Restaurant Week is Back

The Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership’s Restaurant Week is almost here! The new restaurant weekannual event is running this year from Monday, February 22 through Sunday, February 28. The event is to highlight the restaurants as well as our beloved downtown and its fantastic aesthetic and diverse nightlife. Each location will offer specials intended to entice you to try their wares as well as that of their colleagues.

The list of restaurants in the downtown Winston-Salem area is out and available for your perusing. You can see the full details of the event here. To highlight just a few of the establishments and a sample of their specials to whet your whistle:

DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant$30 Special – 1 shared Appetizer, 2 Baked Dishes, 1 Shared Canoli.

Willow’s Bistro & Bar:
$20 Special – 
1st Course: cup of soup or salad
2nd Course: Grilled Scottish Salmon: over wild mushroom risotto, asparagus coins, shaved manchego.
3rd Course: Makers Mark creme brulee with fresh berries

$30 Special –
1st Course: roasted veggies or grilled romaine
2nd Course: Grilled 8oz. Cafe Steak: over gouda mac n cheese, grilled asparagus, & fried onion rings
3rd Course: Sous Vide Banana Pudding

King’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar:
$20 Special – Full Bucket – Dreamy Steamy Bucket: steamed mix of spiced up snow crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters

$30 Special – Bucket for Two – Dreamy Steamy Bucket: steamed mix of spiced up snow crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters

$30 Per Person –
Choice of Starters:
Soup du Jour
Little Gem Artisan Lettuce Salad: with roasted tomato, English cucumber, house made crouton & aged red wine vinaigrette

Choice of Entree:
House Made Pasta of the day(eg. Ravioli, Lasagna, Manicotti)
Pan Seared NC Mountain Trout: with starch, vegetable & sauce
Grass Fed Bistro Steak Lyonnaise: with pommes frites, dressed artisan lettuce & Meridian steak sauce

Choice of Housse Made Dessert:
Bread Pudding: with caramel & creme chantilly
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
Dark Chocolate Torte with ganache & creme chantilly

Mellow Mushroom:
$20 Dinner for Two –
Choice of 2 lil’ salads (tossed or caesar)
1 medium 1-topping pizza to share
1 brownie sundae to share

$30 Dinner for Two –
Choice of Hummus or Bruschetta appetizer to share
1 large specialty pizza to share
1 brownie sundae to share

Mission Pizza:
$20 Special –
1 pizza of your choice, green salad, and daily dessert

$30 Special –
2 pizzas of your choice OR 1 pizza of your choice and 1 plate of your choice, and dessert

Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar:
Classic Spring House: $20 –
Choice of seasonal soup or HOUSE salad
The Colonel 2.0.16: crispy buttermilk fried chicken atop corn waffle with brown sugar smoked apple infused maple drizzle
Warm Bread Pudding
**please no substitutions

Winter’s Bounty: $30 –
Shrimp and Crab Beignets with Red Beet and Horseradish Remoulade
Choice of seasonal soup or HOUSE salad
Fred Flintstone’s Pork Shank: Savannah inspired red rice with lemon, parsley and dijon bread crumbs and HOUSE pepper jelly
**please no substitutions

Camino Bakery:
$20 Special –
Bag of Krankies whole coffee beans and a loaf of bread of your choice

$30 Special –
Bag of Krankies whole coffee beans, loaf of bread of your choice, and a bottle of Honoro Vera Garnacha

There are plenty more wonderful restaurants participating. Again, see the full list on the DWSP website.

A few disclaimers that are very important here:

*Restaurant Week Specials are dine-in only so, no take outs.
*Restaurant Specials are subject to change and that’s a possibilty. The prices exclude tax and tip. Take care of those who take care of you.
*If you’ve a food allergy, questions about ingredients or any other special restrictions, please check with individual restaurants.
*Restaurant Week Specials are subject to availability; they may, and often do, run out of the Special.
*Please check with restaurants prior to dining if you have questions about the Specials; don’t call the DWSP about it, they’re not in control of that info.
*If they run out of the Special, the restaurant is not obligated to provided a replacement dish.
*Coupons are not accepted in conjunction with these specials. Check with restaurants for coupon policies.

If there is an error on this page, the official restaurant special at the Restaurant is correct; I’m but a guide through the awesome food land and I have been known to almost make a mistake a time or two.

The important thing here? Go enjoy delicious food and support local establishments. You never know who you may see out there!


A Contemplation of Fourth

This is reprinted from an article that was published today from Tim’s daily blog, Useless Things Need Love, Too.


There have been two high profile (at least to me) closings announced this week in my favorite part of Winston-Salem and on the same city block.  This past Tuesday Augustine’s Bistro sent out a very short, but to the point, email to the restaurant’s closest supporters, friends and family announcing that they were closing as of that day.  No head’s up, no closing ceremony, no time for goodbyes.  About 45 minutes prior to that I received texts from both Aly Reich, the manager and Chris McDonough, the Mixologist (Intoxicologist?) Extraordinaire informing me that they were closing.  They had just found out minutes before.  According to an article by Michael Hastings of the Winston-Salem Journal, Eric Muck, the owner said that business just wasn’t there, as well as some preconceived notions of potential clients about the location.  We’ll get to that in a bit.

Today, in an article from Lynn Felder of Relish and WSJ, it was announced that The Community Arts Cafe is closing as of March 31. CAC was a performance center, cafe, wine & beer bar with a kitchen that was, for a time, a restaurant and catering area.  I saw a performance by Spirit Gum Theater Company there as well as some of the SoundLizzard showcases there.  The kitchen was the kitchen for La Rana Loca and Encore restaurants before that, complete with some beer taps.

Fourth Street is the new main street in Downtown Winston-Salem. a/perture Cinema, Camino Bakery, Washington Perk, Mellow Mushroom, Jeffrey Adams on 4th, Hutch & Harris, Kings Crab Shack & Oyster Bar, Downtown Thai, The Honey Pot, Kabobs on 4th, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Jimmy John’s, Foothills Brewing, Skippy’s Hot Dogs, Corks Caps & Taps, Quanto Basta, West End Coffee Shop, Mozelle’s, Olde Fourth Street Filling Station, Mooney’s, Downtown Deli, West End Cafe, Recreation Billiards, Bulls Tavern, The Stevens Center, The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and The Less Desirables are just a FEW businesses on this street within a 9 block (or so) area.  This is the street to be on.  Now, both of these are on the 400 block of 4th Street.  That’s two locations in one week announcing closings within 100 yards of each other. What in the world is going on!?  I have some theories and I’m going to expound on them.  These may be slightly off base or they may be close, but they’re mine.


Let’s start with CAC.  When it opened, it was an innovation to what was going on downtown.  It was Fourth Street’s alternative to Trade Streets art galleries and had a performance center area that had a decent beer and wine selection.  They eventually added catering and a restaurant. The space is huge and they’ve sublet some of it.  But, really most people didn’t even know it was there.  There was a sign, yes, but it wasn’t flashy and didn’t get in your face.  Even when people did see it, it wasn’t really clear what it was. A chalk sandwich board outside becomes commonplace on the street and people tend to stop reading or looking.  Posters in the windows weren’t really indicative, either.  So, there was challenge number one. Then not too long ago, the WS Chamber took over the entire upper part, of the building. In doing so, they basically branded the whole building as WS Chamber.  That’s the prominent signage and I’ll admit, that while I knew about CAC being in there, it was lost on the appearance that it was WS Chamber’s building and they did everything in there.  If someone didn’t have business to do with the Chamber, then why go in, right?  The Chamber are so dominant in that space that when they moved in they demanded (and got) all the parking behind the building and no one is allowed to park there without having credentials. The Chamber are brutal, at times. Yeah, I said it.

UNCSA Stevens Center

Let’s talk Augustine’s.  Augustine’s was at 401 W 4th. It was located in the UNCSA’s Stevens Center complex. Notice I said in the complex. Yes, it was in the same building but it wasn’t necessarily part of the Stevens Center.  However, that is one of the major problems.  People see the decorative awning of the Stevens Center that wraps all the way around the building and it full encompasses where Augustine’s was.  In fact, the Stevens Center’s branding was on the extreme edges of the awning, beyond any signage that any restaurant had out there. You can see from the picture here, what I mean. Thank you to Fam Brownlee for that picture.

So, with the perception of Augustine’s being part of the UNCSA, there are a few stigmas.  You get the low-brows who think the theatre is snooty and pompous and “I don’t want anything to do with those artsy-fartsy kind.” Or, because it’s in there, then it must be expensive.  The fact is, I believe that Augustine’s prices could have actually been a little higher; the quality and portion size (no matter what some ridiculous Yelp! reviewers may have said) were very reasonably priced and I think Eric and Audrey shorted themselves slightly.  I commend them for keeping the prices down as best as they can.  I just think it was particular component of the problem. Another thing, being that no matter how much signage you put out, UNCSA isn’t going to let you outshine them so your signs will never be indicative of what is inside. That being said, they think the restaurant is just part of the Steven Center which gives the misconception that they’re only open when there are shows going on.  They were open Tuesday through Saturday and even opening for lunches in the last month or so.

Another thing about this location is no restauranteur is going to have money to spend on upfitting the kitchen and refrigeration of the place and they’re in dire need of it.  UNCSA certainly isn’t going to pay to replace that, but they’ve had a problem with it for a while.  Compound all these ingredients and they either all are the problem or they contribute to it.

I’m not putting down either the Chamber nor UNCSA’s Stevens Center, but their being there is killing the potential for smaller businesses, namely restaurants in their presence.  The 400 block of Fourth Street at least on the northern side is dominated by those two locations. The irony is that the Chamber is supposed to be there to help businesses not oppress them. Whilst they maintain such visible and occupied presence, nothing else can survive.  Like grass when there are large trees around.  The trees absorb all the nutrients and the surrounding area is barren.

Both CAC and Augustine’s were reliant on word of mouth, however, if no one knows you’re there, they can’t tell anyone else. These locations have no money for marketing and without a marketing budget, there will be no traffic to your place.  Places like I mentioned before on this street had prominent signage that represented their establishments.

I’m challenging you all to become more aware of what is happening in this town that we love or if you’re from out of town, at least try to be more aware of what this town has to offer.  I’m bracing for the next big closure.  Which, sometimes when one thing goes another takes its place, but I’m afraid that the two spaces I’ve discussed are prompted to fail no matter what goes in there unless something changes on the marketing/signage front.  According to Hastings’s article about UNCSA there’s talk that they’ll re-purpose Augustine’s for something that isn’t a restaurant. I’d be relieved if that happened because anything that goes in there, to would be doomed for failure.

None of these factors are the lone factors, I believe.  It’s a culmination of many things, these just being the prominent ones in my mind. These are great locations that happen to be horrible locales.

Enough of my venting for the day.  Don’t let our foodie town erode away.

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!

For an adult, the world is constantly trying to clamp down on itself. Routine, responsibility, decay of institutions, corruption: this is all the world closing in.” – Bruce Springsteen

DWSP Presents Restaurant Week 2/15-2/21

Did you know that the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership is presenting Restaurant Week from Sunday, February 15 through Saturday February 22?  Well, you do now!


DWSP Restaurant Week

What is Restaurant Week?  We’re glad you asked.  Restaurant Week is a food event where many of the downtown Winston-Salem restaurants offer special prix fixe menus of $20, $30 or both.  For example: a restaurant can offer an appetizer, an entree and a dessert (chosen to form a combo) for $20 per person or they may offer a double portion for $30.  Make sense?  Maybe not.  Let’s give some real examples:

Bib’s for example has the following:


$20 Special for 2
3 Rib Bone Plate: Each person gets a plate that comes with 3 Rib Bones, Choice of Red or White Slaw, 1 side item, Hush Puppies and Toast
Choose 1 dessert to share

$30 Special for 2
Half Rack Rib Bone Plates: Each person gets a plate that comes with 6 Rib Bones, Choice or Red or White Slaw, 1 side item, Hush Puppies and Toast
Choose 1 dessert to share

They can also offer extras such as this: Beverage Pairing Suggestions (Additional Charge)
WINE: Our ribs pair nicely with the Michael David Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon or North Carolina’s Childress Pinnacle
BEER: Our ribs also pair nicely with the Olde Hickory Ruby Lager or the Highland Gaelic Ale which are both North Carolina brews

Let’s look at another restaurant’s offerings.
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar offers this:
3 Course Dinner $30 per person
BOOM! M-80 Crispy Shrimp: texas pete voodoo sauce
Filet Mignon: cabernet franc butter, oyster cornbread dressing & gorgonzola fritter
Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Nutella Cake: hibiscus cherry infused sweet cream

$20 Special per person
Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Pan Gravy: atop smoked tomato and pimento cheese grits, M-80 sauce, ‘Bama BBQ sauce, Sriracha aioli
Spring House Bread Pudding: caramel Kahlua sauce and sweet cream

So these are only examples.  Here is a comprehensive list of participating restaurants…

6th & Vine Wine Bar & Cafe
Augustine’s Bistro
Bayberry Bistro
Bib’s Downtown
Black Mountain Chocolate
Camino Bakery
Di Lisio’s Italian Restaurant
District Rooftop Bar & Grille
Downtown Thai & Sushi
Foothills Brewing
Hutch & Harris
Jeffrey Adams on Fourth
Kabobs on Fourth
King’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar
Mellow Mushroom
Mooney’s Mediterranean Café
Mission Pizza
Old Fourth Street Filling Station
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar
Twin City Hive
Wen Hwa Asian Fusion Cuisine
Sweet Potatoes…a restaurant
West End Coffeehouse
Willow’s Bistro

We could have saved you reading that and just sent you to the website, but what fun would that have been?  We recommend calling ahead for reservations and remember that these are dinner specials only and, of course, they’re subject to availability and all that jazz. Also, the restaurants are subject to change and more could be added or some may drop out; it happens.  Go, eat, have fun, take friends, enjoy and tell us what you think. Even better, let DWSP and the restaurants know what you think.  Help make this Restaurant Week a success.

Have fun!

No Personality Equals No Return

Chelsee’s Coffee is a cute, artsy, boutique coffee shop in the middle of the historic Arts District of downtown Winston-Salem; Trade Street specifically.  It owes most of its business to the placement, not so much its product.  Residents and urbanites that work downtown have coffee options.  Many, many coffee options.

4th Street dwellers have Camino Bakery (our preference) or the brand new Washington Perk & Provision Company.  5th Street consumers have Starbucks (if you’re into subpar chain coffee) or venture to the aforementioned 4th Street locales.  East of Liberty Street peeps and those who want trendy, over-roasted and sometimes burnt options over substance go to Krankie’s.  Trade St. gets Chelsee’s.

I will admit that we didn’t actually get coffee on this trip.  We were wanting to try the smoothies that they advertised both in the store and on the street sandwich board.  We were downtown for the annual Bookmarks Festival and even though the weather was spectacular, it was still warm enough to warrant some smoothie goodness.  Smoothies are part of their product line and we figured we could get one, enjoy it and be back to talk to sponsors of Tart & Tangy Triad, Barnhills Books, Wine & Gifts.  Yes, the line was long (and by long I mean about 4 customers ahead of us), but nothing that would have made it incredibly overwhelming for the employees.

They have modern machinery and had two veteran and seasoned baristas behind the deck making drinks.  Neither seemed to have any problems making drinks.  The line was moving at an expected pace.  The person in front of us ordered and was told by the lifeless statue that was stationed behind the cash register that they “weren’t making smoothies right now.”  The customer said that was all she had wanted so she walked out of line, just as the barista known as DJ RedStar called out to the waiting gallery, “Lemonade Smoothie,” with a playful voice.

So we approached the counter and Venus de Void-o’Personality informed us upon the question that indeed they weren’t making smoothies.  I inquired about the one that just passed over the counter and she said in stone faced zeal (that’s sarcasm), “that was the last one.”  I said, “well, I’ll just have a Perrier,” as Stephanie went to look for something instead, as well.  The Human Bust stood there, just looking around.  “Well I guess I’ll go ahead and get it since you don’t seem to want to do anything,” I said, more than slightly annoyed.  Stephanie had a Diet Cheerwine and I my Perrier.  I wonder had we asked for Iced Coffee if we’d have had the same reaction?

They acted like ice was the problem, or they felt too busy to worry about smoothies.  There was plenty of ice in their machine.  Giving benefit of doubt, the machine could have been down.  But can’t you say that instead of making it out like we all didn’t see the three smoothies prior to the customer in front of us walk out the door?

This is not the first time that I have gone to Chelsee’s  This trip was not at all unlike most visits I’ve made here. The service is almost always lacking any personality.  No matter who is behind the counter.  Yes, there may have been circumstances that I didn’t know about going on in the unfortunate cashier’s life.  But, you know what, that’s not our problem.  Customer service is driven by happy customers, satisfied customers.  Customers aren’t and don’t have to be ones who care what is going on in your life.  That’s not to say I don’t have empathy or even sympathy to your plights, neither am I a bad nor hard to please customer.  However, you are paid to do said service, do your job or go home.  Unemployment is high in this state and there are plenty of people that could have your job.  Even when she was off of work she walked through Trade St. with a look of painful disdain.

I can’t imagine that any other factor than location is the reason Chelsee’s stays in business.  The coffee drinks are less-than-inspiring and the smoothie flavors are basic.  Yes, coffee is coffee but coffee shops bring a certain degree of self-importance that all of us do indulge in from time-to-time and need something more than the Folgers or Maxwell House we can make at home.  The flavor of the coffee is mediocre at best. The atmosphere does brag a nice fireplace and a TV to distract from the overall banality of the location.  Still, customer service is a huge factor of a return visit and since this is not the first time, yet the worst time, this has happened, I doubt I’ll give any more money to Chelsee’s Coffee.

This experience, on top of the past experiences, deems that the location doesn’t even warrant a rating.