Eat Drink Restaurant Week Is Here!

The time is here! Eat, Drink, Restaurant Week has arrived in the Triad.

Now, I know I mainly focus on WSNC restaurants but this event is everywhere in the “Triad” and Triad-Adjacent locations.

What is “Eat, Drink, Restaurant Week” you may ask?

It’s basically a competition between area restaurants. Is there a prize? There is… that prize is bragging rights. You want to say your restaurant is the best at what you do and you want it to come from customers and not just you saying you are, right?  That’s what is happening here. But, that’s not all. “Restaurant Weeks” are a perfect way for you to get your culinary feet wet with a restaurant or cuisine you have maybe been wanting to try but not ready to jump in for the price. And, maybe you want to introduce your family to your favorite place, but don’t know that it’s right for them? Whatever the reason, it’s meant to be fun while getting the establishments some recognition and love, and providing you a good meal, all at the same time.

Each restaurant will have a QR code for you to vote for them. It should be on a table tent or equivalent so you can vote while you’re there. This eliminates folks just going on and voting. The point is to drive business.

These restaurants will be competing in three different categories, so a fast-casual restaurant needn’t be outshined by a prestigious fine dining establishment. I’m going to highlight them so you know right away. The meals will be capped according to the category the establishment falls under. You can add to it for a nominal charge, I believe but the dish itself is capped at the category’s assigned price. There are no substitutes and when a restaurant sells out of that dish, there isn’t a replacement meal for it. So, it’s first come first served.

First, is the Fast-Casual category. These restaurants will be providing a meal capped at $10.

Next, is the Casual Dining category. These restaurants will be providing a meal capped at $15.

Finally, we have the Fine Dining category. These restaurants will be providing a meal capped at $25.

There you have the roster and lineup of culinary deliciousness to choose from, nosh, imbibe, enjoy, share, and vote. Take pictures! Use the hashtag “#eatdrinkrestaurantweek”. Tag @manwhoatethetown me in your pictures! Tell me what awesome delights you’re trying.

Bon appetit!



The Re-Emergence Part 10

We are working on Saturday to get everyone caught up. There has been a lot going on, so if it says “today” chances are it refers to yesterday, May 22. But, all should be current, which means not all restaurants are opening just yet beyond takeout/curbside/delivery. Plus this update has two more of the Michael Family Restaurant Group’s restaurants listed. That’s exciting. I love them. Here’s part 10.

From Mama Zoe Michael’s and Yamas’ Facebooks:

Our dining room is open and we are so excited to serve our community! We will reopen our dining room operation on Friday, May 22nd at 5:00 PM with 50% capacity. We will resume our business hours from Sunday 8:00AM-2:30PM Monday-Saturday 8:00AM-8:00PM
Please be patient with us during this transition period and as we adjust to new operating and safety procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the safety of our customers and staff we have made some changes, here is what’s new and what to expect during phase 2.
-Curbside and delivery services will resume
-Employees will continue to wear mask and gloves at all times
-Employees will continue proper hand washing and sanitizing
-Meticulously cleaning
-We will be doing daily employee health screenings before each shift
-Tables and chairs will be set 6 feet apart.
-We’ve rearranged our dining room to accommodate social distancing requirements
-Tables, chairs, menus and other common items will be disinfected after every use
-Customers will be asked to maintain 6 feet apart from each other
-Hand sanitizer will be placed throughout the restaurant for guests
-All condiments have been removed from tables
Thank you so much for your continued support! We can’t wait to serve you once again!

From Mi Pueblo Mexican Grill’s Facebook:

We are happy to announce that we will reopen indoor and outdoor dining starting May 22nd at 5 p.m.! We are taking all the necessary precautions for our employee’s and customer’s safety. We will reopen at 50% of our capacity. You can also take advantage of our spacious outdoor patio seating at most locations. We can’t wait to see you all again! Thank you for your support during this time.

From Midtown Cafe & Dessertery’s Email:
We are still trying to process the reality of the world today. As a small, family-owned business, we knew this would not be easy. We have spent the last couple of months testing new recipes, re-assessing, and looking at how to grow and improve. We are working hard to evolve to what is going on in the world today so we can continue to serve you, our community and our employees, even if it may look a little different than it has in the past.
On behalf of the entire team at Midtown Cafe, we want to say thank you for your continued patronage during this difficult time. The amount of support you have shown over the past few months has meant so much to our Midtown Family.
With that being said, we are happy to announce we will be reopening our dining room starting Saturday, May 23rd. We will be open daily from 8 AM until 8 PM. We will also continue to serve you through takeout or curbside if you wish. Additionally, we are offering our full menu.
Due to the required seating capacity we encourage customers to visit during the non-peak hours of 8 AM-10 AM and 2 PM-5 PM.
We are creating an environment where it is safe and comfortable for everyone. We have put safety procedures in place which include:
  • Providing face masks for all employees
  • Practicing social distancing and limiting the number of customers and employees in the building
  • Offering curbside service
  • Increasing cleaning and sanitation
  • Adding “safety” staff members to assist in sanitation processes
  • Sanitizing every menu, tables and chairs after each use
  • Abiding by the state’s capacity restrictions
  • Putting hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the restaurant

From Milner’s American Southern’s Facebook:

A quick hello to all of our friends and Milner’s family:

We remain open for curbside pick up Tuesday – Sunday from 4p – 8p. We want to thank all of you for supporting our family business over the last months and for helping us spread the word.

Like all of you we are excited to expand our offering and we miss seeing you here at Milner’s and we miss providing the special experience we’ve worked hard to create here. We are chomping at the bit to get after it!

Many have asked over the last several days our plans to reopen and we thank you for your excitement.

Bottom Line: We aren’t ready quite yet.

We have our eyes on Friday, June 5th as a tentative target day.

We would love to be open today but there are many steps we need to take and business decisions to consider before we move forward.

First and foremost is the safety of our families, employees and our customers. We will be spending the coming weeks continuing to make sure we have every tool in place: training sessions completed, PPE equipment for staff, and sanitizing products to create the right conditions for a safe environment.

Simultaneously we have to make sure that Milner’s remains financially viable and make adjustments for 50% capacity.

There are so many things to consider and this decision is not made lightly. We are excited about our restaurant friends who are opening today and wish for them all success. We remain vigilant and will continue to update our progress.

In the meantime: Check out our website for the current menu.

Two ways to order:

Call the restaurant 336-768-2221 after 12p to place an order and pay over the phone. Call early and avoid peak call times.

Or, download the Swipeby App to order and pay online beginning at 3:30 each day. It’s super easy and doesn’t cost anything to use.

Thanks for taking the time and for your support. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

All of our best,

Stay safe, lean in!

From Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro’s Facebook: (retyped for style)

Happy Phase 2 Friday! Since Governor Cooper’s announcement on Wednesday at 5:00 PM, every restaurant in NC has been scrambling to figure out a business plan for Phase 2. We would like to share with your how Mozelle’s will navigate this landscape over the weeks to come. We will continue to offer curbside pick-up, takeout and delivery. Additionally, Phase 2 allows anyone who would like to dine at our sidewalk tables, which are appropriately set apart in compliance with social distancing guidelines, to do so. This means you can eat your takeout 15 minutes fresher with that Stag’s Leap Chardonnay, watching the sunset over West End. We look forward to resuming table-side service outdoors on June 1 and we are actively devising a plan for indoor dining that both complies with state guidelines and ensures the Mozelle’s experience.

With all these changes, the one thing that restaurants can’t do is provide intimate dining experiences, so we will continue to offer Mozelle’s At Your Table Wine Dinners and we even have a “date night dinner up next week. It features the Latin flavors that you have come to know and love from our “pre-COVID” brunch menus!

Edit: You can find more by visiting the Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro website found HERE.

More to come, stay safe WSNC!!!

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.