REVIEW: Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill – Greensboro
A few weeks ago, I was invited for a tour and tasting at the newly renovated Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill in Greensboro off of High Point Road. I hadn’t been to a Darryl’s since I was a child but the memories but I still remembering hitting it up with the family after a Greensboro Hornets baseball game. I had read about the $2 million worth of renovations that the building underwent but I hadn’t had a chance to see it first hand yet.
Needless to say, I was pretty excited. It was my first invitation to a restaurant to come check out select menu items because of my work on Eat It, North Carolina but I think I was more excited about eating at Darryl’s again. It was 4:30 p.m. and the place was already buzzing. As I walked in, I was greeted with a warm welcome from the fire pits and friendly smiles from the entire hosting staff.
I told one of the hostesses that I was meeting Jeff, the Chief Culinary Officer, and Brock, the beverage manager, for a tasting. She spoke into her mic and Brock was there in about 30 seconds. The entire Darryl’s staff is extremely organized and work together seamlessly to make sure that everybody has a great experience when they are at Darryl’s. When you eat at Darryl’s, you don’t just have one person looking out after your table. You will be helped by an entire crew as they make sure that everything is how you want it.
Brock led me to the table upstairs and introduced me to my server, David. I had told Brock that I loved beer so he gave me an overview of their “Flight Control” program. You choose four samples of beer or wine (4 oz for beer & 1.5 oz for wine) from the “Flight Control” menu which has 24 different beers and 24 different wines and a description of each one and where it is produced. The beer flights are $5 and the wine flights are $8. The flights cost about as much as a whole draft pint or a full glass of wine but gives you the opportunity to try a variety to find one that you really like.
Darryl’s works with a lot of North Carolina breweries to create an ever growing and evolving tap list that rivals almost any bar or restaurant in the area. The North Carolina breweries they have on tap are Foothills in Winston-Salem, Highland in Asheville, Duck-Rabbit in Farmville, Big Boss in Raleigh, Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill, Red Oak in Whitsett and Natty Greene’s in Greensboro. They also have some other great non-North Carolina breweries like Bells, Abita, Sweet Water, Starr Hill, Allagash and Magic Hat just to name a few.
If you don’t know much about beer but are interested in trying some new, rare beers then just ask because Darryl’s has many employees who are knowledgeable about it and can help you pick out a good flight.
Darryl’s started out the night by bringing out an order of their Dip Duo which is an appetizer plate consisting of their infamous crackers with a small cup of homemade salsa and a larger portion of artichoke & spinach dip. I loved the salsa. It was a sweet salsa and not spicy but tangy. Personally, I love a salsa that focuses on the cilantro, onion and base instead of just adding peppers for heat.
If you are on Foursquare, the location based social media check-in, you can get a free crackers appetizer (with ranch to dip them in) with the purchase of a lunch or dinner entree EVERY time you check in at Darryl’s & I believe the same thing holds true for Facebook Places but I haven’t started using that yet. If you sign up for Foursquare, go ahead and add me as a friend so I can find out about the cool restaurants and places in North Carolina that you go.
Jeff Blackley, Darryl’s Chief Culinary Officer, came out to my table and introduced himself after the crackers and dip came out. He told me a little about what he had planned for the rest of the meal and I immediately regretted my decision of eating so many of the crackers a few minutes before that.
Next up was a customized version of the Ribs & Cajun Shrimp dish. The dish normally comes with a half slab of baby back ribs and some Cajun fried shrimp but Jeff said that he wanted to give me a taste of the beef ribs so he tossed two of them on top of the baby back ribs so I could compare the two.
The ribs are both slow cooked and then finished over a hickory-fired grill and then slathered in their original BBQ sauce. The sauce is awesome. I thought it was a lot like a Memphis-style BBQ sauce which is one of my favorites. Darryl’s sells their BBQ sauce so you can pick up a bottle at the restaurant and try to recreate the ribs at home or barbecued chicken or just use it as a dip for chicken fingers.
Jeff had asked me earlier when he came up to my table if I ate steak. I enthusiastically said yes and that I usually went with rare to medium-rare for good quality meat but didn’t realize what he had in store for me. The waiter came out with a plate of an 18 ounce bone-in ribeye and an 8 ounce filet mignon. I was flabbergasted and kind of nervous because the ribeye by itself was colossal but that side-by-side with the filet had me a little overwhelmed.
I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about how the steaks were going to be. When I was young, my brother and I weren’t the ones ordering the steaks at dinner. If I remember right, we were ordering chicken fingers, hamburgers and the rest of the stuff on the kids menu so I don’t think I ever had a steak or at least one that I can remember.
I only took a few bites of each steak because I had already chalked up trying to get close to finishing any of the dishes and just started sampling because I was in the middle of an epic feast. The steaks were both cooked exactly the way that I ordered them and were great pieces of meat. Jeff told me that they served CAB steaks that they get from Southern Foods in Greensboro. They coated the steaks with a nice blend of spices that gave the steak enough of a crispy exterior without covering up the great taste that the steaks offered.
Brock also set me up with a recommended flight of beer to be paired with the steaks. They had just tapped a few new special seasonal kegs from some top class breweries so put together a flight (above) of Natty Greene’s Red Nose Winter Ale, Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout, Duck-Rabbit’s Milk Stout and Big Boss’ Aces & Ates Coffee Stout. They were delicious and nice compliment to the taste of the steaks.
I wasn’t very pleased with the steamed seasonal vegetables side dish that came with the steaks. I thought the red onion overpowered the rest of the vegetables and every bite tasted too much like red onion.
The last dish before dessert was shrimp & grits. It was not on the original Darryl’s menu but the management decided to put it on there because they felt that it would be a great addition. They use grits in the dish that are produced locally at the Old Mill of Guilford, a fully operational, water-powered, 18th century grist mill in Guilford County, which are the same ones that my mom used to make whenever she made our family breakfast. The dish was awesome . It looked like a gravy style version of shrimp & grits but Jeff told me that it is actually cream style but comes off looking a little darker because of the sauteed garlic, scallions and tasso ham that is in the dish. The tasso ham and scallions gave it a great taste and the Old Mill of Guilford grits had a great consistency and were a nice local treat.
Brock set me up with a flight of wine to pair with the desserts that they were bringing out to me. He set me up with a Navarro Correras Malbec and a Belle Velle Pinot Noir to go with an order of S’mores and the other half of the flight was a Shelton Riesling and an Angoves Nine Vine Viognier.
I can’t remember the last S’more that I had before this one was brought out to my table. It could have been on the camping trip back when I was ten years old but it was more than likely back in college when I was accidentally bought that flavor of Pop-Tarts. Either way, it had been sometime.
Darryl’s uses a convection oven to melt the S’mores. It isn’t the most complicated dessert in the world but the simplicity is what makes the S’more so good. The S’more is actually a lot like Darryl’s. When you eat a S’more, you are taken back to a time when you were a child, sitting out by the campfire and making S’mores. If you have been to a Darryl’s before it does the same thing as eating a S’more.
With all the rehashing, I forgot to mention that how great the Malbec and Pinot Noir from the flight went with the S’mores. The smokiness from the wine hit the nail on the head while eating the S’mores.
I normally don’t order desserts…especially not two…but the strawberry cheesecake was awesome. It has a walnut crust with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and spooned over with a strawberry syrup. The best part was the filling and that’s exactly what should be the best part of a cheesecake every time. The Riesling and Viognier were a nice addition to the cheesecake because the lightness of the wine helped counter the heaviness of the cheesecake.
I definitely recommend that you go up to Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill. I have actually already been up there again since doing the tasting that I am reviewing to eat with some friends and let them check out the place. Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill isn’t just some chain restaurant anymore. Kotis’ newly renovated version of the restaurant is more than that. Its a place that is built on the simplicity of having a good time with friends and family in a fun environment.