Saturday, April 30, 2011

New in University

FireWater is the new spot in the former Lava Bistro location, 8708 J.W. Clay Blvd. Defining itself as "semi-fine dining with a tapas-focused menu" plus entrees, it opens this week. It will also host a Mother's Day buffet with rosemary-rubbed prime rib, blueberry cheesecake French toast, tuna au poivre, and more. $25 ($8 for kids): 704-549-0050.

Taco Mac is slated to open its second Charlotte-area location May 17, in the former Texas Land and Cattle location, 517 University Center Blvd.

Friday, April 29, 2011

HaSaki Grill on the menu for uptown

Chang Ha plans to open HaSaki Grill, a fast-casual restaurant with traditional hibachi meals cooked to order, plus a full sushi menu, in the Ally Center uptown in fall 2011. 440 S. Church St.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Farm to Fork" through May

Looking for local in a new way? Carolinas "Farm to Fork" Month is an idea aimed at emphasizing locally grown foodstuffs in fixed-price meals at area restaurants. The timeframes, prices and menus vary, but it's roughly a range of $14.95 to $38.95, before the end of the month, at places from 15 North to Table 274. Get details at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dine out, do good

Dandelion Market offers "buy one, get one free" lunches 11 a.m.-3 p.m. April 27, with 10 percent of sales going to RAIN (Regional AIDS Interfaith Network). 118 W. 5th St,; 704-333-7989.

Among Cinco de Mayo celebrations, Paco's Tacos & Tequila and Cantina 1511 (both in Dilworth and Stonecrest) will offer outdoor "Mexican beer gardens" and specials, including $5 margaritas. At Paco's, patrons wearing cowboy hats will get $5 off their dinners, and proceeds from Cinco de Mayo will benefit Pat's Place child advocacy center. 6401 Morrison Blvd.; 704-716-8226.

(Also for Cinco de Mayo: Charlotte-area Moe’s Southwest Grills are offering any burrito, chips and salsa for $3.)

New on the menu

Cowfish executive chef David Lucarelli has added new items, among them "Crispy Calamari 'T & T'" (tubes and tentacles, that is);
grilled Hawaiian wahoo on brioche; a boursin burger; hoisin bourbon baby back ribs; and steak frites. 4310 Sharon Road; 704-365-1922.

Terrace Café has added some lighter dishes for its spring/summer lineup, including a grilled chicken Cobb salad; wasabi tempura tuna salad; mustard- and spice-rubbed sea scallops and more. 4625 Piedmont Row Drive; 704-554-6177.

Free pretzel

Tuesday, April 26, is National Pretzel Day, and Philly Pretzel Factory of Mooresville will give each guest a free pretzel that day. In years past, according to the press release, "some locations have given out more than 20,000 pretzels, the equivalent to about 25 Eiffel Towers in length!" OK, then. Mooresville Crossing, 591 S. River Hwy.; 704-660-5606.

"Office" discount

Order takeout online from P.F. Chang's on April 28 and put SCRANTON in the promotion code field and you'll get 20 percent off, because the national chain feels your pain at bidding "goodbye to one of Thursday night TV’s most beloved characters in a not-to-miss season finale." (Don't know what they're talking about? It's OK; you'll still get the discount.

Now open: New Lulu, VBGB

Lulu on the Greenway is now open, in a little kiosk amid the walking/biking paved path that wends its way from Freedom Park to the Metropolitan at midtown. (Actual street address: 650 S. Kings Drive.) Serving daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., it offers an array of sandwiches, salads, ice cream and beverages (nonalcoholic, that is). Among the offerings: bagel with coffee for $3.50, Greek salad for $6, pan bagnat (tuna in oil with sliced egg, olives and Nicoise dressing on French roll) for $6.50, quiche for $7 and more. Plans call for the menu to grow over time.

VBGB Beer Hall and Garden is open at the N.C. Music Factory, and owners Tom and Kara Taddeo are also the proud holders of the famous JFG Coffee sign from uptown's skyline; they put it on the roof, and there will be a "lighting of the sign" party April 30. Look for 30 or so craft beers and a frost rail: That's a frozen section of bar you keep your stein on for continued cool drinking. On special on lighting night will be N.C. beers and grilled chicken wings with Dinosaur sauce. The regular menu ranges from imported-from-New-York hot dogs to kabobs to sides such as potato latkes. You can check out the menu here. 920 Hamilton St.; 704-333-4111.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not like nailing Jell-O to a wall...

... more like building the wall with Jell-O. This, a view into the workings of two producers of "avant-garde bespoke jellies," is phenomenal. And it is definitely "the wobble" that does it, although the colors are amazing, and the accents pretty delicious as well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

William and Kate (virtually) in Charlotte

And while we're onto Brit style, Big Ben British Restaurant & Pub will open at 5:30 a.m. April 29, serving a "Royal Breakfast," so that you may dine and watch the future king of England marry his intended on BBC America; it's 11 a.m. UK time. Naturally, there'll be other things through the day, as well.

Reservations: 704-817-9697; 2000 South Blvd. (at Atherton Mill). (Photo: Indigo/Getty Images.)

Updated: Easter plans

Both Ruth's Chris locations (uptown and SouthPark) will have brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (entrees $8-$34), and the full dinner menu 5-10 p.m. Those buying brunch will get a Buy 1 Get 1 card to have Sunday brunch another day. 222 S. Tryon St., 704-338-9444; 6000 Fairview Road, 704-556-1115.

The Cajun Queen's brunch will be served 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with the regular menu offered 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 1800 E. 7th St.; 704-377-9017.

Harper's at Carolina Place will do brunch 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and its regular menu 2:30-8 p.m. 11059 Carolina Place Parkway; 704-541-5255.

Andrew Blair's will do a traditional Easter brunch buffet 10 a.m.-2 p.m., for $14.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids 12 and younger. Reservations suggested: 1600 Montford Drive; 704-525-8282.

Santé in Matthews will do seatings for brunch at 10:30 a.m., and 12:30 and 2:30 p.m., and will serve a three-course meal for $29 per adult, $14 per child younger than 10. Dishes include she-crab soup, eggs Benedict, shrimp and grits, baked ham, leg of lamb and more. 165 N. Trade St. in Matthews; 704-845-1899.

The buffet at Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina will be offered 11 a.m.-7 p.m., with dishes such as chipotle-rubbed prime rib, mole chicken breast, smoked salmon eggs Benedict with poblano hollandaise and more. $22.95; half-price for kids 4-12 and free for those 3 and younger. 210 E. Trade St.; 704-971-8432.

Villa Antonio at 4707 South Blvd. offers brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for $25 with non-alcoholic beverage included, along with salad bar, shrimp "boat", omelet station, carving station and more. 704-523-1594.

Harvest Moon Grille will do Easter brunch 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., with favorites its regular brunch menu plus a few specials, such as country ham, braised ham and Swiss crepes and fresh strawberry crepes. From 5 to 10 p.m., diners may order from the regular dinner menu or an Easter special. 237 N. Tryon St.; 704-342-1193.

Del Frisco's will be open 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. with live jazz, and diners can choose a three-course brunch ($30; there's a $12 children's menu) or anything from the full dinner menu. Dinner will be 4:30-9 p.m. with a three-course menu or full dinner options, and the $12 kids' menu also. 4725 Piedmont Row South; 704-552-5502.

Mez's Easter brunch buffet will be served 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for $23.95 ($11.95 for those 12 and younger), and a brunch and movie package including tickets to a show at the adjacent EpiCentre Theater is also available for $29.95 ($19.95 for 12 and younger). 210 E. Trade St.; 704-971-2400.

Both Charlotte Melting Pot locations will be open 11:39 a.m.-2 p.m. on Easter with a four-course menu for $25 and a two-course option for children for $14. The regular dinner menu is available 4-9 p.m. 901 S. Kings Drive, 704-334-4400; 230 E. W.T. Harris Blvd., 704-548-2432.

Epic Chophouse will be open 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. for a brunch buffet ($21.95) and 5-10 p.m. with its regular dinner menu, plus a chef's feature. 104 South Main St., Mooresville; 704-230-1720.

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge hosts brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with a visit from the Easter Bunny and an egg hunt for brunch guests at 11:30 a.m., 1 and 2:30 p.m. (you can request a time when you make your reservation). $55, $28 for those 5-12, free for kids 4 and younger; reservations required: 704-248-4100. 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

Luce and Toscana will serve Easter Sunday brunch, each doing a three-course menu for which reservations are recommended. Sibling MezzaNotte will also be open that day with its regular brunch menu, then the regular dinner menu that night. Luce: 214 N. Tryon St.; 704-344-9222. Toscana: 6401 Morrison Blvd.; 704-367-1808. MezzaNotte: 2907 Providence Road; 704-365-4650.

Passion8 Bistro offers a three-course brunch with a Mimosa or Bloody Mary 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for $32 (kids 10 and younger free), and its regular dinner menu 3-7 p.m. 3415 Highway 51 North, Fort Mill, S.C.; 803-802-7455.

Both Red Rocks Cafes will do buffets 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for $24.95 ($10.95 for those 12 and younger), with their regular a la carte menu starting at 3. Strawberry Hill: 704-364-0402; Birkdale Village: 704-892-9999.

Blue will serve brunch 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with a carving station that includes Kobe top round, porchetta and roasted turkey; salads; main dishes of lamb tagine, paella, grilled salmon; crepes, omelets and other breakfast fare; desserts and more. Live jazz, too. $39.95 for adults, $14.95 for those 7-12 and free for those 6 and younger. Corner of 5th and College streets; 704-927-2583.

Lava Bistro and Bar's brunch will be 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and cost $35 for adults, half price for children 3-8 and free for those 2 and younger. Among the offerings: carving station, omelet station, housemade pancakes, blueberry cheesecake French toast, shrimp and grits, seared tuna and more.
8708 J.W. Clay Blvd.; 704-549-0050.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hear someone who's done good

Rye Barcott, author of "It Happened on the Way to War" (if you don't know about this, go here), will be at Owen's Bagel & Deli at lunchtime (beginning at 11 a.m.) April 23 to discuss the book and sign copies.

Geoff Owen of Owen's says, "Rye authored much of the book while sitting in the corner seat at OBD." Barcott's story is remarkable. Owen's is at 2041 South Blvd.; 704-333-5385.

Cheers for beers

April 29 is the grand opening of Biergarten, at Pavilion at the EpiCentre. Draft beers will be served in the open-air rooftop venue at 210 E. Trade St. from 5 p.m. to closing Tuesday-Friday and noon to closing Saturday. The area had a recent facelift that added greenery, water features, seating and games, from ping pong to bocce.

Meanwhile, Brixx, including the newly remodeled and reopened Dilworth location, is revving up its Master's of Beer Appreciation program. Try 32 new beers, attend events and you get your MBA. You can sign up (and find out about "study sessions" on the first Thursday of the month) here.

Bits and pieces

Georges Brasserie hosts a chef's tasting dinner April 26 with Thomas Meunier of Authentique Vin Imports. Among the fare: macadamia-encrusted flounder with purple asparagus, blood orange vinaigrette and micro green salad, with 2009 Laurent Miquel Chardonnay, Pere et Fils; and lamb Wellington with 2007 Clos Troteligotte Cahors Malbec, “La Fourmi.” $55; 4620 Piedmont Row Drive; 980-219-7409.

Blue puts together five dishes inspired by and paired with different beers from Charlotte's Four Friends Brewing for a tasting April 28. Among the dishes are a pan-seared Alaskan halibut with fiddlehead ferns, with black truffles, and a mini-croque-madame. $34.95 and reservations required: 704-927-2583: Hearst Plaza uptown.

Also April 28 is a Whitehall Lane wine dinner at Mimosa Grill, with dishes such as Cape May skate wing and Colorado lamb chops, and winery owner Tom Leonardini on hand. This is part of a nationwide benefit called "Earth Dinner," raising funds for Chef's Collaborative; $10 of each person's $75 ticket will be donated to the Collaborative. Reservations recommended: 327 S. Tryon St.; 704-343-0700.

Santé plans a wine dinner May 1 with six wines and a four-course meal for $49 per person. Reservations required; 165 N. Trade St. in Matthews; 704-845-1899.

Mexquite Mexican Eatery will do specials for Cinco de Mayo (May 5), including kids' meals for 99 cents, burritos for $5 and Mexican beers for $1.99. 16646 Hawfield Way Drive; 704-542-1344.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dine out, do good

Kalu and Wachovia will partner to offer a dinner April 21 benefitting several charities supporting Japanese relief efforts. Chef Bryan Emperor was in Kyoto in January and says that trip inspired this eight-course menu, which includes sashimi, dim sum, yakimono and more. $75, with $40 going to disaster relief; 6-8:30 p.m. and reservations are required: 704-910-4877. 505 E. 6th St.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Slow Food's annual fundraiser; more

Slow Food Charlotte's upcoming fundraiser is a wine dinner 6-10 p.m. April 30 at Atherton Market, with Tony Coturri attending to discuss his sustainably produced, well-regarded wines. All proceeds go to Slow Food Charlotte's Farmers Fund, described as bringing "farmer driven continuing education to the sustainable farming community." Tickets are $50 and must be purchased in advance; get more information here.

Also coming up: Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend 2012 holds its kickoff event April 16 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame; $125 gets you into the 7-10 p.m. event with wine, food, live and silent auctions and a shot at the Race Day Simulator. Tickets:

BLT Steak hosts a four-course Shafer wine dinner April 29, with explanations and commentary on the pairings from chef de cuisine Ben Miles. $125; 110 N. College St.; 704-972-4380.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kids' deal

Big View Diner has begun "Kid's Night at Big View" 5-8 p.m. each Wednesday. All kids' entrees (for 4- to 12-year-olds) are half off in that time, and live entertainment, plus a movie, are offered in the party room (meaning Mom and Dad can eat in the bar or dining room). Movies start at 6 p.m. (Coming up are "Despicable Me" April 20 and "How to Train Your Dragon" April 27.) 16637 Lancaster Highway; 704-544-0313.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Now open at Cotswold and uptown

Table 274 is open at Cotswold, in the quite large former Charley’s, serving lunch and dinner six days a week and brunch on Sundays. Look for a menu focused on “handmade” fare, such as a beet-infused pasta with carrot and ricotta filling, flatbread pizzas fired over hickory, N.C. flounder with warm tomato and foraged mushroom salad, grilled pork tenderloin with collard green and truffle ravioli, burgers and more. Former Charley's owners are in partnership with the new guys, who aim to use regional products: "We're trying to support the little guy, because we are the little guy," says general manager Cameron Crummett.
274 S. Sharon Amity Road; 704-817-9721.

And the relocated LaVecchia's Seafood Grille is open at The Hearst Tower, with chef Michael Rayfield in charge. It's serving lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. weekdays and dinner 5-11 p.m. nightly. 214 N. Tryon St.; 704-370-6776.

Toast coming to Dilworth

Now-closed Sunset Grille at 2400 Park Road will become a Toast, with a menu "pretty identical except for specials," confirms Brian Burchill of Toast in Davidson. That's breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, an eclectic mix that ranges from eggs and flapjacks to lasagna to salmon to chicken pot pie. You can get a look at the current menus at Look for an opening in three to four months after renovation.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Charlotte goes Eater, + links

Eater National takes a peek at Charlotte, with some local help, here. Pretty web site with a few problematic links -- but New York now has THREE artisanal grilled cheese TRUCKS? That's the kind of info we need, stat. Carne asada is not a crime, y'all.

Do you know where the pupu platter was first served? Find out -- along with defining the "century egg" and more -- here.

This is pretty much 3 1/2 minutes too long, but it IS exploding cake. Favorite: yellow guy at 3:11.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Updated: Pre-Easter treats

The uptown Ritz-Carlton hosts afternoon tea 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 23 for Easter (as well as 11 a.m.-2 p.m. May 7 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. May 8 for Mother's Day): $30 for adults, $10 for children, this includes a finger sandwich menu, a course of warm scones and petits fours (there are alternatives for kids), plus looseleaf teas. 201 E. Trade St.; 704-547-2244.

The IKEA store offers Paskbord - a Swedish Easter Smorgasbord, as in all-you-can-eat - April 15 for $9.99 a person, $2.49 for children 12 and younger. 8300 IKEA Blvd.; 704-549-4532;

The Easter Bunny will visit BRAVO! Cucina Italiana in Northlake and BRIO Tuscan Grille near SouthPark for breakfast 8:30-10 a.m. April 16. Activities include egg hunts, photo ops and more, plus a buffet, for $10.95 for adults, $5.95 for kids 10 and younger. Reservations are required and must be made by April 13; 6851 North Lake Mall Drive, 704-597-1455; 4720 Piedmont Row Drive, 704-571-4214.

New (sword chop) and coming up (5 tastes)

Chef Andreas Arboleda has finished his new menu at Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse, keeping some favorites and upscale proteins, while adding some new twists, such as white truffle polenta with mushrooms, local greens, roasted tomatoes and port reduction; Mills Family Farm (Mooresville) New York strip with roasted potato medley and Brussels sprouts; and a signature swordfish "chop," on the bone, with asparagus and white truffle butter. That's a look at the chop at right. 215 S. Main St., Davidson; 704-237-3246.

Passion8 Bistro puts on a five-course meal April 28 focusing on the five generally-agreed-upon tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami, that mysterious fifth that borrows Japanese meaning pleasant savory taste. (Think the Japanese broth dashi, or shiitake mushrooms and you get the general idea.)
$65; 3415 Highway 51 North, Fort Mill, S.C.; 803-802-7455.

Dine out, do good

Le Peep at the Arboretum will open 5-8 p.m. April 7 for a special dinner raising money for brain tumor research, in honor of Steven Gainsboro, who died of brain cancer. 8140 Providence Road; 704-540-0470.

"Short Stacks for Big Change" is coming up, 8-10:30 a.m. April 9 at Fatz Cafe: That's a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, mixed fruit and beverage for $7 for adults, $5 for kids 5-10, and it raises money for the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County. 10920 Winds Crossing Drive; 704-587-1772.

Every Thursday in April, both Melting Pot locations in Charlotte will donated $5 from every Four Course Fondue Feast for two ($72 per couple) to Autism Speaks Charlotte Chapter.

Bask on Seaboard will hold a monthly networking social, 5-8 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month, with free hors d'oeuvres and profits from additional sales going to Autism Services of Mecklenburg County. 1000 Seaboard St. at the N.C. Music Factory; 980-613-8282.