Food & Drink

Chef Adam Barnett joins The Katharine Brasserie & Bar

A new chef is bringing fresh life into the Katharine Brasserie & Bar after several months without a leader in the kitchen. So far, by all accounts, things seem to be heading in the right direction.

It was less than 18 months ago that The Cardinal Hotel opened its doors as the first Kimpton property in North Carolina. The historic R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Building was restored and given a glamorous new look. The Katharine Brasserie, a beautiful, French-themed restaurant has a swanky, sexy, yet casual vibe.  In December, Executive Chef Ed Witt moved on and there was quite a lengthy search with some input from local experts and in June, the company brought in Chef Adam Barnett.

Barnett had been executive chef at Lyon Hall in Arlington, Virginia, when he learned about the Katharine. “It was kind of an organic thing,” he said. “I learned that the Kimpton had a couple of openings and Winston-Salem kept coming up. I did some research on them, and my wife and I visited and we were so impressed with the area. In two days I got a real strong affinity for the city.”

Barnett loves to take a modern approach to classic French dishes. The chef said it’s his mission to use the local purveyors and farms whenever possible. The new menu is definitely a reflection of that.  Just last week, the Katharine officially introduced Barnett to us as he unveiled his new menu with a multiple course tasting.

One of the perks of the job is to highlight that and tell you what you can look forward to when visiting The Katharine. Anyone who might have complained before that the Katharine wasn’t “French enough” will find the new menu beaming with Barnett’s modern influences.

1st Course

Steak Tartare

Avocado Mousse, Chermoula, Potato Crisps

This was a great little starter. If you’re into tartare (and I sure am!), you’ll love how Chef Adam has taken this elegant dish and made it a bit more casual and approachable with the homemade waffle style crisps.

Fresh Oyster Selection

We were able to try the selections of the day from Harker Island, Blue Point, Beausoleil and Malpeque.

Cheese and Charcuterie Selection

This meat and cheese board was full of local cheeses, house-made jams and pates. Do not miss the chance to try the new Pate Grand-Mere and Barnett’s brown butter and walnut spread, lots of locals are represented here.

2nd Course

Sweet Corn Soup

Espelette Heirloom Tomato Salpicon 

This corn bisque was incredibly flavorful and bright and the just the perfect soup for this time of teetering between the seasons. Bright like summer, cozy and warm for fall. This soup with a salad would make a wonderful lunch.

3rd Course 

Shrimp and Grits

Spicy Chorizo, Peppers Basquaise, Smoked Tomato Broth, Anson Mill Grits

Lobster and Potato Gnocchi

Sweet Corn, Maitake Mushroom, Swiss Chard, Lemon Hollandaise

Cotelette De Porc

With Pomme Puree, Haricot Vert, Onion Ring, Smoked Ham Hock Jus

The third course came in two waves.  First, the duo of the gnocchi and shrimp & grits (both terrific, but I have to say that gnocchi won the night for me). It was so soft and the vegetables had a bit of smoky char to them. The lobster was perfection. I’d order this as a meal when I return. The pork was also wonderful, cooked on the bone. The menu says this dish comes with broccoli rabe. This is great if you’re looking for something hearty and satisfying.

Dessert

Tarte Aux Peches

Bourbon Brown Sugar Gelato 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Dehydrated Pineapple, Creme Fraiche Gelato, Sour Cherry Puree.  

The first of the two desserts was basically a luscious peach tart. That pineapple upside down cake was like a throwback but not nearly as cloyingly sweet. The sour cherry puree was a wonderful counter to the lightly sweet cake. Gelato from both dishes was locally sourced from West End Gelato.

All in all, Chef Barnett is very personable and we walked away thinking that his presence is a welcome change for the restaurant.

Barnett, who’s from Columbus, Ohio, is formally trained by the New England Culinary Institute. He has worked in various parts of the country including Big Sur, California; Washington D.C.; and Arlington, Virginia, and he said he’s excited to get to know the Triad area better and develop more relationships with the culinary community.

“The hotel has enormous potential and there are a lot of things I want to develop with the restaurant,” he said. “The biggest thing for me is that Winston-Salem is a rising culinary scene. There’s heat coming off of the city and I love being a part of the forefront of a developing food culture and working with chefs here who are a part of that scene. Every day there’s something new and that’s incredibly exciting.”

Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.

Wanna go?

The Katharine Brasserie & Bar is located at 51 E. Fourth St., Winston-Salem. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner.

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