ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY LAUREN SEPHTON, @BRIGHTMOMENTCO
Ryan’s Restaurant has been a Winston-Salem staple since the first day it opened its doors in 1977. It’s minutes from downtown yet offers a hidden escape from the daily hustle, with large window seating and a starlight deck that gives you a vibrantly green panoramic view of their large oaks. If you are seated inside, or outside enjoying the peaceful serenity, you may even spot a few North Carolina birds passing by earlier in the evenings. Whether you’re celebrating a special night or simply dining, Ryan’s is a superb place to turn any night into an experience with their incredible service and intimate atmosphere.
The evening began with an undeniably fresh and bursting-with-flavor salad called “The Seasonal.” It’s filled with juicy strawberries and crisp mixed greens, then topped with sunflower seeds for a mildly nutty flavor addition. You’ll also find grated Parmigiano Reggiano for a sharp savory flavor that helps to balance out the fruity and nutty notes. It’s served with their prosecco vinaigrette that’s made in-house and adds a delicate floral taste to the salad.
The Seasonal was then followed by Ryan’s Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese that was served with local cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes were more naturally sweet than your typical tomato, firm, almost crunchy, yet still incredibly flavorful and juicy inside. They were plated with fresh mozzarella, microgreens for added texture and flavor, a balsamic reduction, and a vibrant green spinach pesto to take this traditional Italian appetizer to the next level.
Moving on to the entrees, we had the opportunity to taste four of their iconic and well-loved dishes in miniature versions. First up was their heavenly Pan Seared Scallops that were delicately sweet with a browned crust on the outside from searing. And don’t get me started on the texture inside – soft as butter! The perfectly cooked scallops were beautifully plated with an apricot beurre blanc sauce, a citrus Parmesan gremolata for a little added crunch, and fresh microgreens.
The second entree was their Chilean Sea Bass,seared to perfection, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It was served with a bright pineapple salsa and on top of their basil basmati rice for a little kick of fresh herbs. But let’s not forget about those fresh greens, because is a dish really finished without microgreens?
The third entree enjoyed was their Beef Tenderloin Tips, seared to stay juicy and tender on the inside – an unbeatable texture that’ll just melt in your mouth! It was served on top of their buttermilk whipped potatoes and smothered in a creamy mushroom gravy that had great depth in flavor and complemented the tender meat deliciously.
Lastly, we had a bite of their Duck Breast that was seared, but still stayed tender, moist, and full of flavor with a crisp texture on the skin. The succulent meat was incredibly complemented with the bright cherry and orange sauce – like a burst of sunshine! The citrus notes were balanced out with their sweet potato mash, which was astonishingly soft.
To end the night on a sweet note, we tried two impeccable desserts. The first was a rich velvety Chocolate Mousse that was a featured dessert by Chef Luke and the perfect way to get your chocolate fix! It was served with pirouline wafer cookies for added crunch, softly whipped cream, a chocolate drizzle, and a cherry on top.
And to finish off the night, we had a sneaky bite of their Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. It had a light and creamy peanut butter filling with a crunchy cookie crust, chocolate ganache topping, and Heath bar crumbles for the ultimate finishing touch.
Thank you, Mr. Carter, Chef Luke, and the amazing staff at Ryan’s Restaurant for such delicious dishes and an incredible night. Now, if your stomach is grumbling, here is your sign to head on over to Ryan’s Restaurant tonight and tell them that the Forsyth Mags Foodie said hi!
Ryan’s Restaurant is located at 719 Coliseum Drive in Winston-Salem. Dinner is served Monday through Saturday. Reservations are accepted. Visit them online at ryansrestaurant.com or by calling 336.724.6132