Thursday, December 30, 2010

Newly updated: New Year's Eve plans

Fran's Filling Station will be open for New Year's Eve, serving a menu of favorites along with "some things more reminiscent of Metropolitan Cafe," says Fran Scibelli, referring to her former more-upscale spot in south Charlotte. New Year's Day brings her first annual "Lucky Food" buffet, with the traditional Southern dishes of braised pork, collards, black-eyed peas, plus other fare, served all day -- like an open house. 2410 Park Road; 704-372-2009.

Sante hosts a five-course meal for $59.95, with choices that range from roasted lamb rack to filet mignon to lobster. Seatings are 5-9:30 p.m. and you get a $10 discount if you reserve or arrive by 5:30. The place will also be open 5-9 New Year's Day. 165 N. Trade St., Matthews; 704-845-1899.

Sibling restaurants Press will offer half-off bottles of wine for the Eve; Aria will have its regular dinner menu and offer a complimentary Prosecco toast for each diner; and Frankies 710 Trattoria will offer three courses for $30, including a half-carafe of house wine per couple.

Another group of siblings: Toscana will have its regular menu plus some specials; Luce offers three courses for $34.95 with choices that include short ribs, shellfish and linguine and osso buco; Coco Osteria will do three courses for $25.95, with choices ranging from lobster ravioli to lasagne to stuffed pork chop; and MezzaNotte will have its regular dinner menu and plans to host families, especially ones with "lots of kids."

The Liberty offers a $40 three-course menu (with beer pairings for $15 more), with choices that include roasted chestnut soup, crispy smoked Sonoma quail salad, Maine lobster and shell bean succotash, local wild striped bass, hanger steak, maple-cured Black Berkshire pork loin chop and more. 1812 South Blvd.; 704-332-8830.

Soul Gastrolounge opens for dinner at 5 (the usual time), with music kicking in at 10 p.m. Dec. 31. Dinner features include new potato and lobster chowder with caviar garnish and surf and turf, and music from the MedlinKidz. 1500 Central Ave., 704-348-1848.

Lava Bistro and Bar will have three courses and a glass of Champagne for $39.99, with seatings between 5 and 8:30 p.m. 8708 J.W. Clay Blvd.; 704-549-0050.

Global plans two seatings: 6 and 8:30 p.m., each with five courses and a glass of Champagne for $65 ($95 with wine pairings). 3520 Toringdon Way; 704-248-0866.

Nolen Kitchen offers a special meal for $35, a Champagne toast at midnight, and is taking reservations from 5-10:30 p.m., with the party going at the bar until 2 a.m. 2839 Selwyn Ave.; 704-372-1424.

The McNinch House offers two New Year's Eve packages: "grand" (seven courses with wine pairings) and "premier" (five). Live music from jazz guitarist John Sharp will be on hand, as well as Champagne and favors. 511 N. Church St.; 704-332-6159.

At Foskoskies, Blue Tulip will play jazz and count down the New Year. The restaurant is taking reservations for seatings on the hour and half hour throughout the night and will offer regular dinner entrees and salads a la carte, and a three-course fixed-price menu ($41-$47) as well. 2121 Shamrock Drive; 704-535-2220.

"New Year’s Eve at The Urban Garden" will put guests in the glass-roofed Urban Garden joined to the uptown Ritz-Carlton by an enclosed walkway, with live music, an open cash bar, complimentary parking and party favors. Admission is $50; $75 for VIP seating on the terrace/overlook level, which will include a reserved table, Champagne toast and dessert and coffee bar. Hours are 10 p.m.-2 a.m. If you dine at the hotel's BLT Steak that night, you'll get complimentary admission. Tickets (nonrefundable) are available at 704-972-4401, or from the reception desk of The Ritz-Carlton (110 N. College St.) on Dec. 31, based upon availability.

Village Bistro will do a four-course meal for $39.95, seatings are 4-8 p.m. or 8-11 p.m. 14815 Ballantyne Village Way; 704-369-5190.

Kalu does an eight-course dim sum prix-fixe menu for New Year's, with seatings in the downstairs lounge at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Cost is $150 per couple, plus tax and tip, and includes a bottle of sparkling sake. During the dinner each couple will receive a red envelope of "luck," an Asian New Year’s tradition; one will hold a $75 Kalu gift certificate. Reservations are required: 505 E. Sixth St.; 704-910-4877.

Blue hosts a party with a 5-6 p.m. seating and three-course meal for $29.95. Corner of 5th and College streets; 704-927-2583.

Georges Brasserie offers its regular menu plus a three-course chef's tasting menu (with blue-cheese-crusted filet mignon and lobster tail, among other items) for $75, wine pairings an additional $25. Veuve Cliquot will be discounted all evening, and there'll be dancing with live music from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. 4620 Piedmont Row Drive; 980-219-7409.

The Wine Shop at Rivergate will have a four-course menu with Champagne toast for $45, with entree choices including osso buco and veal Marsala. (It's also offering New Year's Day brunch from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with live music.) 14142 Rivergate Parkway; 704-831-9000.

The Wine Shop at Foxcroft, meanwhile, has two seatings (6 and 8:30 p.m.) for a $49, three-course meal that includes one bottle of red or white wine from a selected list, plus a complimentary Champagne toast. 7824 Fairview Road; 704-365-6550.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Next Restaurant Week approaches

The $30 dinner deal that comes twice a year is on the way: "Queen's Feast" runs Jan. 21-30, with 83 restaurants participating. The website,, goes live Dec. 31. Diners get three courses (occasionally more), and locations include uptown Charlotte, Matthews, Lake Norman, Concord, Belmont and Fort Mill. Among the first-timers are Bistro La Bon in Plaza Midwood, Vida and Halcyon uptown and Flatiron Kitchen + Tap Room in Davidson.

A geographic breakdown, as the site will have it:

Dilworth: 131 Main, 300 East, Bonterra, Cantina 1511, Copper, Dolce and Fiamma.

Eastover: Deejai Thai, Primo Tuscan Grille and Providence Cafe.

Elizabeth: Cajun Queen, Carpe Diem and Customshop.

Lake Norman / North Mecklenburg / Iredell County: 131 Main, Alton's, Choplin's, Dressler's, Flatiron, Kabuto, Mickey & Mooch, North Harbor Club, The Prickly Pear and Red Rocks Cafe.

Matthews: Sante.

Midtown: Dressler's, Mama Ricotta's, Melting Pot and Vivace.

Plaza Midwood: Bistro La Bon and Lulu.

South Charlotte (Ballantyne / Arboretum / Pineville / Fort Mill, S.C.): 131 Main, Cantina 1511, Gallery, Global, Maestro's Bar & Bistro, Mickey & Mooch, Passion8 Bistro, Rudy's Italian Restaurant, Tria Terra and Trio.

South End: The Liberty Gastropub, Pewter Rose and Sullivan's Steakhouse.

SouthPark / Park Road / Foxcroft: Andrew Blair's, BrickTop's, Cafe Monte, Del Frisco's, Georges Brasserie, McCormick & Schmick's, Paco's Tacos & Tequila, The Palm, Red Rocks Cafe, Ruth's Chris, Terrace Cafe, Toscana, Upstream and Village Tavern.

Southwest Charlotte / Yorkmount: Omaha Steakhouse.

University / Concord: Melting Pot, Rocky River Grille & Lounge and The Speedway Club.

Uptown: Aquavina, Aria, BlackFinn, BLT Steak, Blue, Caffe Siena, The Capital Grille, Chima, Enso, Fleming's, Frankie's 710 Trattoria, Halcyon, LaVecchia's, Luce, McCormick & Schmick's, Mez, Morton's, Press, Ruth's Chris, Sonoma and Vida.

West Mecklenburg / Gaston County: Old Stone Steakhouse.

Monday, December 20, 2010


... is slated to appear at the Big View Diner from 5-7:30 p.m. Dec. 22 and 23, I'm told... 16637 Lancaster Highway; 704-544-0313.

In other holiday related news:
New South Kitchen will do Christmas Eve buffet 4-8 p.m. with traditional Southern holiday favorites for $30 (kids $15), and offer brunch ($15; $7.50) on New Year's Day from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner will be 3-10. 8140 Providence Road; 704-541-9990.

Lulu will be open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for lunch and 5-10 for dinner Christmas Eve, then again on Dec. 26 for brunch and dinner. For New Year's Eve, lunch will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and dinner 5-11, with brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and dinner 5-11 p.m. New Year's Day. 1911 Central Ave.; 704-376-2242.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dine out, do good

Mac’s Speed Shop will now bottle and distribute The Coleman Foundation's Coleman’s Home BBQ Sauce, with all profits donated to help prevent homelessness. A product launch party beginning at 5 p.m. Dec. 19 at the 2511 South Blvd. location of Mac's will benefit the Urban Ministry Center and guests will get samples of pork topped with the sauce, named (as the press release puts it) "in honor of one man's personal story of survival on the streets." 704-522-6227.

Cyros Sushi rolls out new sakes and an assortment of sushi Dec. 20, along with a silent auction and new signature artwork, with 15 percent of the evening's proceeds going to support Charlotte's Muscular Dystrophy Association's community efforts. If you purchase art, you'll be able to count 15 percent as a charitable donation as well. $65 for food, drink and MDA donation; 6601 Morrison Blvd.; 704-919-1881.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas takeout

Mimosa Grill offers a prepared Christmas dinner for pickup 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Christmas Eve for $24.95 per person. Entrees include prime rib and glazed ham. 327 S. Tryon St.; 704-343-0700.

New at Blue

Blue hosts a Champagne dinner Dec. 17, with five stations of cuisine and Champagne pairings for $34.95. Hearst Tower, corner of College and 5th streets; 704-927-2583.

Also, Blue will offer a three-course Christmas Eve dinner for $34.95

And, among new dishes on its regular menu: pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras over ginger-spiced bread pudding; chicken kofta kabobs; roasted mushroom flatbread; Niman Ranch pork osso buco; stuffed trout wrapped with Bayonne ham; and oven-roasted venison tenderloin.

New: Opus One by the glass?

Slated to open Dec. 29 is Urban Sip, a "fine beverage experience" on the 15th floor of the Ritz-Carlton uptown. It will offer 90 wines and 35 single malt Scotches by the glass, including ones not usually offered by the glass, such as Far Niente Chardonnay, Opus One, Dom Perignon Champagne, Macallan 25 Year scotch, Hennessey Paradis cognac and Blanton's Single Barrel whiskey. Wines by the glass will run $9-$39. Also on the menu: 21 cheeses, including several from North Carolina. It's slated to be open 5-11 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays. 110 N. College St.

New at the renovated Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel is Flagstones Restaurant, serving "Southern Bistro" cuisine from executive chef Scott Spaulding. Among the dishes: cedar plank grilled Carolina trout, Southern style fried chicken with cornbread waffles, and goat cheese custard with raspberry and honey. 704-501-2510.

Deals, deals

Kalu offers a $15 three-dish "omakase" deal 5-7 p.m. and 1o p.m.-closing in the lounge, a combination usually costing $30. Dishes will vary each night but will usually include dim sum, sushi and a grilled item. 704-910-4877.

Bring in five pounds of food to the Pizza Peel to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank in December and you'll get 10 percent off your check. The restaurant's goal is to raise 1,000 pounds. 4422 Colwick Road; 704-714-8808.

At sibling restaurants Nolen Kitchen (2839 Selwyn Ave.) and ilios noche (11508 Providence Road), one kid 12 and younger can eat free (from the kids' menu, including ice cream) every Monday, when with an adult who spends at least $10 on food.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wendy's new fries: Thumbs ...

... up, basically.

Weeks after these new french fries debuted nationally (because Wendy's has a "no waste" policy, a publicity person told me, meaning restaurants had to run out of the old fries before selling the new ones), they're knocking around Charlotte. And they're tasty. Thinner, crisper and a good deal saltier than the old version, these employ russet potatoes, with some skin left on, and sea salt, and are the first major tinkering with fries that Wendy's has done in its 40+ years.

A staggering change? Nope.

Chief marketing officer Ken Caldwell has said the company wanted "every ingredient to be a simple ingredient" and that skin-on reminds people that fries come from potatoes. (!) Both the old and new come to stores frozen. The new ones are fried in a different blend of vegetable oils. But nutrionally, the new fries jump significantly in sodium -- 500 milligrams in a medium order, compared to 350 for the old. (And sea salt is generally thought no healthier for you than regular rock salt.) Calories are a push: The new add 10 cals for a total of 420.

Tried them?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday shenanigans

Red Rocks Cafe at Strawberry Hill serves breakfast with Santa not once but twice Dec. 18; seatings are at 8:30 and 10:15 and the menu ranges from eggs and bacon to peppermint pancakes. Cookies, too, of course. Reservation required; $15 for sdults, $8 for kids; 4223-8 Providence Road; 704-364-0402.

Through Dec. 26, participating Krispy Kremes are serving up the Snowman, the Wreath, the chocolate-iced-glazed-with-holiday-sprinkles and the new Chocolate Peppermint Bark doughnuts.

Zebra's taking reservations for both the Eves -- Christmas Eve and New Year's Eves -- and reservations are required. The first offers the regular menu, the second a four-courser for $74. 4521 Sharon Road; 704-442-9525.

Passion8 will also be open Christmas Eve (then closed through Jan. 4): four courses, $48.

Now through Dec. 24, anyone who buys $25 or more in gift cards at Chipotle can bring in the receipt on the next visit (before Dec. 31) for a free burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos.

Chef's table at Mez, new menu

Mez executive chef Anoosh Shariat now offers a chef's table, with a view of all kitchen action and seating for 14. Five tapas-style courses are served, with prices starting at $50 per person; the menu is tailored individually, but among possibilities are crabcakes with caper beurre blanc; seared ahi tuna with ginger lemongrass French toast; shrimp scampi with grilled tomato and lemon garlic butter. 210 E. Trade St.; 704-971-2401 or e-mail

On the new winter dinner menu at Terrace Café (with most entrees less than $20): open-faced turkey and gravy sandwich, butternut squash ravioli, chicken pot pie and more. 4625 Piedmont Row Drive; 704-554-6177.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Coming up: Prohibition, fundraising fun, more wine

Whiskey Warehouse hosts a Prohibition Party Dec. 4 with $3.50 pints, $6 Woodford old-fashioneds and $9 absinthes, among other specials. Food specials will include spiral-cut honey glazed ham; classic shrimp cocktail; pot roast; chicken Stroganoff and more. 1221 The Plaza; 704-334-7005.

Dec. 7 at Mez is the Community Culinary School of Charlotte's annual fundraiser, with the International Food Service Executives Association: $25 gets you in for food, beer, wine and entertainment, plus a silent auction "and loud raffle." Proceeds go to CCSC, a private not-for-profit group that provides food-service training and job search help to adults who have had barriers to employment. You can get tickets through CCSC chef Ron Ahlert at 704-375-4500 or IFSEA's Agnew Hopkins at 980-598-1526. Mez is at 210 E. Trade St. at the EpiCentre.

Bistro La Bon hosts a seven-course Catena Family Wines dinner Dec. 8. Among the courses: butter-poached halibut with Chardonnay; duck breast with Malbec and lamb Wellington with Alma Negra Red Blend. $65; 1322 Central Ave.; 704-333-4646.