new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Miners: Winston Salem New Southern Cuisine

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Miners: Winston Salem New Southern Cuisine

630 S. Stratford Road
Winston-Salem, NC 27103
(336) 768-2221

I was in Winston Salem two weeks ago, visiting family in the charming burg of Mount Airy, about 20 minutes or so outside of Winston. Mount Airy is referred to as a Charming Burg in every publication ever. This is because Andy Griffith was born in Mt. Airy and based the legendary TV show on the very quaint town he grew up in. For you foodies, Mt. Airy also boasts the mighty Snappy Lunch, a restaurant where one may buy pork chop sandwiches as large as your head, covered in chili, cheese, and coleslaw. I ate one once and it felt like someone socked me in the mouth but in the best way ever.

But this is not about Mt. Airy, this is about the American Southern restaurant in Winston Salem called Milners, which I thought was pretty good.

Milners serves up refined variants on traditional Carolina dishes, hitting on such touchstones are fried chicken, collards, fried green tomatoes, frogmore stew, and other local delights. There is also green papaya salad for the infidels. The attractive stone-finished bar is pretty hopping on weekend nights and attracts what appears to be Winston's beautiful people crowd. (I had not previously known there was one but once again I am proved to be a fool). The small plates menu is extensive and features sophisticated variants on fried things on which one can nibble while hitting on people. This is a good thing.

We began with the baked pimento cheese, Surry sausage and goat cheese, and roasted garlic blue cheese with flatbreads. This was a gussied up and bubbling variant on the pimento cheese all Southerners consume from bith onwards, and was thus absolutely delicious. The goat and blue cheeses were also rich as hell and similarly delicious. They have almost improved on the Velveeta-queso bilge we ritualistically eat on Super Bowl Sunday in my family but not entirely.

I tried the Frogmore Stew with shrimp, mussels, white fish, scallops, sausage, and "aromatic vegetables". Other then the odd addition of baby corn (wtf, yo), this was perfectly cooked and very fresh, and had a nice zingy, tomatoey flavor. I will eat seafood stew wherever it is offered in any place, except for maybe the wilds of Nebraska and even then I will be sorely tempted. I think Frogmore stew, a traditional low country speciality (more native to South Carolina) desperately needs to be on more menus.

My aunt had the yellowfin tuna with a black bean cake, sauteed spinach, tomato butter, and chow-chow. This is definitely Tall Food, much beloved of the eponymous early-nineties chef, but the flavor combos worked. The tuna had a nice meaty flavor that worked nicely with the spinach and the rich tomato butter. The portion was crazy-huge which is either good or not good depending on your opinions on these things. (What ARE your opinions? Giant portions that may be gnawed on delicately for days on end, or dainty portions that may be consumed in one sitting without fear of caloric overload or sodium attacks? Thoughts?)

My uncle sprung for the steak special, the exact details of which I cannot recall so shut up. This was pretty good (if a bit chewy for my preference), although the cheese-infused mashed potatoes were the star of the show here. Putting pounds of cheese and sour cream and bacon (I think) in potatoes instantly makes them incredibly delicious. There is probably something about this in the Bible. Well, not the old Testament, anyway.

We tried the salmon crusted with moravian cookies and it was really very nice: wish the photo had turned out. Moravian cookies are a delicious and wafer-thin variant on the ginger snap. They are produced in Winston Salem by the Moravian community there - Moravian's being a Bohemian religious group that emigrated to the Winston area in the 1700's. Dewy's makes particularly tasty Moravian cookies, in flavors ranging from key lime to pumpkin spice. You can eat ten of these suckers and still feel virtuous because they are very thin.. I suggest you try them.

We also tried the pecan pie with vanilla bean gelato, which was very hot and about what you would wish for in a pecan pie. Which is many great things indeed.

I recommend Milner's highly for a sophisticated meal in Winston-Salem that does not involve chopped barbeque, buffalo wings, or, well, chopped barbeque. I hope to return soon.


Anonymous said...

Paradoxically the more expensive the restaurant the smaller the portion I want. Hum...

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