It’s been a while since Tony and I went away and our empty pockets made a beach getaway a no go, a week in the city completely out, and an all-expense paid month touring Europe so unlikely, I think I had to pay $5.00 just to think about it. However, a day away was greatly needed, so we looked around at what we had in North Carolina. Luckily, we have some neat places to tour and get away from it all right around the corner in Winston-Salem(well, maybe if that corner was a couple of hours away).
If you’re going to do the tourist route, you have to hit Old Salem. It reminds me of my childhood trips to Colonial Williamsburg; lots of old homes, people in period gear, lots of bored schoolkids. However, as I get older, I get more out of these trips, I love the architecture and learning about the Moravian culture (and eating as many of the cookies as possible!). Plus, especially as Fall approaches, it’s a great place to see the seasons change.
But what about food?!? In Old Salem, there’s not a lot of options when it comes to where to eat. There’s one or two sandwich shops and that wonderful Moravian bakery (imagine cinnamon buns the size of your head!), but it’d be easy to miss the Old Salem Tavern among the rest of the historically preserved houses(736 S Main St., Winston Salem, NC 27101-5331). But rest assured, the long line waiting to get in isn’t just because it’s the only restaurant in Old Salem. Once you get past the waiters in old-timey garb and the setting, the food speaks volumes.
The menu is a mix of rustic food and more modern American cuisine. It’s a weird menu; you find bratwurst, Orecchiette, and the lunch special chipotle chicken sandwich all on the same page. Tony and I decided to the do the best of both worlds; he picked the salmon corn cakes and I took on the Sauerkraut stew.
My stew was a big leap for me. I’m not a sauerkraut fan at all, despite my German background. So, I was surprised to find my mouth watering when it was served at the table next to us. I’m glad I went with my gut, because it was one of the most soul-satisfying meals I’ve had in a long time. The bite of the sauerkraut was tempered by the sweetness of the tomatoes and carrots, while the beef was braised so that it almost melted in my mouth. It was the kind of meal I could picture coming home to Grandma’s house to get. The only sour (no pun intended) note was the dollop of Crème fraîche on top, the creaminess mixed with the tartness and savoriness of the stew wasn’t working for me. Next time, I’ll order it without the toppings, this stew is perfect in its simplicity.
Tony went with a modern spin on corn cakes, which incorporated salmon and a cilantro mayo. The cakes were a mix of doughy and crisp, with almost a sweetness to it. The corn cake complimented the seafood and the cilantro mayo reminded Tony of a sweeter tarter sauce. The meal came with a chili lime slaw, which was underwhelming, but the great service (not to mention the delish Pilsner Urquell) made up for it.
We went from Old Salem to Reynolda Village, over by Wake Forest University. There’s definitely a clientele here, lots of monogramed purses and bead shops. Sadly, I’m not that kind of girl, so I was a little scared there’d be nothing there to catch my eye. Luckily, the Reynolda Gardens are beautiful. It was the kind of garden I wanted to get lost in; lots of roses, late-blooming flowers, and green as far as the eye can see. The best part was taking a little used road to find an old wood house behind the gardens. It was a little creepy, like something a witch might have lived in from a fairy tale. But still, it was such an amazing place to explore and I’m a little jealous that the Wake Forest students can turn down the street and spend time there.
So, dodging gift shops and playing in the flowers made me sleepy, luckily Tony heard from Rebecca at Chowandchatter.com (who also pointed our way to Old Salem Tavern, thanks!!!) that Simply Yummy (122 Reynolda Village, Winston Salem, NC 27106-5145) would provide a much needed caffeine boost. I love indie coffee shops, especially those that serve good food, and the sweets there looked amazing. It was everything I could do not to grab a slice of the homemade strawberry pie. Oh well, the white chocolate Mocha was just what the doctor ordered, especially as the sky threatened to drizzle. It was sweet, but not cloying, a certain coffee chain could take a lesson from them at making sweet drinks that don’t instantly give you cavities.
All in all, Winston-Salem was a breath of fresh air. We really barely touched the surface of what’s out there, especially when it comes to the downtown. But I’m excited for my next day off, it’s great to leave the everyday and go exploring on what just right outside our fair city.