Fire in the Triad: Perky's Bistro Vs Spring House #CompDiningNC ~ Nik Snacks

Bite it and write it. That's what I do.



About Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series: This unique 15-dinner competition dining experience has traveled across the state of North Carolina to Asheville/Blowing Rock (Fire on the Rock), Wilmington (Fire on the Dock) and Greensboro (Fire in the Triad). Raleigh (Fire in the Triangle) and Charlotte (Fire in the City) are slated for later the summer and fall.

Read this blog for a nightly recap of Fire in the Triad posts to stay in the loop. You can also follow me on twitter @niksnacks and the hashtag #CompDiningNC for live updates during each battle (The next dinner begins Monday, May 5 at 7pm). Please also point your web browsers to OR "like" Competition Dining on Facebook,, Twitter and Instagram!

Subscribe to Nik Snacks' email list to be sure to get all of the news that's fit to eat.

Now let's meet the chefs:

This was Barbrey's and Perky's 1st appearance in Fire in the Triad.
Perky's Bistro is in the historic town, Jamestown
He says, "My competitive advantage is being able to utilize different techniques using local ingredients and incorporating a variety of different sauces. I take pride in creating dishes with unique pairings."

This was Grandinetti's THIRD appearance at Fire in the Triad and he is fresh off an international win of MOST DELICIOUS during Dishcrawl's Battledish in February 2014. Timothy Grandinetti of Spring House Restaurant Kitchen & Bar in Winston-Salem says,"My competitive advantage is ...'Revenge' is a dish best served cold!"

Click here to watch video

I have to say: I don't make it a secret that Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar is my favorite restaurant in Winston-Salem. As a matter of fact, I shout it from the rooftops and make sure you know it on my blog. I'm supposed to remain neutral and I always do. Put up great food and you won't have a problem with me lambasting you later. Speaking of lamb...

Guest judges: Brian Clarey of  the new independent weekly, Triad City Beat; Chef Njathi Kabui, urban farmer, organic chef, social commentator and food activist from theTriangle.

Noted luminaries in the building: Nicholas Eames of The Stokes News and Weekly Independent, Scott Maitland (and his lovely wife, Ashley) of TOPO Distillery. Doug Boxley, Director of Pub Operations at Natty Greene's Pub & Brewing in Greensboro was present all week long, because Natty Greene's was the featured beer of Fire in the Triad! Watch & listen as the NC Beer Guys talk about this beer. CLick here to watch video.

DON'T FORGET: Give genorously and often, whether it be your time as a volunteer or a monetary sum with a donation, Fire in the Triad's charity partner, Guilford Senior Services Mobile Meals needs our help. The Triad area ranks 2nd behind the New Orleans metropolitan area with individuals who are food insecure. Food insecurity means someone does not know from where or when their next meal is coming. While we get to enjoy sumptuous food and have fun talking about it, there are a number of seniors in our community who can't and need our help. $27, the price of one entree at a fine dining establishment can feed a senior for one week. For more information, please click here.
Now the administrative tasks are complete, it's time to get down to the business of getting down!

The secret ingredients: TOPO Distillery gin and Ashe County Romano and cheddar cheeses

Course 1: Sauteed crabcake medallion, NC Shrimp, TOPO Gin ceviche, Texas Pete Cha! aioli

Presented by Perky's Bistro

The photo above makes this dish look amazing. The gorgeous coral-hued aioli cascading down the side of a perfectly seared crab medallion in the foreground with perfectly diced peppers, onions and shrimp in the background... unfortunately was not how it was presented to the table. The presentation was a very pedestrian.

Bad photo for bad plating. Tit for tat.
The shrimp ceviche was pooled on the plate with no lettuce or vessel to contain it. The crab cake was just okay. And it was cold. The aioli was bright with a little bit of sweetness. The ceviche was the star of this course. The botanicals of the gin married with the chilled, plump and juicy shrimp, but this dish would have been best served in a bowl.

Course 2: Lobster wonton, TOPO Gin vanilla & lemongrass espuma, Ashe County Romano crab cake, Spicy bell pepper aioli

Presented by Spring House
The second highest scoring dish of the night was one of my favorites. It was Battle Crab Cake at this point and this crab cake won. The salty, savory taste of the Romano was highlighted in here. There was more crab than cake and that's just the way I like it. The crispy, golden wonton was a savory pillow filled with juicy bits of lobster, a subtle vanilla-gin sauce and underneath it all, the lemongrass espuma, so light and delicate, it matched with the rest of the plate. The bell pepper aioli got lost in the trifecta of the other dish components and frankly, I don't remember tasting anything spicy on my plate. A few diners at my table commented that they wished the crab cake had a little bit of spice to back up the savoryness of the Romano.

Course 3: Roasted Ashley Farms Chicken Roulade, Ashe County cheddar, Manchester Farms quail farce, asparagus risotto with Ashe County romano, bacon fried Brussels sprout leaves, TOPO gin caramelized shallot jus

Presented by Spring House
My initial sentiments about this dish: IF I ever get married again, I want this to be one of the the plated dinner options that everyone gets. It reminded me of run-of-the-mill banquet food, but it was a solid dish. Literally.

This was one of the heftiest portions I've ever seen at Competition Dining.
Let's start at the bottom and work our way to the top: The shallot jus was great, a classic jus lie (stock thickened with cornstarch). The sweetness of the caramelized shallot balanced with the gin, which you could taste on the back end of the sauce. The Brussels sprout leaves had plenty of bacon flavor but my bacon bits were a little tough and difficult to chew. I think the bacon was blanched first, to get rid of excess fat and then possibly cooked to render it crisp. It went past crisp and went to chew, but the Brussels leaves were done deicately. I think I would have enjoyed a little hit of acid in the leaves to cut the fat. The risotto was a massive gut bomb. Very cheesy. Very rich. Very thick. Very large portion. I left well over half of it on my plate. The chicken roulade was beautiful. The chicken was not as juicy as I would have liked, and it was borderline overdone.

Course 4: Herb-crusted lamb loin, grilled asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, Ashe County cheddar risotto, red wine shallot demi-glace

Presented by Perky's Bistro
This was my favorite course of the night. It looked good, smelled good and tasted even better. The lamb was so soft, I didn't need a knife. Other diners commented that their lamb was overcooked and dry and I feel sorry for them because my lamb was perfect. The shiitake got lost in the undercooked risotto but the red wine demi-glace was the best part of the dish. Maybe a little TOPO gin was used, but it said red wine and tasted of red wine and I wished there had been gin. BUT! It coated the lamb so beautifully. It was sweet, yet complex (maybe there was gin in there after all...) and the grilled asparagus just made this course look good. The risotto, however, was undercooked and a little crunchy and could have been cheesier. It tasted best when eaten with the demi, but I couldn't chew that much rice to save my life.

Course 5: Key lime napoleon, pistachio graham and TOPO gin crust, mint cream, almond macaroon

Presented by Perky's Bistro
I was not able to score or eat this course because of my nut allergy and I received this:

It was a very crunchy phyllo dough roulade filled with some type of undercooked granola or bulgar wheat, diced apples and what I hope were, gin-soaked raisins inside, but I'm still not entirely sure.

From all accounts, the course that everyone else was presented seemed to be fairly well-liked. Lots of almond flavor and the macaroon was like a biscotti, people said. I DID, however, get the mint whipped cream and it was okay. I wish it has been sweet because it had no flavor other than the mint.

Course 6: Chocolate cake, Cheerwine & TOPO Gin strawberry dumpling, streusel, sweet cream

Presented by Spring House
Now THIS, I could eat. And I did. The highest scoring dish of the night and the seal on the deal of Chef Tim Grandinetti's fate--The chocolate cake was like a molten lava cake but it wasn't molten.  Dusted with powdered sugar (an old chef's trick to hide a cracked crust or a less-than-perfect-looking cake) and filled with a soft center, this cake was certainly a show stopper. Every good chef has a chocolate cake recipe in his or her back pocket. The gin & strawberry dumpling wasn't my favorite. There was something a about the filling. The gin gave the fruit a little punch, but there was something awry about the rest of the filling. Chef Grandinetti revealed to me later that he put beets in the dumpling. GAHH!
I told y'all... I don't like beets. Stop trying to give me antidioxidants and vitamins and minerals! The streusel, I could have done without. It wasn't really necessary and did nothing to add to the dish. There was enough butter and texture inside the dumpling.

Congratulations, Chef! You're still in the running for a spot in the Fire in the Triad finals. Only one can win and get that coveted red chef's jacket. And $2,000. And a custom set of hand-forged knives from Ironman Forge. And a trip to CIA in St. Helena, CA (I've been there!) And prestige. And bragging rights.

Have you been to Fire in the Triad yet? GET YOUR TICKETS


Anonymous said...

You got the guest judges wrong. You forgot David Kasper, Director of Dining Services for the accredited Mallard Ridge Assisted Living:
David Kasper
After earning a culinary degree, David Kasper started his career working in the bustling kitchens in some of New York City’s finest restaurants. He soon moved up the culinary ranks and headed to the West Coast as Executive Chef of a Full-Service Retirement Community in San Diego. Opportunity soon blew him back East where he has worked in several retirement communities in Winston Salem and Greensboro and now holds the position of Food & Beverage Director of the accredited Mallard Ridge Assisted Living.

Nikki @ NikSnacks said...

I left a judge off the list, I didn't get one wrong. There's a difference. Thank you for pointing out my faux pas and posting David's bio.