Next stop on the Winston-Salem tour, following Winkler Bakery, P B’s Takeout and Little Richard’s, was Sweet Potatoes in the Arts District. This was my hosts’ pick and a delicious and wonderful way to show me how local food is evolving.
If you’re keeping score, yes, this was my third lunch of the day. In planning for my visit, Bill had offered me three eating itineraries: 1) Hot dog tour of Winston-Salem, 2) “Colorful” locales, or 3) Lunch at Sweet Potatoes for sophisticated country cooking. I countered that I’d like to squeeze in as much as practical from a logistics standpoint from all of them. Not unexpectedly, he had some concerns about how to find the stomach space for it all. I explained that the first two bites of a dish taste the best (i. e., The French Laundry philosophy), and that we’d share orders and/or take the balance of our food home. A new approach for Bill, but soon he was into this style of grazing on the run.
At Sweet Potatoes, Bill and Becky introduced me as their visitor from San Francisco. Our waiter turned to me and said, “You from out of town? We gonna FEED you!” And they did, both in quantity and quality.
My top tastes of this stop were at the start and finish:
Fried green tomato and okra basket with sweet potato aioli – While the (frozen) okra didn’t have much flaor, the fried green tomato slices in the basket were wonderful. Tasty aioli, albeit lumpy.
Three cheese macaroni and country ham souffle – Best dish of the meal. I asked what the three cheeses were. Answer: white, orange and blue. Creamy cheese sauce accented with fresh dill for an unexpected flavor punch to counter the saltiness of the ham.
Sweet potato pie with pureed and sliced sweet potatoes – Well-judged sweetness and not cloying, very flakey pastry. The combination of puree baked over a thick slice next to the bottom crust offered up a contrast between silken custardy texture and a more substantial bite.
We also shared a couple sandwiches. I loved the sweet potato biscuit of the Hot Brown, but the mornay sauce suffered from pasty roux and the turkey breast was much too dry. I preferred the wild mushroom biscuit, again with the crunchy and moist sweet potato biscuit base, topped with a pan-seared portabello. Lovely fresh spinach under it, and thyme-scented mushroom gravy served on the side by request. Again the gravy was on the lumpy side and a touch too thick.
More photos (select “slideshow”, then “show info” to display captions)
529 N Trade St, Winston Salem, NC 27101
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