Tasting the Fresh, New Willow’s

by Timothy G. Beeman II

This weekend I wrote of news that Chef Travis Myers had made the move to Willow’s Bistro. I also wrote a promise that I would discuss the tasting that Stephanie and I were privy to thanks to Chef Myers. I’m here to fulfill this promise. This was no ordinary course menu tasting, but we’ll talk in courses, anyway.

We had two requests: no onions (me) and no beans (Stephanie).

Course 1: Panko crusted fried scallops with Herb Milk Gravy and Pancetta.

12250093_10153635819235490_4054663421084498305_nWhat came first was this fantastic seafood masterpiece. Willow’s always has a scallops special and this was not exactly the special of the day. The special was beer battered but this was what Chef Myers wanted it to be, instead. He wanted it as panko crusted and I think that while it would have been spectacular either way, I appreciated the panko fried version because that was the vision the chef wanted. The scallops were perfectly cooked, tender yet firm, not slimy at all. The flavors in the panko mixed with the herb milk gravy and the salty pancetta were bursting. Exploding even. This was a great start.

Course 2: Salad of artichokes, olives, sun dried tomatoes, aged balsamic and olive oil with traditional bruschetta rubbed with Garlic and olive oil.11223801_10153635840630490_3557084744670625411_n

Stephanie has never been a fan of olives but she took several bites of the kalamata olives that were scattered through. This was partly the preparation and partly because she doesn’t like the traditional green olives enough that she was surprised that there is a meatier taste to the kalamata than the green. I love all olives so that was a no-brainer for me. The sun-dried tomatoes were sweet and candy-like, as they should be. Chef Myers did come out to ask if shallots were okay instead of onions. I gave the go ahead. They were soft and had lost their oniony threat. The aged balsamic and olive oil drizzled about the salad brought all the veggies’ flavors out of hiding and this was a delicious salad. The bruschetta that you find in most restaurants around here throw a tomato salad on top of their charred bread, but according to Chef Myers, traditional bruschetta really only consists of charred bread that is brushed with olive oil and rubbed with garlic. I had a couple of those and I am not a hard bread fan.

Course 3: Seared tuna with an orange soy shiitake mushroom sauce.

12295291_10153635873460490_8751473894985248251_nOne of my favorites of the day, which is saying something because the whole tasting was amazing. The tuna was seared and rare on the inside. The most perfect way to eat tuna, in this author’s opinion, is seared. The sauce was a perfect blend of orange and soy. I will never say that mushrooms are my favorite food; not a fan of them other than on pizza, usually. Shiitakes tend to be a little more delicate, in my opinion, than the regular fungus and these were both delicate and delicious. I ate several of them and I cannot decide if it was that I liked the mushrooms so much or I was trying to get all that orange soy sauce that I could. Not only were the mushrooms better with that sauce, the seared tuna was juicier and more flavorful with it. You could still taste the tuna, to be sure, but the sauce brought that forward and accentuated the flavor.

Course 4: Pear chicken salad with house smoked peanuts, Goat Lady Dairy feta and shallot vinaigrette.12310572_10153635876655490_1494372863990475476_n

Salads are usually not my first choice when there are other choices on the menu. This salad however, would be one that I actually order from the menu, eat and probably order another. The seasoned chicken breast, peppery and bright, was an adept companion to the pear. Pears have a toned down, yet distinctive flavor that allows the chicken to breathe and come to the forefront of the flavor bar. The in-house smoked peanuts created the understated, yet very appropriate, crunch that salads sometimes beg for. The Goat Lady Dairy feta which, while definitely having the feta flavor, was more along the creamy-textured lines of chevre. Add all of this and the shallot vinaigrette and you have a smokey, tangy and salty treat that compliments the light meat and fruit flavors. The field greens were the right choice as bedding for this fantastic dish.

Course 5: Roasted shallot crab cake with orange caper crème fraîche.

12311145_10153635889480490_7501431373814945953_nYou’ll hear this a lot from me in this article but “I don’t usually” eat crab cakes. I think they are usually too gamey and heavy when, to me, crab meat should be lighter in flavor and texture. I think it could be that there is too much breading and not enough crab or just no balance. This, though, was balanced and tasty with the shallot keeping the crab meat honest. Flaky while keeping its cohesiveness. It was also a great size: not too large and not too small, just right. The orange caper crème fraîche was a creamy embellishment to the seafood profile. Orange, to me, is a natural partner with seafood selections. It was light and fluffy with salty undertone from the capers. Then, topping it with the arugula salad brings the peppery green addition to enhance the orange caper flavors and adds an additional, soft-punch crunch to the crusted crab cake. While I don’t usually eat crab cakes, this was a fantastic course.

Course 6: Deep fried alligator with honey chipotle red cabbage slaw and honey drizzle.

My favorite dish of the day, this. I believe it to be the most unique, as well. Only once had I ever had alligator and 12294721_10153635896350490_2675521069815636165_nthat was close to twenty years ago, in Florida. Stephanie had never had it. The texture of the alligator was something different. It was like a mix of chicken and fish. It was stiff meat (a la the chicken consistency) that still flaked like a piece of cod or flounder. And based on that description you would expect the flavor to be similar. You would be correct. There is no true line in the flavor, either. There is a fish flavor and a chicken flavor. But, there is much of each. You add the crunchy deep fried shell and the honey drizzle and that sweet bee nectar makes this deep fried treasure truly pop while melting in your mouth. But, wait, there is more. The honey chipotle red cabbage slaw was delicate but made a statement on the meat. Instead of canceling each other, the sweet and heat create a flavor profile that was unique and possibly understated. Without it the overall dish, while still flavorful, would have been missing a major element. An element that brought a different, softer crunch that compliments the breading of the alligator. Chef Myers told us that he wants to change the slaw to something different but this, to us, was a perfect pairing.

Course 7: Whipped pimento cheese, pepper maple bacon, fried green tomatoes and arugula salad on charred bread.

12279016_10153635922485490_2396381730461545395_nBy this time we were getting quite full. But we were still interested in all the flavors that Chef Myers was throwing at us. Southern and somewhat tame, this, the food finale of the extravaganza, was still no slouch. Mistake not that for weakness; this was a great and needed finish. First, there’s the whipped pimento cheese. Light, fluffy, cheesy, creamy. Thick-cut pepper maple bacon. Crunchy, peppery arugula salad. Fried green tomato discs. A slab of charred bread. To quote Chef Myers: “everything is better on charred bread.” I do not eat fried green tomatoes but I had one and some of another. Stephanie, who loves them, thought these were just right. The sweetness of the tomatoes jumped in and meshed wonderfully with the spicy, sweet and savory bacon to make the whipped pimento cheese shine. After cutting off a few pieces of the bread, I found myself using the bacon to scoop the cheese like a spoon and sprinkle the arugula on top to create a flavor meld that didn’t need the bread. I would have eaten the whole thing, by myself, had we not been fed so well.

Bonus: Red wine sangria with lemons, limes, oranges, blueberries, blackberries and cherries.

Really, I’m just going to say that the sangria was some of the most flavor-rich that I have ever had and I love a few12241462_10153635886335490_8398791406601996672_n other establishments’ red sangria. It is all in the intensity of the wine and the medley of fruits. I just wanted to include the picture to demonstrate yet another reason to visit Willow’s.

I mentioned in the preceding article that the word that Chef Myers stated more than any other in the conversation we had was “passion.” He demonstrated this passion in every dish – possibly every bite we took. He accompanied every single dish we were given and explained the dish, the flavors he was looking for, the reason he chose it and the passion he had for it. Each dish was a tour of flavors and Chef Myers is an experienced and passionate tour guide. Even after the food was on the table he made sure it was plated correctly (and picture worthy) after transport and before we ate any of it.

The bottom line is that Chef Will Kingery and Norb Cooper have unearthed a beast in Chef Travis Myers. Their risk-taking faith in Chef Myers is going to prove to themselves and the culinary community that he is a true diamond in the rough. The customers of Willow’s, those faithful many, will continue to come, they will begin spreading the word that The New Kid is making waves, new culinary seekers will come. You should be one of those. Salute Chef Myers and thank you for hosting us.


Chef Travis Myers: Willow’s Fresh Breath

By Timothy G. Beeman II

Big news came through the local culinary wires a few weeks back. That news created a wave of conjecture and wonder in the Triad restaurant world. The news was that Chef Travis Myers had left River Birch Lodge, where he was a staple for ten years, a reason for the success of that particular restaurant and a reason that people came back. But, the speculation did not stop there. Why did Chef Myers leave? Is he starting something new? Is he leaving the area? Gossip and rumor would be an exaggeration but to say that curiosity was abound, that would be accurate.


©Competition Dining

I had gotten a chance to talk to Chef Myers, in confidence, just a few days after the news broke. He informed me as to what his plans were and I was instructed to keep that on the down-low and that is never a problem with me. I like to report when there’s something to report. That time was not the right time. Now, however, is that time.

I have always been a huge fan of Willow’s Bistro in Winston-Salem. Let me rephrase that. I have always been a fan of Chef Will Kingery, owner of Willow’s Bistro, King’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar and Silo Bistro & Bar. Willow’s, it should be noted, is Will’s “baby.” It is the upper-scale casual that people in this town needed and it continues to need and want. When Chef Myers told me that he was going to Willow’s, I was a bit concerned. The concern was three-fold: was Will getting rid of Willow’s and if not, how was Chef Myers going to be utilized and would it work? In the end, I figured it certainly would.

Stephanie and I had an opportunity to sit down with Chef Myers this past week and we discussed the move, his role, his life. One of the first things that he said to us was that the atmosphere was welcoming and within a few days he felt like he had been there for years. Will had basically given him the freedom to conduct business as he saw fit, be more than a chef, be an operator. He talked about plans for food, of course, but he also talked of plans to the ambience and décor of the restaurant. Not, mind you, changing Will’s vision but enhancing it. He understands Will’s love and devotion to this restaurant and shares that vision. But, Will, besides being a great chef, is a business man who has three restaurants to manage and willows-logo_optwho knows if more is not out of the question. He needs the room to operate these ventures and Chef Myers is giving him room to do so. With Chef Myers in there, Will doesn’t have to worry about his “baby” being lost.

Possibly, too, Willow’s was starting to get complacent with itself. Chef Myers will be that shot in the arm to make sure that Willow’s not only maintains that upper-echelon of service and quality that has made the restaurant great in the past, but also helping it reach new heights. Chef Myers certainly is not in this just for the paycheck. Granted, that helps. However, one word that he mentioned at least eight times in the conversation was “passion.” He is passionate about his food, about his role, about this restaurant. He also demands passion from his kitchen staff. Cooks are one thing, but Chef Myers doesn’t want a cook, he wants chefs. He wants people that are passionate about their food. That translates to works of art that not only satisfy customers but satiate them. The fruit of his chefs’ labor makes the customers come back, rave and spread the word. Cooks aren’t going to do that. Chefs are going to do that.

Chef Myers also gave praise to the other managers of the restaurant. The bar and Front-of-House is overseen by him, but he works with the managers to make sure that all is running smoothly. There were a few housekeeping items that he had to take care of when he first showed up, but they were mostly minor and it only added to the mood and quality, as a whole. Minor things like door stops, paper towel types and dispensers, items seen by the customers in the kitchen. Nothing, at least on the surface, anyone is going to really notice a change of, but will just feel that the restaurant is better. The menu boards, the liquor selection, the vendors and suppliers. Seeming small touches that will create a world of difference that you will probably never notice happened, just notice that things are better. He says that he and the other managers, including the GM all work together, bounce ideas off each other to make the restaurant the place to be; a destination.

I asked him what took him away from River Birch Lodge and he said he was planning on leaving anyway to try to start another business and was approached by Will and his partner, Norb Cooper, about coming in and seeing if they could make a partnership work that would improve the restaurant, make them some money and give Chef Myers a project he can take, put his mark on and make an impact in the community with, not unlike how he did at RBL. Also, upon Chef Myers’ arrival, not only did the quality of the food return to what made the restaurant great, but its social media presence has been elevated to “through the roof” levels. Chef Myers’ Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds have been decorated with some of the most amazing photos of his culinary creations. That may seem minor, but even though you cannot taste pictures, people taste with their eyes. The right food styling can do wonders.

When asked about his goals he says, “I want to make smart decisions in the kitchen and buy the right product. Some things I’m going to buy are going to be more expensive, like artichokes that are marinated and seasoned instead of the canned stuff that we’re using now. I’m going to have to pay more to get local cheese; we’re going to get Humboldt Fog in and Goat Lady Dairy.” The old adage is “you get what you pay for.” It is that way whether you’re in the restaurant business, the travel business, anything. You cannot skimp on quality. He goes on, “We’re going to start butchering in-house. We do some now, but we’re going to do it all. We’re going to grind our own meats, too.” When asked about the alcohol choices, he said there was going to be a slight overhauling of the selection. “We’re going to do wine dinners and liquor pairings. We’re going to do more public events outside. We need to expand our liquors. I can do this but it has to be in stages.” Local ingredients have always been an essential element of Willow’s theme and Chef Myers is vehement about perpetuating and improving on this premise.

It is quite apparent that Chef Myers is indeed “passionate” about his job, his food, his reputation and the reputation of Will, Norb and Willow’s Bistro. He is not supposed to be there until noon just a few days a week but he usually comes in at 8am, even on his days off. He wants it to work. He loves what he does. He is passionate about Willow’s. That is great news for the customers and lovers of food. That is great news for Winston-Salem. That is great news for the South of Business 40 (#SOB40) area.

You may notice that I didn’t talk much about the food itself. I talked about Chef Travis Myers and what he means to Willow’s and what he will bring to the restaurant. There’s a reason for that. Keep an eye on The Man Who Ate the Town: A Food Blog, as there will be a review of the tasting that went along with the conversation, accompanied by pictures. This will be very soon.



Beautiful BBQ, Bourbon and Bluegrass

by Timothy G. Beeman II

Friday night, October 23, 2015, Old Salem’s Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (known as MESDA) celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary, the completion of a six-year renovation, and the opening of two new self-guided galleries. To commemorate this, they put on a party that included BBQ, bourbon and bluegrass. The event, held in the Horton Meadow, just below, and even under the bridge and walkway of the wooden bridge that crosses Old Salem Road from the Visitor Center to the museum entrance, boasted a showcase of fourteen master distillers from sixteen distilleries, as well as two of the areas’ popular breweries. While all of the distilleries brought some good products, some really stood above the rest of the field.


(photo © Susan Jones)

Both versions of the Limoncello (regular and jalapeno-infused) from Seventy-Eight ºC Spirits (Raleigh) were not only good, but the spicier-flavored of the two was a true standout; not hot but flavorful. From Asheville Distilling Company (Asheville), the Blonde Whiskey is one of my favorites, overall. It was smooth and full-flavored. Trey Herring’s Carolina Bourbon (Charleston, SC) had a more robust and earthy, yet still pleasant flavor and aroma. You certainly can’t forget local up-and-comers, Sutler’s Spirits from Winston-Salem. Distiller Tim Nolan was on hand to promote the brand.

The highlight of the tasting table, however, was the Krupnikas, a Lithuanian style honey liqueur from The Brothers Vilgalys Spirits (Durham). The sweet of the honey ends with a spiced flourish. Beyond the tasting table was a special Reserve from an NC distillery that I’ll not mention by name because the booze was in a hidden stash under the table. I was lucky enough to try it and it was possibly some of the most smooth tasting whiskey I’ve ever tried. The rep told me to wait until the tasting cup was empty and smell it. The aroma of tobacco swelled as the cup dried. Minutes later that aroma was even stronger. When this special reserve gets released, I’ll certainly purchase some of that.

Area celebrity bartender, Lele Nguyen, was the “guru-in-the-know” for the evening, dispensing the goodies at the tasting table and she was very detailed with the descriptions of all the various liquors, no matter the style. The true superstar of the “bourbon” part of the event was the resident mixologist and co-owner of The Tavern in Old Salem, North Carolina’s oldest tavern, Jordan Keiper. Keiper designed a bar program for this event that highlights the new generation of Southern craft distillers, creating a variety of signature cocktails featuring the four spirits that made the early South “wet:” bourbon, rum, gin, and moonshine, especially moonshine. There’s a push to show North Carolina’s distillers are more than just moonshine; so much more.

This event was also more than booze. There was Eastern style North Carolina barbecue and fried chicken from the Barbecue Lodge in Raleigh. Eastern style is my preference in the “Carolina barbecue” realm. I don’t mind Lexington style, but I prefer the strong vinegar taste over the ketchup heavy, if I have my choice. A white barbecue slaw that tastes like the “red” stuff we have here and hush puppies. The fried chicken was absolutely delicious. Just the right amount of seasoning and the inside was juicy and perfect. In fact, I had two breasts. I liked it that much. And let’s not forget to mention the banana pudding. That, too, was delicious.

In addition to the liquors and delicious food, both Gibbs Hundred Brewing Company and Hoots Beer Company had two brews each available. Gibbs Hundred had The Guilty Party ESB and Blind Man’s Holiday GPA (Greensboro Pale Ale). They were both quite tasty with the ESB (one of my favorite styles of beer) being my favorite of those two. Hoots had their Oktoberfest and a wheat on tap. Stephanie had the wheat and I, the Oktoberfest. Hoots is always solid and this was no exception. These beers made fine companions to the rest of the festivities. I feel the same is to be said of the breweries. The theme of the event, a celebration of southern arts, was represented well by the brewing artists at these two breweries.

If there was anything that I can say that was less than optimal was that the bluegrass band, Carolina Tradition Bluegrass Band was set up right beside the tasting station. They were a fine band, indeed, but the music was loud under that bridge and it was hard to hear what Lele was saying about the various libations. Again, it wasn’t the band, it was the positioning. However, if that was the worst part, that just goes to show how good this event was.

To Jordan Keiper, to MESDA, to Old Salem, many kudos for putting on such a spectacular event. Keiper himself said that he’s hoping that this will put Winston-Salem, North Carolina on the map. Not only the Southern map, no. The American distillers map. Not necessarily for the distilleries themselves, although those certainly don’t hurt, but for the city as a distillers’ event location. I can’t wait for the “second annual” version of the event. It has the potential to get support and attendance numbers of a wine festival and this town knows wine festivals. This was a bold undertaking on everyone’s part, but the event was a rousing success and was a complete sell out. Great news for the city, the museum, the distillers and the attendees. An honor to attend, indeed.

Twin City Hive to get New Address and New Business Model

by Timothy G Beeman II

Joey Burdette and Terry Miller, co-owners of Twin City Hive have announced that they are moving the popular coffee house to a new location. But, won’t this create a chink in the canonical armor of TCH? Absolutely not! This will make everything better.

First of all, the location, while moving, is only moving about twenty steps away. They’re moving to the back of the breezeway in the location that they’re currently occupying. So, in essence, they’re not changing locations, at all. What will change, however, is the overall scope of how the business will be operating. 11aTCH

Joey and Terry walked us through the new, larger space and gave a tour of ideas and vision. The old location, once the location of McCormick & Smith attorneys, has several separated spaces including conference rooms/meeting spaces and a kitchenette. The proposed layout will retain the front conference room that can be reserved/rented for business meetings, gatherings, etc. The next conference area will have the frosted glass and framing fixtures removed and seating and tables will provide a comfy lounge area around a proposed fireplace. The largest room, however, is in the front (or back?) and will contain more seating and tables.

Beyond this there will be a new entrance/exit that leads to South Marshall Street where there will be additional parking striped off along the street. Between the street and the building will be a patio that will provide more seating and accommodation. Currently, there is a solid door that is more of a necessary escape hatch that leads to the pine needles that serve as landscaping for the outside of the building. The ugly green awning has been removed as well.

This is, after all, a coffee shop. So, there will be, of course, coffee. New (to them) fixtures and such will be put in the barista and service area and a pass-through door to the kitchen where the plan, according to Terry, could be to eventually serve quiches, salads and the like. That’s not solid yet and there was also discussions of possible contracting of prepared goods to sell from local establishments. There was also a mention of a license to sell beer and wine.

One of the many unique qualities about Twin City Hive is the fact that they don’t use the same ordinary roasters that so many of the other coffee shops around town use; not that there’s anything wrong with those. Twin City Hive, however, use seven different roasters from across North Carolina. That in itself is remarkable. But wait! There’s more.  TCH is partnering with Sarah Chapman of Vida Pour Tea in Greensboro on a gourmet line of teas that will be branded by TCH. Sarah will sell the teas by the glass in her shop, but the only “bulk”/retail sales of the teas will be at TCH. Drinkers will be able to buy it by the glass/cup at the Hive, as well. The blends will be themed around Winston-Salem and its history. The flagship tea will be called “Tobacco Heritage” and when we sampled it you could really taste the notes of tobacco although I don’t believe any was actually used. There will be several other blends as well, including a local take on the traditional English Breakfast tea and a minty tea. Nothing run-of-the-mill for these teas.

Terry said that one of the challenges that they face, even in the current space is that you have warring factions of sort. You have those who may be meeting friends that want to catch up and have a good time, chatting it up. On the other side you have the students, the studies, the workers that need a little less of the loud and more of the quiet ambiance. This location can promote and accommodate both of those demographics. Plus, add the patio for the warmer, dryer months, you’ve got a great place to be productive and have great coffee or tea.

A major distinction that has been bestowed on Twin City Hive is the fact that they have been chosen to participate in the Yelp! event called Coast-To-Coast: Coming Together Because We Mean Business. Only one hundred businesses across North America were selected to attend and TCH is one of those hundred. According to Yelp!’s official release: “November 4–5, Yelp is bringing together the people behind 100 top-rated businesses across North America for a historic event taking place at Yelp’s San Francisco headquarters.” This is quite the accomplishment and accolade; a recognition by their peers.

One last thing is that the partners have recently sold their Segway business to a local competitor. Revolution Gliding Tours was a main component in the initial idea of Twin City Hive. The coffee business has pretty much taken precedence and this move and revised vision is proof of that. TCH will still be a stop on the tour and possibly a facilitator of the tours themselves.

The target date of the whole change over is the first week of November. Joey will be in San Francisco right before that so it will be a challenge to make that deadline but these guys can do it. The changes all sound very exciting and needed. Everything old is new again certainly fitting here. What you knew about Twin City Hive is going to be reborn with all new attitudes, all new digs and an all new name. It will be called the Twin City Hive Coffee Lounge. It will be a lounge, for sure. It will be great for those who are fans of what Twin City Hive is now and great for those looking for a coffee lounge that they didn’t know existed. This is your place. This is our place. This is Twin City Hive Coffee Lounge.

You can find more about all the happenings at Twin City Hive by visiting their website. Twin City Hive is located at 301 Brookstown Avenue, Winston-Salem.

Famed Chef Paul Prudhomme has Died

by Timothy G Beeman II

I’ve never been to New Orleans. I know as a “foodie” (if that’s what we really are) that’s almost sacrilege but it’s true. I’d love to go someday and for no other reason but for the food. One place that I’d really like to go to would be K-Paul’s

Chef Paul (photo ©ChefPaul.com)

Chef Paul (photo ©ChefPaul.com)

Louisiana Kitchen. From what I have heard (and not being there and experiencing it) that pretty much changed the rules for a lot of things in the culinary world. I can still go there but it won’t be the same without Chef Paul Prudhomme. Instead of trying to make up something I really don’t know about I’m going to include a link to the article I read about his passing. Enjoy!


All rights reserved to the owner/writer/publisher of the article as listed within

Cagney’s Takes Over Olde Orchard (the Deeper Version)

by Timothy G Beeman II

Yesterday I reported that this change was going to happen. Today, I had a chance to sit down with Al Yow, the now-former owner of Olde Orchard Diner to discuss the change. Yow says that he’s been in the food service industry for 40+ years and that’s a long time. He loves his diner but also realizes that his body is tired. It was time to spend a little more time with the grand kids, now. The sale was final as of October 1 and Yow confirmed that the restaurant would continue to operate under Olde Orchard Diner for right now, however, in the very near future, they will close the restaurant, do renovations and reopen under the re-branded name of Cagney’s Kitchen. The menu will, at that time, be uniformed just as the other five locations’ menu, meaniOODCKng the food will be more like the others’.

A few things that will immediately happen are some procedural things that the public probably won’t notice much of. Basically, it’s mostly in the service and behind-the-scenes. What the public will notice is that sometime this week, the Hershey’s Ice Cream cooler will be gone. Cagney’s won’t be keeping that. Also, the hot bar that customers see as soon as they walk through the vestibule will be moved to the kitchen, in the back. They have already changed the biscuits to the kind that is normally served at the other Cagney’s locations. The new restaurant will serve home made desserts, just like the others, as well.

In the dining room, the renovation will eliminate the current seats, tables and booths and replace them with updated fixtures. The ceiling tiles will be replaced with newer ones. Supposedly, according to the chatter I heard about the restaurant, today, Cagney’s expects the renovation to take no more than a week. With the nature of contractors being what it is, we’ll see if that schedule goes as planned. Too many restaurants around town have set “opening dates” but most of those targets are overshot, sometimes by more than a little. It will be interesting to see how the whole changeover goes.

It will be different not seeing Al standing in the serving window of the kitchen and thanking us and “God-blessing” us. He has a back surgery scheduled in the upcoming weeks and the toll that standing for so long has taken on him has led to this. We at The Man Who Ate the Town: A Food Blog wish him and his wife Susan best of luck with whatever they plan to do (I believe Susan plans to work at Cagney’s) and thank them for having it there for us “locals” that needed it and enjoyed it.

You can find more about Cagney’s and their locations (this one will be added soon, I’m sure) by visiting their website (click here).

Olde Orchard Diner to Become Cagney’s

by Timothy G Beeman II

According to servers of, and the presence of Cagney’s representatives inside Olde Orchard Diner this past week and weekend: ownership, management and the name of Olde Orchard Diner will be changing in the coming weeks. Cagney’s, who already has five other restaurants in the area, will be closing the restaurant to do renovations and rebranding, according to a server at Olde Orchard. This will make two locations in Winston-Salem. We hope to have more news on this early this week, here and on Tart & Tangy Triad, so stay tuned.


The Last of the Luv Luv with Much Love

-Timothy G. Beeman II

On Saturday, Stephanie and myself were invited to accompany friends of ours to the Annual Luv Luv Festival, the brainchild of Tim Grandinetti, the co-owner/head chef of Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar. The Luv Luv Festival is a culinary showcase of chefs from all over with great live music. We hadn’t, unfortunately, ever attended the Luv Luv Festival but we had wanted to. This was our first time ever and let’s just say we loved it. Let’s make clear, too that it’s not the last ever festival but the last day of this year’s festival.


The Beer Dads and Their Pilots


The Menu

First of all, we have to start with the company we kept during this festival. Paul & Susan Jones along with Jon & Celeste Lowder were our tablemates and we’re no strangers to each other. In fact, Paul, Jon and I do a podcast called The Beer Dads which is part of The Less Desirables Podcast Network. So we hang out, talk about being dads and drink, you guessed it, beer every week. Our wives have become good friends so we had a very, very fun table. Also, former local DJ personality and Master of Ceremonies of the event, Bob Campbell (who also happens to be the voice over talent for The Beer Dads) sat with us as did our guest of honor, the wife of this evening’s guest chef (Tim Recher), Alicia Recher. We were guests of the Lowders and can’t thank them enough for having us. Good wine, liquor and beer as “the beer dad” ladies had more than a few glasses of white wine and the guys a mixture of cocktails and beer. I believe Paul and Jon preferred the Sisters of the Moon IPA from Mother Earth Brewing while I had one of those and then switched to the Vanilla Porter from Breckenridge. But, as much as we like to think that it is sometimes, the alcohol wasn’t the star attraction of the night. It was the food.

Starting off the whole night was a plate of hummus with pita triangles alongside of tomatoes straight from the garden of Chef Grandinetti. This was followed by a large plate of oysters and cocktail shrimp from Rappahannock Oyster Company. The oysters 11891148_10153437332285490_984877909746256410_nwere raw and delicious. Also served with them were some hot peppers with a sweet glaze of hoisin and sesame seeds. Jon and a few of the ladies mentioned they thought they were hot. I ate several of them and got nothing more than great flavor. I found them to be very mild and almost no heat. Perhaps one of us got lucky, you decide.

Course 1

Course #1 Chicken & Dumplings

The first course “Chicken & Dumplings” was quail, black summer truffle mousse, gnocchi, chive velouté and herb biscuit. This was a fantastic course. The “chicken” seemed to be a combo of quail and other meats that were served sausage style and while I’m generally not one for quail, not only did I eat all of this, I picked it up and ate the bones like they were a chicken leg. Of course, I was nibbling, but it was so good and the velouté sauce was like gravy and light enough to not overpower but perfect for accentuation. It was easy to sop up the extra velouté sauce with the biscuit and the gnocchi were tender. Let’s say that my plate (with the exception of the bones of the quail) had nothing left on it. It was clean. Wonderful course.

Course 2

Course #2 English Pea Soup with Sea Bass

Course #2 was “Chilled English Pea Soup and Seared Sea Bass.” Described as coriander, Fresno chili, warm mushroom-shallot-pea salad, Arbequine olive oil, fennel pollen. When you cut into the fish, it fell apart being a wonderful flaky morsel of flavor. Seasoning wasn’t anything to mask the fish, you got full “sea bass” (or Patagonian Tooth Fish) flavor and that’s a good thing. The peas under the fish were quite fresh and even had Susan Jones, who doesn’t eat peas cleaning her plate of them. As simple as it is, the cress on top, really set a freshness that I can’t explain in words to the entire plate. The pea soup had the distinctive coriander and chili flavor as it was a tad savory and I loved it. It was topped with the fennel pollen. I had to drink it like a shot because there really was no way to get a spoon in there. But, I think that was the point. I had no problem shooting that soup. Delicious.

Course 3

Course #3 Beet Salad

Course #3 was “Roasted Baby Heirloom Beet Salad.” Belgium endive, frisée (another kind of endive, which along with Belgium endive can be called chicory here in the US, at least from my research), upland cress, pickle apple, curried cashews, beet vinaigrette, aerated coriander yogurt. I’ll have to be honest, was my least favorite course, but when you don’t like beets, or many other like-vegetables (I’m adapting as I get older), then that’s understandable; at least in my mind. I did enjoy the pickled apple and curried cashews. I did eat all the leaves but left some of the endives and most of the beets. Again, the cashews and pickled apple were good.

Course 4

Course #4 Back Yard BBQ

Course #4 was, to me, the pièce de résistance. It was “Back Yard Steak.” Coffee rubbed bison. Vidalia onion ash inlay. Sous vide smoked brisket & potato croquette. Seasonal vegetables, sweet corn puree, bbq jus lie and smoked black garlic.This cut of bison meat was so tender and juicy that a regular table knife could cut right through it with no problem. It was medium rare and the outsides were perfectly charred and seasoned with the coffee rub. The baby carrot and corn was a nice addition as was the jus lie (pronounced zhoo lee-AY) and vidalia onion inlay. That coffee rub and the meat itself was such a flood of flavor that I ate it with my eyes closed most of the time, enjoying each individual bite. Generally, I’ll tear through food like I’m being graded on it but I took my time and every single chew was documented by my brain. Let’s just say that it was so good that not only did I eat all of mine, I also had the bonus of half of Stephanie’s. She loved it as well, but was filling up. This was a definite 5 on a 5 scale.

Course 5

Course #5 S’Mores

Course #5 was the dessert course which was “S’mores.” Dark chocolate crémeux, molasses spice graham cracker cookie, toasted marshmallows, salted caramel gelato, toasted caramel. Stephanie got her second wind enough to eat this. I thought the crémeux was the absolute best thing about it. It was like eating a very soft, but still firm, piece of fudge. The tiny toasted marshmallow squares were a nice accompaniment for the crémeux. The gelato was a bit melted away by the time I got to it but what I got of it was delicious. I love caramel, so this was a nice finish.

Chef Tim Recher, of the Army/Navy Country Club in DC, really brought a wonderful menu and Chef Tim Grandinetti and his team both in the kitchen and the outside wait staff were fantastic support, making this event a true 5 star dinner treat to anyone who was privileged enough to be there. Spring House is always a class act and this was no different. Many thanks to Chef Grandinetti for hosting. Spring House can be found at 450 North Spring Street in downtown Winston-Salem. They’re on the web at springhousenc.com.

The New Local 27101 Opens for LunchF

I had the opportunity to eat lunch with one of my very good friends today and when discussing where we were going to meet, I suggested that we go to the new Greg Carlyle vehicle, Local 27101, the former Millennium Artisan Restaurant.

The idea behind Local 27101 is that the food is locally sourced (no, not from the 27101 zip code, necessarily) so that it’s fresh. It’s supposed to be fast and reasonably priced. Greg said, “the people downtown are looking for a fast, $5 burger,” and this exactly that. The menu has many things from the aforementioned burgers (make it a double for just $2 more), po boys, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, salads (Cobb, Caesar, add a protien, etc) and so on. Sides include crinkle cut fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings. You can add on to your burger with avocado, an over-easy egg, bacon, or caramelized onions.


The Local Burger w/ Onion Rings

The Local Burger is a quarter pounder with lettuce, tomato, “local sauce,” which isn’t quite 1000 Island but is beyond mayonnaise, and muenster cheese. Another nice touch is the top bun is branded with the logo from Local 27101. I had one with an extra patty, hold the lettuce. The homegrown tomato along with the local sauce made the bread a little soggy as the tomato was really ripe, but it didn’t detract from the burger. You want the burger to be juicy without being wet, save the tomato, it wasn’t wet, it was cooked just right. I think the only thing it was missing was a few dill chips on it.I also had the onion rings with it, which if you know me, you know I don’t like onions, but oddly enough, I can eat onion rings, when they’re good. There’s a good batter on the rings and weren’t overly greasy which is all too common with onion rings from many places. My pal had his a single without the tomato but with lettuce along with crinkle fries. The fries looked to be topped with herbs that are grown in the windows around the restaurant (so there are some things that are local to 27101). The flavors, to me, were exactly what I was looking for good meat, great cheese the sauce was tangy. Again, I could have done without some of the moist bun from the tomatoes but that’s okay, the flavor was worth it.

The restaurant itself is a lot of brown and natural wood with each window adorned with herbs to be used in the restaurant. The slat work accentuates the bar area. A very large menu is stuck to the wall and the chalkboard was being decorated as we walked in. They have beer, wine and are formulating a drink menu. How the whole thing works is: you walk in, stop by the counter where the bar is, order your food, get a buzzer, scope your seat and wait for the buzzer. When it buzzes you go to the counter and pick up your silver tray. The bump in the road for me is when you want a refill you have to either jump in front of people at the order counter to get the order taker to refill it or alert someone else to do it, or you have to wait until someone notices you’re there and waiting. We did wait for a bit, but not too long. Another thing is that they serve the burger with the bun already on the burger. I know it’s an aesthetic thing but the presentation would be better if the top bun was off to the side. We often eat with our eyes and it would make the burger even more attractive; but that’s no deal killer  They have a few kinks in the system to work out but I think that Greg finally has something on his hands that will be a boon for him, for the downtown lunch crowd and the downtown foodies and their searches for a good and affordable burger.

For now, they’re open only for lunch but sometime in September, probably after Labor Day, they will also be open during the evening, keeping the current (and presumably constantly modified) lunch menu as well as some dinner options. Greg also said to expect a “true blue plate special.”  You can get your own $5 fast burger at Local 27101 which is located at 310 W 4th Street in downtown Winston-Salem. Their website and Facebook pages show the menu to get your ready to experience the good food. It’s good, it’s fast, it’s easy, it’s Local 27101.

Empty Bowls: Ending Hunger One Artfully Crafted Bowl at a Time

By Timothy G Beeman II

Have you ever eaten out of a piece of art?  I’m not talking about an old McDonald’s Happy Meal box with drawings and games on the outside.  I mean an actual piece of art?  On Wednesday, April 22, you’ll get your chance. The following excerpts are from the SHFBNWNC press release:

“Foodies and art lovers alike are anticipating the wildly popular 14th annual Empty Bowls, the signature event for Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.

“The drop-in luncheon, presented by Texas Pete® Sauces, will be held from 11am until 2pm at the Millennium Center in downtown Winston-Salem. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door, and include lunch donated by the area’s top restaurants and a choice of one bowl from a selection of handcrafted and painted pottery bowls donated by area artists.


Empty Bowls 2015

“‘The bowl that each guest selects is not used at the event,’ explains James Caldwell, Development Manger of Special Events for Second Harvest Food Bank. ‘It remains empty as a reminder of our neighbors struggling against hunger.’

“The event will also feature a fabulous silent auction and the Empty Bowls Store, filled with an array of hand crafts, Empty Bowls branded items and stocks of sweet and savory selections prepared by Providence Catering of Triad Community Kitchen. All event proceeds support Second Harvest Food Bank’s food distribution programs and special meal programs for children, including the BackPack Program, commemorating 10 years of making hunger-free weekends possible for kids in need; Kids Cafes; School Pantries and summer feeding initiatives.

“Free parking and shuttle service are available at the event. To purchase tickets online, visit: hungernwnc.org.”

Tim Beeman (of this food blog, the food news and views podcast, Tart & Tangy Triad and the pop culture podcast, The Less Desirables) will be a “Floor Ambassador” for the event from 10:30 until 12:30 (or beyond).  He hopes to see you out there and to shake your hand and get you set up with a meal for a great cause.

SHFBNWNC also wants to bring attention to the event’s generous sponsors: Presenting sponsor – Texas Pete® Sauces; Signature sponsor – Food Lion; Potter’s Wheel sponsors The Abe & Miriam Brenner Foundation, BB&T, Harris Teeter, Reynolds American, Inc., The Sawtooth School for Visual Art and Wells Fargo & Company; Media sponsor – The Winston-Salem Journal; and Contributing sponsors An Originals By You, The Millennium Center and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC is the leading hunger relief organization for an 18 county service area (Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin), working in partnership with more than 400 local food assistance programs that include food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and special feeding programs for children and seniors. Together they provide critical nutritional support for nearly 300,000 neighbors in need each year, including 100,000 children, as we passionately pursue an end to hunger through outreach, education and advocacy. Special Second Harvest Food Bank programs include special initiatives to combat childhood hunger, the Triad Community Kitchen culinary job training program, Nutrition Education Services and others. To learn more, visit hungerncnwnc.org. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.  Second Harvest Food Bank is part of Feeding America.

Make a date to end hunger on April 22.