719 Coliseum Drive • Winston-Salem
336.724.6132 • RaynsRestaurant.com
For over 40 years, Ryan’s Restaurant of Winston-Salem has been the ultimate go-to destination for fine dining. Exquisite in its atmosphere and picturesque views, Ryan’s Restaurant has carved a name for themselves – from exemplary service to culinary decadence of the highest caliber. So when I was asked to review Ryan’s Restaurant for this issue of Forsyth Woman, I did what any restaurant reviewer would do – I jumped up and down, and clapped my hands in giddy delight. Because I knew I was in for a treat. And boy, was I right.
I have so much to cover. A five-course meal takes time, and there are so many amazing meals to describe. We’ll start at the beginning. Appetizers! As the name implies, Classic Oysters Rockefeller just sounds high-caliber. The oysters are roasted in their shells and topped with spinach and a rich, creamy hollandaise sauce. Decadent.
We also sampled the Lobster Cakes. Full of fresh lobster that has been breaded, the lobster cakes are served with a delicious tomato saffron aioli. A seafood lover’s dream come true!
I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t love, and Ryan’s Restaurant offers a Toasted Phyllo Wrapped Brie that is warm, gooey, delicious goodness – perfectly paired with fresh berries, raspberry puree, orange blossom reduction, and local cloister honey. Served with fresh crackers, it’s an appetizer designed to share, but no promises that there won’t be a fight over the last bite!
One of the greatest culinary combinations is a Caprese Salad, and at Ryan’s Restaurant, they’ve taken this humble, albeit delicious salad, to a new level. Heirloom cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella are topped with almond pesto and a tart balsamic reduction. It’s a mouthful of flavors that blend into pure heaven-on-a-plate.
You’d think we’d be content with the amazing appetizers we were served, but food envy is a real thing. When we saw our neighbors enjoying their Colossal Lump Crab Meat, we had to sample it for ourselves. This crab was both succulent and scrumptious. Not remotely fishy, it’s the best crab we ever tasted!
I have to take a quick minute to pause and introduce our readers to our server for the evening, James. James was both knowledgeable and entertaining. He kept our group laughing and made sure every need was met at our table. His attention to detail made the meal extra-extraordinary.
But getting back to the food at hand, no one (and I mean NO ONE) makes a better French Onion Soup than Ryan’s Restaurant. And I love French onion soup. It’s probably my favorite kind and never have I had it so flavorful and rich.
We also tried the She Crab Soup. Amazingly creamy, and full of lump crab, this is the kind of she crab coup you dream about when you think of visiting the ocean. Incredible.
It never ceases to amaze me how creative chefs can take a simple salad and make it something so sophisticated. The first one we tried was a traditional Iceberg Wedge. You simply can’t go wrong with this traditional favorite, but instead of the traditional blue cheese, the Ryan’s version is served with gorgonzola. It made for a delicious change!
The Ryan’s Signature Salad offered a traditional salad mix tossed with Ryan’s signature dressing. Fresh and with a perfect balance of greens and toppings, this salad is generous in both size and flavor.
If you like a little kick, you’ll love the Arugula Salad. Candied chipotle bacon adds an unexpected bite of spice that works beautifully with the other flavors. Served with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette, this is a salad that says, “Hello!”
But my favorite of the salads we tried was The Piedmont Salad. Hydroponic Bibb lettuce is topped with ricotta salata, fresh strawberries, and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. This is the kind of sweet salad that feels almost like eating dessert. Yum!
If you can believe it – we actually had room for entrees. Okay, maybe not a lot of room, but we came hungry and determined to make the most of this awesome experience. First up: Chilean Sea Bass. If you love fresh seafood, this is a meal not to be missed. This rich, meaty fish is flavored with a sweet pineapple salsa and balsamic reduction and served over a bed of citrus basil basmati. It’s a burst of flavor in every bite!
Our other seafood entrée was the Pan Seared Salmon. This was a hearty and generous portion of salmon that was perfectly cooked and served over orange peel pearl couscous. It was topped with hericot verts, sauce vierge, and a wonderful spinach pesto. It was amazing.
But as any Winston-Salem native knows, Ryan’s is known for their steaks. We were given the opportunity to try two. The first was an incredible Steak Au Poivre which must be French for “really awesome steak with the most amazing cognac cream sauce.” In all seriousness, the steak was so tender, it could be cut with a fork. My hats off to the chef for this one. Exceptional.
Our last entrée can best be described as “nom nom nom…” The Prime Ribeye was cooked to perfection and would literally melt in your mouth. We couldn’t get enough of this steak. It was a prime (literally) cut of meat in the hands of a culinary staff who appreciates a well-cooked steak. Correction – a perfectly-cooked steak.
With our entrees, we sampled Ryan’s Truffle Pomme Frittes. These string fries weren’t greasy but were light, and a step above the common French fry. We also sampled the Spiced Collard Greens. I’ve only started eating collard greens in the last few years, and if you’re not a fan, this is the dish to turn you into one. I loved the burst of flavor that came from this Southern favorite. Our last side dish was the Sautéed Spinach. We must have been in the mood for green vegetables, but don’t let two greens fool you. These were very different in both flavor and texture. The magic touch of the chef coupled with perfect seasonings enhanced the flavor of this super food!
You know, when I finished my meal and the desserts I’m about to describe, I sent a text to my health coach and told her I went way off plan, but I had no regrets. And as I re-live this meal as I write it, I’m grateful that words don’t have calories. But again, no regrets. We sampled four incredible desserts starting with Ryan’s Pecan Pie. Whether you pronounce it PEE-can or pee-KAHN, pronounce this one fabulous. Your Southern grandma would surrender her recipe and beg for this one. Unbelievable.
We also tried Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee. Friends, despite all we ate that night, we about had a spoon war over the crème brulee. Creamy. Perfectly burnt sugar top. Don’t order this expecting to share. Just let everyone get their own, so you can end the meal on speaking terms.
Don’t let the menu item, “Ice Cream,” fool you. This generous scoop of vanilla ice cream was served in a caramel pecan shell and drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. This isn’t a basic bowl of ice cream. Ryan’s has made it an art form.
Our last dessert for the evening was a Frozen Bananas Foster Caramel Pie. Y’all, there are so many good things in that name. Bananas Foster – awesome. Caramel – yes, please. Pie – I love pie. Put it all together and wowza! Incredible.
Believe it or not, we actually walked out of the restaurant and didn’t need the wheelbarrow I was sure they had tucked away in the back room for emergencies. But I tell you – I woke up the next morning wondering if I’d ever be hungry again.
Ryan’s Restaurant has been a favorite for decades with good reason. If you haven’t been lately – don’t wait for just a special occasion. Sometimes random Tuesdays deserve a special meal. Go. You won’t regret it. And make sure to tell them that Rosey sent ya!