The Katharine’s breath of fresh air
The Katharine Brasserie and Bar, located in the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, has just released a new specialty bar menu to go alongside their swanky new patio in downtown Winston-Salem. Nothing says summer like a new lit patio and small plates in the bustling city.
The Katharine has now enjoyed a couple of years and just as many chefs, getting the hang of it in this persnickety city. It’s not always easy being “French with a Southern flair.” Heck, I wouldn’t hate it if they went all in and were just Frenchy French. Chef Adam Barnett hopes his new bar menu will be just the thing to complement a new craft cocktail program, led by Levi Fryer. The Katharine had a launch party Tuesday night, but a couple of weeks ago, they were kind enough to give me a little sneak peek of the new bar menu as well as a few of the items from the French brasserie menu that they’re excited about this season. All in the name of research, for you, dear readers.
During our visit, we found an eclectic mix of light summery goodness and fun bites when you just want to pop into the bar area, have a snack and either get back to business or your life in general. We also found Chef Barnett, a year into his stint as the chef, at the pass with a careful eye on the details of each dish prepared by his culinary team. Barnett also left the kitchen often to stop at patrons’ tables, answering questions and generally being approachable, except he was the one doing the approaching.
Every evening the new bar menu will feature a Lobster Roll, Chicken Wings aka L’Ailes de Poulet (because it’s French here), Brasserie Burger with Joyce Farms beef, Truffle Fries and Brown Butter Spiced Nuts. Of course, the regular dining menu will also be available in the bar and on the patio.
A New England-style lobster roll on a brioche (we enjoyed a miniature version), made with a fennel and celery root remoulade. I’m more of a Connecticut-style lobster roll lover…warm and buttery on a toasty buttery roll. But I really enjoyed the cool lobster salad that was fresher and not too creamy
The burger was not served during my visit. But I have had the burger during lunch. I opted to have it instead of a salad, naughty me. And it was a mighty fine decision. The Katharine does burger quite well.
From here on out, Chef Barnett just sent out a whirlwind of items, some that have recently been introduced on the brasserie dinner menu to celebrate our summer months.
Chilled English Pea Soup with Dill, Creme Fraiche, American Caviar
A fancy take on a summer gazpacho. It was bright and slightly citrusy and I would absolutely come back and have the soup with one of the brasserie’s crisp salads or a sandwich.
Arugula & Shaved Fennel Salad with Crispy Artichokes, Shaved Parmesan, Lemon Dressing
This salad inspired me to try to do something similar at home. Arugula is a salad lover’s dream; it’s a little nutty, peppery and oh so good with a lemony dressing. The crispy artichokes were a nice surprise.
Pork Belly ‘Pho’
A fun little take on the iconic Vietnamese dish. I love pork belly and the broth was very flavorful because whether you like it or not, the best broths are made from feet. That goes for this pig’s trotter.
Steak Tartare topped with Avocado Mousse, Chermoula, Potato Crisps
I’ve had the steak tartare at the tasting that basically introduced Chef Barnett. It was my favorite item that night. I don’t know what it is…if it’s the avocado mousse or the potato crisps. The crispy potatoes topped with the beef and that creamy mousse are so pleasing to me. Barnett calls it “beef tartare via France, Mexico and Morocco. Being honest, it was slightly on the salty side this time around, but I could totally eat that as a meal with nothing else. It’s a beef-lover’s dream.
North Carolina Trout with Artichoke, Potatoes, Picholine Olives, Barigoule Emulsion
Now that I live in the mountains, I can find trout around every corner. And it makes perfect sense for trout to be on a menu in the Triad. This trout is distinctively French with its emulsion as barigoule is a traditional Provençal dish of artichokes braised with onions, garlic and carrots in a seasoned broth of wine and water. I liked the olives with it, but the artichoke is what makes the trout special.
New York Strip Steak, Heirloom Carrots, King Trumpet Mushrooms, Harissa, Chermoula
Looking around the dining room, it was clear that the steak was the diner’s choice. There’s a popular Flat Iron steak on the menu as well. The New York Strip takes a bit of a turn to Moroccan flavors with the chermoula and its citrus and earthiness. I especially loved the mushrooms in this entree.
Brussel Sprouts with Vadouvan Curry Aioli
I will never ever turn down a brussel sprout. Especially when they are crispy and delightful and especially with Indian spices. This item can be found in the “Côtés” section of the menu, aka the sides.
Okay at this point we’re about to fall over from being too full so they decided to stop all the nonsense and bring dessert.
Sweet Paté a Choux
The classic pastry, (think eclair) filled with a chocolate hazelnut paste filling, made in-house, garnished with chocolate ganache and candied hazelnuts.
It may have had a different name, but as the strawberry season was winding down, this dessert stole the dessert show. But I’m much more of a fruity dessert person than chocolatey. The cake was soft and sumptuous, the strawberries sweet and the whipped cream was light and fluffy and it was just as a shortcake should be. Southerners would be proud, even the French ones.
We had every intention of dining outside on the patio, despite it feeling pretty warm at dinner time. And I had just enough time to go outside and look at it before a brief storm rolled in and ruined it for us. The renovated outdoor space has plenty of seating with umbrellas and string lights, greenery and games. There’s giant Connect Four, giant Jenga and space for The Katharine’s live music on many evenings and during Saturday and Sunday brunch. If you visit in the next few weeks, you’ll notice construction next door at Reynolds America where a fountain is being installed. Not the prettiest thing, but I’m told they’re trying to get the fountain completed as quickly as possible after many rain delays. Once completed, it will be even better on the patio. A large garage door from the main bar allows for that open-air feel from the inside. State of the art noise reduction should improve the dining experience overall indoors.
The service at The Cardinal and The Katharine are really wonderful. And though it’s not a tiny little boutique hotel, the restaurant itself never comes off as a big corporate hotel restaurant. I remain excited for the food scene in Winston-Salem and The Katharine is on its way to being a strong part of it.
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.