Restaurant Reviews & Features
Wednesday Night Special: Mussels-Wine-Music
Print Works' cuisine never boring
(4 Star Review)
By John Batchelor | Go Triad
Published: July 12, 2012
GREENSBORO -- Print Works Bistro is the restaurant of Proximity Hotel, a Quaintance-Weaver property. Both the hotel and restaurant have been recognized as the “greenest” such establishments in America, certified LEED Platinum.
Lush landscaping with streamside outdoor seating and airy interior decor create casual sophistication. The look is bright and billowy, a function of tall windows plus cream-colored floor to ceiling drapes hung throughout, sectioning off various dining areas. Noise level can be fairly high. Live music in the bar on Wednesday nights permeates dining areas all the way to the back wall, where yelling in the kitchen is also evident. The impact is not harsh; draperies soften the edge somewhat.
Cuisine loosely follows a French bistro concept, combined with contemporary American comfort food — variations on the familiar, but never boring. Ingredients from nearby farms and producers are central to the concept. Execution is precise and consistent.
The crust in flatbread is firm and flavorful in its own right. In the Duck Confit version, tender duck benefits from sweet, soft shredded shallots, soaked in sugar and white balsamic vinegar, plus mellow cheese — a cross between feta and mozzarella — from Chapel Hill Creamery. A hot iron bowl hosts Onion Soup, the flavorful veal broth enriched with abundant soft-cooked onions and aged Ementhaler cheese.
A cheeseburger is about a half-inch thick, generating very good, natural beef flavor. The meat is local, from Bobby Brad’s Family Farm. The egg-based challah bun is imported from Tribeca Bakery in New York. It comes with fries. This would have been included in my recent “best burgers” list had it not duplicated the entry from Green Valley Grill, Print Works’ corporate sibling.
A mixed green salad of leaf lettuces hosts green beans, sliced carrots and radishes, chopped celery and clipped green onions, accented by a very light, creamy herb dressing.
In Steak Frites, Certified Angus Beef hanger steak is seasoned with herbed butter. The meat is surprisingly tender, a function of how it is sliced — diagonally across the grain. Crisp fries are cut in-house, skin on, about ¼-inch thick, yielding very good potato flavor. A few uncooked spinach leaves provide a weak excuse for a green vegetable.
Other entrees came with mashed potatoes blended with crème fraiche, joined by French-style green beans — with the protein, adding up to a complete meal.
Tender Trout filet delivers delightfully mild flavor, well-served by a light coating of herbed bread crumbs drizzled with lemon caper beurre blanc sauce.
Black Pepper Grilled Salmon exudes unusually good salmon flavor, enhanced with honey lime butter sauce. The fish is sustainably raised by Marine Harvest in Canada.
An off-menu special of Corvina, a white-fleshed fish of the drum family, had been baked en papillotte with clams, sealing in moisture while infusing the fish with clam flavor.
Certified Angus Beef Short Ribs are falling-off-the-bone tender, the deep flavor of the meat enhanced by caramelized spring onions, creating a luscious extension.
Desserts are a particular treat. Profiteroles — puff pastry balls — are filled with homemade vanilla ice cream. Servers ladle hot chocolate sauce tableside to wonderful effect.
In Champagne and Berry Gelee, the gel holds berries, their flavor augmented by crème anglaise and homemade macaroons.
These experiences validate the overall impression that Print Works continues to rank as one of the Triad’s best restaurants. Although I did not encounter any problems during these review visits, I am aware from numerous prior experiences that Quaintance-Weaver establishments are among the best for resolving a complaint.
John Batchelor has been reviewing restaurants for 30 years. His reviews run on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Print Works brings a tasty bit of France to the Triad
By Laura Giovanelli | Winston-Salem Journal Reporter
Published: January 8, 2009
GREENSBORO -- My favorite meal on my last trip to France wasn't the fanciest.
I had my eye on the classics, humble if not healthful dishes. Steak tartare. Raw oysters. Lots of salads, but with a little seared foie gras thrown in. Duck confit. Steak frites. Moules frites. It's a good thing we did a lot of walking, and better still that we were there only two weeks.
The best meal of all was in a bouchon, one of the rustic, regional restaurants in the central French city of Lyons. It was a dinner that started about 8 p.m. with a basket of cracklings, moved into platters of cured meats and plates of blood sausage, and ended around 11, the entire dining room dribbling merrily into the street after chocolate mousse and their third or fourth carafe of Beaujolais.
I can see that some natives might think that bouchons are gimmicks for the tourists, but if I had to choose my personal last supper, dinner at one would be a contender.
But if you can't have Paris, or Lyons, well, we can try Greensboro.
Print Works Bistro opened in October 2007 as the resident restaurant of Quaintance-Weaver's Proximity Hotel. Like Quaintance-Weaver's sister business, the O. Henry Hotel, and its restaurant, the Green Valley Grill, the Proximity's Print Works maintains the hospitality company's reputation for big, beautiful and often-ambitious restaurants.
Print Works is grand and gorgeous, a long, spare room with curvy, cushy Louis XV chairs and billowing ivory curtains. At night, the restaurant takes on a golden glow, the curtains turn rosy, and tables fill with families and couples supping over moules frites, cassoulet and doll-sized cast-iron pans of potatoes.
Dinner here starts with an amuse bouche, the free little snack that chefs in traditionally more chichi restaurants send out to diners at the beginning of a meal. Slices of baguette come tucked into napkins held shut with clothespins. Print Works' staff and Web site brag about local ingredients and its platinum LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The menu says Gallic comfort food. The dining room says Versailles crossed with South Beach. Fun, but not exactly a modest Parisian bistro transplanted to American soil.
Print Works' menu, however, offers solid value in a swank setting, and so does the wine list. Sancerre, a minerally, crisp-as-an-apple-but-rarely-a-bargain French white, is available by the glass, as well as a good Muscadet, a wine from the Loire whose life's calling is to be paired with mussels.
French bistro and brasserie-inspired fare is enjoying a renaissance in the United States, with pate and frisee basking in the popularity the tuna roll and edamame once had. You could chalk up renewed interest in comfort (and butter and bacon) to the recession, but French food was riding a wave before the economy tanked. Good that the trend has reached the Triad, because at this rate, few of us will be able to afford to leave North Carolina until next year.
Over-cooked lamb? Tough meat? I had some of that in France too. It's not a souvenir I cherish, but it also turned up at Print Works in the form of not-at-all-rare grilled lamb loin and chewy beef short ribs (the menu described them as "osso buco" style -- they were anything but). Their wintry sides -- polenta, thin French green beans, pureed potatoes and meltingly-soft red cabbage -- outshone them. Once we got all our sides, that is -- I had to remind a server for the beans.
Then there are dishes here that are more transporting than a plane ticket, such as frisee salad with bacon and croutons. A poached egg floats above it all, and with a prick of your fork, gold yolk melts into tangy vinaigrette. This is the kind of food that lifts me out of Print Works' ethereal dining room and into a boisterous bouchon.
Cassoulet is about as French as you can get. Who else would marry beans with duck confit and sausage? Print Works' cassoulet tastes like a lightened-up version, meaning it's possible to manage more than a few bites. Never fear -- it's still rich and smoky with bacon as well as sausage, served in a small cast-iron pan and nestled next to sautéed Brussels sprouts so sweet they tasted like caramel candy. Nothing better to eat on a cold winter night, especially to ward off recessionary chill.
Bouillabaisse is a Wednesday dinner special (other days of the week feature steak au poivre, roasted leg of lamb, and inexplicably, fish and chips and beef Stroganoff) -- mark your calendar now for it. Again, it's a lighter, scaled-down version of the Provencal fish stew, with firm white bass, shrimp and mussels, but it comes with the traditional accompaniments: a side of rouille -- a spicy mayonnaise -- and toasted baguette slices, buttery and crisp.
There are dishes that are diversions, the only French thing about them being some of their ingredients -- take tender ravioli filled with duck (oui) and ricotta (non). One night, my favorite was a flatbread, a swath of unleavened bread spread with toppings in the style of a stripped-down pizza. Roquefort, walnuts and arugula made this appetizer delicious, but smoked pears pushed it into memorable.
Dessert is possibly the best part of a Print Works meal. Order pots de creme, and two excellent silky custards, one chocolate, the other vanilla, come to your table. Go for profiteroles, and a server will douse the eggy, vanilla ice cream-stuffed pastries with a pitcher of darkest chocolate sauce until you tell them to stop. Lemon tart comes with a warm, bruleed top, and chocolate gormandise is a luscious molten chocolate cake, with an even better tart blackberry sorbet on the side. These aren't especially creative ends to your meal, but they're tried and true and delicious renditions of some traditional French sweets.
So much so, it makes me think that it wouldn't hurt to have some innovation poke through the classical repertoire.
Then again, why reinvent la roue?