White + Wood brings the hip West Coast to the Triad

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Owner Jake Ngo worked with “an all-star roster of chefs” in the Bay Area, which shows in the small bites and entrees at White + Wood. (photo by Kat Bodrie)

Given my predilection for staying home on the weekends, I don’t normally feel like one of the cool kids. But last Friday night, as the sidewalk crowd peeked into White + Wood’s sleek storefront on South Elm between Blue Denim and Churchill’s, I was on the cutting edge of hip.

Open to the public since July 5, White + Wood is an upscale wine and cocktail drinker’s dream. Foregoing the current trend of unfinished exposed brick, all of the walls are white, both tile and painted brick. Tables, seats and the bar are made of medium-colored wood, completing the scheme in the name.

A deli case by the entrance contains meat and cheeses for small bites. Like its predecessors, Mid-City Sandwich Shop and Fincastles, food is made in the open, giving the space a democratic feel. But the beauty is the bar: a 12-seater, facing a healthy collection of liquor and the grill/prep area, with a mirror lining the opposing wall.

Owner Jake Ngo said he and partner/co-owner Patrick Planeaux wanted the space to be modern, welcoming and “forward.” Having recently moved from the Bay Area, Ngo worked in hotels for 25 years, learning from “an all-star roster of chefs” before bringing his knowledge to the Triad, where he and Planeaux have found “easier living.”

“We wouldn’t have been able to do this in California,” Planeaux said, noting the high cost of living and starting a business on the West Coast.

Visit White + Wood at 215 S. Elm St. (GSO) or find it on Facebook at thewhiteandwood.

The White + Wood name finds a second meaning in wine: Ngo likes white burgundy wine, and reds are aged in wooden barrels.

Wine comprises most of the drink menu, which is divided into red, white, sweet, rosé and bubbly. I was pleased to see sauternes and icewine, two I haven’t found in restaurants or bars. Glasses are available for certain wines and range from $8 to $38, so you may want to bring friends and split a bottle.

The cocktails are equally enticing. I tried the N(G)otorious G&T — Conniption Navy strength gin from Durham Distillery, lemon and lime slices and juniper berries in a wine glass over ice, served with a bottle of Mediterranean tonic so I could dilute the gin to taste. White + Wood also carries Sutler’s gin, a nod to the Winston-Salem distillery.

My friend Shaquana ordered the Viva La Frisson, made with Hangar One mandarin blossom vodka, lime, simple syrup, cranberry and grapefruit bitters, served with a slice of ginger. Both of us raved over its robust fruitiness and sweet/sour interplay.

The beer selection is small but exotic, including white ale from Japan, gose from Germany, porter from Poland and Unity Vibration Kombucha Bourbon Peach American wild ale from Michigan, which I can testify is absolutely amazing.

Most of the menu — food and drink alike — is priced with the working professional rather than the college student in mind. Even then, splitting plates and bottles is commonplace, so don’t be afraid to bring a friend or group to experience this small piece of the West Coast that Ngo and Planeaux have introduced to our more humble region.