719 Coliseum Drive • Winston-Salem
336.724.6132 • RyansRestaurant.com
Ryan’s Restaurant has been a Winston-Salem tradition for over 40 years. It’s a place where people go to celebrate special occasions or milestones. Or meet up with friends because it’s Tuesday. Frankly, Ryan’s is always a great idea! Their service is second to none, and the ambiance is warm and welcoming without pretension. It’s always a treat when Ryan’s shows up on my review list! I know I’m in for a great meal, and if owner Dennis Carter is nearby, he’ll likely stop by to check-in. And such a friendly, nice guy! Everyone at Ryan’s is awesome!
We started our meal with soup. Admittedly, I’m quite familiar with the French Onion Soup served by Ryan’s, but it is a restaurant reviewer’s due diligence to do quality spot checks, so I took one for the team and licked the bowl clean – I mean, I verified that it’s still excellent. In all seriousness, I’ve said it before – NO ONE in the Triad makes French Onion Soup the way Ryan’s does. It is exceptional.
We also sampled the She Crab Soup. I’ll restrain myself from the ultimate dad joke about how they can tell which crabs are shes and simply get to the main point…. If you love crab, you’ll love this soup. It’s not fishy tasting at all, but it’s creamy with large chunks of fresh crab and delicious. A big winner any time of year!
Appetizers were next, and to be honest – it’s hard to look at the Ryan’s appetizer menu and make a choice. It’s all incredible. But our server, a super sweet guy named Jeff, brought us out a few things to try. The first was the Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese. How is it that such basic ingredients in the hands of the right culinary team exceed everything you know to be true about the overall goodness of a Caprese salad? It is proof positive that quality of ingredients matters, and certainly, Ryan’s sources the very best. Fresh mozzarella and cherry tomatoes are drizzled with pumpkin seed pesto and a balsamic reduction. In a word – divine.
Next, we enjoyed a plate of Ryan’s Colossal Lump Crab Meat. Seriously y’all – it again goes back to quality ingredients! This is a plate of large chunk crab meat served with lemon and cocktail sauce. You may be tempted to sneak this one for yourself, but save room! More is coming!
Our third and final appetizer was the Toasted Phyllo Wrapped Brie. Elegance on a plate, my friends. Drizzled with local honey and a balsamic reduction, this appetizer is served with Granny Smith apples, walnuts, and crackers. It’s a personal favorite!
We moved on to salads, and don’t think for a moment that it’s a simple, basic salad. First of all, these salads are a work of art. Plus, all the dressings are house-made and absolutely delicious. Our first salad was the Ryan’s Signature Salad, and it was served with Ryan’s vinaigrette. This one was a savory salad and included greens, bacon, onion, gorgonzola, mushrooms, tomato, and cucumber. Add some protein to this one, and you’ve got a healthy and delicious supper!
Next, we had the Seasonal Salad, which is made of hydroponic bibb lettuce, which is so tender good. It’s lettuce! Who would think that lettuce can make such a difference, right? But I love this kind of lettuce! It was served with goat cheese, almonds, dried cranberries, and topped with a tangy pomegranate vinaigrette. There is a sweet and sour element that makes this salad one-of-a-kind!
Finally, our last salad was my favorite – the Spinach Salad was so good! Baby spinach was topped with figs, pumpkin seeds, and champagne vinaigrette! I loved the figs in this salad. I thought they were the perfect accompaniment to the fresh spinach!
We moved on to our entrees, and while we were getting full, we persevered! Up first – Chilean Sea Bass! No one makes sea bass the way Ryan’s does! It’s seared with crispy edges and melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. It’s the perfect fish for those who don’t really love seafood, because it’s not fishy tasting. It was fabulous and served over basmati rice with fresh asparagus and then topped with pineapple salsa. Un. Be. Liev. Able.
We enjoyed one more sample from the sea – a Cold Water Lobster Tail! Meaty and delicious, presentation is also an important part of this Ryan’s classic! Our lobster tail was served with spicy collard greens (which I could eat a pound of!) and a squash medley. It also came with a side of melted, clarified butter. So good!
Switching to land, we had Rack of Lamb. Lamb is one of those dishes that I’ll eat when it’s served to me, and I like it, but I don’t typically order it. However, since I’ll be visiting Ryan’s again soon for my wedding anniversary, I may very well choose this one. This lamb is bred in New Zealand and hands down – it was the most tender and flavorful lamb I’ve ever eaten. It was so incredible; I just couldn’t get enough of it! Of course, you can’t have lamb without mint jelly, and in addition to that – we enjoyed scalloped potatoes and spinach. Beyond delicious!
Y’all know that I’m a steak girl, and no one does steak better than Ryan’s. We had the Steak Au Poivre, which was served medium rare and covered in a decadent cognac cream sauce and cracked black pepper. Holy moly, was that a phenomenal steak! This steak is precisely why I tend to have a love-hate relationship with this column. I love that I get to sample these amazing meals, but I hate that I have to share them. We enjoyed our steak with a traditional baked potato. And Ryan’s, of course, never does anything halfway. These are my favorite kinds of baked potatoes because the skin has been crusted with salt, and it’s loaded with all the classic potato toppings!
We rounded out the night with four desserts. We’ll start with the Frozen Bananas Foster Ice Cream Pie. Stunningly beautiful and absolutely delicious. It’s a brilliant display of flavors that any ice cream lover will be excited about!
Next, we sampled the Triple Chocolate Cake. To be honest, as much as I like chocolate cake, I rarely ever order chocolate desserts in a restaurant. They are usually so rich, I can barely get past a few bites. But the highest compliment I can give Ryan’s is that the cake was moist, and while it was rich, it wasn’t so rich that it choked the eater with chocolate. Two thumbs up – best chocolate dessert I’ve had in a restaurant!
Our publisher, Brooke Eagle, joined us for this review, and since Crème Brulee is her favorite dessert, I let her have the majority and only took a bite (you’ll find out why in a minute when I start talking about MY favorite). But the Crème Brulee is everything it’s supposed to be. Crunchy burnt part – check. Creamy and rich – check. Shareable – optional. Perfection.
When it comes to my favorite desserts, I’m always happiest with some kind of fresh berries. Not only are they delicious, but I get to pretend that the fruit offsets the dessert part. And so Fresh Seasonal Berries in a Caramel Pecan Shell. And this is why I was content to let Brooke bogart the Crème Brulee. I was bogarting the berries. I can’t tell you how much I love this dessert. It’s so simple, but so good. I don’t know how on earth they make that caramel pecan shell, but whoever is the culinary mastermind behind it – from the bottom of my very full stomach – thank you.
And that’s a wrap! Another Rosey’s in the books and another exceptional meal-turned-fond-memory! Make one for yourself now! Go soon and let them know that Rosey sent ya!