Way up in N. Raleigh off of Falls of Neuse Road lies Winston’s Grille. Located in a busy shopping plaza, Winston’s Grille has been serving the N. Raleigh community for 30 years now! A local favorite for first dates and special occasions, I received an invite to check out Winston’s and learn what makes it so special. So on a busy Wednesday night I headed on over to see what has kept this Raleigh stand-by popular for more than three decades.
As I drive over on Falls of Neuse road, it’s easy to spot Winston’s Grille but a bit trickier to find the entrance. The entry-way lies opposite the street entrance and is tucked away a bit. As I walk over, I immediately notice the covered patio that wraps around Winston’s Grille, perfect for tonight’s warm evening. It looks like an older crowd in the 35 – 65 range, fitting a long-time favorite. I’m greeted by TrishW (@TDubHokie) who’s running the event and meet the long-time managers, Lori and Jacob. Given the longevity of Winston’s Grille, the staff here has a long history of hospitality and service with 10 years on the low end.
I grab a glass of torrontes white at the bar and take a tour of the patio wrapping around Winston’s Grille. There’s a lot of space here for fresh air dining! Inside Winston’s Grille it feels clubby with a lot of dark wood and leather. A bit like a steakhouse feel but more open and casual. Front and center in the dining room is a horse-shoe shaped bar right next to the kitchen for dinner and some culinary action. Given the longevity of Winston’s Grille, it’s certainly a spot where many people have fond memories and there’s a cast of regulars here populating the restaurant.
We head on back to a private dining room area where we are told about the daily specials. Cornmeal encrusted catfish, rotisserie chicken, it all sounds good but a bourbon-maple pork chop catches my attention and we are good to go! For this media event, an assortment of appetizers are brought out first to start off the meal. A good looking bruschetta drizzled with balsamic vinegar, seared tuna with dots of wasabi sauce, wings and a crab dip with toast points. Pretty standard American and steakhouse fare done well. There are certainly some Asian hints to the menu for some color and spice (jam jam shrimp).
As the meal continues on, the group of foodies and bloggers catch up on the latest news. I’ve got Leigh Hines (@HinesSightBlog) and Meg (@MegHereThere) to my left along with Elliot from @EatRaleigh and John (@TriangleExplorer) to my right. Baby Epherom is keeping me busy as he plays with everything within arms reach and I need to keep my iPhone out of his grasp!
Our mains show up next and there’s pretty much a bit of everything off the menu at the table. Prices range from $16 to about $27 and we’ve got salads, roasted chicken, shrimp and grits and mo! My pork chop with maple-bourbon glaze and candied bacon looks luscious and comes with some excellent whipped sweet potatoes, green beans and corn on the cob. It feels like upscale Southern to me with an emphasis on the grill! The presentation is quite nice with cross-hatched sear marks on the chop with the bone left in. As a carnivore I can appreciate the look. The chop is cooked just tender with a nice contrast of sweet and salty to the glaze and bacon. The whipped sweet potatoes are excellent, reminiscent of Tupelo Honey Cafe and the plate has a good balance of tastes, colors and textures.
We move on to dessert which is an assortment of goodies shared amongst the group. Key lime pie, brownie sundae, cheese cake and more, thankfully most of the desserts are out of my range but I grab a couple of bites of the pie for good measure. The stand-out dessert is the bananas foster. Caramel glazed banana topped with ice cream and a tart in a creamy rich sauce, yum!
On the way out we say our thank you’s to Winston’s Grille owner, Wil and Trish who organized this media event. We’re sent home with some home-made Winston’s Grill ice cream (peppermint for me) with our tummies sated and our spirits high. Winston’s Grille does a nice job of straddling the line between solid American cuisine and Southern eats with a twist along with excellent service. The ambiance feels upscale but you can definitely eat here and keep the tab lower or do it up and make it a special occasion. Taken all together (food, service, ambiance) I can certainly see why Winston’s Grille has been a popular dining destination for years. And here’s to it keeping the N.Raleighites in the area happy and satisfied for another 30!