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Ombu Wood Fired Grill

After consulting my trusty yelp recommendations, I had my one dinner in Winston-Salem at Ombu Wood Fired Grill. I had a near mishap because this place is fairly new and on a new street, and when you try to get directions here, it takes you some where else. I didn’t realize that until I followed my directions to a residential area. There was not a restaurant in sight. But one call to the restaurant and I got there fairly easily.
The place opened in October and it’s quite beautiful. I loved the decor of this place, it was incredibly warm. The open kitchen’s half wall had the most amazing tile, I was totally in love with it. And they had these beautiful wine racks. There are several dining areas as well, it’s a sizeable place.
Since I’m a total lightweight, I stuck with my pink lemonade. The bartender was amazingly sweet and was a total pro.
Some complimentary bread. They just switched breads so the bartender had never tasted it. It was warm and delicious, with just a hint of some herbs. And paired with olive oil and balsamic for dipping, it was great. I told her she had to try it. With bread this good, I knew I’d be in for a great meal.
I had to get the lobster bisque. But it wasn’t just any lobster bisque, it was velvety lobster saffron bisque garnished with blistered sweet corn, crème fraich, and bits of lobster. Whoo! This was excellent bisque. What’s not to like about this soup? Everything in it was good. And I only ordered a cup but it was a very sizeable portion, for just a cup. It was nearly a bowl.
For my entree, I had the wood oven seared grouper with sweet potato-plantain hash, haricot verts, and a sweet chili gastrique. Again, amazing. This was a huge hunk of grouper, which is a thick and meaty fish. It was seared with a nice crust and cooked to perfection. The hash was also amazing, especially with the sweet chili sauce. And you know I love green beans of all kind.

This is an excellent restaurant, and would be an excellent restaurant in any city. Even if it were in a large city, let’s say NYC or San Francisco, this would be an excellent restaurant. Winston-Salem is lucky to have a gem like this in their town. So for you locals, go and support them!

How To Cook A Wolf

One of my favorite things about flying, and I know this sounds totally dorky, is reading the in-flight magazine. And since I fly US Airways 90% of the time, I’ve gotten to know it well. I look forward to the two different crosswords and the two sudokus. I also look forward to the one food column in there written by John Edge. So I’m reading it, and the January column coincidentally happens to be about How To Cook A Wolf, a restaurant in Seattle. He raved about it, so you know what? I went!

The place is fairly teeny tiny, it can’t possibly sit more than 25-35 people. They don’t take reservations either. Their menu is small. The place was packed when I went, but there was one little spot for me at the counter. Right by the door, of course. But since I didn’t have any other options, I grabbed it! It’s very moody, dark, yet warm. The counter is made of cork and the facade is natural stone. The ceiling is lined with pine. It’s adorable.

I guess you would consider this place a tapas type restaurant. It’s definitely a small plates and sharing place. And a wine bar. Tons of wine. Everybody seemed to be some type of sommelier who worked there. They were very into their wine. The crowd is also rather… older. And fancy. Everyone was dressed up and sophisticated looking. And then I walked in with my t-shirt and jeans, plus I wasn’t 50-years old. Even though I know I wasn’t actually the youngest person in there (since I’m deceptively young looking), I still looked like I was the youngest person there, by far. Like 30 years far. But they were still very nice to me.Onto the food! Since it was only me, I couldn’t order tons of stuff and share it, so I went with one recommendation from the article, and one that I would have picked anyway. So the first dish was soft-boiled eggs with anchovy mayonnaise. Yes folks, hard boiled eggs. Sounds boring, right? You have no idea how amazing these eggs were! I mean the concept is so simple. Soft boiled eggs so the yolks are still a bit soft, cut them in half, squeeze a bit of anchovy flavored mayo on top of the eggs, and throw some little herbs on them while you’re at it. Doesn’t seem particularly exciting or enticing, but these were some of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Seriously.Ok, so then I ordered the scallops. They were seared and served with garbanzos, golden raisins, and hummus with a vinaigrette . Very simple yet perfectly prepared. It doesn’t seem like I ate that much food, but I was definitely full. I wanted some dessert anyway, and the server recommended the homemade sorbet. No pic, as it was just three scoops of sorbet in a bowl. I was surprised it wasn’t decorated at all with a mint leaf or something, but it was quite delicious. Just light enough that it didn’t make me much more full than I was.

Just a few notes… I was sitting next to a raucous party and they were getting tons of food. Among them, the beet salad. They just kept going on and on about it, so as as note to yourself, try the beet salad. I kinda wished I’d had more capacity in my belly and had room for that. But I can only gorge so much. So if you’re in the mood for an amazing and slightly sophisticated meal, stop here, get your name on the list, and eventually get to eat. You will wait! But it’ll all be worth it.
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