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Winston-Salem, NC


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Winston-Salem is going to be my home away from home during the next few months. Well, slight exaggeration, but I expect to be there with some frequency. On the trip I just returned from, I was tempted by, but did not get to experience, signs for local barbecue joints.

Instead, I enjoyed a pretty good pizza at the Mellow Mushroom (downtown near Cherry Street, the Benton Convention Center, etc.). I weathered a mediocre lunch at WS Prime in the Marriott on Cherry.

Any suggestions, particularly those located between Greensboro (where the airport is located) and downtown W-S would be most appreciated. Unfortunately I won't have much time to go far off the beaten path.

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Wow! Winston? I went to grad school at Wake Forest. Loved Wake, Winston not so much.

1) Noble's Grille: I ate graduation dinner at Noble's with my family. Julia Child was dining there the same night. Very cool Noble's Grill in Winston Noble's Grille is actually one of three restaurants in a chef owned group , the others are in High Point and Charolette. It is actually very upscale.

2) If you can get away while the sun is still out you have to go to Reynolda Village. The Reynolds family was very competitive with the Duke family. After Duke bought Trinity College and converted it to Duke, the Reynolds looked for a school that they could sponsor. Though they had a condition, the school had to move to Winston-Salem and set up shop on their property. Reynolda Village is part of the same property that Wake Forest occupies. There is one restaurant at Reynolda that is actually pretty good: Village Tavern. It is worth it just for the environment.

3) One of the best music venues in the Southeast, if not the country is Ziggys.

4) If the minor league baseball team is still in town, go to a Thirsty Thursday. Relive my youth for me. Of course I was the designated driver most of the time.

5) There is a farmer's market off of I-40 between the airport and Winston (though its really in Greensboro). You won't find much between Greensboro and Winston...

6) BBQ--- we used to go to Little Richards

7) Wow, I can't believe the prix-fixe is $50. I never could afford it in law school so in my mind's eye it should have been $100. Oh the restaurant: Fabians.

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I lived in W-S for almost a year, when I was on a consulting gig with Wachovia. I second the recommendation for Noble's -- it was at the time the best upscale dining in the town. For lodging (not that you asked...), I'd highly recommend the Brookstown Inn. It is central in the town and has the feeling of a quaint upscale inn. Complimentary wine & cheese in the evenings and fresh-baked cookies and milk at bedtime, make this place a welcome change from the big chains.

http://www.brookstowninn.com/

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I went to undergrad at Wake, so while I may not have explored all the culinary delights that good ole W-S had to offer, I certainly know a lot about the city. And of course had some wonderful meals during parents' weekend! Winston-Salem has one of the biggest and best compilation of restaurants relative to its size.

Nobles always got rave reviews, but I never had a chance to go there. Twin City Chop House is right downtown and is excellent. Great seafood, steaks and chops. The 4th Street Filling Station (http://student.wfu.edu/dining/2/) was one of my favorites in my years at Wake. Not too expensive but some good food. Mr. Barbeque (straight up University Drive away from downtown) was my favorite place for the Q. Awesome hushpuppies. Stamey's in Greensboro is supposed to be great Eastern NC style BBQ (there are 4-5 locations) but I have never been there. And lastly, if you're ever there and looking for a brunch/breakfast place, absolutely head to Midtown Cafe and Dessertery on Stratford Rd. Cinnamon french toast, huge omelets, every kind of pancake you can imagine...but order the "Big Buckaroo." You won't regret it!

Here is a site that was created for students (after I graduated) but could be helpful in deciding on restaurants http://student.wfu.edu/dining/.

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3) One of the best music venues in the Southeast, if not the country is Ziggys.

Oh, and I strongly second this. Another surprise in such a small city, but Ziggy's gets awesome musical acts from all over the country. Usually up and comers that are just about to make it big. But also some fun hidden talents.

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I just went to Winston for the first time in February - my sister is in graduate school at Wake. I was only there for the weekend but we did some good eating. (This is my first post so I apologize if my tags don't work - I haven't figured this all out yet!)

1. Mary's...Of Course! (www.marysofcourse.com) is a cute little cafe that seems to be staffed 100% by School for the Arts students. We went for brunch and it was packed, but the stone-ground grits and thick smoky bacon more than made up for the wait.

2. Ollie's Bakery (www.olliesbakery.com) - artisanal bakery named after the owner's dog. We just picked up some scones and cookies, but they had wonderful-looking breads and desserts. The spinach-cheddar scone was delish.

3. Cookout - this is just a little fast-food drivethrough but they have literally 30+ kinds of milkshakes, and they're open late. I think it's a local chain. Good for grease and sugar late at night!

4. Ronnie's Country Store - now this was a find. It's a teeny tiny little grocery/produce store where they can their own fruit butters and preserves and cure their own country hams. Definitely worth a stop.

Hope this helps!

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3. Cookout - this is just a little fast-food drivethrough but they have literally 30+ kinds of milkshakes, and they're open late. I think it's a local chain. Good for grease and sugar late at night!

Definitely a great choice if you have to pull a late night and get a junk food craving. Many many milkshake flavors and they often have seasonal choices highlighting fruit that is in season. But it's hard to go wrong with simple things like snickers or oreo. They also have great seasoned french fries. Many locations throughout Winston.

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Greetings from Winston-Salem where I am just back from the delightful Sweet Potatoes - a restaurant in the city's developing Arts District. What a gem! I found it via the local visitors' bureau web site. As you can tell, I was really excited to find a locally-owned establishment serving tasty food that gave me a good feel for the region's cuisine.

The web site for Sweet Potatoes describes the cooking as "southern inspired, uptown, down-home." The restaurant's interior is both cozy and contemporary with plank floors, interesting ("interesting" as in worth looking at" not interesting weird) artwork* on the walls and soft lighting.

I started my meal with a cup (just $2.50) of the soup of the day, a delicious garlic potato puree. It was rich without being too heavy; as light as a soup with potatoes can be really. Two large-ish homemade croutons and a cute miniature cornbread muffin made for great dunking.

After considering "Southernly fried chicken breasts," I chose drunken pork chops with sweet potato cornbread dressing and apple brandy gravy for my main. Although the chops also came with the vegetable of the day - succotash - I was a glutton and also ordered a size of the restaurant's awesome cheese grits. The pork chops were a tad oversalted, but so tender that I got over a bit of extra salt. I enjoyed the cornbread dressing, however the grits took up more of my attention and stomach space.

I imagine desserts are good here, but I was too full. Tonight's offerings included sweet potato pie, lemon chess pie and two others I can't recall at the moment. Next time!

Oh, almost forgot: I had one glass of local wine, a Hanover Park Viognier ($7.75). It was neither great, nor terrible, much like the NY State wines I sampled years ago at Cornell.

Total bill including a 20%+ tip: $33

* The one interesting-odd piece of artwork is a portrait of American Idol's Fantasia Barrino who hails from the area.

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I don't have anything specific to Leblon as I've rarely eaten in Winston, but the whole Churrascaria concept is a bit interesting and I guess it becoming popular (or did it become popular a while ago and I just missed it?). Basically all-you-care-to-eat meat along with typically a good salad bar. Unfortunately the meat at most of them is cooked more in the medium to medium-well range though on some of the cuts it can be possible to get a more rare bit as the cooking can be uneven across the piece of meat. I've eaten at one in Raleigh and heard reviews from friends of two others in the Raleigh/Durham area and overall it wasn't bad but not particularly impressive, which seemed about par for the course for the other places as well.

If you go to Leblon (which you probably should as it's an interesting idea I guess) don't go with high hopes... but you may be surprised and it be really good for all I know.

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I dined at Bistro 420 last night. The people there were very pleasant and friendly, however the food was nothing special, sadly. Not bad, just not something I'm planning to sample again anytime soon.

Lunch at Sweet Potatoes was fun. They change a lot of the menu (versus dinner) which keeps things interesting. I had the voodoo pork sandwich (subtle, but still tasty and interesting) with a side of sweet potato fries. The fries were truly delicious with the exception of a few that were too salty. Salt might be a trend at this spot.

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I continue to seek locally-owned and operated spots for chow in Winston-Salem. Some hits, some misses.

I had another lunch at Sweet Potatoes--they now recognize me as I walk by or come in for a meal, which I enjoy. SP has a sweet friendly staff of varying ages, experiences and races and for me, it's fun to not be a stranger in my short-term home away from home. On this visit, a business lunch, I had a delicious tomato basil parmesan soup to start, and followed up with a ham and cheddar sandwich on a sweet potato roll. The sandwich was a little messy because of the consistency of the roll, but it tasted great, even with a fork and knife (I resorted to eating it open face). My colleague had a salmon caesar salad that she seemed to enjoy quite a bit. Total bill? $22.

Another business lunch took place at The Old Fourth Street Filling Station. Eh, not great and also not terrible. My burger was served well-done and it could be that I just didn't speak up loudly enough about a desire to have it medium-rare. My two companions had a burger and crab cake respectively which they devoured. I think the tab was $28 for three of us.

Now that I'm aware of a cool local coffee spot, I have started refraining from scheduling other meetings at the Starbucks on Cherry & Fifth. I really like Chelsee's which happens to be right next door to Sweet Potatoes in the Downtown Arts District. They offer 3+ homemade-looking cakes daily and the work of local artists is featured on the walls. There are tables lining both sides of the shop and to the rear, there's a small lounge-y area with couches and national news airing on a flat screen. I'm not sure yet if they have wi-fi (free or otherwise) because I try to leave my laptop at the hotel for most meetings.

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It's NC law that unless you ground the meat that day you cannot cook a burger under medium well (maybe it's medium, had people tell me both). So that may have been the reason as well... Not sure if Fourth Street Filling Station is the kind of place that would grind all their hamburger fresh every day or not.

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The find of this week's trip: Simplyummy. I hate the cutesy name and all of the silliness on the web site, but I had a great latte and a delicious homemade muffin when I had an hour to kill before a meeting at the beautiful Graylyn. There were lots of tasty treats - all homemade - but I settled on an oatmeal butterscotch cookie to take back to my hotel for later. Cute space in Reynolda Village. Nice atmosphere. Lots of tables, as well as a bar-like area. Free wireless. If I can ever find a free moment, I will return.

I also had lunch at the Old Salem Tavern which is in the middle of charming Old Salem, a Moravian settlement. Servers are in "traditional dress." Don't laugh when you see a young man or two in breeches. :)

My colleague seemed to enjoy her plate of quiche and salad. My traditional chicken pie was good, and traditional I believe, but nothing to knock my socks off. It was accompanied by bland steamed carrots, yellow squash and zucchini.

For dessert, we both ordered an old fashioned apple cake served with caramel sauce and candied pecans. Now, there were nuts throughout the cake, and I really don't like nuts, but I cleaned my plate. The flavors of this dark cake were so simple and appealing. I loved the clearly homemade caramel sauce too. Really enjoyable.

I figure I'm slowly working my way through this NY Times article about Winston-Salem. :lol:

This trip included a return trip to Sweet Potatoes (yum, meatloaf covered in onion straws like those served at Matchbox!) and Chelsee's Coffee where I indulged in a huge slice of sugary sweet Pink Lemonade cake. I wasn't crazy about the options offered that night which included hummingbird cake and strawberry cake. It was exceptionally sweet - I liked it but could only eat about half of it.

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I haven't been posting about Winston-Salem lately, not because I haven't been there, but because my meals have been god-awful. There has been a mountainous portion of flank steak, undone by a hit-you-over-the head marinade, at Village Tavern to flan served with multiple dollops of canned whipped cream (!!) at South by Southwest, it has become a bit depressing.

Finally I was introduced to the wonderfully quirky Mary's Of Course. What a breath of fresh air from it's hilarious collection of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker album covers posted along the rear wall to the chalkboard menu of daily specials including a grilled cheese of the day and a polenta of the day. I can't wait to get back for breakfast.

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Hello from Carolina where speculation that Dale Earnhardt Junior is about to leave DEI is not just news, but the 11 pm news' top story. :blink: The other big news in Winston-Salem is that production of the film "Leatherheads" starring George Clooney, Renee Zellweger and other notables is headquartered right here at my hotel. Interesting.

Yesterday I had a very enjoyable lunch at Noble's Grille on Knollwood near the business route 40 exit of the same name. I started with tomato soup with a dollop of goat cheese and basil chiffonade. The portion looked enormous due to the wide, shallow shape of the bowl; I ate every tasty bite. My client's mother enjoyed the soup of the day, chicken with rice, although she added copious amounts of salt and pepper (she also puts about 10 sugars in her coffee so I really do think she liked the soup). I also had a tasty vegetable risotto which was served in a very appropriately sized luncheon portion. Hit the spot.

Tonight we dined at Cities (no web site as far as I can tell) on Stratford Road down south by Silas Creek Parkway. It was <shrug>. They try hard to create an atmosphere of sophistication. Enormous photos are projected onto a wall behind the restaurants main fountain (and there are several). The food was fine, but indistinguished. I had a small cup of soup along with "chicken florentine," nicely flavored chunks of grilled chicken breast served with [overcooked] penne in a lightly creamy sauce with pine nuts and spinach. I nearly cleaned my plate as I was very hungry and although it wasn't great, it was inoffensive.

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I was in Winston M-W of this week. Sadly, Sweet Potatoes isn't open for dinner Monday or Tuesday nights (during the summer, I believe). ;) As a result, my two coworkers and I wandered down the street to Finnigan's Wake. Had I not heard good things about the place from local friends, I doubt I ever would have set foot in the place, suspecting it'd be your garden variety pub. I'm glad I listened because we had a pretty nice, unfussy meal. Pub grub, yes, but well done.

It's a rather large space with wood floors and wood tables. The draft beer list is pretty big as well; you can find a properly poured Guinness not just on the beer list, but also as an appetizer (cheekily noting "V" for vegetarian). We started by sharing a plate of cheese toasties. They arrived looking different than expected - kind of an open faced grilled cheese slathered with whole grain mustard - but we liked them. My bangers and mash came with a cup of soup or salad; I chose the tomato which I liked, but didn't love, as a matter of personal taste. I tend to prefer a smoother tomato soup. The bangers and mash, on the other hand, were stellar. The mashed potatoes were flavorful, chunky and plentiful. I barely got through half of the huge portion. My colleagues enjoyed the crab cakes and rueben respectively, and everything disappeared.

Desserts were a treat. Instead of bringing out a menu, a board of oversized shot glasses containing dessert options are presented (a la Seasons 52). Yesterday's options included strawberry and blueberry pie, key lime pie, guinness mousse, butterscotch cheesecake and creme brulee. I rarely order cheesecake however the idea of butterscotch appealed. Delicious right down to the graham cracker crust at the bottom.

Given Finnigan's proximity to the hotel hosting our event in September, a return trip is a no-brainer.

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I was in Winston M-W of this week. Sadly, Sweet Potatoes isn't open for dinner Monday or Tuesday nights (during the

I went to dinner at Sweet Potatoes a few days before you posted this. I was happy to be there and found the meal to be comforting and akin to a hit-n-miss night at Colorado Kitchen. Good food to eat when wearing draw string pants. Otherwise, there isn't much to eat in W-S...there are some Smoothie King franchises , though. And drive through Starbucks (specially designed for sloths who need caffeine).

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Otherwise, there isn't much to eat in W-S...
Mmm, that's not quite true. The downtown area isn't terribly bustling, but in traveling there these last 18 months or so, I have seen growth. Remember that a lot of the "Winston-Salem" citizens live outside of downtown, and you'll find restaurants mixed in. There are some pretty good restaurants in town if you know where to look. I'll be there Tuesday through Friday of next week and hope to try Meridien and Bleu, both of which are pretty new.
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Guess where I am. Right. Winston-Salem again.

Last night I ate at the relatively new Bleu which is located near Hanes Mall. It's slightly hidden behind the Village Tavern. Liked it a lot.

I dined with a business contact turned friend and given that we're celebrating her pregnancy, I let her pick most of our food. The lady has cravings, I tell you.

She picked the brie appetizer. The brie itself was fine, but the toasted pita and various accompaniments (cranberry compote, apple compote and roasted garlic) were pretty stellar.

I liked my pasta (rigatoni with white beans and sausage), but my friend's carbonara was awesome. Fortunately she shared. We had sorbet for dessert--lemon for her, raspberry for me, both great on such a hot day.

Bleu has a large menu, definitely worth further exploration.

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I dined not once, but twice, at Sweet Potatoes yesterday. A business contact suggested it for lunch when I already had plans for dinner there, but she was doing it to accomodate me so I kept my mouth shut.

I love the place, but I do think the menu is better at night. At lunch, I had the voodoo pork sandwich which desperately needed more aioli. At dinner, I had luscious roast chicken with a bit of gravy and the restaurant's terrific grits. Dessert was banana pudding with a bit of my contact's surprisingly tasty pecan sweet potato pie.

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You know, all your talk of where to go in Winston is going to get me to go out there sometime or another. Winston is almost as close to Charlotte (both just a bit over an hour away) from where I live now and sadly Charlotte has no equivalent of DR.com and is under-represented on eGullet (compared to Raleigh, where I travel to for work often) so finding places to go on the occassions we feel like going to the city for dinner can be a bit tough. Though Charlotte does have the fact that I fly into it every other week so we're already in town going for it.

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I'm back in Winston so I might as well keep this travelogue (dining-logue?) going.

There is SO much development going on in downtown Winston-Salem which, as anyone who has spent much time here will tell you, is very welcome. It's looking much less ghost town-like. While some of this development ain't worth shoutin' about (see Bruegger's, Quizno's, etc.), I'm very eager to check out the new "Wolfie's Frozen Custard" and an unfortunately named new cafe, Brew Nerds.

Tonight's adventure was not terrible, but not great either. Mediocre is the right word. The space where Cafe 420 (or whatever it was called) became Hutch & Harris, a pub of sorts, back in January.

Now, I did look at the menu before sitting down at a two-top in the bar area. I was not too optimistic about the large and varied menu which is described on the web site thusly:

Each menu item has a special place that denotes an original recipe from a specific point of origin, either created by trained chefs or perhaps where the first classic preparation was created. Enjoy freshly prepared recipes like our award winning crab cakes, fresh seafood items, unique pasta dishes, plus vegetarian selections from recipes all over the world.

We’re talking Chesapeake crab cakes, a German-inspired stuffed flank steak roll, an eggplant dish from Turkey, four or so pasta dishes, a fried seafood dish called “South of the Border” Etc., etc. HH relies way too much on themes, promotions and catch phrases. Today was half price wine. There’s taco Tuesday and tuna Wednesday and even more promotions on the web site. If the place focused a bit more and threw out the horrible vinyl table cloths I spotted in the dining room proper, it might be ok. Service was friendly and efficient.

Still, I was so hungry and I was not in the mood for any of the block’s other options (Foothills Brewery, a chain pizzeria, two very casual cafes, a pool hall and a tapas place that has always looked suspect to me) so HH is where I ate. Bummer. The menu was quite a minefield so I started slowly, getting the white bean chili to start, intending to order more. The ingredients were somewhat different than on the menu (scallions were included, not cilantro; it wasn’t spicy with chiles as described), but what really got my attention was the chicken, so pink that I confused it for ham at first.

I had planned to order more food (and I am hungry now. Room service!), but instead called it a day. My bill pre-tip with a glass of ice cold fume blanc from Sonoma, which was whatever, came to just under $13. So it was an inexpensive mistake. If I have to go back, I’ll probably stick to things like burgers.

In other news...both Cotton Mill and South by Southwest have closed. I was not impressed with my one and only visit to SXSW and planned to avoid returning. Cotton Mill didn't grab me like its sister establishment, Sweet Potatoes, after one lunch there, but I figured the place would hit its stride at some point. No such luck.

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If Mozelle's were located in DC, I would go there all too often. My first dinner there was so good that I went back for lunch a day later.

Unlike a lot of Winston-Salem establishments that try to be all things to all people (American-Southern-Asian fusion-howboutataco?), Mozelle's sticks to what it does well: Southern inspired cooking.

My dinner (w/ two colleagues) started off with a happy surprise: it was Monday which meant it was half-price wine night. Our lovely wine (2007 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc) would be just $15.

[The menu has been updated since my visit ~3 weeks ago, a good sign, so I'm working from memory.]

We shared two appetizers. Artichoke dip was the hit - seriously the best iteration of this calorie-fest that I have ever had. What turned out to be a mish-mash of spreads instead of a sampler was the miss. Not sure why they blended tapenade with sun dried tomato puree with...something else I'm forgetting. We scraped off most of the spreads and used the bread with the remnants of the artichoke dip.

From that point forward, straight success. Loved my peppery buttermilk fried chicken (it was the breast - boneless but skin on). I can't resist buttery cheese grits so I had a side of those and we shared a side of the evening's special vegetable, haricot verts.

My lunch two days later didn't disappoint. The menu for lunch is streamlined, as you'd expect. I went with tomato bisque and a grilled pimento cheese sandwich with bacon. It was all pretty perfect. The topper? All three of us had Mozelle's incredible homemade banana pudding.

Can't wait to get back.

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The Research Triangle thread disappeared, so I am posting my find here.  Littler is a very nice modern American place that recently opened in Durham that's well worth your time and dining bucks.  Well executed and really tasty food, nice quiet dining room, and pretty good service especially for a place that's been open for only 4 months.  Our experience here is on par with some of our finest meals anywhere.

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