Rosey’s Review: Ryan’s Restaurant

Ryan’s Restaurant
719 Coliseum Drive • Winston-Salem
336.724.6132 •

For the Winston-Salem native, Ryan’s Restaurant is synonymous with exceptional cuisine, class, and elegance.  For over 40 years, the restaurant has built a stellar reputation, so naturally, when Ryan’s Restaurant shows up on my to-review list, I do a happy dance! Because there’s no wondering about – I know I’m in for an incredible meal!  For this review, the owner and staff of Ryan’s Restaurant have, once again, overwhelmed me with their attention to detail that can be found in every bite, experienced in the ambiance of the environment, and demonstrated in the high caliber of service by a team of devoted professionals.

It goes without saying, you don’t go to Ryan’s Restaurant if you’re not hungry.  The menu is drool-worthy, and the culinary team out-do themselves with flavor combinations that just cannot be missed.

First – the Classic Oysters Rockefeller.  Oysters are roasted in their shells and topped with a decadently creamy hollandaise sauce, as well as spinach.  It’s a dish that exudes luxury.  Unfortunately, my husband, who accompanied me on this review and had never tried an oyster before, bogarted them for himself and was hardly willing to share with the rest of the table!  I couldn’t blame him though…  Besides, we also had three other appetizers to try!

We also sampled the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail.  Large, meaty, and perfectly cooked shrimp were served cold with both a housemade cocktail sauce as well as a Bloody Mary Gazpacho.  I tried both sauces, and they were fantastic. I really enjoyed the extra flavor kick in the Bloody Mary Gazpacho!

The Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad was a huge hit at the table.  Caprese Salad is something so simple, but quality ingredients make all the difference. Ryan’s Restaurant has perfected this salad with the perfect ingredients.  The heirloom cherry tomatoes were bursting with flavor alongside yummy balsamic vinegar and the creamiest of mozzarella cheese!  The addition of pesto makes this dish all the more special!

Our final appetizer was the Asian Meatballs with Coleslaw. It could easily be a meal itself, and the meatballs were extra-tender with tremendous flavor.  We simply couldn’t get enough.  The meatballs were served with a coleslaw that was seasoned with a sesame vinaigrette that has to be tasted to be believed.  Incredible!

Our fabulous waitress, Victoria, also brought us a basket of warm breads – both soft rolls and pretzel rolls.  This basket is complimentary to every table and includes a side of salted butter and house-made cheese spread that is divine.  But she also brought us two add-on options to try. The Garlic Pureeis every garlic-lovers wish come true, and the Vermont Creamery Butteris the stuff dreams are made of.

It was time for soup and salad!  And hands down, the best French Onion SoupI’ve ever tried comes straight from Ryan’s Restaurant’s kitchen.  French Onion Soup is my favorite soup, but ever since I tried Ryan’s, I don’t even bother trying to make it at home anymore.  They’ve ruined me and I’m a complete snob now when it comes to good French Onion Soup.  It’s so rich and flavorful with a cheese-lover’s blend of mozzarella and Parmesan.

We also tried the She Crab Soup.  And once again, my husband surprised me.  While he likes seafood, he has always avoided oysters and crabs.  Not only did he get stingy with the Classic Oysters Rockefeller, we had to fight him for our share of the She Crab Soup!  Creamy, full of fresh lump crab, seafood lovers will love it!  And apparently, it will convert skeptics, too!

Our first salad of the evening was a Waldorf Salad.  It was a sweet salad with a lovely blend of flavors and textures.  Mixed greens, Granny Smith apples, grapes, walnuts, and gorgonzola come together with a honey-balsamic vinaigrette that is heavenly.

We countered the sweet with a savory – the Arugula Salad is a salad that has a kick.  The greens are served with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette, but what really makes this salad special is the candied chipotle bacon.  Nom nom nom!  This was a definite winner at our table!

When we go on these reviews, we ask the restaurant to choose which entrees they want us to review. Our server, Victoria, brought us her recommendations, and what can I say?  She has exceptional taste.  We started with a Ryan’s classic – New Zealand Rack of Lamb.  This dish is so exquisitely prepared, there are hardly words to adequately describe it. The lamb is panko crusted and served with a side of mint jelly.  It’s so delicious and fall-off-the-bone tender!  This entrée is served with a side of Scalloped Potatoes that were cheesy and delicious.  It also comes withSautéed Spinach that is fabulous.

We also sampled the Pan Seared Scallops.  Almost too pretty to eat, the scallops were served on a bed of pearl couscous and grilled Asparagus(both of which were wonderful!).  Everything was perfect, but it should be noted that the scallops were cooked with a perfect crunch on the outside, but they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious on the inside.

Our next entrée was the Pan Seared Heritage Farms Pork Chop. Tuck in for this one because this 10-ounce pork chop is cooked with the bone in, which just adds to the flavor! It’s served on a bed of Popcorn Gouda Grits and Spiced Collard Greens with a pork belly veloute (white sauce).  The best word to describe this one:  unbelievable. This is a sophisticated twist on a southern classic if ever there was one!  And I had the leftovers the next day for lunch.  AH. MAZ. ING.

At this point, you can imagine that we were all well at the point of bursting-at-the-seams.  However, you can’t go to a steakhouse, much less Ryan’s, without trying steak!  Victoria brought us two steaks to try.  The first was Steak Au Poivre.  I don’t know what that translates to, but I can tell you – rarely have I had a steak that I could literally cut with a fork. And the cognac cream sauce – be still my beating heart.  This dish is a masterpiece.  To call it anything less would be insulting to the steak and the chef.

We also tried the Prime Ribeye.  This is the superstar of ribeyes made with the highest quality cuts available, perfectly marbled with an amazing flavor.  For many, the ribeye is a favorite cut of steak because of that marbling.  However, it’s never been my favorite.  After trying this one though, I have to assume that it’s because either the quality of beef wasn’t there, or the chef didn’t cook ribeyes the way they do at Ryan’s. YUM!  I’ll definitely be ordering this one again!

Another signature dish at Ryan’s Restaurant – lobster.  We were invited to sample a Cold Water Lobster Tail.  The lobster comes to the table with a dish of melted brown butter.  The lobster, dipped in this butter, was every kind of decadence! The difference comes down to the lobster… Cold water lobsters have better, more tender meat.  And only the best comes from the kitchen at Ryan’s Restaurant!

I’ve already mentioned a few sides, but not all of them…  All entrées at Ryan’s Restaurant include side dishes, and for the purpose of this review, we sampled several (we made that sacrifice for YOU, Dear Reader!) First, we tried the Bacon and Blue Cheese Brussels Sprouts.  I love Brussels Sprouts, but hands down, these are the best. The bacon and blue cheese make a great flavor combination for roasted Brussels!

We also tried the Garlic Button Mushrooms.  Y’all, I like mushrooms, but I probably wouldn’t have ordered these.  Victoria recommended them and WOW.  I almost didn’t share.  They were so rich and flavorful, buttery and tender!

Mac and Cheese at Ryan’s Restaurant is not your grandma’s mac and cheese!  Its official name is “+Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese.”  And all you need to know is right there in the name.  Cheese upon cheese upon cheese upon cheese.  Baked to a golden brown and delicious!

Just as the steak and lobster at Ryan’s Restaurant are famous, the Loaded Baked Potato is legendary.  When they say loaded, they mean loaded.  Confession time – when someone eats a baked potato and leaves the skin, it drives me nuts.  It’s the best part of the potato!  I can only hope that if you dine at Ryan’s, you’ll try it.  The skin is seasoned with salt before it’s baked to perfection and topped with everything that makes the best baked potato – sour cream, cheese, bacon, chives… so delicious!

What’s dinner without dessert?  Despite all the amazing food we tried throughout the evening, we saved room for dessert.  Admittedly, not much room, but when Victoria says, “Frozen Bananas Foster Caramel Pie,” you say, “Okay!”  And then you tell your neighbor, “Get your fork out of my way!” Holy cow that was fabulous – we cleaned the plate, even after all that other food we ate!

Thankfully, we had two others to try so we didn’t fight too much.  We also tried Triple Chocolate Cake. Frankly – “triple” is an understatement. I don’t know how much chocolate is in this cake, and I probably don’t want to know.  Let’s just say that the calories shouldn’t count when the cake is this good.

Finally – my favorite: The Seasonal Berries with Caramel Pecan Shell.  I love these kinds of desserts because the fruit makes me feel like I’ve made a healthy choice.  Nevermind that it’s sitting on top of a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, homemade caramel pecan shell, and hearty dollop of freshly made whipped cream. Its fruit and fruit is healthy. So there!

After dinner, we crawled (I mean walked) our way to the door, knowing that it was likely we wouldn’t want to eat again for days.  And I confess that even writing this review a few days later seems to be filling.  I wonder if writing about food makes you feel full?  Osmosis maybe?  Either way – I slept great that night after such a marvelous meal, and we are already excited to visit again soon!

Make plans to visit Ryan’s Restaurant yourself very soon!  And be sure to tell them that Rosey sent ya!


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