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Cities gives heft to workday lunch

by Lindsay Craven

It’s not very often that I get to sit down and enjoy a lunch in a restaurant that doesn’t specialize in cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets. Most of my midday meals are quick and usually involve something heated up in the microwave while I sit at my desk and try to get some work finished. This day is different. Today I make a stop at Cities Grill & Bar on Stratford Road to enjoy an extended lunch break. Unfortunately all of my friends and family are working today and I have to enjoy this unusual treat on my own. It’s a little after 2 p.m. and the parking lot is close to empty. The entrance to Cities is very modern with a water fountain set near the front doors and round pillars support the architecture. Once inside the doors the atmosphere is dark and relaxed. The hostess stand is constructed from stone and behind her I notice a large projector screen that’s blank at the moment and a row of small water fountains beneath it that dance in front of a painting of the New York City skyline. The hostess greets me and waits a second to see if I have other diners coming to join me. I assure her it’s just me and she asks my preference for outdoor or indoor dining. With temperatures hovering in the high 80s and sweat already on my brow, I opt for indoors. She seats me in a booth near the only other occupied table, a group of ladies celebrating a birthday. The area is nice, with dark carpet and furniture leading up to the brightly colored walls. There is a mural painted on the walls to my right that depicts a patio scene overlooking the San Francisco skyline. The waitress comes to the table for my drink order and quickly returns with my beverage. I have to go to a dinner party later in the evening and so I decide to choose something light for lunch. I settle on the spinach and artichoke dip as my appetizer and a small steak salad. As I wait for the food to arrive I notice the unique ceiling. It is a deep blue and spreads to the center of the room where it dips in to change to a painted cloudy scene. Where the dip occurs there are tube lights giving the clouds a glow. The bar and kitchen area are surrounded by stone arches and it complements the deep orange colors of the walls nicely. The waitress returns with the spinach and artichoke dip. The plate is full with the small bowl of dip surrounded by a fan of gold- and cream-colored tortilla chips. The dip is topped with so much cheddar and mozzarella that you can barely see the green of the spinach peeking out from underneath. Since I’m a big fan of cheese, this doesn’t bother me. I dig in and quickly discover that this will be the cheesiest spinach dip I’ve ever had. It’s delicious. Unlike most restaurants, the kitchen staff has allowed the tangy artichoke flavors to remain in the dish and the black olives give it an extra twang at the end. As I continue to eat I find that the cream cheese is not mixed into the dip very well in the middle but it doesn’t hinder the taste much. I can only make it about a quarter through the appetizer before I realize I have to stop if I’m going to eat my salad. The waitress arrives at the table as though she’s reading my mind. She delivers my salad and comes prepared with a box for the leftover dip.

Although I order the half-size salad the serving is still substantial. The small bowl is overflowing. Vegetables and slices of boiled egg top the fresh green lettuce underneath. It’s a very colorful lunch for me since most of my lunches come from a box. Green and red peppers, red onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and cheddar cheese top the dish. Toasted pita triangles line the sides of the bowl and perfectly grilled tenderloin medallions rest on top of it all. I ordered a side of bleu cheese dressing but as I cut the medallions I realize that the juices from the steak as well as the vegetables give the salad plenty of flavor. Everything blends together well and all of the vegetables are crisp.

The only thing that can improve the meal is a bit more lettuce in place of the some of the mound of vegetables on top. The waitress returns and yet again comes prepared with another box for my salad. She gives me a ticket that only adds up to about $17. Overall the meal is quick and filling for a fairly reasonable price and the service is very good. This is a great place to spend an evening after a long day of shopping or even a great place to have a quick and pleasant lunch break.

Cities Grill & Bar; 2438 S. Stratford Road, Winston-Salem; 336.765.9027; www.citiesgrillandbar.com

Cities Grill in Winston- Salem serves a mean steak salad (inset). (photos by Lindsay Craven)

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