Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New deals

The Palm holds its own "Restaurant Week" throughout April and May, offering a three-course $39.95 dinner menu that includes among the entrees filet mignon, New York strip, pan-roasted wild Alaskan halibut and more. Phillips Place; 704-552-7256.

The Melting Pot (901 S. Kings Drive and 230 E. W.T. Harris Blvd.) celebrates National Cheese Fondue Day on April 11 by donating $10 from every cheese fondue purchase to Levine Children's Hospital.

Greek Isles hosts "Greek for a Week" the last week of each month, offering a three-course meal for $20 the last week of each month. 200 E. Bland St.; 704-444-9000.

Dyngus Day (think pierogies)

Lebowski's plans a Dyngus Day Celebration April 5. That's a Polish holiday, celebrated with great fanfare in Buffalo, New York, among other places. Here, there'll be a traditional Polish dinner of Polish sausage, pierogies and braised red cabbage ($10.95) plus live accordion music and rituals such as the ever-popular pussywillow fights. Dinner will be served 5-8 p.m. and takeout is available. 1524 East Blvd.; 704-370-1177.

Easter options abound

Monticello at the Dunhill offers a buffet, including shrimp and grits, made-to-order omelets, salads and more, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $30; $10 for children 12 and younger; 237 N. Tryon St.; reservations at 704-332-4141.

Zink's brunch is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (with the dinner menu offered 3:30-9 p.m.), with an omelet station, carved ham, prime rib and more. $22.95; $9.95 children 3-12; 201 N. Tryon St.; 704-444-9001.

Harper's does brunch 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with an a la carte menu including crab cakes benedict and sliced honey-glazed ham. 11059 Carolina Place Parkway, Pineville; 704-541-5255.

M5's is 10 a.m.-6 p.m. for $24.95, $12.95 for children younger than 12, and will have a carving station with prime rib, roasted Atlantic salmon, and sugar glazed ham,, seafood paella and more. 4310 Sharon Road; 704-909-5500.

Village Bistro expands its usual Sunday brunch for Easter, with made-to-order waffles, pancakes and omelets, plus a buffet with prime rib, for $18.95 ($8.95 for children). It will also serve dinner. 14815 Ballantyne Village Way; 704-369-5190.

Lava Bistro offers brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for $18.95 ($5.95 for kids older than 6, free for 6 and younger). 8708 J.W. Clay Blvd.; 704-549-0050.

Friday, March 26, 2010

More for Easter

Maddi's Southern Bistro hosts an Easter buffet 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with an omelet bar, carved glazed ham and prime rib, desserts and more. $24.95, $9.95 for those 12 and younger. Birkdale Village in Huntersville; 704-987-7762.

Del Frisco's offers a three-course Easter brunch 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for $29.95, along with its usual three-course Sunday night menu for $30, and there'll be a kids' menu all day for $9.95. Among the brunch options: filet benedict, shrimp scampi and blackened ribeye. 4725 Piedmont Row Drive South; 704-552-5502.

Cosmos Cafe at Ballantyne offers brunch 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for $18.95 for adults, $5.95 for children, with a menu that includes stations: omelets, chilled seafood, carving and more. 8420 Rea Road; 704-544-5268.

Mimosa Grill will do brunch from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. for $24.95 for adults, $10.95 for children, with pastries and sweet breads, farmer's market salads and cheeses, chilled shellfish, carved prime rib and lamb and more. 327 S. Tryon St.; 704-343-0700.

Global offers three Easter brunch seatings: noon, 2 and 4 p.m., and a $31 menu that includes entree choices of Western omelet, leg of lamb and shrimp and lobster grits. 3520 Toringdon Way; 704-248-0866.

(Photo from Brooklynpubliclibrary.org.)

Calif. v. France

Bonterra offers a face-off between California and France in its March 30 wine dinner: six courses and eight wines for $65. On the menu: grilled duck breast with Sobon Estate Old Vines Zinfandel and Reserve Paul's Vineyard Zinfandel; and Niman Ranch pork medallions with Chateau Lamothe Cissac Haut Medoc and Chateau Andron Blanquet. 1829 Cleveland Ave.; 704-333-9463.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kalu brings chef Emperor to town

The upcoming Kalu (say kah-loo) in uptown is slated to bring with it when it opens in late April chef Bryan Emperor. Emperor may be best known for morphing from a Wall Street banker to a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef specializing in Japanese-and-more cuisine, with experience at Nobu and with superstar chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Gray Kunz.

Kalu owner Jason Vicks says Emperor wowed him with food he prepared at Vicks' first place, Red Lion at Ayrsley, including sushi that was "unreal" and stellar presentations of things as simple as salad in a clay pot.

Emperor has been around, with stints opening a Japanese place in Beijing, at Mr. Jones in New York and, recently, Departure in Portland. Here, he'll do Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Pacific Rim cuisine in a setting, says Vicks, unlike anything else in Charlotte: a two-level, 7,500-square-foot space done by N.C. designer Giorgios Bakatsias that features bars with a frosted-glass look that can shift to 200+ colors and an intimate upstairs space with leather couches.

Kalu will be on the ground floor of the 505 Building at the corner of Sixth and North Caldwell streets, with double-story windows and a view of the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Graze these March 29 and get new info

Stop by the Art Institute of Charlotte for "Grazing with the Chefs" 6-8 p.m. March 29 and you'll get a glimpse of the fare of two new SouthPark-area restaurants not yet open: Georges Brasserie (in the former Oceanaire) and The Cowfish, which is slated to open near M5 (see earlier post for details). Also set to participate is Fig Tree, at the request of area culinary students, I'm told.

"Grazing" is the annual student scholarship fundraiser for the IFSEA, the International Food Service Executives Association, and tickets are $25. The Art Institute is at Three Lakepointe Plaza, at 2110 Water Ridge Parkway. Information: Chef Ron Ahlert at 704-375-4500.

New SouthPark restaurant: The Cowfish

As in The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar.

When he describes the concept, says partner Marcus Hall, owner of eeZ Fusion & Sushi at Birkdale, "most folks look at me like I have snakes coming out of my ears. They ask: 'How do you expect to market something like that?' and I say, 'Well, you just looked at me like I have snakes coming out of my ears: It should be easy.' "

The idea is to pair a fusion sushi place (not traditional, notes Hall) with a comfortable burger bar, and give proper attention to each: "the best fusion sushi in town and the best burger in town, in a place you can come with your kids or when you've just got done at the gym ... (but also a place you can) propose to your girlfriend. You can spend 8-10 bucks at lunch or dinner or spend $100 a head if you're going a la carte sushi."

Hall began with the Birkdale site five years ago as a franchise out of Canada, and when that didn't quite work, went independent, "tweaked and massaged it and now it works!" He'd been looking for a second location for some time. Now plans call for partners Alan Springate of The Counter by SouthPark, with Hall and Louis Camire, to fold the Counter's space and that of the former Grape into the new venture.

Look for a July-or-so opening, with renovation beginning on the Grape side, to keep closing time to a minimum for the Counter space, says Hall.

The menu at eeZ will give you a good sense of what's to come, sushi-wise, at the new place, but you can also expect "burgushi": "rollers" are sushi rolls made of burger components, such as one with seasoned ground beef and jalapeno, rolled with sushi rice and nori, tempura-battered and fried. Then there's "pick-up" sushi: a sandwich made with sushi components -- a sushi-rice-filled patty loaded with sashimi or Asian slaw.

"It's going to be weird and wild," Hall says, who's also at work on "The Legend of the Cowfish," a children's story about a cow and a fish who buddy up to create their dream place.

"It's fun to be able to create."

New place at SouthPark

Into the former Morton's space at SouthPark will go San Antonio's Modern Mexican, from CentraArchy Restaurant Management, owners of Manzetti's (along with California Dreaming and New York Prime).

It's described as "an upscale fusion of Mexican, Tex-Mex, Southwestern and Classic American" and is slated to open in the spring. Menu examples include "Mama's Chicken," a double breast topped with chorizo and Monterey Jack; Amarillo BBQ glazed chicken nachos; red-chile seared salmon; jalapeno shrimp; rack of pork ribs; and more. Specialty margaritas, mojitos and a lineup of premium tequilas are planned, as well as a bar and patio menu, and "modest pricing."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beer "week" continues

Charlotte Craft Beer Week (actually 10 days) continues through March 28, with all sorts of events, from "beer school" tonight (Monday, March 22) at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille to a wrap-up pig pickin' at Common House March 28. For details, go here.

Morton's chef promoted

Chef Greg Thompson of Morton's The Steakhouse in Charlotte is now regional executive chef for the company (one of just two), and will help develop chefs and managers globally as well as continuing as head chef here.

Thompson will travel to all of Morton's new openings to check on food preparation and staff development selections for those restaurants. Part of the challenge is to adapt to area constraints -- he cites the need to change cake and souffle recipes to work in Mexico City's altitude as an example.

He is slated to be in China in May for the opening of the largest Morton's to date, in Shanghai. Morton's: 227 W. Trade St.

Chapel Hill showdown

Finalist nominations came out today for the James Beard Awards and Chapel Hill has two chefs in the Best Chef: Southeast group -- Andrea Reusing of Lantern and Bill Smith of Crook's Corner. They join Sean Brock of Charleston's McCrady's, plus two chefs from Georgia.

And the Beard awards almost always give me a chance to enjoy the work of Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, whose writing is eminently easier to stomach than her name and whose nominated "The Doughnut Gatherer" should bring you to tears. Best line from her other nomination, an excerpt from her wine book, has to be: "Try five different styles of Chardonnay, for instance, either over the course of a dinner party or during a wine-and-cheese gathering, and you’ll know more about Chardonnay than half the waiters in America." Check her out here.

Coming up

Morton's hosts a luncheon and networking opportunity March 24 featuring radio personality Ramona Holloway and supporting area business women. $45; 704-333-2602; 227 W. Trade St.

March 31, Lava hosts a wine dinner, with courses including braised duck leg with 2007 Lucky Star Pinot Noir; pepper seared tuna with 2006 La Ninota Priorat Red; and "beef and barley": grilled Angus flank steak with shiitake barley pilaf, and 2007 Napa Cellars Zinfandel. $50; 8708 J.W. Clay Blvd.; 704-549-0050.

Special wine, gluten-free fare, half-price stuff

Through April 25, the Capital Grille offers its Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, an original, limited-production wine chosen by master sommelier George Miliotes. The company will donate $25 from the sale of each bottle to the national hunger relief group Share Our Strength. 201 N. Tryon St.; 704-348-1400.

P.F. Chang’s now has a newly expanded Gluten-Free Menu, with beef entrees for the first time, plus shrimp with lobster sauce, ginger chicken with broccoli, Singapore street noodles and more (including a flourless chocolate dome). Multiple locations.

Bonterra offers half-off its patio menu between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and that deal is also good at the bar. Among the choices: crab cakes, duck spring rolls, foie gras, mushroom tortellini, spicy olives and more. 1829 Cleveland Ave. in Dilworth; 704-333-9463.

Dine out, help out

Andrew Blair’s hosts a philanthropic series March 23-27 to benefit Levine Children’s Hospital, with 10 percent of all dinnertime dining room sales in that period going to the hospital. 1600 Montford Drive; 704-525-8282.

Easter bonnets at the ready?

Mez offers a brunch buffet menu 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. April 4 for Easter. A pasta station, made-to-order crepes and carving station with beef, turkey and ham, will be available, plus a dessert display including chocolate mousse in chocolate cups, banana cream pie and pecan tartlets. $23.95; 210 E. Trade St.; 704-971-2400.

Siblings Sonoma and Aria will be open for a la carte brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m., with the same menu. Among the options: eggs Benedict made with grilled lamb, Kobe burgers, flank steak, Atlantic salmon, butternut squash ravioli and more. Both are at Founders Hall uptown, 100 N. Tryon St.; Sonoma is 704-344-0515, Aria 704-376-8880.

Blue will host brunch 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with live jazz and such dishes as Kobe top round and leg of lamb at the carving station, chicken tagine, Spanish frittata and more. $34.95 for adults, $12.95 for those 6-12 and free for younger than 6. Hearst Plaza uptown; 704-927-2583.

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge hosts Easter brunch (April 4) 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with an egg hunt (prizes for both kids and adults!), and salads, displays, seasonal entrees, a carving station and an appearance by The Bunny. $55 per adult, $28 for children 5-13 and free for those younger than 5. Reservations required: 704-248-4100; 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

Red Rocks Cafe (both Huntersville and Charlotte locations) will offer a lineup ranging from slow-roasted pot roast to crispy fried chicken, plus an assortment of side dishes and desserts, for $23.95 for adults and $10.95 for children. Strawberry Hill: 704-364-0402; Birkdale: 704-892-9999.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Got the next Big Restaurant Idea?

You could have your own chain restaurant!

NBC and Magical Elves (of "Top Chef" and "Project Runway") will audition folks in Raleigh 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 22 for "America's Next Great Restaurant," a reality show focused on creating ... well, it's obvious. If you've got, as the press info says, "a billion dollar concept" and think your restaurant idea can "bring in millions of hungry Americans," you can apply. Contestants will vie for the chance to open a new chain in several cities, with a panel of investors making the choice. (They'll fund the chain.) Details are here, and you can be at the Raleigh site (Chipotle at 6102 Falls of Neuse Road) or send in an audition video.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New and about-to-be

The Deck is open at 1514 East Blvd., from the owners of Boardwalk Billy's and one partner from Brixx. Described by its managing partner as "Cabo Fish Taco meets Oceanaire" and a "fresh market seafood restaurant" with "approachable" prices (about $3-$22), it offers lobster rolls, fish tacos, shrimp and grits, oysters on the half shell and daily fish specials from chef Greg Guthrie, who's had experience at Revolution Pizza and Blue. (Can we name-check any more places in this item?) Lunch and dinner daily; http://www.thedeckoneast.com/; 704-332-9292.

Libretto’s Pizzeria, slated to open a second location 11 a.m. March 26, at Ballantyne, offers a deal: The first 100 paying customers to come into the Ballantyne store for the first time will get free pizza for a year -- specifically 52 coupons, each good for two slices per week. 15205 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-714-1442.

Alton’s Kitchen & Cocktails is open, serving steakhouse fare and more eclectic dishes, such as New Orleans style barbecue shrimp over basmati rice and BR Cohn cabernet-braised lamb shank, at Jetton Village. 19918 North Cove Road, Cornelius; 704-655-2727.

Free stuff

Rita’s Italian Ice holds its annual First Day of Spring Giveaway noon-10 p.m. March 20, giving customers at the 16631 Lancaster Highway store one free, regular-size (10 ounce) cup of Italian ice. And there's something there called Peeps Ice, offered until April 4. Which reminds me of this, which I may have posted before, but can you really get too MUCH Peeps-posed-in-classical-artwork-style?

Next up: Haikus?

From Wes Long of Cramerton comes this entry to The Observer editorial department's limerick contest. Wes, I love you!

The best pizza and wings, Helen Schwab?
Those tourneys turned me into a blob!
Now all day I ride ‘round
Testing fries by the pound,
How ‘bout next year best corn on the cob?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wine dinners, beer dinners, wine deals and more

  • Zink hosts an Abita beer dinner March 23. Among the courses: Louisiana bayou lasagna with Abita Amber; Turbo Dog braised pork shank with andouille and aged cheddar, with Abita Turbo Dog; and a trio of Clemson blue cheese (salad, fritter, fondue) with Abita Andygator. $48; 201 N. Tryon St.; 704-444-9001.
  • M5 offers more than 30 wines by the glass for half-price each Wednesday. 4310 Sharon Road. 704-909-5500.
  • Winemaker Jeff Priest of the Etude winery will be on hand at Blue March 24 for a five-course wine pairing. Dishes are slated to include pan-roasted sweetbreads, pork- and cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers, grilled lamb loin and more. $39.95; Hearst Plaza uptown; 704-927-2583.
  • Cosmos Cafe at Ballantyne hosts a Columbia Winery dinner March 24. $40; 8420 Rea Road; 704-544-5268.
  • Mez presents a five-course dinner paired with St. Clement’s wines March 24. Anoosh Shariat of Louisville will serve as guest chef. $65; 210 E. Trade St.; 704-971-2400.
  • Ruth's Chris at SouthPark offers a McCrorie Family Vineyards dinner March 26 with guest Hank McCrorie, featuring a vertical sampling of Burly Cabernet Sauvignon from '04, '05 and '06, paired with dishes such as grilled black tiger shrimp and double-cut lamb chops. 6000 Fairview Road; 704-556-1115.
  • Customshop hosts a Domaine Serene dinner March 30 for $75. On the menu: yellowfin tuna crudo with 2007 Rock Block Viognier, rabbit and pistachio ravioli with 2007 Yamhill Cuvee Pinot Noir, Painted Hills boneless short rib with 2006 Jerusalem Hill Pinot Noir and more. 1601 Elizabeth Ave.; 704-333-3396.

Green deals

Maddi's Southern Bistro runs St. Patrick's Day specials through March 20: corned beef and cabbage with marmalade whiskey glaze and colcannon and more, plus Guinness and Harp bottles for$2.50. 16925 Birkdale Commons Parkway; 704-987-7762.

Zada Jane's gets spotlight

Zada Jane's is among half a dozen restaurants profiled in the current Southern Living as having the best breakfasts in North Carolina:

"In Zada Jane's, contemporary Charlotte has a funky all-day breakfast spot. Try one-of-a-kind creations like Booker T’s East Side Hasher (sweet potato hash browns, frittata-style eggs, melted Cheddar cheese, green onions, and a choice of Grateful Growers pork sausage, turkey sausage, or ‘soysage’)."

Specifically recommended by the magazine at the Plaza-Midwood spot: One of four unique Merry Yolker Tres Huevos Omelets or the Bunny Rancheros breakfast burrito.
1601 Central Ave.; 704-332-3663.

Also on the list: Raleigh’s Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant (grilled biscuits), Smith's Drugs in Forest City (liver mush and egg sandwich), Asheville's Early Girl (vegan tofu scramble), Wilmington’s Dixie Grill (fried green tomato BLT) and Mary's Of Course! Cafe in Winston-Salem (breakfast burrito).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Win a mil, specials and more

  • Fill out a bracket -- for the NCAAs, not my fry tournament (though you can still vote on that until midnight March 15 here -- and you could win a cool million in cash. Go to Ruby Tuesday's Facebook page for details; you can register until 9 a.m. March 18.
  • At Global this weekend: tempura flash-fried veal sweetbread, served with asparagus, smoked shallot couscous, cauliflower custard and drizzled with parsley bacon sauce. 3520 Toringdon Way; 704-248-0866.
  • Lava Bistro hosts a four-course meet-the-chef dinner March 31 to introduce new executive chef Joseph Cornett and new owner Ralf Schnabel. $50; 8708 J.W. Clay Blvd.; 704-549-0050.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Survey Monkey fun

A Tweet this morning directs folks to a survey that asks which name you like best for the following description:

"Enjoy the feel of a speakeasy parlor, tucked in Charlotte’s art’s district, and marked with it’s (sic) ability to mosh qualities of the old world with the new. With a down-to-earth atmosphere, this place is inexplicably able to draw visitors back to the turn of the 20th century when good beer, community gathering and homemade food were the only way – and it touts a menu intelligently crafted to pair hearty grub with good quality American craft beer. Often you can find groups of people selecting growlers (64oz glass vessels) poured from the tap, for their table to share communally, and enjoying their favorite sport on one of the large-screen TVs."

The options: Pourhouse Market , Pourhouse Republic, Growler’s Pourhouse, Locke & Loiter Pourhouse, Next Door Pourhouse,
Pourhouse & People.

So we're apparently headed for the Pourhouse...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fry bracket: VOTE IN 4 more!

The Observer's 2010 Tournament of Fries begins with the following 12 teams, chosen after weeks of sampling readers' suggested locations across the land. Don't see your favorite? That's OK, since readers get to vote in four additional teams.

Comment on this blog (only once, please!) before midnight WEDNESDAY (March 10). I'll add the top three vote-getters, plus the place that garners what I think is the most heartfelt, compelling comment. (That's to allow for a Cinderella team!)

The dozen anointed ones:

Big Daddy’s Burger Bar, 1626 East Blvd.
Cafe Monte, 6700 Fairview Road.
Comet Grill, 2224 Park Road.
Crepe Cellar, 3116 N. Davidson St.
Fran’s Filling Station, 2410 Park Road.
Lulu, 1911 Central Ave.
Matt’s Chicago Dog, 435 S. Tryon St.; 19732 One Norman Blvd., Cornelius.
Moosehead Grill, 1807 Montford Drive.
Rooster’s, 6601 Morrison Blvd.
Sub Corral, W. Wilkinson Blvd., Belmont.
Tenders, 18341 Statesville Road, Cornelius.
The Penguin, 1921 Commonwealth Ave.

You’ll notice no national chains in my dozen. I didn’t include them, seeking to emphasize our local offerings, but I’ll let the people make the call -- if you want to vote one in, so be it. Same goes for the places that sell a hybrid fry-like "home fry": If you believe it fits in a classic french fry competition, vote it in. The completed bracket will be in Friday's CLT (or maybe earlier, in this space).

Want to get a look at competitions of years past? Go here for the pizza competition of 2009 and here for wings in 2008.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

D'Vine Wine turns 1; CORRECTION

CORRECTION: The wine dinner is March 25.

March 20 is D'Vine Wine Cafe's first anniversary, and the Ballantyne place plans events throughout the month, including a free tasting 3-5 p.m. March 6; an "education series event" March 11 focusing on how to pair food with wine; a $20-per-person tasting 2-5 p.m. March 20 of more than 40 wines and 15 beers with free food samples and raffles and more; and a wine dinner March 26 with seven courses paired with Italian wines. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

Lunch news

Luce now offers a $13 express lunch menu: Included is choice of soup or salad, choice of entree, and soft drink or iced tea, and all is ready in 30 minutes, or it's free. Among the options: pistachio-crusted salmon; spaghetti with vegetables and light cream sauce; prosciutto, mozzarella and tomato sandwich; grilled chicken; and more. 214 N. Tryon St. at Hearst Plaza; 704-344-9222.

Dolce Vita in NoDa is now open for lunch, with $5 panini (sandwiches) and more; recent choices include turkey and fig spread panini; corned beef sandwich; personal pizzas and cheese plates. 3205 N. Davidson St.; 704-334-1052.

Las Ramblas stays put for now

Las Ramblas, slated to close March 1 -- with plans calling for it to reappear when a suitable spot is found -- will stay in its current location at 2400 Park Road through "at least the end of March."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I will be glued to this...

It premieres March 26 on ABC.

... and in case it didn't load, even though my preview pane says it did, it's here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ri Ra reopens

Ri Ra, the uptown Irish pub damaged by fire in May 2009, has reopened, with new and refurbished furnishings.

“It’s been a long, arduous, but ultimately rewarding process restoring the pub,” David Kelly, co-founder and -owner, said in a press release. “My partner, Ciaran Sheehan, and his master Irish craftsmen have meticulously refurbished every piece of our antique furnishings."

The Victorian bar, built in the early 1800s according to its owners (both raised in Dublin), is newly free from layers of soot, as are the place's Guinness mirror, etched glass panels from the 1800s and a St. Patrick statue estimated to be more than a century old.

New: the foyer's hardwood parquet floor, salvaged from the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. (Sound vaguely familiar? It's where the Titanic was built.)

The kitchen was renovated, too, and chef Tom LaFauci offers a menu of both traditional Irish dishes (house-brined corned beef, soda bread, beef and Guinness stew, Irish breakfast served at lunch and dinner) and more contemporary fare (mussels in whiskey garlic butter, broiled haddock with lemon crumb topping, and more).

The pub’s sandwich bar on Hearst Plaza has reopened as well. Hours at Ri Ra, which opened in 1997 and whose name means uproar or hubbub, are 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. daily, with lunch and dinner and Irish-style brunch on weekends. 208 N. Tryon St.; 704-333-5554.

Allergic? Here's a resource

AllergyEats, here, a Boston-based Web site, is designed to help those with food allergies or intolerances find suitable restaurants.

The site lists more than 600,000 U.S. restaurants, searchable by location, and offers maps, phone numbers, menus and other information. Those using the site are asked to answer questions about their dining experiences to help develop the ratings.

AllergyEats is endorsed by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) of Washington, the AAFA New England Chapter of Boston and the Gluten Intolerance Group of Auburn, Wash., among others.

Charlotte listings, when I perused them, were just beginning, with Pewter Rose getting a top rating...