2011 best bites of the year

by Brian Clarey

Customers check out the goods at the Cobblestone Farmers Market in Winston-Salem. (photo by Keith T. Barber)

The culinary year in the Triad has seen some surprising highs, like the opening of Bin 33 in downtown Greensboro and expansion of the Cobblestone Farmers Market in Winston-Salem, and some depressing lows, most of which have to do with the continued massacre of local, independently owned restaurants.

But every year is a good one for a man who writes about food. It is, in my opinion, the single best beat in journalism. I’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years, and I continue to learn new things, try new dishes, meet fascinating people and discover new parts of the region.

Here’s a quick rundown of the best things I found this year.

Best meal: Print Works Bistro (702 Green Valley Road; 336.379.0699; We don’t get to do it very often anymore, but for our 10th anniversary my wife and I stepped over to the high side and blew a big wad on a fancy dinner with all the accoutrements. Our night at the Proximity Hotel’s premiere restaurant was romantic, memorable and absolutely delicious.

Favorite new restaurant: Toshi’s Café (5710 High Point; 336.297.2288). It’s possible you disagree with me — many, many great restaurants have opened in the Triad this year — but I have to go with my man Toshi Yoshida’s place in the Adams Farm Shopping Center just down the road from my office. We’ve loved Toshi around here since we tried to get our heads around his Coffee & Roses in 2005, and when expansion on High Point Road pushed him out of his space, we were rooting for him in the new spot. We love the sushi. We love the weird Japanese sodas. We love the coffee. And his breakfast sandwiches make the fast-food joints look like they’re selling cat food.

Best doughnuts: Donut World (2401 Battleground Ave.; 5561 W. Market St., Greensboro; 336.315.0202). It’s a world of doughnuts. And not just any doughnuts. They’re the best I’ve ever tasted in my life — good enough, even, to make me consider changing the YES! Weekly style guide to amend our official spelling of the confection to align with their point of view.

Best reboot: Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill (3300 High Point Road; 336.294.1781; www. When they closed the venerable chain and focused on the flagship Greensboro restaurant, I was expecting another cosmetic makeover with no real substance. I was mistaken. The new Darryl’s still has the fun, family atmosphere it always had, but it’s added outdoor fire pits and a dynamic new bar. Plus the food is really great. It has become a favorite of my kids.

Best discoveries: MJ’s Steak & Seafood (620 Dolley Madison Road; 336.852.4889; and Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Cuisine (878 W. 4th St., Winston-Salem; 336.703.5400). I probably went to 30 restaurants this year, and these two stand out. My wife and I loved our meal at MJ’s, in the old restaurant district off Guilford College Road, for its creativity and quality, and we loved the French press coffee at the end. In the spring I had one of the best dishes I’ve eaten all year at Mozelle’s, a soft-shell crab salad that I still think about sometimes.

There were many more fantastic experiences I had this year, and I look forward to many more in the year to come. Until then, happy new year, all. Celebrate by eating something terrific.