Okay, I have to spill the beans about Machete – it’s the hot spot in town! When I showed up around 5:30 on a Tuesday night, the host said only one seat was available at the bar, so I made reservations for my next visit. The menu changes about 5-6 times a year, based on seasonal ingredients and what’s popular, so I’ve been lucky enough to catch two different iterations.
It’s a tapas concept, which means you coordinate multiple food selections with a big drink menu of beer, cocktails, and wine. It’s a great spot to sip and socialize with friends. I was excited to see that wines are available in 3-ounce as well as 6-ounce pours, which encourages exploring new options. And boy, is the wine list worth exploring! They have many selections that have never been offered to local diners before.
Instead of a traditional printed menu, there’s a QR code on the table that links to an online document. It’s pretty chic for the tech hip, but maybe not so much for those who like to hold a page. The servers do a great job of explaining the preparations when they deliver your food, but it’s not on the menu or in advance unless you ask (and trust me, you should). I’d rate the staff food knowledge here at or near the top among area restaurants.
The menu can be a little deceptive, like with the “Chicken Liver-endive-tarragon.” You might think it’s just chicken liver and endive, but it’s actually a lovely mousse dabbed into endive, and it’s pretty mild in flavor. The server advised that the “Plates” section of the menu is intended for sharing, but I’d say the portion size is about right for one person. If you’re sharing, plan on ordering at least one per person. The vegetable dishes are part of the plates section, and they have a much larger range of vegetarian dishes available than most places in the Triad. But since they’re individually priced, a full meal that equates to an entree with a vegetable can be a little expensive. On the plus side, this restaurant has banished the vegetable boredom that plagues most of the Triad.
The Brussels sprouts are marinated in black garlic hoisin sauce, roasted, and sprinkled with toasted garlic slices. The primary flavor comes from the hoisin, followed by garlic. The roasted cauliflower is crusted with pecorino cheese augmented by béchamel sauce. And the artichokes are charred, accented with lemon, and decorated with bagna cauda foam (garlic, anchovies, and butter). The Brassicas dish displays charred broccoli, cauliflower, and shishito pepper, all interspersed with anchovy-garlic aioli. All of these veggie dishes have outstanding flavor from the vegetables themselves as well as their augmentation.
I’ll admit, I hesitated to order the Roasted Olives. I mean, why roast olives, right? But my husband ordered them as soon as he saw them on the menu, and they were outstanding. They were slightly softened, with their inherent flavor deepened by the heat, well served by caciocavallo cheese, toasted Marcona almonds, fresh oregano, and a mustard vinaigrette.
The “Melon” dish looks like an abstract painting, as do many of the presentations here. Pressed cantaloupe and honeydew have been treated with coconut and citrus oil, plus a little fire from chipotle peppers. The prawns are a spectacular show, heads on, but the shells and veins have been removed. The heads are easily separated, yielding large shrimp that are tender and quite flavorful. The prawns are served with a delicious calabrese-pepper crema that’s smoky but not spicy-hot. And the mussels are enhanced with Thai basil, resting in a lime foam.
The “Crudo” on the Italian menu usually means some kind of fish served raw. Here, the fish is mackerel, surprisingly mild in flavor, covered in foam. Most of the flavor comes from cucumbers – charred and pickled.
For our entrees, we went with the pork tenderloin, which was joined on the plate with roasted shiitake mushrooms and mustard greens. The flavor of the meat is extended with ponzu sauce, which made for an interesting and flavorful combination.
As for the name, Machete, it grows out of two ideas. Literally, Kevin, the owner, used to enjoy chopping his way through the woods behind the house he lived in when he was growing up. But figuratively, the team wanted to capitalize on the idea that the restaurant works on the cutting edge.
Best Restaurants Greensboro NC
Machete is great for a fun night out with friends or a romantic date night. Just make sure to make reservations if you’re planning to come during peak hours. The restaurant can get quite crowded, especially on weekends, but it’s definitely worth the wait. And parking is easy, with plenty of spots available right in front of the restaurant.
Overall, Machete is definitely one of the best restaurants in town, with an innovative menu, excellent food, and fantastic service. I can’t wait to go back and try more dishes!