Children get Disney, so what’s my adventure land? A beautiful restaurant that has a market inside so I can order food, shop while I wait (or just swing in and shop), all while seeing something new every time.
That’s Canteen Market & Bistro. Billed as a gourmet market and dining experience, you have no doubt of its intended function as soon as you breeze in. Plus, there’s a beautiful, communal bar right in the center to ground the entire gleaming 6,000 square-foot space. It’s dreamy.
The business, which just opened its doors officially last week, is the product of Claire Calvin owner of The Porch Kitchen and Cantina and Eric Swaim, her neighbor at Hoots Roller Bar and Beer Co. at West End Millworks. The two had talked for a couple of years about opening up an urban market. When the space at 411 W. Fourth St. (also known as Commerce Plaza) became available, it was originally conceptualized by the property owners as a fine dining restaurant. However, Calvin and her dream of a downtown market with a distinctly urban feel could not be dissuaded.
“This space would be too big just a market or just a restaurant, but altogether, it just works,” she said.
The market side of the restaurant features staples such as pasta and sauces, some on the higher end, but still budget-friendly for a night in. There are also local sauces such as Y’all Sauce, (made in Winston-Salem) and international sauces, mustards, grits, gourmet crackers, bread mixes, jams, jellies, endless varieties of pickles–you name it. Calvin said they’re just getting started and are happily taking suggestions for fun items to add. During our interview, Calvin paused for a moment to help a customer who had her arms full. She had come for one thing (don’t we all) and appeared to need a basket. Calvin hastily retrieved a mini-cart. We joked that her budget was no longer limited by what she could carry in her arms and she went on her way.
In the back, the dining area sits adjacent to a beautifully curated wine and beverage area, called The Cellar, with hard-to-find boutique wines, local and international craft beer, kombucha, coffee and artisanal mixers featuring companies that have a story to tell.
Swaim put a great deal of thought into his beverage program. The large communal space features the obligatory craft cocktail menu. For beer, there’s a North Carolina focus behind the bar, with everything on draft while the cooler includes beers from around the world. The wine at the bar boasts a relatively new tap concept.
“All wine by the glass is all being poured draft,” he said. “It eliminates waste and ensures freshness, which is something we really wanted to commit to. When it’s on draft, there’s no light and no oxygen to make it go bad. It’s the perfect temperature for white and for red and gives you control over your pour. It’s very concise at the bar with a trip around the world in the back.”
The right side of the space is glassed in with a bar top that overlooks the lower level that houses the Winston-Salem Chamber offices along with The Porch’s new administrative dwelling just below.
In front, the kitchen is where Chef Chris Almand, formerly of West End Cafe, is making menu items for the bistro for dine-in and take-home and the pastry chef is making the sweet treats. The refrigerator case is stocked with local pimento cheese, goat cheese, deli items and items a customer can grab to go for a quick snack or lunch. Calvin said the menu would often change to reflect what is in season and what is available from their partner farm, Whit Acres.
Local restaurateur and breakfast queen, Mary Haglund, who loves to support her fellow comrades simply said, “Just get down here. The food is so good. It’s beautiful, full of great energy and run by some of the best people!”
Canteen will have an official grand opening this weekend featuring market samples, wine tastings, demonstrations, and giveaways. Visit their social media for more details.
Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.
Canteen Market and Bistro is located at 411 West Fourth St., Winston-Salem. Hours are Monday-Sunday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.