Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Katharine Brasserie

I previously wrote about The Katharine Brasserie in Winston-Salem when it opened back in 2016. It was a fine experience, but did not compare to the outstanding meal I had here last month when I celebrated my birthday. I was so impressed and blown away by the menu, execution, service and attention to detail. Last week, I was thrilled to get a sneak peek of Chef Adam Barnett's new fall menu, which will debut the week of October 7th. We had 7 courses and everything was exceptional - I do not use that word lightly. The Katharine has done a 180 since my visit 3 years ago, and the hard work this team is doing has really paid off.

You'll want to arrive early to have a cocktail in their beautiful bar area that boasts natural light. They make a killer Martini and French 75, but I was partial to The Felicity, a Vodka cocktail with Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur), Elderflower Liqueur, Lime Juice and Basil. It was so easy to drink and very refreshing. I actually continued sipping it with our first course, Apple and Roquefort Salad, which reminded me of a sophisticated spin on the classic Waldorf Salad. Bitter ingredients like Arugula, Frisée and Celery are married with sweet Apples, savory Walnuts and beautifully creamy Roquefort Cheese for a bit of umami. This is a thoughtfully composed salad, where every ingredient shines. It's dressed with a white balsamic vinaigrette for a nice tang of acid.
The Felicity

Apple and Roquefort Salad
It's finally starting to feel like fall, and the Butternut Squash Bisque screams autumn. It's a lovely orange hue and features Coconut Milk(!) which makes it super velvety and luscious. The heat level from the Harissa is perfect - it just warms the back of your throat - and it mingles with the coconut milk nicely. Chef finishes the soup with a drizzle of Crème Fraîche to cool things down.
Butternut Squash Bisque
The Katharine's wine game is strong. Throughout the evening, Erin Doby (General Manager and Sommelier) offered wine pairings from California and France. Erin knows what she is doing. If you have any questions about what to pair with your meal, she's got you covered. The Landmark Chardonnay from Sonoma paired nicely with these first two courses.

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Ricotta Gnocchi - the moment it arrived at the table, I began salivating from the fragrance. Meaty Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, roasted Butternut Squash, tender Duck Confit and Arugula are tossed together in a fabulous Sage Brown Butter sauce. I wanted to bottle this sauce up and wear it as an Eau de Parfum. It was so freaking delicious. The gnocchi was tender yet hearty, and every ingredient maintained its integrity in this dish. Really satisfying.
Ricotta Gnocchi
While The Katharine is definitely able to satisfy my inner glutton, don't worry - if you're vegan, they've got you. I was really impressed with the Cauliflower "Couscous". The sweet and tangy Tomato Sauce is thickened with Cauliflower (not cheese!) and spiced with Harissa. I would never know this dish didn't have Parmesan. Haricot Verts cooked al dente and Almonds provide a nice crunch, and while I wasn't expecting it to be, this dish was every bit as satisfying as the previous. I also was shocked to discover that a Pinot Noir and Cab Franc Rosé was hearty enough to stand up to both of these dishes! I'm telling you, the Som knows her stuff.
Cauliflower "Couscous"
Chef Barnett sautées some of the finest Salmon I've ever had. Every rendition I've had at The Katherine has been sensational, but this might be my favorite so far. The Salmon is thick and cooked perfectly with a deliciously crispy crust. It rests on a Leek and Celery Root purée with Potatoes and a Crème Fraîche Mustard Beurre Blanc sauce. The pop from the mustard seeds gives nice acid and texture, and the award for best supporting ingredient goes to that fabulous leek and celery root puree. It's nice and bitter and cuts through the richness of the fish and the sauce. I would eat this every day for the rest of my life. I was also obsessing over the Santenay Terre d'Enfrance Burgundy wine that was paired with this!
Sauteed Salmon with Mustard Beurre Blanc
I was so excited when a beautiful, thick, cooked to perfection Coriander Crusted Duck Breast was placed in front of me. For carnivores, this was the star of the show, and such a nice change from your typical steak. The coriander crust provided a nice slight crunch and flavor burst, and is a nod to the old-school Duck à l'orange, but with a highly modernized spin. It sat atop tender Cabbage, Potatoes and Shiitake Mushrooms, and finished with a lovely Orange-Coriander sauce.
Coriander Crusted Duck Breast
The grand finale was the Crème Brûlée. Now let me tell you: I have had Crème Brûlée before, many, many times. But not like this. I swear there was something special in the custard, but Chef assured me it was just high-quality ingredients and proper technique. The crazy strong vanilla flavor in that creamy custard, topped with that crackling burnt sugar - it was out of this world. We even got two Brown Sugar Sablé Cookies to go along with it! I couldn't stop eating it. It was irresistible.
Creme Brulee
The thought and care that went into devising this menu and preparing the food is evident. 7 courses and 0 complaints. Chef Barnett has some rock star sous chefs who were able to take his vision and execute it perfectly. If you haven't been to The Katharine (or if you haven't been since it opened), it is so worth a trip. I'll be back in 2 weeks to celebrate my mom's birthday - it's that fantastic. Run, don't walk, to check this place out.

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