Friday, April 30, 2010

Much for Mother's Day

Kids can make mom breakfast, yet not have to clean up (and get the assistance of a chef) at the Renaissance SouthPark: As part of a Mother's Day package, a hotel chef will help them at a station devoted to hands-on breakfast making. And they can keep the chef's hat and apron they put on to cook. This is offered two ways: The breakfast -- you can either have pancakes or a buffet -- is $25 per person, or you can get this as part of a Mother's Day package for $149. That includes overnight accommodations for up to four; buffet or pancakes Sunday for everyone registered to the room, and a manicure or pedicure for Mom at Vivace Spa. The package is offered Thursday through Sunday (meaning you have to stay over Friday or Saturday night) through May 9, based on availability; 1-800-228-9290.

Ratcliffe on the Green offers a three-course brunch, with choices including crabcake Benedict, grilled salmon and bananas Foster French toast, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $29.95 -- but each diner receives a $25 gift card for use at a future visit to the restaurant. 435 S. Tryon St.; 704-358-9898.

Maddi's Bistro offers brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for $24.95 ($9.95 for 12 and younger), with dinner from 5-9 p.m. Each mom gets $10 in "Maddi's Loves Mom Money" to use in the next-door gallery at Birkdale Village. 704-987-7762.

GadoGado will be open 11:30 a.m. -3 p.m. with a limited menu of dinner entrees and specials 157 N. Trade St., Matthews; 704-844-8686.

McCormick & Schmick's has brunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., plus its regular menu, and gives each mother a free dessert. 4335 Barclay Downs Drive; 704-442-5522.

Both Red Rocks Cafes host brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for $24.95 for adults, $10.95 for those 12 and younger. Birkdale: 704-892-9999; Strawberry Hill: 704-364-0402.

Brunch will be 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge for $55, $28 for ages 5-12, and free for 4 and younger. Reservations are required; 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway; 704-248-4100.

BrickTop's offers its full lunch, brunch and daily features menu on Mother's Day, plus patio seating and a Bloody Mary bar beginning at noon. 6401 Morrison Blvd.; 704-364-6255.

Lava Bistro and Bar will serve a buffet 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for $28 for adults, $12 for 4-12 and free for 3 and younger. Dinner will be 5-9 p.m.; 8708 J.W. Clay Blvd.; 704-549-0050.

Mama Ricotta's offers a special brunch menu 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. before beginning serving the regular menu. $18.95 ($10.95 for kids); 601 S. Kings Drive; 704-343-0148.

Blue offers a carving station of Kobe top round and leg of lamb at its brunch, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., plus Moroccan chicken salad, paella and more. $34.95 ($12.95 6-12, free for younger than 6); corner of 5th and College streets; 704-927-2583.

P.J. O'Reilly's serves an Irish brunch beginning at 9:30 a.m., plus its complete menu, and will give eath mother a gift card with purchase of a meal that day. At the corner of Ardrey Kell and Johnston roads; 704-341-2247.

Positano hosts a three-course meal for $19.95 ($7.95 for children), with choices ranging from scallop and asparagus risotto to chicken breast stuffed with pine nuts and goat cheese. Birkdale Village; 704-896-2979.

LaVecchia's will be open noon-9 p.m., with the dinner menu offered all day (and a kids' menu for $4.95), and a special brunch for $19.95. 225 E. 6th St.; 704-370-6776.

Dilworth Neighborhood Grille plans a buffet 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with live jazz 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The buffet will include a carving station as well as breakfast dishes and desserts; cost is $16.95 ($6.95 for children). 911 E. Morehead St.; 704-377-3808.

Dandelion Market will offer brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for Mother's Day. 118 W. 5th St.; 704-333-7989.

Rooster's serves brunch buffet 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; the regular menu will be offered 5-9 p.m. On the buffet: house-smoked salmon, shrimp and grits, French toast, barbecued pork shoulder, prime rib and more. $30 ($10 for children); 6601 Morrison Blvd.; 704-366-8688.

Sibling Noble's will do brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. with dishes such as house bacon and smoked cheddar quiche, shrimp and grits, veal schnitzel and more. 6801 Morrison Blvd.; 704-367-9463.

Global will be open 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. with a three-course menu; among the choices are Western omelets, prime rib au jus and shrimp with lobster grits. $35 (plus a complimentary welcome basket of Viennoisserie (baked goods); two-course kids' meal is $12. 3520 Toringdon Way; 704-248-0866.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Long live the Diamond

Longtime Charlotte restaurant The Diamond is changing hands, with some fanfare, Friday. Owner Jerry Pistiolis, who has had the place for the past couple of decades (it opened in 1945, to give some context) has sold to Andy Kastanas (of the neighboring Soul Gastrolounge), and Brian Rowe and Jimmy King of the Penguin, says a spokesman. Their plan is to "maintain The Diamond's concept, integrity and history while upgrading the facility and extending the hours ... Andy, Brian and Jimmy respect the culinary contributions that the James family (original owners), as well as Jerry, have provided." The place, at 1901 Commonwealth Ave. in Plaza-Midwood, will be closed briefly for remodeling, if all goes according to plan, with a target reopening of early summer.

Photo from the Charlotte Eats blog, which has lots of older pictures as well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Berries on tap

Through May 23, look for desserts at Cantina 1511 and Mama Ricotta's that use strawberries from James Cooley Farms (in Strawberry Hill, S.C.) and Rawl Farm (Lexington, S.C.) Each week will offer a different special. In the lineup from pastry chef Tiffany Earp: Through May 2, strawberry shortcake, using shortbread biscuit, dried berries, white chocolate mousse and Grand Marnier-macerated berries. May 3-9: strawberry mascarpone tart. May 10-16: strawberry and cream cheese galette (a free-form pie) with strawberry sorbet. May 17-23: strawberry and Nutella crepes.

Spring and more spring

Nolen Kitchen does its annual fashion show, hors d'oeuvres, drinks, DJ and general welcome-to-spring on the patio 3-7 p.m. May 16 (hors d'oeuvres 3-4). 2839 Selwyn Ave.; 704-372-1424.

On the spring-summer update of Del Frisco's menu: halibut with Meyer lemon vinaigrette; Prime strip chopped salad; spice-rubbed pork chop with roasted corn salsa; and more. There's a new "local favorites" section that includes popular specials from the last three years, and each is $20-$25. 4725 Piedmont Row Drive South; 704-552-5502.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Something Classic comes to Dilworth

Something Classic will be closing its longtime flagship location, at The Villa on Providence Road, as it moves into the former Dikadee's Deli at 1419 East Blvd. “We look forward to coming home to Dilworth," says Jill Marcus of Something Classic; she and co-owner Karen Teed began the 20-year-old catering-etc. business out of their home on Lexington Avenue. "We can’t wait to open the outdoor patio under that great oak tree.” Coffee and croissants, wine and tasting plates and live jazz are planned, along with sandwiches, salads, soups and more, plus a "Cupcake Corner," take-home entrees for kids called "Bug Bites" and gourmet TV dinners.

Yes, Manzetti's is closed

Manzetti's is closed, and the company hopes to open its new venture, San Antonio's Modern Mexican, in the former Morton's spot near SouthPark about May 5. Rumors that Manzetti's was closing had floated for some time, but were denied by the company. On the menu for the new place: $1 house margaritas "ALL DAY EVERY DAY." Among dishes: red chili salmon, chicken taquitos, burgers, South Texas ribs and more. 4331 Barclay Downs Drive; 704-364-9334.

Friday, April 23, 2010

New restaurant for Myers Park

15 North Roadside Kitchen, sibling to the Charleston area's 17 North, is slated to open at 1513 Montford Drive in August, with chef Brett McKee and Steve Palmer planning a menu inspired by "moms all over the world," they say.

Look for "chef-driven food at a pleasing price point," according to Palmer. Expect fare focused on local ingredients; the menu's not set yet, but possibilities include "Old School Deviled Eggs," crispy blue crab fritters, boneless buttermilk fried chicken, and shrimp and crawfish Creole, with entrees ranging from about $12-$19. The place will be dinner-only, Monday-Saturday.

McKee and Palmer, who also operate Oak Steakhouse in Charleston as part of The Indigo Road, plan to expand "throughout the Southeast."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wine, beer dinners/pairings

Blue offers a food and beer pairing night, with five dishes inspired by and paired with Old Mecklenburg Brewery goods. Among the pairings: Kolsner with pan-seared Alaskan halibut over lemon and blue crab risotto; Copper with braised and grilled cured pork shoulder with crisp cremini mushrooms; and Fruh Bock with single-origin Colombian dark chocolate mousse. $34.95; Hearst Tower (corner of College and 5th streets); 704-927-2583.

Positano's next wine dinner is May 3, with Marco Laico of Vino Vino presenting Italian wines. Four courses will be $40; courses include risotto with baby vegetables and veal sweetbreads, with 2008 Fausti “Fausto” Sangiovese-Montepulciano; and pan-roasted chicken stuffed with mozzarella, porcini and ricotta, with 2005 Argentiera “Villa Donoratico” Cabernet Sauvignon. Birkdale Village; 704-896-2979.

The Wine Shop at Foxcroft will highlight wines of Washington state, guest speaker James Corbin, and the shop's new chef, Tom Landers, at a wine dinner May 11. Among the courses: seared scallop with maple Dijon cream and 2008 McCrae Vineyards Sirraco; and slow-roasted pork belly with wrm Indian spices and 2007 Andrew Will Ciel de Cheval Vineyard Red Blend. $65; 7824 Fairview Road; 704-365-6550.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dine out, do good

Blue hosts a jazz fundraiser April 25 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, with dinner reservations starting at 5 and performances running 5-9 p.m. If you get dinner, there's no cover; if you want to be at the bar and hear music only, there's a $20 donation. Corner of 5th and College streets; 704-927-2583.

The EpiCentre plans a Kentucky Derby party May 1 on its rooftop pavilion with barbecue (and food from Mez sold a la carte), mint juleps, contests for best dressed and best hat and more, and will show the race on its big screen. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Community Culinary School of Charlotte. 210 E. Trade St.; 704-971-2400.

Copper River salmon on way

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game is important to restaurant-goers for one date: the opening of Copper River salmon fishing season. This year, it looks as if May 13 will be the one -- it'll be announced for sure May 7. The sockeye salmon catch (they're each about 6-7 pounds) is predicted to be about 1,270,000 fish, with king salmon (20-30 pounds or more) about 17,000.

Quail Hollow special

Andrew Blair’s will discount all Firefly drinks to $5 and offer a free appetizer to any guest who brings in his or her tournament badge April 27-May 1 to celebrate "the arrival of Spring and the Quail Hollow Championship." 1600 Montford Drive; 704-525-8282.

Wine and dine

Morton's The Steakhouse has a new wine-by-the-glass menu of 27 wines, including a 1995 Kalin Cellars Chardonnay Cuvée LD from Dry Creek that winemaker Terrance Leighton says "just woke up"'; and the 25th release of 2010 Vintner’s Hall of Fame inductee Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon "Le Cigare Volant." The label famously pictures a flying saucer above the Rhone, prompted by an actual French law that outlawed UFOs from landing in vineyards. 227 W. Trade St.; 704-333-2602.

Rudy's Italian Restaurant & Bar hosts its first wine dinner April 26, four courses with five wine tastes for $35; 6414 Rea Road; 704-544-4949.

Grilled cheese Mondays, wine Tuesdays, donation Thursdays

Harper's at Carolina Place now serves "gourmet grilled cheese" dinner specials each Monday: three sandwiches, each served with a cup of soup and house chips for $10. There's the bacon and apple, which employs goat cheese and mild Cheddar; the Mediterranean which pairs fontina and feta, then adds Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers and spinach; and the Napoli, which uses provolone and mozzarella with basil, prosciutto and sundried tomatoes. 11059 Carolina Place Parkway; 704-541-5255.

All three locations of 131 Main (Blakeney, Dilworth and Lake Norman) now offer half-price wine each Tuesday night, while each Thursday night until May 27, diners can opt for 10 percent of their bills to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. Joe Douglas, chief executive officer of the restaurant's ownership group, stayed at a Ronald McDonald House in Chicago when his daughter was being treated for spina bifida. Diners must tell their servers before they order that they want to designate the donation. Douglas says he hopes to name a new charity in June and continue the idea.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Links of the week

Yet another reason I sometimes wish I lived in Europe: here.

How can you NOT love Jamie Oliver?

Best headline on the newly introduced KFC Double Down (which is two pieces of fried chicken enclosing two pieces of bacon, two of cheese and "special sauce"), on the Huffington Post's new food page: "One Sandwich to Kill You All."

Dine out, do good

"A Noble Cause" will be held May 6 at Noble's (6801 Morrison Blvd.) to raise funds for three Charlotte nonprofits: Jacob's Ladder Job Center, Seigle Avenue Preschool Cooperative and the YMCA Strengthening Families Program. An assortment of drinks, hors d'oeuvres and sweets, and live music from The Brubakers will be on hand. Tickets are $100; you can buy them at or by sending a check to A Noble Cause, c/o Seigle Avenue Preschool, 3045 N. Davidson St.,Charlotte, NC 28205. Info: Pam Janowicz Gray at Seigle Avenue Preschool: 704-345-8823 or


Running a Mother's Day brunch? E-mail me details at; we're planning a roundup for May 7.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wine & Food Weekend coming up

The Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend April 22-24 kicks off with vintner dinners at 22 restaurants across the city and winemakers (and brewmasters) in attendance that include Robert Foley, Dick Ward and Walter Schug. Prices for these range from $65 to $175, and you can see details at the Web site.
New -- as well as free and open to the public -- are meet-and-greets (and tastings) with vintners 4-6 p.m. April 23 at wine shops across the city: Arthur’s, Dean & Deluca Wine Room, Reid’s, The Wine Shop in Dilworth, The Wine Shop at Foxcroft, The Wine Vault, Winestore in Blakeney and Winestore at SouthPark.

Big Bottles & Blues at Gateway Village April 23 costs $90 and offers samples from more than 50 winemakers, along with barbecue; it drew about 600 guests last Weekend. Live and silent auctions of rare, large-format, autographed bottles, plus trips, jewelry, artwork and more will be offered.

A Vintner Tasting at Gateway Village runs 11 a.m.-1 p.m. April 24 and costs $35. Other events include a tasting led by wine author Kevin Zraly; wine and beer education series; and a grand gala and live auction.

Beneficiaries for the Weekend include Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, the Council for Children’s Rights, Johnson & Wales University, Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and Workforce Initiative for Supportive Housing (WISH).

Since beginning in 1989, the Weekend has raised more than $3.2 million for area charities. You can get more information and buy tickets online at or call 704-338-9463.


Reader Kevin Zdyb documented his venturing into the world of fries, gigged by our tournament. Take a look.

New: logo, menus, bocce

New at Andrew Blair’s: French onion soup, a Montford Corn Dog (using boudin sausage), chicken and oyster pot pie, daily fish, shrimp and mussels, and a Grateful Growers pork shank braised with rum and Coke and served with plantain torta and mango salsa. Also new: a logo, featuring the tagline "Close to home," and playing up the place's initials, as in AB's. 1600 Montford Drive; 704-525-8282.

The Liberty rolled out its new menu last weekend, with what co-owner Matthew Pera calls a "nice salute to street food ... (and) some really cool categories and different ways to look/think of food." Among those: "Food in a Jar" such as garden tomato soup and pickled Gulf shrimp; and "Street Food" such as Baja fish tacos, Kobe beef hot dog and beer-battered cod. Take a look here. 1812 South Blvd.; 704-332-8830.

Revolution Pizza & Ale House celebrates its newly landscaped bocce area and the start of spring with an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil April 17. Abita beers and two bands will be in attendance; tickets are $15 in advance, $20 that day. 3228 N. Davidson St.; 704-333-4440.

On the new menu at Big Daddy’s Burger Bar: mac & cheese, the Bacon Cheeseburger on Steroids (with bacon salt, three pieces of jalapeño bacon, three of applewood-smoked bacon, Monterey Jack and baconnaise), a bacon-crusted chicken breast sandwich and a beer-battered portobello sandwich. 1626 East Blvd. and 15105 John J. Delaney Drive.

New menus, new offers

New on the spring menu at both locations of Cosmos Cafe (300 N. College St. and 8420 Rea Road): whole artichoke grilled, roasted and served with mustard sauce; shrimp with ouzo reduction; curry mussels; beef medallions grilled and served with thin fries; and more.

The Palm declared a restaurant week with unusual boundaries: "first week in April ... the last week in May and every day in between." The package is a choice of salad and choice of entree (two steaks and a halibut dish) for $39.95. Go here for the necessary coupon.

All three 131 Main locations will now offer the Wednesday Date Night Menu pioneered at the Dilworth site: For $49, you get an appetizer to share, salad and entree choices and a dessert to share. The three are at 9886 Rea Road, 17830 N. Statesville Road in Cornelius and 1315 East Blvd.

Wine, beer dinners

Firebirds SouthPark recommences its wine dinner series with a Girard five-courser May 4. On the menu: pan-seared scallops with Sauvignon Blanc; grilled lamb and shallot marmalade with Girard Zinfandel and more. $55; 3920 Sharon Road; 704-366-3655.

Harper's at Carolina Place hosts a Highland Brewery Beer dinner May 7 for $30. Among the pairings: St. Terese's Pale Ale and Scottish smoked salmon spring roll; Highland Gaelic and orange glazed chicken; and Black Mocha Stout with dark chocolate souffle. 11059 Carolina Place Parkway; 704-541-5255.

Dine out, do (a LOT of) good

Charlotte's Taste of the Nation is April 14, the 15th annual execution of this fundraiser to help end childhood hunger. At the Atrium uptown (401 S. Tryon St.), starting with a preview hour at 6 p.m., you'll find signature dishes from more than 20 restaurants and culinary schools, plus live and silent auctions, live entertainment, and wine, beer, cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks. In the auction: a portrait session, a puppy, a Panther-hosted patio party and more.

Among participating restaurants: 131 Main, Basil Thai, Bonefish Grill, BrickTop's, Brixx, Chima, Ember Grille, Enso, Firebirds, Gallery, M5, McCormick & Schmick's, Mez, Mimosa Grill, Morton's, Rocky River Grille, Savannah Red, The Liberty and Upstream.

Tickets are $85 if you want to attend the preview hour, $60 for general admission.

Here's a video peek, where you can also buy tickets.

Sweet: Free sweets

MaggieMoo’s will give away samples of its new MaggieMia's Ice Cream Pizza on April 15 to make Tax Day a little easier to swallow. 230 E. W.T. Harris Blvd., and 15235-G John J. Delaney Drive.

The first self-serve TCBY is slated to open April 17 at 7731 Colony Road, and visitors will get free samples of frozen yogurt. The store is a prototype and offers 10 flavors (they'll rotate) and more than 30 toppings and will be 39 cents an ounce. 704-341-2000.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New dishes, wine dinner, spring break

Chef-owner James Bazzelle has added new dishes, formerly offered as specials, to his menu (no, that's not them to the right) at Mert's Heart and Soul uptown, including roasted lamb chops, jumbo chicken wings, grilled salmon with Creole sauce, a Southern sampler (fried green tomatoes, wings, salmon cakes), a soul sampler (ribs, chicken tenders) and more. Want a peek? Look here. 214 N. College St.; 704-342-4222.

Positano at Birkdale Village offers a dinner showcasing G.D. Vajra wines of the Piemonte on April 12. On the menu: poached veal carpaccio with Italian tuna aioli (a dish also known as vitello tonnato) with Rosso "Langhe"; roasted veal and Swiss chard ravioli with Dolcetto d'Alba; slow-roasted lamb with Nebbiolo; and more. $40; 704-896-2979.

I'm on spring break this week, but will be back and hungry next Monday. If you've got news, send it my way. And in case you've got any leftover Peeps...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter increases

The Liberty offers a three-course menu for $14.95 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with choices that include strawberry and white chocolate griddlecakes, brioche French toast, prime rib, wild shrimp and grits and more. 1812 South Blvd.; 332-8830.

Update on Global's times: Its brunch will now be served 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., rather than in seatings. See Easter post below for details.