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Honey Pot Chef Matthew Pleasants does it all in-house

by Kristi Maier

@triadfoodies

Life is very sweet at The Honey Pot. After all the restaurant just celebrated its first birthday a few weeks ago. The Southern brassiere, located at 285 West Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem, is situated next door to its boozy big brother, Tate’s Craft Cocktails. We pretty much all knew that when John Tate decided to dive a bit deeper into the Winston-Salem culinary scene on restaurant row that it would be a hit. Holly Tate, John’s wife, already has a thriving catering business. However the kitchen magic is happening thanks to Tate’s son, Beau, who’s the GM, and Chef Matthew Pleasants, who likes to change the menu up every four to six weeks, using fresh, local ingredients from farms that he and the servers are happy to name. One would definitely call the menu Southern, definitely pulling in some global influences for creations that are very unique.

Pardon the Winnie the Pooh references, but every once in a while you find an appropriate quote by the bear with very little brain. Often right there on their welcome sign.

So we decided to give the summer menu a whirl, and “fancying a little smackerel” opted for a few starters and one entree and then we ordered one dessert. But the kitchen got excited and brought out two other desserts so we had to try them, snap some pics and let you take a sneak peek at what summery goodness is going on here.

First starter, from their “Staple” selections, Fig Toast””toasted baguettes smeared with goat cheese infused with figs, herbs and sprinkled goat ham. The ham was similar to bacon bits but was goat instead. The bread was perfectly toasty, the cheese spread had that buttery, creaminess and the sweet figs and salty goat ham were well suited. It was a delicious way to start the meal.

The snack bar was ordered next. This particular meat and cheese board changes often and right now you’ll find a little jar of pimento cheese, charcuterie (we got chorizo), pickles (consisting of pickled squash and curried traditional pickle), peach sauce and beer mustard. It’s always fun to try to find the perfect bite of just the right cheesy, meaty, tart, sweet and crunchy components. Tip: All of those components are a must on a meat and cheese board.

We thought in order to be able to at least consider dessert, that the best thing to do is share the entrée, Carolina Shrimp. It had some elements of a Low Country Boil, but with shrimp, mussels, sausage, grilled zucchini and corn all in an herby wine sauce. It was more refined than a traditional boil. And they give you more of that nicely toasted bread for dipping. You will not be judged for drinking it from the bowl. But the bread tastes so good dipped in it.

All of the desserts sounded fabulous.

We had trouble deciding between the Peach Tart with a basil crema, Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with fresh seasonal berries with candied peanuts or “¦wait for it”¦.fresh doughnut holes with tres leches cream sauce or spiced chocolate sauce for dipping. So, we chose the doughnuts but the kitchen opted to send out all 3 so that we could share it with all of our CHOW readers. Wasn’t that nice?

I will say that the panna cotta was perfectly prepared. It held its shape just enough but was incredibly creamy throughout. Not too sweet, very vanilla and the fresh berries were the perfect summertime treat. Topped off with the candied peanuts, you got the crunch factor which made it fun.

We liked the peach tart. It was more of a pureed peach filling topped with sliced peaches. I love basil and realize that basil and peach can go together. It was tasty, but we found it had a hard time competing with the other two. Which brings me to those doughnuts. They were perfectly soft inside, very crispy on the outside and they nearly didn’t need the sauces at all, but if we had to choose, we’d pick the tres leches sauce. Or the chocolate. You get both, so it doesn’t matter”¦enjoy!

Chef Matthew Pleasants says they’ve enjoyed tweaking the menu often, “Every four to six weeks it’s completely new, but every two or three weeks something is always changing.” The restaurant consistently uses four local farms””Fair Share, Sungold, Harmony Ridge and Shore Farms Organics. In addition to their growing wine knowledge, he says they’re also growing their food preservation knowledge. “We want to do everything in house. We’re about to get our canning certification and will soon be an acidified food handler. We hope to have a booth at Cobblestone Farmer’s Market next year selling pickled vegetables and mushrooms and Texas Pete Honey and things like that.”

One of the things that The Honey Pot is known for in the cooler months is a piping hot bowl of ramen. Pleasants says he’ll be visiting South Korea and Japan in the coming month where he plans to perfect some cooking techniques including noodles as well as kimchi.

Did I mention you should try the cocktails? A food-friendly selection of craft spirits graces the menu. And you can be sure to find a carefully selected wine as well. Beau Tate and two others at the restaurant are poised to earn their secondlevel sommelier certification and are well versed in the wine department.

Look for more wine dinners in the future as the sommeliers wine expertise grows over time. And the restaurant offers halfpriced wine on Wednesdays.

Price points at The Honey Pot are $8-13 for Starters and Salads and entrees starting at $18. The restaurant also offers a four course chef tasting menu for $48. !

WANNA go?

The Honey Pot is located at 285 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem. Phone: 336.893.9471. www.honeypot-wsnc.com

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