Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hutch & Harris

I hadn't been to Hutch & Harris in downtown Winston-Salem in nearly 10 years. This wasn't intentional of course, it's just not one of the few places I MUST visit when I find myself in Winston, which is not nearly as often as I'd like it to be. Their renovations and expansion of the SideBar got me interested in a repeat visit, as well as a few photos of their brunch Bloody Marys in Winston-Salem Monthly Magazine. The expansion is beautiful - it would be a great place for happy hour or game-watching, and at Sunday brunch, there was some lovely live guitar - not too loud, quite enjoyable. At H&H, you get prompt and friendly service, and best of all: a basket of breads! Biscuits, cornbread, banana muffins - all three were delicious, and a great sampling for those who want to taste a little bit of everything (moi).

This past Sunday, I was determined to have one of those beautiful Bloodies. I opted for one made from Tomatillos, resulting in a beautiful garden green color. Notes of cilantro, celery and cucumber made this especially flavorful, with a smoky salt rim, and special garnishes including celery, cucumber, lime and a wedge of smoked gouda cheese! It was incredibly easy to sip and really tasted like a serving of vegetables. I'll take it. My dining partner's was more traditional, but with a habanero-infused cocktail sausage.
The brunch menu is fabulous, with an extensive selection. I finally settled on the Barcelona Breakfast Tostada after much back and forth. I'm so glad I did - it's unique, with a layer of white chicken chili on a thin, 12 inch tortilla, which reminded me of a flavorful and texturally exciting refried beans. Two fried eggs, pico de gallo, cheese and a spicy Ranchero sauce round out the dish, and every bite has a little bit of runny yolk - it's delicious. You can get spuds or pimiento cheese grits, and while the cheese flavor in the grits were lacking, they were thick and creamy.
For those who like the classic eggs benedict, you'll be tickled with H&H's preparation. You get grilled ciabatta as your base instead of an english muffin, and several layers of thinly sliced ham rests underneath two medium poached eggs, a nice change from too runny of a yolk.
If you're in the mood for lunch, H&H might just have one of the best burgers in town. It blends Ground Chuck and Ground Sirloin, grilled to order, and topped with bacon, cheese and a fried egg. I'm no burger queen, but this was outstanding. The seasoning was just right, and the money bite captured all of those rich flavors. My dining partner smartly chose sauteed spinach as a side, with briny olives, tomatoes and parmesan cheese to boot.

Everything I tasted at brunch was excellent, and I'll be very likely to return on another Sunday, as well as during the week to try their regular menu. C&S very much approves of H&H. If you have been swept away with all the new hot spots in town, you should check out H&H again. This place has stuck around for a reason.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


My family and I have been going to North Myrtle Beach for the past 28 years. We have our traditions and favorite restaurants, and a pretty set itinerary when it comes to dining. This year however, we had an extra night and discussed the hundreds of options along Highway 17 from North Myrtle into South. We landed on a restaurant we had driven by year after year, and after 2 visits in one week, we have found a new annual tradition.
Thoroughbreds has been a staple on Kings Highway since 1988, and is a favorite among locals. The restaurant is huge - several dining rooms, a separate bar and lounge area, not to mention a reception room and additional space upstairs. We enjoyed the ambiance, dimly lit and characteristic of a classic steakhouse. Upon one visit, we practically had a dining room to ourselves. On the return visit, just 2 days later, we were lucky to get a table.

Servers are gracious and professional, with appropriate and timely check-backs. General Manager Dave Amend stopped by our table and could not have been more friendly and welcoming. My dad felt so comfortable, he even suggested they add his favorite cocktail (The 007 - Belvedere Vodka with Muddled Olives) to their martini list!

A warm basket of crusty French loaf bread is served with dollops of addictive herbed butter. Appetizers, creatively named "The Starting Gate" range from Escargot to Lamb Chops. We chose the Sea Scallop Ramekin, combining tender, plump jumbo sea scallops with bell peppers in what seemed like a savory bread pudding. Scallops are nestled among custard and bread, making for a really decadent starter.

Another appetizer, Blackened Beef Tips are a definite crowd-pleaser. Tender chunks of beef are seared and served on a bed of lettuce with tangy bearnaise sauce. The portion is generous but every bite will be inhaled.

All entrees come with a House Salad, but you can upgrade to a Caesar Salad, prepared tableside, or my personal favorite, the Wedge. Iceberg Lettuce is sprinkled with bacon, crispy onions, blue cheese crumbles and the standout - roasted tomatoes. The housemade Blue Cheese Dressing is great, as is the house specialty Sweet and Sour Poppy Seed.

The clever menu headings continue with "The Belmont Steaks." Thoroughbred's Filet Mignon is incredible. Your knife and fork slide right through it, and it's simply yet perfectly seasoned. Mashed Potatoes are a classic side, and Thoroughbreds' are heaven. Rich, buttery, and with the slightest tang (buttermilk or greek yogurt?) - you will easily clean your plate.

Ahi Tuna
Onto the "Seabiscuit" portion of the menu. The Waimea Bay Ahi Tuna is one of the best renditions of tuna I've ever had. Ginger-seared Ahi Tuna is served a beautiful medium rare, atop Wasabi Yellow Corn Grits, with Haricot Verts, toasted Pecans, Pearl Onions and a sprinkling of Bacon rounding out the dish. I loved the addition of the pecans for crunch, and the pearl onions were a nice acidity. I would have liked a little more wasabi flavor in the otherwise outstanding grits, but I have an exceptionally high tolerance for heat, so other patrons may notice the bite. I will remember this dish for a very long time.

If you're torn between several options, the Shellhouse Trio is a great way to sample a bunch of different items. Bacon-wrapped Scallops are as delightful as you would imagine; Fried Gulf Shrimp are large, and have a nice crispy crust, unlike the soggy-battered shrimp I've encountered at your average seafood shack; and Oysters Thoroughbred are served on the half shell, topped with spinach, bell pepper, onion, bacon, panko and bearnaise sauce. I am slowly learning to enjoy oysters, and I much prefer to eat them this way than raw. Note the incredible presentation - this is served on a bed of lettuce on a huge silver platter!
Shellhouse Trio
Prosiutto-wrapped Monkfish was a special that evening, served atop a creamy risotto. The fish is meaty and substantial, like a white steak. The saltiness from the prosciutto adds to the dish, cutting through the richness of the risotto. This should become a menu staple.

Being that I have an insatiable sweet tooth, I was shocked to discover that I had never experienced the joy that is Bananas Foster. Prepared tableside, this is one of the most luxurious and delicious desserts I've ever had. It easily makes my top 5 of all time. Bananas are sliced into coin shapes, and tossed among brown sugar, butter and rum. This sauce melts vanilla ice cream, until it practically becomes one consistency, and you will find yourself licking the bowl. It's utterly fantastic.
Bananas Foster, love of my life
Next time you find yourself in Myrtle Beach, visit Thoroughbred's. They are doing so many things right. You will enjoy every minute of it.