Goodbye Tart & Tangy Triad, Hello to…

Since July, 2013, I, along with my wife, Stephanie and local food celebrity, Nikki Miller-Ka, have been co-hosting a food podcast that focused on the Triad, NC and surrounding areas. Tart & Tangy Triad has been the food podcast on The Less Desirables Network. We focused on food news and provided our own food views. We’ve had a few local chefs as guests over the years. We’ve broken news of restaurant openings, closings and chef changes. We’ve attended events and reported on what we learned or did. And, we’ve done a lot of restaurant reviews.

Well, allow this post to be the official announcement from The Less Desirables Network, that Tart & Tangy Triad, is no more. Nikki and The Beemans have decided to pursue different endeavors. We are retiring the name Tart & Tangy Triad, although it will remain property of The Less Desirables Network.Fear not, Nikki will be starting a new vlog coming late spring/early summer, 2016.

Also, The Less Desirables Network will not be without a food podcast for very long. And this is why I’m writing this blog post, today. The new food podcast will be called… wait for it… “The Man Who Ate the Town: a Food Podcast.” I will be enlisting the help of local food folks including chefs, other food writers and everyday food fans to make this show more “your” show and focus on only a few topics every week; not to overload the “palate,” if you will. No more ninety minute shows. The plan is to keep it to around 15-25 minutes, max. No fillers, no preservatives. Additionally, in conjunction, there will a very short video to accompany the podcast and this blog. I will be requisitioning the name “Appetizer” from Tart & Tangy Triad as the name of that video.

The start date hasn’t been determined as of yet, but I do envision the podcast and video starting around the first week of May; perhaps at the same time, perhaps not. Of course, the blog will continue as usual, and the plan is to up the frequency of the posts. So, tell your friends, read up and prepare to listen and see more of The Man Who Ate the Town in your near future. We, the former Tart & Tangy Triad, appreciate all of the listeners of the podcast and and watchers of the video. Followers of our Twitter and Facebook accounts, we thank you, too. I can’t wait to see and hear from you all on the new endeavor and I hope you’d follow those of this blog. You can find my Twitter, here. The Facebook, here.

Thank you all for everything.


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

Washington Perk & Provision Company Becomes Sponsor of Tart & Tangy Triad

Tart & Tangy Triad are proud to announce that Washington Perk & Provision Company have become the newest sponsor of the popular food podcast.


Washington Perk & Provision Company

The Johnstons brought their unique little neighborhood grocery and deli to the Washington Park area (228 West Acadia Avenue) in 2010, to great success and have now filled that need in downtown Winston-Salem at 301 W 4th Street.  This area is what we like to call “Our Little Block of Awesome” because there are a lot of great merchants and services in this little narrow passageway.  Washington Perk is also part of the Second Sundays on Fourth festival that happens on the second Sunday from May through October with Tim on Tart & Tangy Triad’s sister show, The Less Desirables (yes the same Tim from this food blog).

They have food, canned goods, household goods, meat, dairy, organic stuffs, Wolfie’s Custard, a coffee shop that serves Larry’s Beans from a local roaster, biscuits in the morning and a sandwich shop and deli.  They have daily lunch specials during the week. What specials?  These specials:

  • Mon: Meatball Subs
  • Tue: 2 for $2.22 Hot Dogs
  • Wed: Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich
  • Thu: Breaded Chicken Sandwich (which rivals a certain “we did it first” chain) OR Meatloaf Sandwich
  • Fri: Philly Steak

Tart & Tangy Triad is excited that they’ve come on board and look forward to a long relationship.  Stop in and have some sandwiches or coffee and show them you’re glad they’re in your neighborhood.

Lunch at Augustine’s Bistro? Absolutely!

One of Stephanie and Tim’s favorite restaurants just announced that they will be opening for lunch, soon. This great restaurant is Augustine’s Bistro located at 401 W 4th Street in Winston-Salem.  They serve modern and classic French cuisine, under the direction of chef Eric Muck, as well as small plate offerings such as mushroom toast, bacon wrapped dates, frittes, frog legs and Tim’s favorite, Thai shrimp, just to name a few.  You can find a full menu of theirs here.


Augustine’s Bistro

Another fantastic reason to visit is that Chris McDonough is behind the bar.  He’s no ordinary bartender, this man is a mixologist. He can make just about anything imaginable, if they have the ingredients.  One particular favorite is The Less Desirables’ Old Fashioned, made with Larceny bourbon.  Great stuff.  Great dinner fare, indeed.

Up until now, they have been dinner only and it was just announced that they will be opening for lunch, starting on February 12th. That means from Tuesday through Saturday, they’ll be open from 11am until…   This way you can have Augustine’s deliciousness for more hours in the day and it gives you more choices to choose from in the rich downtown restaurant lunch scene.  Again, lunch service starts February 12.

Enjoy good food, imbibe great beverages and bon appetit!


A Mission of Dreams, A Mission of Delicious Food

Peyton Smith was on The Less Desirables The Less Desirables July 17 and talked about his dream to move from only having a unique food truck to having a full blown pizzeria.  The food truck is Forno Moto and now the dream has come true: Mission Pizza Napoletana opened earlier this month.

Mission Pizza Meatballs


Peyton took a jump with the public and started a Kickstarter campaign in which he raised the monies necessary to tackle the objective back over the summer; around the time of his appearance on TLD. The oven burns around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and makes a 10-12 inch pie in less than 90 seconds. Impressive!

Stephanie and I took the time to go check out the goodies they bake and give our review.

We split the EAC pizza which has tomatoes, Italian sausage (and lumps of it!), mozzarella cheese, garlic, pickled peppers, and oregano.  We opted to have the fried (sunny side up) egg put on as well.

We also ordered the meatballs, covered in red sauce with very fresh mozzarella and basil.  We figured it was an Italian staple, and when in Rome…

Mission Pizza EAC


The meatballs came and we dove right in.  The thing that usually gets one with meatballs in restaurants is that sometimes they have the tendency to have an airy, fresh out of the freezer quality to their taste.  Also, there is generally some canned characteristics in the sauces.  There was no danger of either of those things being cumbersome to the experience.  The meatballs were definitely not frozen, but made fresh at the restaurant and the sauce was also made in-house.  The finest of tomatoes, cooked at a high heat at the beginning to get the flavor and natural sugars to pop.  Add some garlic and basil then turn down the heat and allow no reduction and you get a sauce that is not too thin and not too thick. Did I mention the mozzarella? Draped across with the care of a meatball blanket that keeps it comfy in it’s stewed bed.  Add a sprinkle of basil to the top and you’ve yourself a darn fine dish.

The pizza arrived and looked fantastic.  The richness of the red sauce was a good cradle for the house-made sausage, mozzarella, peppers and spices.  We noticed, however, at around 2 pieces in, we didn’t have the egg; we noticed it right about the time Peyton came to check on us.  Ignoring our protests to making a complete new pizza, he set out to “make it right.”  We finished off the meatballs in the meantime.

The new, correct pie arrived and we dug in, as you do.  Note, Stephanie doesn’t like pickled peppers (and truly neither do I) so we only had them on one side of both pies.  They were quite spicy on the one without the egg and we wondered if the egg actually diffused some of the heat as they weren’t as prevalent on the second.  Also, if I had to say anything that wasn’t a raving “positive” about either pizza, I would say the egg kind of made the tips of the slices a bit soggy.  However, that did nothing to diminish the taste.

Peyton spent time fixing up this old building that was in dire need of a facelift.  There’s nothing overly fancy about the decor, but it’s comfortable and the counter area is a good place to watch the magic that happens in the kitchen.  The restaurant’s bar features all NC beers with the exception of the obligatory Morretti, an Italian staple.  Peyton did say that he’s attempting to work some other regional craft brews from New England and other places into the mix if he can get the distributors to get on board. Stephanie was glad there was an actual sweet red wine on the menu. The libations are more than acceptable and add true value to the fare.

Mission Pizza Bar

Counter Seating Area

Price wise, the Mission Pizza Napoletana is a slice of what other places may cost.  The most expensive plate on the menu is Cioppino which is spicy tomato broth with shrimp, clams, and triggerfish.  That being said, everything is very reasonably priced and plentiful.

Mission Pizza is located at 707 N Trade Street in Winston-Salem on a block with much positive growth over the years and the pizzeria will be the latest piece of the cultural expansion that is happening in the 700 block of the Arts District’s champion area. As of now, it is open Monday-Saturday 5pm-10pm but there may be plans to stay open later on the meatiest nights of the week: Thurs-Saturday as there is a street window in the bar area and Peyton mentioned in his TLD interview that he wanted to serve the late night bar crawlers.

There are plenty of boutique and indie pizzerias in this town or Italian eateries that may serve pizzas and I’ve tried many of them.  I will put it on the pizza pan right now, THIS is the best pizza in Winston-Salem.  It’s also the best meatballs that I’ve had, homemade quality, in fact.

In the realm of pizzerias, Mission Pizza Napoletana is definitely 5 Chopsticks.