Winna’s Kitchen: Spring Menu 2023

Address 819 Main St, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Social MediaWinna’s Kitchen

For early Spring, a high of 77 degrees felt good on my cheeks as I walked through the door of Winna’s Kitchen. After being greeted with a warm hug from my friend Amy (@myrtlebeachfoodiebabe), we were kindly approached by a staff member who hands us a paper and pencil as we are motioned to sit at our table. The paper was divided into sections; each item we would be tasting for the Spring 2023 Menu, a scale rating from 1-5 and comments beside them.

Spring 2023 Menu ItemScale 1-5Comments
Example of the Feedback Sheet layout.

As we are chatting, I pan my eyes across the renovated space post-flood. Original, glossy hardwood flooring preserved, sleek granite countertops, warm tones of teals, blues and oranges cover the area which are complimented by the tiling along the walls and the bar with simplistic-classy art etched onto the glass windows with paint.

A bartender comes over with a smile, handing me the first on the list, a lemon blueberry basil mocktail.

The mocktail was a gradient amaranth and crimson color. Assuming the base was water, as this mocktail was not carbonated, I sip and scan the list of items that we would be tasting.

The mocktail presentation was stunning, with the exception of the wilted basil leaf. This could have been caused from numerous reasons; sunburn, overwatering or over fertilization. With that stated, the flavor was bold and complimented well alongside the lemon and blueberry. While I do appreciate a bold basil moment, mint would have been my herb-garnish of choice.

The pigmentation of the mocktail was created with a muddled blueberry syrup that had been carefully poured into each glass, keeping the gradient appearance. Rimmed with sugar, this mocktail had the perfect pairing of sweet, tart and refreshing, resembling that of a mojito.

The atmosphere made me feel right at home, easily able to socialize with others without feeling overly cramped.

We are then welcomed by Chef Jess Sagun, giving us full permission for all kinds of feedback, even down to the possible ideas of names for items. As the first dish gracefully hits our eyes it is placed onto the table, and there is a strong sense of joyfulness that begins to fill the room.

This shareable, small plate menu item featured whipped feta, seasoned with various herbs like thyme and rosemary, topped with bacon, Medjool dates and drizzled with salted honey.

The whipped feta alone was enough to make me day-dream about having this snack on my back porch with a glass of wine in hand as I watch the sunset over the marsh. Decadent and creamy as it’s tangy, saltiness balances with the caramel-like date and the crunch and smokiness of the bacon. While we were given the choices of pita or multi-grain baked crackers to dip; I prefer the pita as it is a match made in Mediterranean-heaven against the whipped feta.

Enjoying light conversations with our newly made friends as our finished plates of whipped feta are swapped for creamy and refreshing chicken salads. In this moment, I was thankful to have been given a pencil and paper for this event, simply for so many bold flavors to make note of.

On a bed of Spring Mix with blackberries and strawberries were two different styles of chicken salad; lemon basil and hatch Chile.

As of recently, I have been eating Lemon Pepper Tuna with butter crackers as a snack, so when I reached for the Lemon Basil chicken salad, I was excited. Unlike my everyday snack, this version did not grab my attention as I had hoped for. The basil was sweet and bold against the lemon however, the flavor of the chicken was absent, my palate desperately craving the mild, salty and smokiness of tuna. The sweetness of the strawberry very well paired along, unlike the blackberry which overpowered the tartness with the citrusy lemon.

Finding myself taking more bites of the hatch Chile, for good reason, I like heat. The surprise was the crunchiness from finely chopped bacon. While the heat ranges from quite mild to medium, it held a great kick that was refreshing against the cool and creaminess. Again, that ripe strawberry paired well alongside the hatch Chiles, not so much with the tartness of the blackberry.

Each style offering great consistency, as the creaminess remained light, well made for a chicken salad sandwich with the chicken finely shredded.

Still sipping my mocktail, we enjoy much heavier conversations together as we wait in preparation for the next dish. Everyone laughing, smiling and enjoying.

Chef Jess makes her way for an appearance as she introduces, “Ode to Nashville,” inspired by a brussels sprout hash she enjoyed during a trip to Nashville.

This light salad offers a decadent range of flavors with oranges, pecans, micro-greens, sourced from Microledon Farm and a fried egg.

Presentation was satisfying as we watched the egg yolk drip down the side. Each bite had a new burst of great piquancy that I could not forget. The fried egg, micro-greens and pecans allowed for an earthy flavor to be bold against the orange slices. The orange slices add a wonderful sweetness against the finely shaved Brussels sprouts and house vinaigrette, so much that I had only wished for more oranges, maybe even some strawberries added to the mix.

The shaved Brussels sprouts were cooked to perfection as this vegetable tenderizes quickly. Chef Jess added a vinaigrette as it aided in counteracting the sulfuric smell and aroma, such key component for best flavor in Brussels sprouts.

Consuming this dish on a warm Spring day, with sun-kissed cheeks was how I pictured this moment. Those days where you crave a cool, refreshing salad, this is what you order. Without becoming wilted from the vinaigrette, the crunch from the finely shaved lettuce stood as a perfect base, carrying a sweetness with each bite against the earthy pecans, micro-greens and the burst of citrus from the orange slices.

As our finished lemon blueberry basil mocktails collect melted ice in the glass, the bartender makes his way around again with another unique mocktail.

This mocktail was an opaque coconut and cream color with a base of blended condensed milk, coconut, two types of hot sauces and four limes. I try to keep an open mind as milk based drinks are not my first choice, and when they are, it results in an undesirable experience.

The presentation was simple, a rimmed glass with a chili lime seasoning (it would have been nice to see a lime garnish), this drink hits the lips cool and frothy as the chili lime seasoning stands out more than the drink itself. While this mocktail is extremely unique, it does need to turn up the heat a little as the flavor from the hot sauces were absent alongside the absence of the coconut.

After allowing it to sit, there was coagulation because of the mixture of the acidic limes, hot sauce and condensed milk, altering the pH. According to Jewels Briggs, “to avoid this, it is best to always add the cream (liquor) to a drink at the end and stir gently to combine.”

This mocktail has full potential to be a spicy coconut margarita imitation, however, I would replace the condensed milk with cream of coconut (not coconut cream) to achieve a syrupier texture, making it easier to blend with the strong acids.

As our plates from “Ode to Nashville” disappear and our drinks are slowly sipped, Chef Jess announces their next new item, cold sandwiches.

She presented us with unique twists on two classic favorites; the turkey sandwich and the BLT. Cut and stacked neatly as if prepared for a tea room, the sandwiches are dainty and yet managed to include a punch of flavor.

The cold turkey sandwich was built on sour dough packed with layers of black pepper coated turkey, sliced apples, cheddar cheese, house dressing and some lettuce. The apple adds more to the texture of the sandwich than flavor, which is a wonderful crunch as the cheddar cheese and black pepper coated turkey melt together. The house dressing, which was much like a vinaigrette, light and left the sour dough unsaturated.

It’s no secret to my friends, the BLT is my desired choice for brunch, and the “Mo Betta BLT,” really took me by surprise. I can only hope that the portion size for their Spring Menu is a whole sandwich because I simply could not get enough. The lettuce is kind of an obligation and while I adore arugula, it is a soft lettuce and I was craving that extra crunch with the bacon. I would have opted for crisp, romaine hearts. The choice for such a classic white bread was demanded as it is crucial that a BLT is built on something not overly complicated. However, for such a large slice of tomato on the thin bread, I yearn for a little more bacon.

The crisp bacon, white bread, juicy tomato and arugula come together but what elevates this simple yet, satisfying sandwich is Chef Jess’ shallot jam. That is the star of this sandwich, offering a delicate, sharp sweet flavor against the saltiness. This definitely has potential to be my favorite BLT along the Grand Strand.

As we finish our cold sandwiches, Chef Jess introduces her next dish, the “Summertime Pie,” a nod to her iconic cast iron skillet dishes much like the Ham & Potato Cassoulet or Chicken Pie Pie.

Loaded with roasted corn, sweet peppers, chicken, tomatoes and melted cheddar cheese with a cream and topped with a Panko breadcrumb crust and fresh micro-greens, the “Summertime Pie” should be noted as my favorite dish of the evening.

Chef Jess explained that she originally planned to have covered the pie in a puff pastry but instead chose the Panko breadcrumb crust, I think she went with the right choice. As the breadcrumbs do not outshine the ingredients below, adding a texture that puff pastry would not offer.

While this goes as my favorite dish that had been served, it is not entirely flawless. The tomatoes are well roasted and the bites I had of the chicken were juicy. However, the dish was overloaded with the sweet corn that I felt like I barely experienced the chicken.

When my friends heard that this included a cream, they had expected a more liquid base texture inside however, I preferred that it wasn’t overly saturated with filler. We each agreed that a cream sauce on the side would be a compromising touch.

My nana makes this wonderful vegetable soup every fall. Ground beef, green beans, corn, onions, carrots and a warm, comforting beef & tomato broth that I found myself craving every year. This dish reminded me of home and I look forward to it’s perfected state.

As our plates are cleared, Chef Jess introduces the next dish, the bulgogi bowl. She states that she originally had planned to have short rib however, it became over cooked so she opted for ground beef instead.

The first time I enjoyed a bulgogi bowl was when I made a Hello Fresh meal that my boyfriend’s mother had ordered. What I remembered most was making the meatballs.

Chef Jess’ bulgogi bowl represented what a true chef can do with the ingredients they have on hand, how to manage when mistakes occur and how to create something absolutely devouring.

While the traditional Korean dish is made with thin slices of ribeye, the meatballs complimented well when I made the dish. Which is why when enjoying Chef Jess’ version I preferred the ground beef. While it was an enjoyable dish, I only wish it had been served a little warmer.

The bulgogi bowl featured well-sauced ground beef, pickled carrots, green beans, spicy Korean cucumber salad on a bed of fluffy rice. For it being my first experience with kimchi, it was a memorable one. I enjoyed the salty, umami flavor of the fermented cabbage against the spicy cucumbers and the ground beef.

As our plates and empty mocktail glasses are removed from the table, Chef Jess enters for a final time to thank us again for being there and introduced the final menu item, ube French toast.

I was a bit skeptical, having enjoyed so many savory items to be hit on a note of sweet my palate was not prepared for.

This gorgeous plate is laid in front of us as we are left in wonder.

Ube, is a type of yam from the Philippines, gaining intense popularity within the culinary community for its bright violet pigmentation.

This ube French toast is comprised of a brioche loaf stuffed with coconut cream, crushed pistachios, ube, banana Pocky and drizzled with a black sesame syrup.

Hesitant, I take a bite, grabbing every ingredient, the best way to end the evening. The rich earthiness of the pistachios blended with the creamy sweetness of the ube which over flowed with a sweet nutty-vanilla flavor. The balance of sweet and savory in the final dish.

“The food might be good, but is it worth the price?”

During the tasting event, we were not presented with the prices of each item however, after viewing Winna’s Kitchen’s regular menu, it can be assumed that their average cost per plate could run from $10.00 to $16.00 depending on the item. Many of the items are subject to alterations and name changes.

I can only hope that the portion sizes match the prices that will accompany. Although, if it turns out not being the most affordable; Chef Jess cooks with extreme attention to detail, only serving the most appetizing. The focus should be centered on being served by an outstanding, award winning chef, in an atmosphere where you feel comfortable bringing family and friends, while also getting to know others within the community. That is worth the price.

Chef Jess is committed to “Have Fun. Eat Well. Do Good.” Which is why she placed “The Number One” on her menu. For only $5 you can make a difference in our community by providing a meal for a person in need. That is worth the price.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Chef Jess, her husband and their daughter. It is a family atmosphere because it is a family establishment, and to me, there is nothing better than a home-cooked meal. To get that experience while dining out, that is worth the price.

While this was my first time enjoying Winna’s Kitchen, it won’t be my last.

Be sure to visit the reopening of Winna’s Kitchen (post-flood and renovation) Wednesday, March 8th. They will be open regularly Wednesday – Sunday, 9AM – 3PM beginning March 8th.


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