by Eric Ginsburg
This is a story that takes place in High Point, but it’s mostly being told for the benefit of people whose orbits keep them primarily in Winston-Salem or Greensboro. That’s because people in High Point — the ones who go out to eat, anyway — are already coming here in droves.
Just before noon on a relatively quiet side street of High Point’s Uptowne district, it felt as if a retaining wall holding back a flood of white-collar workers had ruptured, sending people spilling into Emerywood Fine Foods. By 12:05 p.m. that Friday, the only tables left were two-seaters, and most of those were occupied, too.
Emerywood is an unassuming restaurant from the outside, its patio lined with High Point University umbrellas akin to countless other venues in town. It’s located adjacent to practically every other restaurant in town I’ve been meaning to try — Mayberry Ice Cream, Blue Zucchini, Golden B, Blue Rock Pizza and others — part of a nucleus of dining activity that is oft overlooked by residents from other parts of the Triad.
It isn’t surprising, looking around at the well-heeled clientele that settled in for lunch, that Emerywood Fine Foods is a jaunt from a country club, in many ways reminiscent of Greensboro’s Irving Park neighborhood.
The tone inside, set by décor redolent of a local version of Panera, matched the somewhat casual but well-dressed waitstaff, who were overwhelmed by a massive, 30-sandwich take-out order called in just before the lunch crowd roosted like a flock of birds. Wait times crept higher than normal, but almost nobody batted an eye. That’s how it is with the leisure class.
Upbeat soul music piped through the restaurant as people discussed fashion, frustrations at the office and how to convince dogs to take pills. Before the crush of people hit, two coworkers with rolled up sleeves talked about pickleball, which one of them had just tried for the first time.
Everything on Emerywood’s lunch menu, which is sandwich-centric and cheaper than its dinner counterpart, sounded appetizing and I practically started at the top of the list, vowing to return regularly and work my way through. But instead I opted for the approach of a number of returning customers around me and ordered the half & half.
A few folks picked small salads and half a sandwich — the Mallory, with grilled chicken and spicy pimiento cheese on wheatberry bread, was particularly popular. I almost went for the portabella caprese or the Firehouse Chicken, which comes with Texas Pete-grilled chicken, bacon, caramelized onion and provolone.
But I just can’t say no to brie, and the way the slight spice of the honey-cup mustard and light spread of mayo complemented the soft cheese excellently. To Brie or Not to Brie, the sandwich in question came on a toasted baguette and overflowing with slices of turkey.
Despite the strength of the Southwestern soup — a creamy offering filled with black beans, corn, chicken and tomato — I found myself wanting more of the turkey and brie KO combo, but the warmth of both helped combat the dreary, misty onset of fall.
Maybe it’s for the best that people in other parts of the Triad overlook places like Emerywood; even as tables remained full, it was difficult to pull out of the parking lot because a new glut of cars was attempting to pull in. But those who write off High Point’s culinary options and staples such as Emerywood are only hurting themselves.
Visit Emerywood Fine Foods at emerywood.com or 130 W. Lexington Ave., HP.