Carriage House maintains 40-year pace

by David McGee

As soon as you walk through the doors of the Carriage House you are immediately greeted by a warm hello and questions about your day that don’t feel rehearsed. The first thing you notice on the way the way to your table is the low hum of noise, a combination of pots and pans shifting from front to back burners and barely distinguishable orders being communicated from one station to another. Once you have been seated it’s just a matter of moments before your waiter comes to you, ready for action. Its almost as if they’ve been waiting exclusively for you to come through the door all day and are pleased you have made it.

The Carriage House stands out from many other restaurants because of the attention paid to detail. This is true on all levels. The place was clean and orderly, from the parking lot to the windows, tables, floors and walls. The d’cor, chairs and flatware were all strategically positioned as if willing someone to move them out of place. The service is above and beyind expectations, whether it’s a variation on your order or your glass is approaching the half-empty point.

A family-owned staple on the Winston-Salem food scene for 39 years, Carriage House was begun by Chris Berry and is celebrating its 40 th year of culinary service to the hungry masses at the end of the month. With 12 years at their current location on Stratford Road and under the close eyes of father-and-son dynamo John and George Stabolitis, the food has only gotten better since I first experienced it five years ago.

The breadth of options will assure something for everyone in the family, including the most finicky and adventurous eaters, without the risk of losing quality and flavor. Each dish is prepared to order and you can count on the kitchen to meet your specifications. On my last trip I was at war with myself as soon as I opened the menu. You mean I can only choose one?

I was torn between going with the down-home, feel-good food and satisfying the insatiable carnivore in me — the filet tenderloin tips that are seared then saut’ed in wine sauce with mushrooms or the doublecrusted homemade chicken pot pie with carrots, peas and gravy? Then the decision got a little harder when my waitress recommended the pan-fried chicken livers in wine sauce with mushrooms and onions. Okay, so the decision didn’t get too much harder.

The homemade pie won the inner struggle and what a good choice it was. The chicken was moist and flavorful, combining with the creamy gravy and flaky crust to approach the carrots and peas in all their fresh glory. With the minimal and simplistic approach to a personal favorite, Carriage House succeeded where many have failed. It can be difficult to get the proper balance of ingredients to complement the crust, however, when you add the additional crust to the pie it is clear that Carriage House is onto something.

My girlfriend went with the Famous Carriage House Club, a three-tiered conglomeration of ham, turkey, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. This isn’t your ordinary sandwich. Big enough for two meals, the meats are delicious; bacon fried crispy and tomatoes thick-cut and juicy. Served with a side vegetable, Carriage House has created a timeless carryover from the good ol’ days when sandwiches weren’t relegated to brown paper sacks and eaten on the go.

Winston-Aalem’s Carriage House specializes in comfort food, regional staples and attention to detail, as evidenced by this plate of fresh and pickeled vegetables. (photo by David McGee)