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Chow down with John Batchelor at Green Valley Grill

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Chow down with John Batchelor at Green Valley Grill

In culinary history, and continuing into the present in Europe, high-end restaurants have often been associated with hotels. Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels (qwrh.com), a Greensboro entrepreneurship, is reestablishing that tradition in the Triad. Proximity and the O.Henry are luxury hotels whose names reflect local history. Both house serious restaurants.

I chose Green Valley Grill, in the O.Henry, for this column mainly because some selections in a menu email caught my attention. (I go to Print Works Bistro, in the Proximity Hotel, just as often.)

The Green Valley Grill interior is elegant. You enter through a vine-covered trellis. Brick walls flank a large center arch. As the weather warms, the patio, surrounded by lush greenery, will become increasingly inviting.

These properties earn special commendations for safety accommodations. Table spacing has been extended, and reservations are required (for now, at least) for in-person dining. Dividers have been installed along the bar. If you order takeout, several dedicated parking spaces allow delivery without leaving your car.

The wine list has received the exalted Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence” status.

Vegetarian selections are offered for several courses. Recent menu starters have included Crispy Cauliflower with chermoula (a Middle Eastern style relish) and chives and Wood Fire Roasted Carrots with lemon zest and chive crema. Eggplant or Pesto Flatbread appeared in the menu’s mid-priced section, while Vegetable Paella and Blackened Cauliflower Steak were listed among the entrées.

Although I have never been disappointed with vegetarian selections here, for these most recent visits, my wife and I stuck to fishier and meatier options.

We started one meal with Blue Crab and Spinach Dip. The primary taste impact comes from the crabmeat, as it should. Thin lavosh crackers host each spread.

Two sandwiches are real standouts. Sherry-Braised Short Rib Sliders host wonderfully tender, flavorful beef, enhanced with citrus-whipped goat cheese and Parmesan-lime aioli. The Darn Good Burger appears pricey ($12.95) at first glance, but its elaborate preparation belies cost. Herbed mayonnaise graces an unusually thick, richly flavored patty, with a choice of cheeses, along with leaf lettuce. Both these come with hand-cut truffle French fries. Also available as a starter, these potatoes are worth a visit in themselves. The Short Ribs are also available as an entrée.

Wood-Fired Filet Mignon is another stellar beef main course. The meat itself exhibits a solid depth of flavor, appropriately tender for the cut. A green onion piquillo chimichurri lends an Argentine-influenced accent. Fingerling potatoes and spinach are the accompaniments.

Wood-Fired Grilled Veal Porterhouse is a recent menu addition. This is an exceptional cut of meat, the equivalent in flavor and texture of two veal steaks. The natural veal flavor is extended with rosemary jus, joined by confit-fingerling potatoes and charred broccolini- a personal favorite. (I had this within a few days of its appearance on the menu, and I would hope that in the future, more attention is devoted to the rosemary enhancement- underpowered in my serving.)

No disappointments among the seafoods we tried. In Baked Pecan Crusted Trout, a crisp, nutty crust gives way to an abundant, tender fish portion, accented with lemon beurre blanc, presented over polenta, which absorbs and extends the sauce. Al dente green beans are particularly tasty. Five large Pan-Seared Scallops are perfectly browned and tender. These surround saffron rice, scattered with toasted pine nuts, all laced with lemon chili oil. Crab Cakes are based on quality lump crabmeat, their crisp brown exterior sharpened with chive crema. Greek herbed roasted potatoes and green beans, al dente, tossed in butter, round out the presentation.

House pickled red onion often appears as an additional side- more a separate flavor in its own right than a complement for other ingredients.

In recognition of both spring weather and (hopefully) emergence from COVID quarantine, Quaintance-Weaver properties have been offering “thaw” specials- overnight hotel rates that include dining options. Whether a Triad resident or an out-of-town guest, that would be a great way to welcome March and April. Check the website and sign up for email notifications to keep up to date with these and other special promotions.

John Batchelor has been writing about eating and drinking since 1981. Over a thousand of his articles have been published. He is also author of two travel/cookbooks: Chefs of the Coast: Restaurants and Recipes from the North Carolina Coast, and Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants and Recipes from Western North Carolina. Contact him at john.e.batchelor@gmail.com or see his blog, johnbatchelordiningandtravel.blogspot.com.

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