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TAPAS TAKE 2

by Daniel Schere

Refocusing on French Fusion

daniel@yesweekly.com | @Daniel_Schere

The restaurant formerly known as Mundo reopened this month as Augustine’s.

If you haven’t been down on 4th Street lately by the Stevens Center for the Performing Arts in Winston-Salem, you’ll notice a new neighbor occupying the space that was Mundo just a couple of months ago.

Well, perhaps new isn’t the right word to describe Augustine’s. It still has the feel of an upscale wine and tapas bar located in one of the more hip areas of downtown. The restaurant has shifted toward a French influence and the menu now includes traditional entrees such as pork tenderloin and speckled trout.

But make no mistake: small plates are still the way to go. If you want something more traditional, go with the chorizo and basil meatballs in a chunky marinara sauce. More adventurous eaters would probably prefer the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with almonds and soaked

in a rich pomegranate sauce that is bursting with sweetness. Small plates are great for portion control, and two are usually enough to satisfy an appetite for an evening.

Owner and Head Chef Eric Muck decided to change the restaurant’s concept after his business partner Jared Lee split off earlier this summer. He thinks the southern/French style of food is better suited for Winston-Salem.

“It seems right for the space,” Muck said. “It seems right for the kind of work we do. I felt that our menu was a bit difficult for people to access. One of the waiters came in and was learning our old menu at Mundo. He says to me I’ve never looked at a menu with so many terms that I didn’t recognize.”

Muck has been in the restaurant business since 1986 and worked in about 25 different restaurants including Noble’s, Bistro 420 and Hutch & Harris. His life journey has taken him from his hometown of Pittsburgh, south to Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina before moving to Winston-Salem seven years ago. His wife Audrey has had a number of jobs in public radio, which has led the couple to move around.

“Public radio has moved me from place to place,” Muck said.

Muck too began his career in audio

production but decided he wanted to do something else and headed for the kitchen.

“The work was exciting,” he said. “People were interesting. And I just gravitated to it and stuck with it.”

He said he prefers French cuisine because he thinks many of the cooking principles involved are universal.

“It’s really the root of all professional cooking,” he said.

“Everything is really French at heart except for Asian dishes.”

With a patio, foot traffic on 4th Street, and attendants of musical performances at the Stevens Center nearby, Augustine’s seems to have the right mix of ingredients for a healthy customer base. But Muck said business has been slow since the rebranding at the beginning of the month. He said he is confident things pick up once the academic year begins at UNCSA and there are more concerts. He said it is too early to tell if they will expand.

“With one restaurant you can keep your hands on everything,” he said. “Once you get to where you’re trying to do multiple places at the same time it’s much more difficult, it would seem, to maintain contact with your managers and contact with the business.” !

WANNA go?

Augustine’s is located at 401 W. 4th St. in Winston-Salem. It is open from 5pm to 10pm Tuesday-Saturday. Call 336-293-8357 or visit www.augustinebistro.com.

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