Category Archives: Winston-Salem
North Carolina is in the midst of a craft beer explosion. 2012 brought with it announcements that three of America’s most popular craft breweries were building East Coast facilities in the Olde North State. As Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Oskar Blues begin to set up shop in North Carolina, one thing remains unchanged: our state’s brewing industry is firmly grounded upon a foundation of incredibly passionate people who seem to genuinely like each other.
This collective passion was especially evident this past Saturday in Winston Salem, as Foothills Brewing released this year’s installment of Olde Rabbit’s Foot. Olde Rabbit’s Foot is an Imperial Stout, brewed with honey and cocoa nibs. The bottles were only available for purchase in the Foothills Brewpub, but the beer itself came to be through a collaborative effort between Foothills, Duck Rabbit Brewery (Farmvillle, NC) and Olde Hickory Brewing (Hickory, NC). For the fourth year in a row, each brewery provided wort (wort contains the sugars that are eventually fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol). Once fermented, the viscous stout was left to age in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels. In most sectors of business, these companies would be in direct competition with each other; in the beer business, they combine their efforts to deliver a superior product.
As the doors to the brewery opened, I quickly realized that the brewers weren’t the only ones with a collaborative spirit. With two hours before the beer officially went on sale, hoards of people, from all over the south, shared unbelievably rare beers with friends and strangers. If this selection of collectible beers wasn’t enough to please your palate, Foothills also offered Olde Rabbit’s Foot and Sexual Chocolate on draft. When the back room finally opened, people efficiently moved through the line and scooped up their four bottle limit. The rich stout, with balanced flavors of oak and bourbon, was certainly worth the wait (and the nearly dollar per ounce price tag – read as $20 per bottle).
While the eclectic mix of North Carolina beer options will continue to grow, we can rest assured that the breweries responsible for establishing North Carolina as the Fertile Crescent of craft beer will continue to push the boundaries in their beer and their business plans.
Jim Noble’s restaurants have been a symbol of fine southern dining in North Carolina cities like Greensboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem and High Point (his first location) since the mid 80′s. The award-winning chef currently has four restaurants open in North Carolina including his latest venture, Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen, in Charlotte.
I met my parents, my brother and my soon to be wife (now my sister-in-law) at the only remaining Noble’s Grill in the state located next to the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts headquarters in the Bank of America building just off of Business I-40 in Winston-Salem. We went to taste wines for their rehearsal dinner and discuss the menu items that were going to be served. The relaxed atmosphere and great help from the staff made it the perfect place to plan and taste everything.
The interior of the restaurant is a little dark so I have to apologize for how bright some of my pictures turned out because I was using a flash. We started out the night with an order of the hush puppy-dusted fried shrimp ($12) in dijonaise. They were absolutely killer especially since they combined two of my favorite foods in one. I believe that the kitchen fried them at a very high temperature because the exterior had the crunchy, crispy cornmeal texture like hush puppies but the shrimp were cooked to perfection with a solid yet tender state. The hush puppy-dusted shrimp were very impressive and only the first sign of good things to come.
We also ordered a plate of the flash fried calamari ($10) which came Italian-style with lemon and marinara. I thought it was okay. The breading was very salty and had a bit of spice from the cracked pepper over it but it didn’t hold together very well especially after being dipped in the marinara sauce. It was better than most calamari that I have had recently especially since it wasn’t just the rings and had tentacle and mantle pieces in it.
Thinking back, it seems that I have ordered calamari as an appetizer at a few places that I have reviewed so far and I don’t know why I have done it so much. I never seem to be blown away by any restaurant’s version and I should probably go with something different but it seems that calamari is just a dish that the people that I eat with enjoy. I guess you could say that it is a good community appetizer.
I grew up in High Point so I had been to the original Noble’s Grill which was formerly located downtown but closed and then basically (under same management but without Noble’s name) moved to High Point University’s campus as 1924 Prime Steakhouse. If you haven’t heard, High Point University is making a lot of noise as one of the best private schools in the state and I think they may already be winning in the food department.
I had been debating between a few entrees like smoked BBQ pork, the spit roasted Ashley Farms chicken, the wood grilled veal tenderloin or even one of the fantastic sounding pizzas but I ended up ordering the pan seared Filet Mignon ($30) after my dad told me that it was one of the best steaks that he had ever had. It was damn good. It was served with Yukon mashed potatoes and wood roasted vegetables in a Bordelaise which were delicious. I think they used a little bit too much of the Bordelaise sauce which took the rest of the tastes in the dish hostage because it was so rich.
I think AK and my mom both ordered the spit roasted Ashley Farms chicken which looked delicious. It was a 1/2 chicken over creamy polenta and roasted asparagus with a jus sauce. I tried a bite of the chicken with some of the polenta and it was very tender with a great taste on the skin as well as a terrific flavor in the sauce. Both AK any my mom really enjoyed it and didn’t come close to finishing it.
Noble’s Grille is definitely an upscale bistro where drinks and food are a little pricey but it is a great place if you want to impress a date. They have a terrific selection of wine and a pretty decent selection of beer. I would go back for another special occasion dinner or to meet some friends for a drink or two before going out in Winston for the night. If I had bags of money, I would probably go once a month if I lived in the area but it is just way too hard to get out of there for less than $25 if you aren’t swimming in loot.
You may have already seen the post we did on Pulliams in Winston-Salem and how Rachel Ray Magazine recognized them as the Best Hot Dog in the South. Well, we finally got a chance to try out their dogs and can confirm that they are worthy of that title (even if it is from Rachel Ray).
I jumped in the car with two of my buddies, Ron and Larry, and headed over to Winston-Salem to check out a record store that they heard had a good selection and grab a late lunch. On the trip over, I was selling the hell out of Pulliams because I had been wanting to try that dog ever since another friend, Doug Grimes, had recommended to me that I try it.
The menu at Pulliam’s Barbeque is pretty basic. You can get hot dogs or barbecue. I didn’t try the barbecue but Larry did. He said it was alright especially if you add a little bit Big Ed’s Hot Sauce to it but he didn’t go back for a second one. I was a little thrown off by the fact that they reserve space on their very limited menu for a barbecue sandwich with cheese. That combination just doesn’t sound right…especially in North Carolina. It is a combination that I can’t really fathom anywhere even though I am notorious for throwing cheese on about anything.
They don’t serve french fries like a lot of North Carolina’s infamous hot dog places. You can pick up a bag of chips to go along with it but I wouldn’t waste stomach space on chips because the dogs are so good.
If you are a old-school soda lover, you have just hit a gold-mine. Pulliams has a variety of old-school bottled sodas like Cheerwine, Sun Drop, RC Cola, NuGrape and Nehi in a few different flavors. Pulliams also serves beer and Coke if you aren’t trying to go with a retro dog. However, I like to take things back to my childhood so I grabbed a cold-ass bottle of Cheerwine out of the cooler. Cheerwine in the bottle is truly a North Carolina thing and one of the fondest things I remember about growing up.
One of my favorite things about Pulliams (obviously other than the dogs) was the tree trunk table that they had outside that you could eat it. This is the only table outside so if it is busy you might be out of luck. We got there a little late in the day so it wasn’t busy and we were able to land the stump. It was a beautiful day so sitting outside was perfect (except for a car wash directly next door which was a getting a lot of traffic the day we went).
I think their hot dog very close to perfection. It is the classic Carolina style with chili, slaw, mustard and onions. Pulliam’s uses the classic North Carolina red dog which isn’t the prettiest wiener in the world but it makes for one helluva hot dog. Before the toppings are added to the dog, Pulliam’s brushes a good amount of butter onto the bun and then toasts it, basically to a char, on the grill before covering it with the classic Carolina toppings. The chili has a nice spice to it and the slaw is cool and crunchy. A lot of people like to add Big Ed’s Hot Sauce to the dog but I decided to stick with the way they normally serve it.
Pulliam’s is a 100-year-old place that is definitely worthwhile taking a road trip for if you are a hot dog lover and should be added on your places to eat in North Carolina. I’ve recently tried a few other legendary hot dog shacks across the state (reviews coming soon) and Pulliam’s is definitely winning so far in my book.
Foothills Brewing is one of North Carolina’s leading craft breweries producing some of my favorite beers including their Hoppyum IPA and their Total Eclipse Stout but they are probably most famous for their sought-after seasonal stout, Sexual Chocolate. Once a year, Foothills brews Sexual Chocolate and releases a limited amount of bottles that can only be purchased at the brewery and it usually sold out within a few hours. People will wait in line outside of the brewery just to make sure they get it. Beer lovers from all over the country make pilgrimages to Winston-Salem just to get a taste because Foothills’ distribution doesn’t currently reach very far. I’ve heard of people driving over 10 hours just to try it out so I figured a 45 minute trip for me would be well worth it.
I talked my friends, Elliot and Ashley, into heading over there on one of the nights of The Big Eat 2011 where downtown restaurants offer their signature dish at 50% off. Luckily, our trip to Foothills coincided with them still having Sexual Chocolate on tap so we were able to try it out. Sexual Chocolate has a strong ABV (alcohol by volume) percentage so they serve it in 12 oz. glasses instead of pints for $5.50. I had tried it the week at the Jolly Skull Beer Festival but only in 4 oz. glasses so it was nice to be able to sit down and get a full glass in front of me. We all ordered a glass of Sexual Chocolate after I had been talking it up on the ride over but Elliot and Ashley didn’t seem to like it as much as I did probably because of the style.
We ordered the pub nachos which are smothered with salsa, black olives, jalapeños, diced tomatoes, beer cheese, scallions, and sour cream. Our server recommended these to us and I thought they were fantastic. You can add chicken or chili for an additional two dollars but we went meatless. The homemade beer cheese was the star of this dish. It was melted and poured all over the plate. Foothills uses their beer to make a lot of their dishes including their homemade ketchup which is made with their beer, their DIPA glazed tofu and their brats which are boiled in the IPA. They also beer batter a lot of items on the menu. Get the nachos if you go.
Note: Elliot hated the ketchup but he also hates all ketchup that isn’t made by Heinz.
Foothills’ signature dish for The Big Eat was the fish & chips. The full-sized dish normally costs $14.99 but it was 50% off that night due to The Big Eat so Elliot and I both ordered it. The full-sized dish is massive with two huge planks of ale-battered fish with a homemade remoulade sauce and hand-cut french fries. It is a large plate of fried goodness as you can tell from the picture above. The remoulade was tasty and gave a nice bit of tartness to the fish. The batter was pretty heavy (pancake style) but that tends to be the more traditional type from the English pubs.
Ashley ordered the smokey turkey & apple wood bacon wrap which had pepper jack cheese, guacamole, banana peppers, lettuce and tomatoes. She got the sauteed vegetables on the side which looked kind of generic to me. She told me that she loved the wrap and that it was pretty refreshing especially compared to the cardiac-inducing fish & chips that both Elliot and I ordered. I was impressed by the serving size of the wrap because normally places tend to skimp on the contents of their wraps. This thing was the size of one of the homewrecker burritos from Moe’s which I back especially when the contents are pseudo-healthy.
If you are in Winston, you should definitely stop into Foothills Brewing downtown and grab a few beers and some food. I noticed a lot of negative reviews on Yelp about the service and food but we didn’t experience anything like that at all. The atmosphere is a lot of fun especially if you dig beer. You should probably pick up a few bottles to take home with you because they are pretty hard to find if you don’t live in the Triad.
Congratulations to Pulliam’s Barbeque in Winston-Salem because, according to the Winston-Salem Journal, they have been named the best hot dog in the South by Every Day with Rachel Ray Magazine. I have never really been a huge fan of Rachel Ray. Her personality kinds of pisses me off a little bit because she is overly peppy and her catch phrases really grind my gears. However, she does cook a lot with hot dogs with slightly disgusting recipes like Mac and Cheese Dog Casserole and Hot-Dog-a-Bobs so I guess we should consider her somewhat of an expert in this area.
However, she wasn’t actually the one touring the country and tasting the dogs. Every Day with Rachel Ray hired out the job to three bloggers over at SeriousEats.com, one of our favorite foodie sites, to travel the country and find America’s best hot dog. It sounds like an awesome job (which I would gladly accept…hint hint…) but it might be a little while before I wanted to eat a hot dog again…no matter how good it is.
Pulliam’s specializes in the Southern style dog: mustard, chili, slaw & onions. They serve a classic Southern red dog then grill/char the bun and add a little bit of their homemade hot sauce (optional). If you crack up a bottle of Cheerwine alongside that, it sounds like you’re pretty much in hot dog heaven. The Roast Grill in Raleigh and Pauly Dogs in Durham also made the brackets but got knocked out in the first and second round, respectively.
Thanks to Yarddawg for passing this one along to us! We are going to Pulliam’s Barbeque to give their dogs paired with a bottle of Cheerwine soon so stay tuned for a review in the next month or two.
Do you feel like your favorite North Carolina hot dog spot got left out? Post a comment below and let us know so we can check it out!
Raleigh and Durham aren’t the only cities in the state that are trying to get people to get off of their kitchen table and into a new restaurant in the area with the Triangle Restaurant Week right now.
Winston-Salem is currently in the middle of its own event called “The Big Eat” that is put on by the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership. Every Tuesday from January 4th until February 22nd, participating downtown restaurants are inviting customers to come in and try their signature dish at 50% off so they can literally get a taste of all the various things that downtown Winston-Salem has to offer.
A few of the restaurants that are participating in “The Big Eat” are Mozelle’s Bistro (pan seared scallops for $11.50), Wen Hwa Asian Fusion (Singapore street noodles with shrimp and chick for $4.95) and Kernel Kustard (50% off their chicken vesuvio sandwiches)…but that is just to name a few.
Here is the list that I have found of participating restaurants:
- 6th & Vine
- Bayberry Bistro
- Bib’s Downtown
- Breakfast of Course, Mary’s Too!
- Brew Nerds
- Caffé Prada
- Chelsee’s Coffee Shop & More
- Downtown Thai
- Finnigan’s Wake
- Foothills Brewing
- Fourth St. Filling Station
- Hutch & Harris
- Kernel Kustard
- Mellow Mushroom
- Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe
- Mozelle’s Bistro
- Noma Urban Bar & Grill
- Rana Loca
- Soup’s Orchid Vietnamese
- Screaming Rooster
- Sweet Potatoes… a restaurant
- Twin City Chop House
- Wen Hwa Asian Fusion
- Willow’s Bistro
- Wolfie’s Frozen Custard
- WS Prime- A Cafe
This is a pretty stout list of great restaurants in Winston-Salem. I’m definitely going to try to make it over to the Twin City to check out “The Big Eat” and do a review of one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Anyone have any recommendations?