I recently drove to Winston-Salem to accept an invitation to have dinner at The Katharine. I have been known to drive a few hours just to eat at a new-to-me town, but I knew from prior research that dining at the Katharine and staying at the Cardinal would definitely be worth the drive.
What I love about traveling into nearby towns in North Carolina, is the education and history lessons that naturally unfold when you travel. For instance, I learned from having lunch with a local that The Cardinal Hotel, (where The Katharine restaurant is nestled) was the inspiration behind New York City’s Empire State Building.
What is now The Cardinal Hotel was originally built in the 1920s and served as the headquarters for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. (The Empire State building was built in the 1930s.) Learning about R.J. Reynolds during my stay at The Cardinal gave my childhood some context. You see, I grew up in a convenience store where my parents worked. Though I’m not a smoker, because of my growing up from behind the counter of a convenience store, I had an above-average awareness of cigarette brands. Funnily it was during this trip to Winston-Salem that I learned R.J. Reynolds owned so many of the brands I saw stacked on store shelves, like Camel, Newport, Pall Mall, and Doral.
But enough of this mini-history lesson! Let’s talk about dining at The Katharine and Staying at The Cardinal.
Staying at The Cardinal
Today, the building is repurposed as a place of residence and a hotel, a Kimpton property. The Cardinal Hotel is such a beautifully interiorly-designed hotel. Even their elevators inspire fun wonderment.
The Cardinal Hotel’s rec room amenities include a bowling alley, shuffleboard, and a basketball court.
I explored the rec center and saw it is across the hall from the expansive gym. The rec center is multilevel. You can use the stairs to get down to the basketball court or you can take an actual slide. I opted for the slide. Also inside the rec center is a bowling alley, bar seating with a jukebox, shuffleboard table, pool table, and a foosball table.
Stay at the Cardinal for the awesome room amenities!
What I personally loved about staying at The Cardinal was the room amenities. Full snack bar, cozy bathrobes, soft pillows, and a luxurious bathtub. Do yourself a favor and pack some bubble bath for your stay for the ultimate self-care treat.
Dining at The Katharine Brasserie & Bar
The restaurant inside The Cardinal is named after Katharine Smith Reynolds, R.J. Reynolds’ wife. Katharine Brasserie & Bar is a gorgeous melding of French cuisine with a dash of Southern Fare influences. The bar service can shake a mean cocktail. Below I’m sipping on a Cheerwine Old Fashion. And if that doesn’t entice you, they also have dollar oysters at 5 pm. My friend Arturo and I shared a dozen; we could have ordered two more dozens!
Arturo had never had escargot so we started with an order of the escargot. I was so envious of his first experience of escargot. My first time as a college student was an experience I’d love to forget. If you are a fan of escargot, these are for you. If you’ve never had this French delicacy then I recommend The Katharine’s baked escargot as your first experience.
They are topped with fluffy biscuits and are baked in an abundant buttery and garlicky sauce with mushrooms, seasoned with parsley. I shamelessly dabbed my bread in the leftover sauce.
For entreés, we tried the Monday special (carbonara with added grilled shrimp), and the NC Trout, served over Red Flannel Hash and Horseradish Creme Fraiche. The carbonara sauce was a bit too thin for my taste, but the NC Trout was SO good. We enjoyed both entrées with a side of roasted Brussel Sprouts with a curry aioli sauce. One of my readers stated that The Katharine Brasserie does an amazing chicken, and I don’t doubt it!
Do save room for dessert. We shared a delicate crème brûlée, a perfect sweet note to end on.
And this concludes my singing The Cardinal and The Katharine praises. The TLDR version of this blog post is this: Dining at The Katharine and Staying at The Cardinal is worth the drive. Stay tuned, I’ll soon blog about what else I’ve eaten during my 26ish hours stay in Winston-Salem.
The Cardinal & The Katharine Brasserie
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