after they opened this location. I’m used to hefty portions and quality food. My go-to meal there has always been the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper is a beef patty with both provolone and cheddar cheeses on grilled rye toast. This comes with chips, a few cucumber chips and a dill pickle spear. The “star” of this dish is the horseradish dipping sauce. I always get mine with extra dipping sauce because I enjoy dipping the potato chips into the horseradish.

In the past, I have always enjoyed a plump juicy beef patty but lately it seems the beef is always dry and it doesn’t really fill the bread, which also seems to have shrunk. The horseradish sauce hasn’t diminished, it’s still in the same smallish ramekins – hence why I get extra. The flavor of the patty melt part can only be highlighted by the horseradish, it’s not good enough on its own. Rye toast, itself, should have good flavor but most of the time the rye is over toasted and as we know, the longer something is on the grill/griddle, all you’re tasting is said implement, and not the food. I prefer my burgers cooked medium, perhaps even under cooked. I don’t think to tell the Midtown server about my preference because I’m used to them being cooked right. In the past, too, the potato chips were obviously from a bag, but they were always crisp, thick and were heavy on potato flavor.  Their flavor was just right for the horseradish. The chips they serve now are in-house cut, sliced very thin, and fried, then lightly salted with some sort of seasoning (I’m thinking Lawry’s or Old Bay or something). To me, those flavors are overly subtle and not as good as the old chips.

Stephanie had a tarragon chicken salad sandwich with fries. She said the chicken in the chicken salad was dry and the bread was lacking any of the fluffiness, it was just plain bread. The biggest disappointment for her was the fries. The fries were seemingly in-house made and seasoned, probably like my chips were. Her complaint was, like mine, the fries were plain and not very flavorful and about half of them were overly dry and the other half were resting in oil and soggy. But, again, neither the dry or soggy were abundant in flavor.

I know a couple of years back, Scott Gerding (and his wife), the owner of Midtown entered a partnership with Jeff Cayton (and wife) to do some things differently. I’m guessing that they looked over their costs and operations at that time and decided that the food cost was cheaper to make your own chips and fries than to buy them prepared. I understand that, however, I believe some of the sides that made the main dishes standout have started to diminish their impact. I’d gladly trade thickly cut bagged “Ruffles”-styled chips that had plenty of crunch and flavor for the thin, flimsy, oily and under seasoned “crisps” that they offer now. And there’s a reason that packaged fries are big business for restaurants, they have been doing it for a long time and know how to season properly. Even if the seasoning was right on the crisps, I don’t think the flavor matches the profile of the horseradish sauce that comes with the Big Dipper.

Now, the service. They don’t have a high lunch turnover in service at Midtown. Most of the servers that I have seen for a long time are still there. Unlike most restaurants that we frequent, I’m not familiar enough to be on a first name basis with them. Usually, the service is just right. None of them are going above and beyond, which I don’t expect, it’s just great when it happens and we tip accordingly. But, I certainly don’t expect or want it to be subpar.

We had an issue with two ladies watching movie trailers on their cell phone behind us when we sat down. Caveat: when we were seated, there was only two other parties in the room, one on the opposite wall and a single person in the very small booths along the dividing wall. The fact they were watching the trailers wasn’t the problem. But, they were playing them at full blast (and on phone speakers it was distorting) and it was some action movie so the music was bombastic.

I will admit that I am for people using their phone while in restaurants. After all, I take pictures for this blog and the entity. That’s what I do. And, I’ll say that I’ve used my phone for watching a video when no one else was in the room. However, when someone came in or around me, I turned it off or I’ve put earbuds in. They played more than one after we sat down. Now, that’s nothing to do with the restaurant at all, I understand. Also, our server would sit down  with the two ladies and they’d have a conversation on several of her trips to their table. I don’t mind when the server sits with the clientele, I like personal interaction. But, I don’t like when that interaction interferes with or contributes to how other customers are dealt with and serviced.

I made a reference to “what was going on behind me” when our server filled our water glasses. From that point on, when our water was filled or anything needed to be taken care of with at our table, it was dealt with passively. She would glance at our table, ask if we needed anything and basically walk away before we were able to answer if we did or didn’t. The longest she stayed at the table after that was when she dropped off the check and asked if we needed anything else. But, even that was with disdain. I don’t care if they’re friends or not, I don’t like when my service is affected by personal conflict. Regardless of how your day is going or if you’re not feeling well, or whatever the reason, how I’m treated should be on my own merit, as I’m the one that is paying for the food and paying them. Most places understand that and I believe that Midtown understands that, but we didn’t appreciate being waved off because we said anything about their friends. I never said anything disparaging or offensive, just about “what was going on behind us.” Full disclosure, the ladies were apparently a couple and the server may have thought I was talking about that, but I certainly wasn’t. I’m all for people being with who they want. That has nothing to do with me and I don’t look at things like that. Still, no reason to treat me passively.

So, all of that, I will say, again, that I am quite disappointed in the direction and upkeep of all things Midtown Cafe & Dessertery. The decor is tired, the food has become mediocre and, in this case, the service was off-putting. A place that was once my go-to is now only tertiary in my mind when it comes to recommending or even wanting to go to. What was once a 4 star restaurant for me, I’d only rate a 2.75 out of 5 at best. I hope that Scott and Jeff can get their place back to the level that it once was. I want to like it and recommend it to others but, right now, I can’t and that is quite disappointing to me.

You can find Midtown Cafe & Dessertery at 151 S. Stratford Road, Stratford Village Shopping Center, in Winston-Salem. You can visit their website HERE.