Friday, December 16, 2011

Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend tickets

You can buy tickets for the 2012 Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend beginning Dec. 19, online at

This every-two-years happening is one of the Southeast's largest wine events, say organizers, and has raised more than $3.5 million for area charities (this year: the Council for Children’s Rights; Second Harvest Food Bank's Metrolina-BackPack Program; Pat’s Place; and Charlotte Community Health Clinic).

The Weekend will be April 18-22, and highlights range from winemaker dinners at area restaurants to tastings and classes to a golf tournament. The kickoff is a tequila dinner at Paco's Tacos & Tequila, April 18, and the largest event is Big Bottles & Blues at the Ritz-Carlton, April 20. A gala and live auction (look for the rare 1919 Romanée-Conti bottle) will be April 21, and a brunch April 22.

New pizza joint

A second Mellow Mushroom was slated to open this week in the Charlotte area, at 14825 Ballantyne Village Way, with a design theme of “Magic Carpet Ride” using what Marc Kieffer of the ownership group called “magic carpets … and a giant one-of-a-kind hookah.” There’s also a 106-inch TV screen, along with other big screens. It’s open daily. 704-369-5300.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More for New Year's

For New Year’s Eve:

Blue offers a three-course menu for a first seating (5-6 p.m.) on New Year’s Eve (and all day New Year’s Day) for $34.95. Among the entrée choices: flat iron steak with chanterelles, roasted pork tenderloin and pork belly, or duck Bolognese over housemade tagliatelle pasta. Hearst plaza uptown; reservations: 704-927-2583.

Also for New Year’s Eve: Global offers a five-course meal ($65 with a glass of Champagne with dessert; $95 with wine) from 5 to 11 p.m. On the menu: roasted garlic soup with black pepper tuile; foie gras au torchon with brioche, fig chutney and arugula; diver scallops with wild mushrooms; venison with pumpkin cake and crispy collards; and chocolate praline Yule log. 3520 Toringdon Way; 704-248-0866.

Christmas Eve options

For Christmas Eve:

New South Kitchen will be open 4-8 p.m. Christmas Eve, with a buffet. Among the stuff on it: shrimp cocktail, spinach artichoke dip, roasted beef tenderloin with red wine au jus, deep-fried turkey, salmon crab strudel, assorted sides and vegetables, and desserts ranging from gingerbread to Christmas cookies. $30 ($15 for those younger than 12); 8140 Providence Road; 704-541-9990.

Passion8 will serve 3-8 p.m. Christmas Eve, and offers a New Year’s Eve menu 4-8 p.m. 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill; 803-802-7455.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Updated: Open on Christmas

Harvest Moon Grille at the Dunhill uptown will do brunch on both Dec. 24 and 25: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with classic brunch dishes and "holiday surprise treats." 235 N. Tryon St., 704-342-1193.

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge will offer holiday brunch Christmas Day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Ballantyne Ballroom. The buffet will include salads, cheeses and seafood displays, breakfast items, a carving station and desserts, plus live traditional holiday music. $55 ($28 for ages 5-12, free for 4 and younger). Reservations required: 704-248-4100; 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

New brunch

Dandelion Market has a new brunch menu, with dishes such as Prosciutto Benny (two baguette crostini topped with tomato, prosciutto, poached egg and Hollandaise), Gravy Cake (fried potato cake with mushroom gravy and poached egg), huevos rancheros, French toast sticks (at right) and omelets. Brunch will run 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with a Bloody Mary bar both days. 118 W. 5th St.; 704-333-7989.

Dancing for New Year's

Georges Brasserie plans a live four-piece jazz band for New Year's Eve, with dancing from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. A special menu is also planned, ranging from onion soup and warm vichyssoise to cheese plates and tuna tartare to trout amandine, pan-seared scallops and bouillabaisse, all a la carte. 4620 Piedmont Row Drive; 980-219-7409.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cheer on Saturday

"Spread the Cheer" will run 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 10 at the EpiCentre (210 E. Trade St.) uptown, a family-oriented event with holiday music, food available from EpiCentre restaurants and visits from Santa.

Before and after Christmas

BEFORE: Blue plans a Christmas Eve, three-course, lobster or ribeye dinner for $39.95: appetizer is peekytoe crab and ricotta crespelle or pear and baby arugula salad; entree is baked, stuffed lobster with almond basmati rice or grilled ribeye with garlic spinach and roasted potatoes; dessert is choice among four. Corner of 5th and College streets at the Hearst Plaza; 704-927-2583.

AFTER: Lulu celebrates its sixth anniversary Dec. 26, with a complimentary glass of Champagne and dessert to those who purchase an entree at dinner (5-10 p.m.). Reservations recommended. 1911 Central Ave.; 704-376-2242.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bits and crumbs

According to Cy Santos (of the defunct Cyros Sushi in the SouthPark area), diners should expect his return with a sushi place - with the addition of "a new Japanese BBQ concept and hot food menu" plus separate bar - in the same spot in the near future. That was at 6601 Morrison Blvd.

Table 274 plans a three-course Champagne Duval-Leroy brunch Dec. 10 with Brut, Rose Prestige and the "Lady Rose" Champagnes and a menu of orange and fennel salad with watercress; prosciutto-wrapped mountain trout and wild mushroom frittata; and chocolate truffles. $35; 274 S. Sharon Amity Road; 704-817-9721.

New on menus

Fern begins this week its "Sundown Sampler" menu, offered 2-5 p.m. each Tuesday-Thursday: For $12, you get up to three items from a list that includes OM burger sliders, Indian Taco, Three Sisters Cake, quinoa salad and more. 1323 Central Ave.; 704-377-1825.

On the new winter menu at Ilios Noche: arancini (fried balls of risotto with Gorgonzola cheese); lamb chops marinated in lemon and Greek herbs; diver scallops with truffled wild mushroom risotto and arugula; and more. 11508 Providence Road; 704-814-9882.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hotel does dine-around

The Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel has created a deal called "Explore Charlotte's Local Cuisine." The package includes overnight accommodations and appetizer and drink for two at the hotel's Flagstones restaurant, then a $50 credit toward dining at close-by places Del Frisco's, Brio Tuscan Grill or Georges Brasserie. You also get dessert at the hotel restaurant or room service. The cost starts at $189 per room per night and will be offered through Aug. 11, 2012. Info:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Uptown 'cue plot thickens

Bryan Meredith, Sue Johnston and John Duncan plan to open Queen City Q in January at 225 E. 6th St. (where LaVecchia's once was, before moving to Hearst Plaza), and what once were plans for "Queen City 'Que" to open in the next few days in the 7th Street Public Market (that's the very same block) have changed significantly.

Duncan's name you'll recognize from Bonterra, and he was a founding partner at Mac's Speed Shop; Meredith was formerly in software and Johnston has catering experience and will run the catering arm of this.

The 'cue, described as "fresh Q smoked daily," will be done by Dan “Boone” Gibson, says Meredith; he was the first pit master at Mac’s, has worked various other chef positions in town, and is a CPCC culinary grad. The menu aims to include brisket, ribs, chicken and housemade sausage, plus sides, salads and desserts. Hours are planned for 11 a.m.-midnight nightly.

This joins, on the uptown 'cue horizon, City Smoke from restaurateur Pierre Bader, and what had been planned as Queen City 'Que from barbecuer Dan Huntley at the market.

Now, Huntley says his opening a place within the market is off, since his plan to use a gas-and-wood rig under the existing restaurant hood (the same brand as Queen City Q plans to use in the former LaVecchia's space, incidentally) was nixed by county engineers. He now says he'll be parking his food truck -- dubbed Outdoor Feasts ("it's an LLC; I've had it for 10 years" -- on the market's property and serving barbecue from there during market hours Wednesday-Sunday.

(Meredith, of Queen City Q, said he was "shocked" to read news of Huntley's "Queen City 'Que" some weeks ago, since he'd incorporated the name with the state: "I don't really know how all that happened.")

Expect from their place, says Meredith, a rustic look with barn wood and paprika red walls, and prices in the $10-for-lunch range. And as for the sudden proliferation of 'cue uptown: "My basic philosophy is this: Nobody goes to the same place every day of the week. My job... is to make sure one of those days you come to our place. I don't care where you go the other four days ... Try 'em all! Enjoy 'em all."

Coming up wine-y

Domenico's hosts a four-course Italian wine dinner with Zenato wines Dec. 7, with wine educator and importer Clint Harris on hand. Among the courses are risotto with mushrooms and Zenato Cormi, and veal Sorrentino with 2008 Valpolicella Classico Superiore. $40; 8410 Rea Road; 980-819-9723.

D’Vine Wine Café hosts its third annual “Holiday Bubbles Jubilee” Dec. 8, focusing on Champagnes and sparklers. Food ranges from orange-scented French toast with pecan brown butter to seared pork belly with strawberry and sage jam to shrimp satay and there’ll be Mumm, Roederer, Heidsick and more. $59.99; 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; reservations required: 704-369-5050

Vivace and the Wine Vault host a Saturday afternoon wine brunch with Flora Springs wines -- and menu items such as eggs Benedict with duck confit and grilled hanger steak with ricotta gnocchi -- Dec. 10.
$45; 1100 Metropolitan Ave.; 704-548-9463.

Wine lounge uptown

Vintage Wine Lounge holds its grand opening at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at 317 S. Church St., in uptown's Brevard Court. Expect cheese plates and charcuterie, live music and drink specials. The menu ranges from edamame to panini, and the wine list is mid-range, about $18 to $40 by the bottle, with 2-ounce tastes and 6-ounce glasses of nearly everything offered. Hours at first (management hopes to expand) will be 4-11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 704-332-3273.