The Katharine Brasserie and Bar is The Cardinal Hotel‘s in-house restaurant. And based on multiple experiences eating there, this Winston-Salem brasserie clearly stands on its own for a few reasons. For starters, its elevated traditional menu mixes with modern favorites in one of North Carolina’s most iconic settings. Once you sit down for a meal at The Katharine, you’ll easily see why this place should enter the conversation when discussing our state’s best restaurants.
We first encountered The Katherine during one of our first weekends in Winston-Salem, while staying at The Cardinal Hotel. Follow the links and you can read about why we’ll be back and why it’s one of our favorite hotels in North Carolina.
The Katharine Brasserie and Bar
The Reynolds Building
The Reynolds Building deserves at least a mention when talking about The Katharine. This art deco skyscraper was completed in 1929 and served as headquarters for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company for many years. In 2016, it was renovated and reopened with The Cardinal Hotel and The Katharine joining offices and residences as occupants. We also featured this building’s occupants in our guide to historic hotels in Winston-Salem.
It’s equally important to spend a minute on the restaurant’s namesake, Katharine Smith Reynolds. She may have died five years before the Reynolds Building’s completion, but her memory lives on here and throughout Winston-Salem, especially at Reynolda House. During her too-short life, Reynolds pursued various philanthropy and reform efforts that helped workers in the tobacco industry. After she and RJ Reynolds married in 1905, the newlywed couple honeymooned in France. Mrs. Reynolds’ well-known love for Southern French cuisine inspired The Katharine’s menu.
Executive Chef Adam Barnett is the person charged with interpreting that influence, though an inventive menu with a few tweaks. An extremely talented chef and down-to-earth friendly guy, Barnett joined the Katharine in 2017. Prior, he built 20-plus years of experience working elite kitchens in Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and California. Barnett studied under Jean-Michel Bouvier at the New England Culinary Institute. He also paired with restauranteur legends Eric Ripert and Craig Von Foerster. And these big names are just the beginning of Adam’s story. His dishes tell the rest of the story, and we’re excited to dig into them!
We’ve sampled a variety of The Katharine’s mainstays during both lunch and dinner services. There are too many delicious things to name, so if you’re looking for something specific, check The Katharine’s menu.
Perfect sampling selections can be made into a whole meal from The Katharine’s appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, and raw bar items sections of the menu. Their French Onion Soup Gratinée will melt in your mouth and make you almost forget about what’s coming next.
Hopefully, you won’t neglect to order least a dozen Oysters from the Raw Bar. And if you don’t get to experience The Katharine’s Baked Escargot, there’s your first reason to come back.
Honorable mentions: We’re also fortunate enough to have eaten Steak Tartare and a delightful Blue and Kale Salad.
You can only pass on oysters if you’re going full-on with Le Grand Plat Katharine. That includes one 1/2 Maine lobster, oysters, jumbo shrimp, and snow crab claws. And if you’re still craving seafood but on a smaller scale, Mussels Indochine will more than satisfy that desire.
The Flat Iron Steak shows off the kitchen’s solid grill skills, and you’re always welcome to confirm them. I can also testify on behalf of The Katharine’s Roasted Chicken with herb spaetzle and the most delicious Grilled Pork Chop you’ll ever consume. Whichever way you go, these dinner dishes do more than satisfy your tastebuds.
Modern and American Lunch Favorites
The All-American Burger
Modern American favorites creep into The Katharine’s lunch menu. Their All American Burger might be the best in Winston-Salem. It’s topped with a brioche bun, melted cheddar, onion, and pickles and romaine hearts to provide that necessary crunch.
The Lobster Roll
For anyone leaning “New England” for lunch, there’s the Lobster Roll. It’s almost too pretty to eat, though you’d be stupid to leave it sitting on the plate. Lemon and dill work with an amazing celery root slaw to bring together a toasted split-top bun and that oh-so-tender, delicious lobster.
Both of these are a fixture for lunch, but also available on The Katharine’s bar menu.
The Katharine’s “A Cotes” earns a special nod here. If you don’t try the Fried Brussel Sprouts, you’ll miss out on a chance to think about that (expletive) amazing Vadouvan Aioli. And then there are the Frites, which I’ll leave to John Cougar Mellencamp, who posed the question, “Ain’t that America?”
Desserts and Drinks
Top things off with one of The Katharine’s House-Made Sorbets, Opera Cake, or Creme Caramel. You won’t go wrong, either way. If you’re seeking a cocktail before, during, or after your meal, the classic French 75 and South-infused Cheerwine Old Fashioned will lift your spirits. We joined the masses during Negroni Week, and look forward to seeing more fun events via The Katharine’s Facebook Page. More drink options can be found via the extensive wine and beer list for those feeling red, white, or hops.
There’s a lot of pressure to live up to this historic building’s exquisite designs. Based on our experiences, I can confidently say that The Katharine is doing more than that on the culinary side. From the beautiful and carefully thought-through decor to the thorough service and seemingly perfected dishes, this restaurant leaves no detail behind. And whether you’re eating in the dining room, the bar, or the patio outside, you’re in for one of the finest dining experiences one can have in North Carolina.
Special thanks to The Katharine for hosting us for meals over multiple visits. All opinions within this article are our own.