Winery restaurant, Chez Joséphine, to open on Jan. 19

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By Dathan Kazsuk & Jennifer Primrose 

Neither Raleigh's typical insane gridlock nor nonstop downpours kept the two of us from the soft opening of Chez Joséphine – the new restaurant located inside Roaring River Winery in Traphill.

Invited by winery co-owner Tom Silvey, we were asked to be their guest for the evening to share our experience on anything we wanted on the menu – or at least what was still on the menu by the time we ordered.

Prior to dinner we talked with Tom at the tasting bar while he poured us a couple glasses of RRV's Chambourcin. The dark plum, cherry and leather that dominated this wine was a great choice as the two of us took up a couple seats outside waiting for a table to clear. It was a packed house. Maybe a little too packed for a soft opening.

Looking over the menu we had our food choices already selected. The brick chicken with sweet potato purée for Jen, and for Dathan, the New York Strip steak. Once inside and seated, we learned that the steak and the prime rib were sold out, so Dathan selected the Pork Chop with sweet potato purée and mac and cheese, since the apple-braised cabbage was also no longer available. But that was for the best, because the mac and cheese was one of the best we've had in some time.

With a bottle of wine at our table, we waited for our food to arrive. In the meantime, Silvey sat down at the table and poured for us a couple samples of his port-esque dessert wine which was a blend of the winery's Traminette and pear juice. The rich golden color of the wine and subtle hint of pear, along with the off-dry sweetness of the Traminette made this an added plus that evening.

Now let's talk food. The plating of our meals looked straight out of a magazine. The lemon caper sauce fused well with the chicken bite after bite. And the pork chop portion was just right. The chop tasted well, and of course being pork was cooked just fine, but was a little rough to cut. Even though we weren't able to order the steak, we did see it on a couple tables and it looked delicious and a nice size portion.

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Other items on the menu include the Roaring River burger with bacon, cheese and caramelized onions, a pan-fried trout and a duck ragout.

Now, we've been to many soft openings in the past, from restaurants to bottle shops, and we have discovered that the restaurant business is by far the hardest to solve with all its moving parts – i.e. seating people, keeping the kitchen well stocked and serving its guests on time. And with a week before its grand opening, we hope Chez Joséphine runs smoothly for its opening night guests.

And now ... the fine points. The restaurant will open for dinner to the general public starting on January 19.

Lunch is served Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and dinner service from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Brunch is served Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch items range from $6 to $12, while dinner items range from $9 to $16, with the prime rib au jus costing $28.

For the full dinner menu, click here.

**Roaring Rivers Vineyard has also received the 2017 Readers Choice awards from the Elkin Tribune for Best Chef, Best Winery and Best Event Venue.