615 Saint George Square Court
Winston-Salem, NC 27103
RJ checking in from mildly warm North Carolina. Matt & Dan have graciously allowed me to not only help with the overall design of the site, but chip in here and there with some of the fine dining in the mid-Atlantic area. I’ll have to apologize up-front for the lack of pictures in this review, as I was on a blind date, and didn’t quite think it’d be appropriate to whip out my phone and start snapping pics.
Just so you’re aware, I’ve spent the last 13 years in the food-service industry, most of that in catering, and the last 5 years have been spent in a very high-end operation. It takes quite a bit to impress me.
OMBU is a new addition to the Winston-Salem area. It’s located off the western end of Hanes Mall Boulevard (an extremely overdeveloped tract of land). Just getting to the place isn’t difficult, but certainly isn’t a walk in the park either. The restaurant sits in one of those newer office/shopping complex things that seem to be the rage here in NC. In fact, OMBU is the only tenant of the building. Near as I can tell, it’s been open since the Fall of 2009.
As soon as you walk in, you’re immediately hit with the tones. Hardwood floors, a fair amount of glass, and a lot of “earth tones”. There’s also a decent amount of metal sculpture and accent on the walls. The restaurant itself was dimly lit, which certainly lends to a more intimate atmosphere. The “waiting” room is not richly appointed, however. A few small stools (and I had to really sink down to sit) were really about the only thing in there. As you walk back to the dining area, there is a glass display wall of wine which partitions off the cocktail area. A nice touch, as it doesn’t allow the sound to filter out from the bar area. However, I have to raise a complaint to the overall traffic flow to the back of the restaurant – it wasn’t very conducive at all. It might have been because of the large party that was seated there (I believe it was 16).
The staff impressed me. Immediately, the hostesses greeted me, and offered me the opportunity to wait for the rest of my party at the bar. They didn’t hover when I declined. They spoke clearly and with smiles on their faces.
Once we were seated, Kip came over and introduced himself. He didn’t hover either. In my opinion, he was the definition of a great server. Engaging and witty, as well as knowledgeable about the dishes on the menu. When it came to wine selection, he certainly had a strong working knowledge. We opted with a Sienna from Sonoma.
As the name suggests, OMBU trends towards the grilled fare. Most of it is either beef or seafood. One pork dish and one chicken dish that I recall from the menu. There weren’t any “off menu” specials that night, so we were spared from having to grill Kip. I opted for the sliced filet, Ken & his wife opted for the Porterhouse for 2, and Laura opted for Shrimp Tagliate.
Both of our steaks were cooked just a bit short of how we ordered them, but no harm done. The shrimp that arrived in the other dish were ginormous, with a fair portion of them as well. This place certainly didn’t skimp on the meats.
It was the sides that seemed to be lacking. We opted to go without an appetizer or salad. Looking around, others ordered salads, and they were served in martini glasses. A fairly recent trend that the caterer I work for has been doing for years. My filet was supposed to come with a portabella mushroom (which I loathe), so I substituted the risotto and a side of asparagus. The “meals for 2” is only the main dish, so you must order your sides. They ordered gruyerre mashed potatoes and asparagus as well. There hardly seemed more than a few stalks for the three of us.
Overall, the main course was enjoyable. The filet was lightly seasoned with what seemed to be a hickory-flavored rub.
We split a chocolate torte for dessert. It was surprisingly light for a torte. Usually, I expect something with more “meat” – more like a brownie. Instead, it was a bit fluffy. It was still rich, though. Which is exactly what I expect for a torte.
This place isn’t cheap. Most entrees are in the low 20’s, with a few creeping towards $40. But given the level of service, the atmosphere, and the quality of the food, it’s certainly worth it. Since I didn’t foot the bill (those who arranged this adventure did), I can’t complain.
While it’s out of the way for me to hit this place (it’s a good 45-50 minute drive from my house), it’s definitely a good place. Just a bit out of my regular price range, but for a special occasion, it’s worth the money.