Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More for the New Year

Global offers a five-course fixed-price New Year's meal for $69 ($99 with wine pairings). Reservations are available starting at 5 p.m. Among the courses: smoked onion bisque with 2010 Bodegas Eidosela Albarino; Hudson Valley duck foie gras poached in Gewürztraminer, with 2010 Beblenheim Heimeimberger Gewürztraminer reserve; and veal breast with braised, smoked grits and 2009 Trenza Tinto, San Luis Obispo. 3520 Toringdon Way; 704-248-0866.

Café 157 will serve its regular dinner entrée menu (sandwiches not available) 5-9 p.m. New Year’s Eve, with filet mignon and broiled lobster tail as specials. 157 N. Trade St., Matthews; 704-844-8686.

"Happy Blue Year!" is Blue's plan: First seating (5-6 p.m.) is $34.95, with choices including flat iron steak, Moroccan spiced salmon and more. Live music runs 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (cover charge is $5 after 10, but that's waived with dinner reservations) and there's a complimentary Champagne toast and a late-night menu.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

FABO spikes coffee

FABO, the "fabulous art buying opportunity" in Myers Park, with wine, coffee drinks, pastries and more, hosts a shopping event Dec. 22: Free glass of wine with each purchase of $20 or more, with staff shoppers who'll read your list and find stuff for you among pottery, jewelry, art, coffees, teas and accessories.

Also new: "Spiked Coffee" -- a coffee drink with chocolate, raspberry and red wine. 2820 Selwyn Ave.; 704-900-2430.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Late-night at Puck's, and Second Harvest

Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar in Phillips Place offers a new late-night menu 10 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, including half-price pizzas. 6706-C Phillips Place Court; www.wolfgangpuck.com/pb.

Also at Puck's: Five percent of all restaurant sales Dec. 17-22 will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina's holiday food program, which buys hams and turkeys for families who can't afford a special holiday meal.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Updated: Holiday meals

Passion8 offers Christmas Eve dinner 3-8 p.m., with country ham trio, stuffed Georgia quail, N.C. bison short ribs, day boat fish, duck confit and more among the options.
For New Year's Eve, dinner will be from an a la carte menu with specials, and served 4-8 p.m.

New South Kitchen will serve 4-8 p.m. Christmas Eve, with a buffet that includes roasted beef tenderloin, deep-fried turkey and salmon crab strudel, for $35 ($15 for those 12 and younger). The restaurant will also offer dinners to go that evening, with deep-fried turkey breast fillet or whole boneless breast; an assortment of sides and extras. 8140 Providence Road; 704-541-9990.

Café 157 will be open 4:30-9 p.m. Christmas Day, serving its regular dinner menu (meaning its sandwiches will not be available), plus specials of pan-seared Maryland crab cakes and rib eye steak. A Reservations: 704-844-8686; the restaurant is at 157 N. Trade St. in Matthews; www.cafe157.com.

The Wine Shop at Foxcroft hosts New Year's Eve dinner with two seatings, at 6 and 8:30 p.m., for $50, including a glass of sparkling wine. Courses include choice of steak tartare or parsnip potage with crab; scallops or short rib; apple galette or chocolate gateau. Reservations: 704-365-6550; 7824 Fairview Road.

D'Vine Wine Cafe is taking reservations for New Year's Eve; if you're seated by 8, you have the table for the party. The place offers New Year's specials, as well as its regular menu, and a "join the party" package: $10 gets you a drink special, party favors, music and a sparkling-wine toast at midnight. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Naughty? Nice? Parties either way

Siblings Sullivan's and Del Frisco's host "Naughty and Nice" parties Dec. 21. Each will include raffles through the night. You win free raffle tickets several ways, including bringing an unwrapped toy or nonperishable food item (Sullivan's has partnered with the Salvation Army for a drive). Sullivan's will have a live band and DJ, and appetizers and cocktails for $6 each. Del Frisco's will offer half-price wines by the glass, wine bottle specials and more.

Custom cocktails for the events at both places are the "Other Mrs. Claus" (rum, lime juice and jalapeno) and "Santa's Little Helper" (vodka, eggnog, cinnamon and rumchata, which is a cream/rum liqueur).

Sullivan’s is at 1928 South Blvd.; Del Frisco’s is at 4725 Piedmont Row Drive.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

'Coal oven pizza' en route to Concord Mills

Tony Sacco's Coal Oven Pizza is scheduled to open at Concord Mills in spring 2013. The Florida-based chain will offer full-service dining and is known for its anthracite-coal-burning pizza oven, from which come traditional and specialty pizzas. It also offers pastas, sandwiches and more. Info: www.tonysaccos.com.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Free hot fudge cake at Shoney's

Shoney’s serves up its signature Hot Fudge Cake free to all dine-in guests -- while supplies last -- on Dec. 6. The deal is offered at all Shoney's: www.facebook.com/shoneys.

Yelp gets hammered again; what say you?

For the second time recently, Yelp reviews are getting hammered, this time in Time.

First, it was the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods" host Andrew Zimmern, calling it "a tremendous forum for a bunch of uninformed morons" in his "Go Fork Yourself" podcast.

Here, Josh Ozersky takes a more measured approach (though he prefaces it with "in my experience, Zimmern is right"), and says Yelp's influence, for good or bad, is greatest on the most vulnerable: new, small, independent places that don't have a chain's PR budget.

Then he does something smart: He suggests how to use Yelp reviews -- which I'd embrace for any other online review system, too.

* "Look for believable descriptions of service lapses -- not 'the waitress was unbelievably rude,' but 'we stood at the bar for 40 minutes before we were seated, despite having a reservation.'

* "Look for specific descriptions of dishes, particularly those that involve texture and temperature, two qualities I find unlikely to be wholly fictive.

* "And, best of all, look at every picture you can. Because, unlike Yelp reviews, love letters and professions of faith, pictures never lie."

Love that. When, as in Charlotte, a search for "highest-rated" (with an unspecified algorithm) gives 55 restaurants before dipping below four stars (and No. 171 also gets four stars, with 141 reviews), you need other ways to digest the information. (Sorry.) His are an excellent start. And they apply to all online restaurant reviews, not just Yelp's.

Do you have more suggestions?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No! Riverview Inn to close

The Riverview Inn, open since 1946 with the Burns family, will close Dec. 22, says Jon Burns. Fans of the fish camp -- with particularly notable salt-and-pepper cats -- also fondly remember the iconic pegleg pirate "Captain Windy" (above, in an Observer file photo from 1986), who greeted diners and awed children for years. (He was really Gilbert Winchester, and died in 2010.)

Jon Burns said sales had been decreasing, with food and labor costs rising in this economy, and, "as an independent restaurant, it's getting harder and harder to earn a living at it... Our type of restaurant might slowly be becoming a thing of the past."

The restaurant posted the closing notice on its Facebook page, prompting lots of all-capital comments: "OH NO!" and "SO SORRY" and "You will TRULY be missed" -- along with fond memories of a spot that taught many what a fish camp was. Generally thought to have begun around the Depression, they were spots, near waterways, where fishers could fry up their catch. Those cooking began to do side dishes as well, and to sell to others.

Catering will continue to be offered, "at least for awhile," says Jon. 10012 Moores Chapel Loop (on the Catawba River, just off Wilkinson Boulevard, U.S. 29/74); 704-399-3385.

“It’s sad – but who else gets a 67-year run?” asks Jon.


Christmas shows at Santé

Santé hosts its 11th Annual Christmas Shows soon: That's a three-course dinner and entertainment by The Carolina Voices group, dressed in traditional costumes and singing carols, at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9, and at 5 and 7:15 p.m. on both Dec. 16 and Dec. 23. $45; 165 N. Trade St., Matthews; 704-845-1899.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wine, beer, dinner

Falcor Winery hosts five-course wine dinners, Dec. 4 at The Melting Pot in midtown and Dec. 5 at the Lake Norman location, with a percentage going to Hinds' Feet Farm, which helps people living with brain injuries. Reservations: 704-334-4400 for 901 S. Kings Drive; 704-987-2201 for 16625 Statesville Road in Huntersville.

The Pizza Peel hosts a five-course beer dinner Dec. 6, with New Belgium brews paired with each course. In the lineup: Vivant Bier De Garde with roasted butternut and Bier De Garde soup; Fat Tire with oven-roasted game hen and cranberry walnut herb stuffing, and more. $35; 4422 Colwick Road; 704-714-8808.

Vine American Kitchen opens

Vine American Kitchen is now open in Ballantyne. Charlottean Bill Freeman, whose resume includes a stint as CEO of McCormick & Schmick's, created the concept, for which this location is "the launching pad," according to press. Look for a display kitchen and American fare from exec chef Paul Cruz that ranges from herb-rubbed rotisserie chicken, Maryland-style jumbo lump crab cakes and jambalaya, plus flatbreads, burgers, seafood, steaks and more. Sunday brunch spans apple cider pancakes to crab hash.

On the name: “So much of what we do here has some connection to the vine," Freeman said in a press release. "Whether through locally sourced seasonal fruits and vegetables, freshly squeezed juices in our cocktails, or the variety of grapes in our abundant wine selection, we are bringing the garden to our guests."

Entrees range $15-$29, with starters, sandwiches and flatbreads running $4-$14. The wine list leans to bottles less than $30, the high-rated and/or "great value" wines, Freeman said.

Seating areas range from a dining room of 116 to the eight-seat Barrel Room to a patio with fire pit.

13735 Conlan Circle; 704-469-5282; www.vinekitchen.com.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Nutcracker Tea with N.C. Dance

N.C. Dance Theatre hosts its second annual Nutcracker Tea at the Omni Charlotte uptown Dec. 16: Tea, holiday-cookie-decorating for children, the chance to meet members of the dance company's Nutcracker cast for photos and autographs and a reading of the Nutcracker story by Clara. The menu for kids: turkey and cheese sandwiches, grilled cheese tea sandwiches, fruit kabobs, hot cocoa and more. For adults: cucumber tea sandwiches, Waldorf chicken salad on mini croissants, scones, chocolate-covered strawberries, fruit tartlets, tea and more. 4:30-6 p.m.; $60 for adults, $30 for children; the Omni is at 132 E. Trade St. Buy tickets online at ncdance.org/NutcrackerTea.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Press release of the week

"Hi Helen,
"Ever wonder what a cookie combined with 11 Herbs & Spices might taste like? ..."

Dear (PR person for KFC),
No.

" ... (she didn't hear me) KFC wondered too.
"With the trend of flavor mash ups on the rise -- bacon popcorn, white chocolate mint Pringles — the research & development team at KFC began tinkering with the 11 Herbs and Spices and created A PROTOTYPE for the Original Recipe cookie, which combines the signature blend of the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices with America’s favorite cookie."

That means all the herbs and spices, plus chocolate chips. You can vote online at www.facebook.com/KFC about "whether the sweet and savory sensation prototype should actually be created in mass and added to menus nationwide!" I'll be voting. Maybe more than once.

New Year's Eve plans begin

Zebra will offer New Year's Eve dinner (with wine deals for the 5-6 p.m. seating only). Among the menu choices: walnut-roasted quail with glazed rutabaga mash; lobster, shrimp and crab cocktail; N.C. trout Francaise; griddled Moulard duck breast; Grand Marnier souffle; warm chocolate cake with caramel ice cream; and lots more. $74; 704-442-9525; 4521 Sharon Road.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sweet Tea's on TV: Impossible?

The Food Network's "Restaurant Impossible" and host/chef Robert Irvine hits Sweet Tea's to film on Dec. 4-5, and the restaurant will have a "grand re-opening" at 7 p.m. Dec. 5. The show's premise: Irvine swoops in for two days with $10K and sees if he can save "desperate restaurants from impending failure." Owners David and Dana Cohen have had Sweet Tea's for three years; for the first 2 1/2, it was located in Landis, just north of Kannapolis. David Cohen said he's contractually obligated to not answer questions until the episode airs, which associate producer Nicholas Smalarz says should be late February/early March. According to Smalarz, "thousands" of restaurants apply for the show's help, it's the network's top-rated show, and of the 63 places they've done since January 2011, he knows of four that have closed permanently. The restaurant is at 9101 Pineville-Matthews Road, and its web menu includes fried green tomatoes with "reduced balsamic glaze and buffalo ranch dipping sauce"; Dave's Famous Potato Puppies; sandwiches such as a honey-wasabi BLT and "inside out burgers"; chicken and waffles; sesame encrusted tilapia, shrimp and grits; and corned beef hash and eggs. 704-855-1803.

Peasant Rhone dinner

The Wine Vault and Pewter Rose offer the third annual Peasant Rhone wine dinner, Dec. 9. Among the courses: shaved asparagus and fennel with fried goat cheese croquettes and L'Oustal Blanc Naick 10 Blanc; housemade duck confit and goat cheese ravioli with 2010 Ferrand Cote Du Rhone Antique Vielles Vignes; braised chuck shoulder over white bean ragout with 2010 J.L. Tribouley "Les Bacs" Vielles Vignes; and more. $60; 704-548-9463; 1820 South Blvd.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Taco Mac beer dinner

Taco Mac at SouthPark hosts a beer dinner Dec. 4 featuring the work of N.C. breweries that got medals at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. It begins with a reception with four beer stations: Olde Mecklenburg and NoDa from Charlotte, plus Carolina (Chapel Hill/Pittsboro) and Mother Earth (Kinston), serving brews other than the medal-winners, which will be featured during the four-course dinner. Among those: shrimp "biscuits and gravy" with Olde Meck's Mecktoberfest, and Cheerwine mini cake with NoDa's Coco Loco. $45; 4625 Piedmont Row Drive; tickets online here.

5Church starts Saturday brunch

Dec. 1, 5Church launches its Saturday brunch, offered 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (meaning they'll do last seating at 4), with live jazz. Among the menu options: sunny-side egg pizza (with prosciutto and truffle oil); Belgian waffles with berries; shrimp and Anson Mills polenta; lowfat vanilla yogurt with granola and minted berries; bistro steak and eggs; and more, with items running about $6-$15. Yes, cocktails and sparklers are also available. 704-919-1322; restaurant entrance is at the corner of 5th and Church streets.

Look for El Camino

The Henson family (Angry Ale's, Andrew Blair's) is planning a new Montford Drive venture named El Camino. Says Barbara Henson: "Our goal is to provide unique (to Charlotte, at least) Mexican and Tex Mex-inspired food ... (in) a fun, eclectic and energetic atmosphere, with a definite family-friendly environment." Chef Todd Townsend, longtime Charlotte fixture, helped develop recipes, she says, and family and friends influenced choices, as did the family's research and travels in Texas.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Napa on Providence opening at former Providence Cafe

Napa on Providence will open to the public Nov. 27, with a menu that includes grilled swordfish with pasta faglioli sauce; bucatini with pomodoro sauce; poulet rouge (half a roasted heritage breed chicken) with root vegetables and horseradish pan gravy; grilled hanger steak; dry-rubbed trio of Berkshire pork; and more. Entrees run about $17-$24 (and there's a burger for $9), and first plates at dinner range from pizzas and grilled or raw shellfish to mozzarella-stuffed meatballs and miso-glazed pork belly. The wine list highlights northern California, including 20 by the glass. Designer Mimi Sabates did the interior, which includes booths with granite tabletops, Carolina hemlock tables and a bar, community tables and host stand built by NoDa's Zac Sessions, according to co-owner Jeffrey Conway. Look for lunch beginning Dec. 3, and brunch starting mid-December. Chef James Cannon worked on developing the menu, and will continue; Robert Fox and Eric Litaker are sous chefs. 110 Perrin Place; 704-900-8535; www.napaonprovidence.com.

Interesting idea in Greenville

Roost, which owners call a "soil to city" restaurant, is scheduled to open in January in Greenville, S.C. The idea, from JHM Hotels, is to put together a menu based on local, organic, seasonal goods, but also to offer more idiosyncratic features, such as a ban on high fructose corn sweeteners and a Harvest Table, at which diners choose ingredients for lunch from among greens, composed salads, meats, soups and artisan breads. Outdoor seating in NOMA Square, an open kitchen rimmed with seating and an open-air bar area are other aspects of the place, whose exec chef is Trevor Higgins (with experience at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island and the Charleston Marriott). Sample dishes: “fresh” bacon with corn puree and sweet tea jus; wild striped bass with rock shrimp chowder and smoked garlic aoli; Sunday brunch of chicken fried steak with sawmill gravy or brioche French toast with salted banana caramel. 220 N. Main St. in Greenville; 864-248-1565.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Coming up

AZN at Piedmont Town Center will offer a Toys for Tots special menu 7:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 4, available when you bring one new, unwrapped toy: It's a three-for-$30 menu with choices including spicy calamari, Hawaiian ahi poke, caramelized salmon, walnut shrimp, and more. 980-819-9189. Also coming up at AZN: Christmas Eve dinner, with both its regular menu (3-9 p.m.) and a course menu with choices of starter, entree and dessert for $40-$60, depending on entree choice. Options include Cantonese roasted duck, sushi platter, Chilean sea bass and more. And for New Year's Eve, an a la carte menu will be offered (including starters, entrees, sushi rolls and sashimi and nigiri sushi), plus a three-course menu for $45-$70. The Pizza Peel hosts a New Belgium beer dinner Dec. 6 for $35. Among the courses: roasted butternut and Biere De Garde soup (with Biere De Garde) and oven-roasted game hen with Fat Tire. Interested in just the beer? You can pay $15 for a tasting ticket. 4422 Colwick Road; 704-714-8808.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Glogg and meatballs at IKEA!

IKEA hosts a Swedish "Julbord" buffet for $12.99 on Dec. 7 (kids 12 and younger pay $4.99): The all-you-can-eat lineup includes Swedish holiday ham, smoked salmon, Swedish style meatballs with lingonberries, assorted herring and more -- including glögg! ( That's mulled wine.) 8300 Ikea Blvd., 704-549-4532.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bits and crumbs

Blue hosts a Latin jazz night Nov. 23, with a menu including beef short rib, chorizo and queso fresco empanada; pan-seared red snapper escabeche; and apple and walnut empanada. 704-927-2583; 206 N. College St. Among dishes on the new menu at D'Vine Wine Cafe: boneless beef short ribs (with mac & cheese as a small plate, or with mashed potatoes and vegetable as an entree); shrimp & grits; ribs; butternut squash soup with bacon and a St. Andre grilled cheese sandwich and more. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

Food truck brunch

Food Truck Brunch will happen 8 a.m.- 1 p.m. Nov. 24 at the usual South End location: the corner of Camden Road and Park Avenue, with Herban Legend, the Tin Kitchen, Turkey And ... and Gourmet Goombahs slated to be there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Got to be champ: Ryan Payne of Chapel Hill's Weathervane

Triangle chef Ryan Payne from Weathervane (of Chapel Hill's Southern Season store) battled through to win the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series final Nov. 17. That's him in white, at center, above. This was a series of competition dining events, held in Blowing Rock, Wilmington, the Triangle and the Triad, in which two chefs would go head to head, and had to use designated N.C. products in creating their meals. The Got To Be NC goal is to promote N.C. products and chefs; this is the first statewide competition it's done. Next year, plans call for the competition to expand to Charlotte, and to add Asheville to its Western NC series. The Final Four were Michael Foreman of Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock, George Neal of 1618 Seafood Grille in Greensboro, Andy Hopper of Chefs 105 in Morehead City and Payne. He topped Foreman in the finale, in which both had to use pork jowls and Pepsi in three courses for 160 diners in the ballroom of the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel.
At right is Payne's highest scoring dish: Pork fat funnel cake, buttermilk cake, Pepsi-apple ice cream, candied pork jowl and cherry Pepsi syrup. Both photos: Susan Dosier. Foreman earned the highest score of the night with his jowl pancetta risotto with Taos-style braised pork cushion, Dos Equis beer-Pepsi jus and pine nut-cumin pistou. Culinary pro judges were CNN Eatocracy blog managing editor Kit Kinsman; Evan Nash of Johnson & Wales in Charlotte; Scott Craig of Charlotte, one of six Americans to win a gold medal at October's International Culinary Olympics; Dathan Kuzsak, a food blogger and design editor at the Triangle Business Journal; and Daniel Benjamin, pastry chef at Herons in Cary. Their scores were 70 percent of the total, with audience scores 30 percent. Payne won $4,000, Foreman $1,000. More info here.

Tea on the 2nd

High tea and boutique shopping are slated for The Duke Mansion on Dec. 2. Starting at 2 p.m., you'll find goods from shops such as The Buttercup, The Blossom Shop, Jeffre Scott Apothecary, Reid's Fine Foods, Twenty Degrees Chocolates, blis Uptown and more. Tea with sandwiches, canapes and sweets will be served at 3. $35 for adults, $15 for 5-12; reserve by Nov. 28 at 704-714-4445 or email kellis@tlwf.org; 400 Hermitage Road.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tavern 24 open

Tavern 24 is open at 421 Cox Road in Gastonia, the second in the chain but the first newly constructed one, and the first in North Carolina: It's described as a place for folks "who'd rather drink in a restaurant than eat in a bar" by its CEO, Jim Balis, and the menu includes stuffed beer burgers (marinated in stout, stuffed with Monterey Jack and topped with caramelized onions), buttermilk-marinated Calabash chicken tenders, pizzas and vegetarian items. 704-864-0688; www.tavern24.com.

Bad Daddy's in S.C.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar has announced its first franchise: Magnolia Park at 1025 Woodruff Road, Greenville, S.C. There are four Bad Daddy’s Burger Bars in Charlotte, founded by restaurateurs Frank Scibelli and Dennis Thompson -- and two new ones set to open, in Raleigh and Cary, in early 2013. Construction begins this month on the 3,500-square-foot place in Greenville; it's slated to open in summer 2013.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Updated: Thanksgiving news

Thanksgiving plans (the date is Nov. 22):

The Palm will do a three-course meal for $45 ($19 for 12 and younger), 2-7 p.m. 704-552-7256; 6705 Phillips Place Court.

Harvest Moon Grille will do two seatings, at 1 and 3 p.m., for a dinner including local organic turkey, cornbread mushroom dressing and sides, focusing on foodstuffs from within 100 miles of Charlotte. $39 ($12.99 for 9 and younger); reservations: 704-342-1193; 235 N. Tryon St.

Sticky Fingers at 8021 Concord Mills Blvd. will be open noon-7 p.m. with a buffet and the full menu.

New South Kitchen plans a buffet 11 a.m.-5 p.m., with deep-fried turkey, ham, rib roast and more for $32 per person. To-go packages will also be offered: Order deep-fried turkey by Nov. 16, sides, extras (appetizers, rolls) and desserts by Nov. 20. 8140 Providence Road; 704-541-9990; www.newsouthkitchen.com.

Mimi’s has four options: It's open on Thanksgiving Day (8 a.m.-8 p.m.) at 10224 Perimeter Parkway, plus offers a "Feast To-Go," plus a brunch to go and sides-only package to go. Menus at www.mimiscafe.com; 704-509-5911.

Bistro la Bon will be open beginning at 11:30 a.m., with seatings at that time plus 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m., with a Smorgasbord that will include roasted salmon, turkey and ham. $24 for adults, $12 for children 10 and younger (this information is confirmed with the restaurant; it differs from the comment, FYI); 1322 Central Ave., 704-333-4646.

Lulu will have a three-course meal available 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for $35, in addition to its regular dinner menu. This one will include salad or soup; roasted turkey, spiral-cut ham or vegetarian lasagna, plus sides, and dessert. Reservations: 704-375-2242; 1911 Central Ave.

The Liberty offers three courses for $29.95 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Among first-course choices are roasted butternut squash with caramelized pears; pumpkin gnocchi with braised beef cheeks; and lobster/smoked trout/crab "cake." Entree options range from heritage turkey to salt-crusted prime rib, and the third course is a dessert buffet. Reservations: 704-332-8830; 1812 South Blvd.

Coastal Kitchen & Bar, in the Hilton Charlotte Center City, will offer Thanksgiving brunch and takeout Thanksgiving meals, as well. Brunch will run noon-6 p.m. and includes house-smoked seafood, antipasti, a salad station, eggs and omelets, carving stations for turkey and prime rib, and entrees, and costs $26 ($13 for 12 and younger). Reservations: 704-377-1500; 222 E. Third St.
Order takeout before Nov. 16 (pickup is 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 22) at 704-331-4360 (or email jackie.blair@hiltoncentercity.com). The traditional "feast" package includes a 15- to 20-pound turkey, two sides and a dessert, serving 10, for $100; the Coastal package adds one side and one dessert to that, serves 15-20 and costs $120.

Mimosa Grill plans to serve Thanksgiving buffet 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for $29.95 for adults, $12.95 12 and younger. The menu is here.
Reservations: 704-343-0700.

The restaurant will also offer takeout dinners, available for pickup after 4 p.m. Nov. 21 or 8-11 a.m. Nov. 22. That's a turkey and sides, in heat-and-serve containers with instructions, for $28.95 per person. Menu and details here.

Passion8 will serve dinner 4-8 p.m. on Thanksgiving for $48 per person, with kids 10 and younger eating free. Among choices on the menu: rutabaga soup, pumpkin and goat cheese strudel, New Town Farm turkey with honey Jack Daniels rosemary jus, Hickory Nut Gap bone-in pork chop, chorizo and cornbread stuffing, whipped heirloom pumpkin mousse stuffed eclair and more. 803-802-7455; 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill.

Beer dinner, beer on special

Roosters hosts a Highland Brewing dinner Nov. 17, with courses incluidng Looper Farms pork belly with cuttlefish and fennel brodo, with Kashmir India Pale Ale; wood-grilled antelope with Woodford Reserve barrel-aged IPA; and more. $55; 150 N. College St.; 704-370-7667.

The Pizza Peel offers all pints of beer under 8 percent alcohol by volume for $3 on Nov. 21 -- more than 30 of them. 4422 Colwick Road; 704-714-8808.

Dine out, do good

Buffalo Wild Wings hosts a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Charlotte on Nov. 27: Watch the UNC or N.C. State games and 10 percent of your check will be donated. Info: Janel Hernandez at 704-553-5364.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New lineups and creations

New cocktails at Halcyon include the Carriage Car -- Carriage House apple brandy from Asheville, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, lemon juice, hard cider, egg white and flamed orange peel -- and the Amaro Amore, for which Maggie Ruppert is making her own cranberry sage amaro (that's an herbal liqueur, here mixed with St. Germain elderflower liqueur, blood orange puree and sparkling wine). And yes, there's still moonshine on that menu, among them a mix of pumpkin-infused Troy & Sons, with Blenheim's ginger ale, mulling spices and moonshine-macerated pumpkin cubes. 500 S. Tryon St.; 704-910-0865.

Sir Edmond Halley's new winter menu is out. Among the offerings: Guinness Irish stew, shepherd's pie, pan-seared mahi mahi, quinoa lettuce wraps, vegan chili, ginger salmon burger and buffalo sloppy joe. 704-525-7775; www.halleyspub.com.

Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse has four new menus: lunch and dinner, plus a vegetarian lineup from chef Anthony Ascanio, and a craft cocktail menu (featuring house-infused spirits) from part-owner Brian Cole. New dishes include spiced tuna steak on salad with honey ginger vinaigrette; chicken salad wrap; chicken and waffles; cast iron duck with cranberry port reduction; and more.

19th annual Beaujolais Festival, plus Newton

Celebrate "les premières vendanges,” the first grape harvests of the year -- aka the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau festival in Charlotte -- at the Levine Museum of the New South Nov. 16. Beaujolais Nouveau is traditionally (by French law) not released until midnight on the third Thursday of November. Then it can be sold, and can be quite the circus. In Charlotte, which is one of 16 U.S. cities recognized as an official Beaujolais city, the party runs 6-9 p.m. with live jazz, French food and raffles, including one to test drive a (inexplicably Italian) Maserati. $25 for members of the Charlotte International Cabinet & Alliance Francaise, $30 for others.

Blue hosts a Newton Vineyard wine dinner Nov. 16. Among the courses: pan-seared scallops over celery root puree with 2011 Red Label Chardonnay; house-cured pork belly with butternut squash caponata with 2009 Red Label Claret; duo of oven-roasted veal loin and Cabernet-braised veal cheek sugo with 2009 Red Label Cabernet Sauvignon; and more. $75; 704-927-2583; 206 N. College St.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Free coffee

Bruegger’s Free Coffee Day is Nov. 14 (until 2 p.m.), raising money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Get a free cup and donate your extra change, if you want, to the area hospital. Last year, it says, Bruegger's donated $100,000.

Links for a gray day: Hops! Hots!

For the beer fans who've made their numbers known after recent stories about craft beer in Charlotte, here are two ways from Serious Eats to wow friends by learning to identify the specific hops in what you're drinking:

The "Three Cs" are here and Amarillo, Summit, etc., here.

And for the un-beer-inclined: hot alcoholic cocktails Buzzfeed has dubbed "mugtails": here.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Dine out, do good

Among restaurants doing “Dining Out for Hospice” days in November are Restaurant X,
Bonefish Grill
in Matthews, Trio, Encore Bistro & Bar, both Dressler's, Sports Page Food & Spirits, Mama Ricotta's, Sabi Asian Bistro and Fatz Café. On their days, they donate 10-15 percent of sales to either Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, Hospice & Palliative Care Lake Norman, Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County or Levine & Dickson Hospice House. More may join; check hpccr.org for specific dates and additions.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Think Rebecca Black's 'Friday' but... with turkey

Happy pre-Thanksgiving! This is just going viral, I understand.
Just ... wow. You're welcome.

Updated: Craft beer lovers!


Here's a peek at the craft beer scene as it's developing in the Queen City: http://bit.ly/SGECdy. Also posted: A few geek-level tidbits of info (share more; I love jargon!) and Charlotte's top spots to get both craft beer and food, revealed: http://bit.ly/TOzerU. Got more? Let us know... (Photo: craftbeer.com)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

'Pin Up, Pin Down' at 10 Park Lanes


"A mix of fashion and bowling"? How can you resist this event, Nov. 11, which brings local boutiques' "interpretation of the modern day pin-up girl" to 10 Park Lanes for a fashion show. A portion of proceeds will go to the Levine Cancer Institute’s Carolinas Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, and there'll be a silent auction with donations from Tiffany & Co., The Palm, 10 Park Lanes and more.

General admission tickets are $10; a VIP table (seating four to six) is $200 and includes a bottle of Moët rose, a gift bag and appetizers. After the event, guests get all-you-can-bowl for $14. Tickets at pinuppindown.eventbrite.com.

10 Park Lanes, 1700 Montford Drive.

New at Fran's

Fran's Filling Station kicks off a new menu Nov. 12. Look for a new section, which owner Fran Scibelli has dubbed "When something light will suffice," of dishes such as crabcakes and spinach/ricotta gnocchi, and four kinds of meatballs served in both half and full portions.

The lunch menu has been revamped as well. 2410 Park Road; 704-372-2009.

Also new: Fran's at the 7th Street Public Market is beginning to serve breakfast, and has added panini sandwiches and other dishes. Plans there include a prepared food section and cooking classes later in the month.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cosmos rolls out 15-year anniversary menu

Cosmos Cafe celebrates the 15th-year anniversary of its uptown location with a three-course dinner special Nov. 9-17 for $15 (add $15 for a wine upgrade). The menu will be available at both the uptown one (300 N. College St.; 704-372-3553) and the Ballantyne location (8420 Rea Road; 704-544-5268); see it at www.cosmoscafe.com. New executive chef Robert Warner, who has cooked at the uptown McCormick & Schmick's, is also at work on a new dinner menu.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

D'Vine Wine Cafe does 'Holiday Super Taste'

The D'Vine Holiday "Super Taste" will be 2-5 p.m. Nov. 10, with "food shooters" -- that's small bites of such holiday fare as turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, etc., so that you can sample and choose appropriate wines for your holiday meal. Fine Wine Trading Co., Epiphany Wines, Tryon Distributing and Country Vintner will be set up at four stations in the dining room, so that attendees can travel from station to staion. $25; D'Vine Wine Cafe; 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dine out, do good

Blue and Presbyterian Cancer Rehabilitation & Wellness offer a wine and cheese event Nov. 14, with a silent auction and live music, benefitting cancer survivor programs. $30; free parking in the Hearst Tower; www.presbyterian.org/cancerrehab; 704-384-4048.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Davidson hosts chef

Chef Deborah Madison will be at Davidson College Nov. 8 and 9, and you can meet the founder of San Francisco's Greens (noted for farm-to-table fare and mainstreaming vegetarian food) and two-time winner of the Julia Child Cookbook of the Year award at two events:

Nov. 8, she'll host a squash tasting at 11 a.m. with seven or eight squash dishes to taste and instructions for cooking them. It's free.
Nov. 9, she'll coordinate a meal in the dining hall 11 a.m.-1:45 p.m. with braised chicken with dried fruit and shallots, goat cheese tart, tri-color quinoa and three soups (red lentil, winter squash and tomato). That's $10.25.

Info: Craig Mombert at 704-894-2600.

Bits and crumbs

Bojangles' brings back the Pork Chop Biscuit Nov. 5 through "late December" in company-owned and participating franchises in the Charlotte area (you can check on www.bojangles.com).

If you're willing to sign up for the Sticky Fingers chain's StickEClub (no, really: you do it here), you can get a $2.99 sandwich on Black Friday (Nov. 23) and the day after Christmas this year. You get a choice of pulled pork or pulled chicken, with slaw, with the purchase of a drink, dine-in only. 12410 Johnston Road.

AZN hosts a wine dinner with The Wine Vault Nov. 18, featuring Flora Springs winery. Among the courses: steamed shrimp dumplings with Chardonnay and Cantonese roasted duck with Merlot. $60; 704-548-9463; the restaurant is at 4620 Piedmont Row Drive.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pickles and ... beer!

Growlers Pourhouse’s next Beer Education night is 7-9 p.m. Nov. 6, in collaboration with The Liberty: That restaurant’s Tom Condron has made an assortment of pickles for a beer-pickle pairing. Planned duos include fresh (refrigerator) pickle with Scrimshaw pilsner (keg); pickled tomato with Bell’s Oarsmen (bottles); and spicy-chile-and-hop-infused pickle, paired with Smuttynose IPA. The event is free, with samples handed out. 3120 N. Davidson St.; 704-910-6566.

Mama Ricotta's gets a new look


Mama Ricotta's has reopened after a substantial interior renovation that features larger tables for families and gatherings, exposed brick walls, reclaimed wood, white subway tile around the wood-burning oven, the addition of booths and vintage family photos, and a wood-crate wine wall.

Now open for more than 20 years, the place is keeping dishes such as housemade mozzarella and penne alla vodka but adding new dishes from chef Drew Ward such as beet, avocado and arugula salad, pappardelle Genovese with beef and oxtail ragu, and carrot cake cheesecake.

Owner Frank Scibelli says in a press release that he drew inspiration for the redesign from the Italian restaurants he grew up with in New York and New England. 601 S. Kings Drive; 704-343-0148; www.MamaRicottasRestaurant.com.

Photo courtesy of Mama Ricotta's.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Psst: You may be followed...

Mellow Mushroom has a new social media campaign: You follow the company on Facebook or Twitter (go to www.FollowMellow.com) and the company -- maybe -- follows you. Brilliant? Creepy? Both? You tell me. Follow by Nov. 11 and you can get a free half-order of pretzels (valid through Nov. 30) and a chance to win free pizza for a year -- and maybe end up in a video like this. I think I'm going to have nightmares...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Whisky River adds food

Whisky River, the EpiCentre bar owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., will start serving food Nov. 16, with a menu its press release says is "unlike anything found Uptown": sandwiches, burgers, salads, wings, barbecue and brisket. Among the appetizers are "Tiny Baby Corn Dogs" served with honey mustard; wings can be fried, grilled, or breaded and boneless and come with 10 sauces of varying heat levels; and sandwiches include a fried shrimp wrap and fried steak with red-eye gravy.

Plans call for lunch and dinner daily, and the dining area seats 175. 210 E. Trade St.;
704-749-1097; thewhiskyriver.com/charlotte/

Holiday tea

Holiday plans at the uptown Ritz-Carlton, just so you have plenty of time:

Chocolate afternoon tea will be offered daily throughout December 11 a.m.-3 p.m. by Bar Cocoa at the Lobby Lounge. Tea, finger sandwiches, scones, desserts for $12 per child 11 and younger, $32 per adult.

And afternoon holiday tea will be offered 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23, for the same price. This will be in the 15th-floor Urban Sip, and will add a children's menu.

201 E. Trade St.; 704-547-2244.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Free pizza 'for life'

Pizza Fusion hosts its grand opening party Nov. 3, and if you're there, you could win "free pizza for life" -- which means, specifically, one large cheese pizza per month for 10 consecutive years, dine-in only.

The party, with free food and drinks (including organic beer and wine), T-shirts and souvenirs, live entertainment, a charity raffle and more, runs 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1055 Metropolitan Ave. There'll be a drawing of 50 people attending the party, plus 10 Facebook entrants, who'll win free pizza for a year (that's one large cheese pizza each month for 12 consecutive months, dine-in only). One person attending will be chosen at random to get the "for-life" pizza.

The chain, based in Florida, is known for using organic ingredients and environmentally sustainable practices. Info: www.pizzafusion.com/charlotte.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

'Drive-thru Dining Guide'

Charlotte's Dan Ballister says he came up with "The Drive-thru Dining Guide" (see www.DriveThruGuide.com) as a way to help folks make healthier decisions at 30 fast food chains. It suggests combos -- more than 100 of which have 250-600 calories and 30 or fewer fat grams -- and gives nutritional info, and comes in a print version or smart phone application. Print is about $6 and the app is 99 cents. A sample page:




More Q 2 U

Q2U BBQ Pit in Lake Wylie has expanded from about 30 seats to about 90, added a bar, expanded its hours of operation (now 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday) and enlarged its menu, says co-owner Brian Rich. Q2U's sauce was the "official" vinegar-based barbecue sauce of the Democratic National Convention. 4052 Charlotte Hwy in Lake Wylie; 803-831-8883 (N.C. phone 704-583-0700); http://q-2-u.com.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'Build your own Bordeaux'

Savannah Red (in the Marriott uptown) hosts a "Build Your Own Bordeaux" wine dinner Nov. 9, at which diners will taste and blend Trinchero wines. They'll use Trinchero Reserve single vineyard estate wines, in four of the typical varietal components of Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

On the food side of the equation, a number of dishes will be offered, from herbed lamb carpaccio to cassoulet, osso buco to coq au vin, plus variations on chocolate ice cream (think chile flake, fleur de sel, brulee). Diners will also get a history lesson on blending and grapes.

$75 per person; 704-363-8161; 100 W. Trade St.

NoDaWeen and more

NoDaWeen is Oct. 27 in NoDa, a multi-event happening that includes "Booze, Brews & Boos": food trucks, drinks on the patio and music 5-9 p.m. at The Chop Shop at 399 E. 35th St.

Mimosa Grill has new lunch and dinner menus on the way, from apple salad and duo of tartare to daily bouillabaisse, housemade tagliatelle pasta with shrimp and lobster etouffee. 327 S. Tryon St.; 704-343-0700.

Greek Isles' "Greek for a Week" deal -- three courses and a glass of wine for $20 (dinner only) -- runs through Oct. 27. 200 E. Bland St.; 704-444-9000.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Zebra, All-Clad

Zebra hosts a reservation-only All-Clad dinner Nov. 8, with deals on the All Clad line. The cost of $125 includes dinner, wine, demonstrations by chef de cuisine Curtis Wilson, and a 9-inch All-Clad fry pan. Reservations: 704-442-9525; 4521 Sharon Road.

Fern's new lineup

Among the new from chef Drew Trepanier at vegetarian Fern: Broccoli Marrow ("slow-roasted confit of broccoli" with shallot jam, parsley salad and pumpernickel toast); ratatouille and parmesan hoagie; Drew's Signature Ramen (with fried seaweed, tofu and coconut froth); vegan pan paella; espresso fetuccine (whole wheat fettuccine, espresso, salbitxada and marinated asparagus salad); maple-glazed pumpkin filet and more. Wait, wait... did you want me to stop at salbitxada? That's a traditional Catalan sauce made with almonds and slightly hot peppers. 1323 Central Ave.; 704-377-1825.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Artisan back at it

Artisan is the student-run restaurant at The Art Institute of Charlotte, and serves lunch this fall quarter 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Thursday through Dec. 6. There's a three-course lineup for $13.95, and a la carte entree prices run about $9-$10. Choices include soup of the day; pizza of the day; pasta with housemade ricotta caramelized onions and roasted pears; pan-roasted chicken breast; popcorn-crusted scallops and more. Reservations: 704-357-5900; Three LakePointe Plaza, at 2110 Water Ridge Parkway.

Lunch changes at Malabar

Malabar uptown has a new lunch menu, and it's a real change-up from the prior one: Now "lunch plates" are $10.95, and range from chicken and pepper stew to lamb skewers to grilled skirt steak. Each comes with one choice from among "side" tapas, which include fried yuca, the spicy potatoes called patatas bravas, sauteed swiss chard and more. (Choose three of these and you have a vegetable plate, for $8.95.) There are entree salads for about $9 to $12 and sandwiches in the $9-$10 range, plus a handful of dishes designed to be shared, such as cheeses and charcuterie. 214 N. Tryon St.; 704-344-8878.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dine out, do good

Through Oct. 27, both area Melting Pots will donate $5 from every bottle of wine purchased to Carolina Breast Friends for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Lake Norman location: 16625 Statesville Road in Huntersville, 704-987-2201; Midtown: 901 S. Kings Drive, 704-334-4400.

Portofino open again at Arboretum

Portofino’s has re-opened at the Arboretum, after an accident in which a car crashed into its front door. Owner Josh Coppola said repairs were made to the building, patio, kitchen and pizza oven. 704-542-9941; www.portofinos-us.com.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Final Fire" competition

"Final Fire: Battle of the Champions" is the last piece of The Got To Be NC Competition dining series, and will span three evenings -- Nov. 15, 16 and 17 -- in Raleigh. Winners from the preliminary series in the Triangle, Triad, Wilmington and Blowing Rock will compete at the Renaissance North Hills Hotel. The final evening sold out in half an hour; tickets are $119. Info: compdiningnc.blogspot.com/2012/10/announcing-final-fire-battle-of.html.



European ... at Rooster's

Rooster's Uptown hosts a six-course Italian wine dinner Oct. 20, with courses such as amberjack crudo (with blood orange, green coriander seed and fennel oil) with 2012 Icardi Cortese; pasta with sea urchin butter, with 2010 Terlano Terlaner Classico; and Looper Farms' pork loin saltimbocca with 2009 Fontodi Chianti Classico. $65; 704-370-7667; 150 N. College St.

Then, Oct. 23, the place goes French -- or French-ish -- with a Gerard Bertrand wine dinner featuring wood-grilled quail breast and leg confit (plus more Italianate courses of tuna crudo, beet and chevre agnolotti, and gelato) and more. Also $65.

BBQ & Blues winners

BBQ & Blues winners were announced Oct. 13, with Mac's Speed Shop taking prizes in each of three categories (fourth in whole hog and rib, third in shoulder), while the Plaza Midwood "Big City BBQ" team of Tate Self, Allison Self and Allen Helms won both grand champion and first in Boston Butts in the Charlotte Challenger Contest. (That is separate from the Memphis Barbecue Network competition categories.)
The MBN grand champion was The Contractors Inc. from Memphis, which won just the shoulder category but finished with the highest score.


Monday, October 15, 2012

South African wine, beer social + more

The Wooden Vine offers South African wines Oct. 18, with accompanying South African cuisine from chef Nicolas Daniels. The menu is diverse, from ostrich carpaccio (with 2011 Raats Chenin Blanc "Original") to pan-fried crocodile (with 2010 Bartinney Chardonnay) to pumpkin fritters with honey glaze (with 2006 Klein Constantia Vin De Constance). $75; 704-376-8463; 231 N. Tryon St.

The Palm celebrates Caymus Vineyard's 40th anniversary with a four-course dinner from chef Colin Johnson Oct. 19. Among the courses: foie gras with caramelized red onion and balsamic vinegar, with 2010 Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir; choice of porcini-rubbed filet mignon or Dijon-crusted rack of lamb with 2010 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon; and more. $150 ($125 for 837 Club members); 704-552-7450; 6705-B Phillips Place Court.

Harper's at Carolina Place hosts a beer social Oct. 23, with Olde Mecklenburg tastings and small plates. Three courses, three beers: $25. Reservations: 704-541-5255.

Upstream hosts an Elk Cove wine dinner with the Wine Vault Oct. 28, with Todd Stewart on hand (now with Elk Cove, formerly a manager at the Vault). Among the fare: braised yellow and orange beet salad with Dry Riesling; pine-nut-crusted salmon with butternut squash and Willamette Valley Pinot Noir; and more. $70; 704-548-9463; Phillips Place.

Blue hosts the "Halfway to Festa 2013 Italian Weekend" Nov. 4, with a food and wine pairing that includes whole suckling pig roasted with chestnuts and herbs, whole roasted salmon and more. $95; tickets at www.festaitalianacharlotte.org or 704-333-8300.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dinners galore at Passion8

Passion8 celebrates its fifth year in business Oct. 16 with a five-course dinner for $55, followed by an Oct. 18 beer dinner with Spartanburg brewery R.J. Rockers (three courses; $45), then its October Farm Dinner Oct. 24, highlighting Laughing Owl Farm, Charlotte Fish Company and Clover Mushroom Farm (four courses for $48). 803-802-7455; 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bits and crumbs

Dakota’s Sports Bar & Grill is open in Monroe, a new sports bar concept. Restaurateur Tom Lewison, former president at Bojangles', an owner with Just Fresh, franchisee of Qdoba and partner in a Wendy's franchise, plans more locations. The menu ranges from tacos and pizzas to burgers and steaks and is staffed by "Dakota's Girls." A grand opening celebration will be Saturday. 608 W. Roosevelt Blvd. in Monroe; 704-776-9813; www.dakotassportsbar.com.

Osso offers "Modern Renaissance," and Italian food and wine pairing, Oct. 18, with five courses, arranged tasting-style, rather than as a sit-down dinner. Among the fare: salmon porchetta over polenta with 2010 Piane di Maggio, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo; and herb-roasted leg of lamb carved tableside, with 2009 Viticcio "Bere," Toscana Rosso. $39.95; reservations required: 704-971-0550; N.C. Music Factory.

Chipotle brings back "Boorito" for Oct. 31: Come in costume between 4 p.m. and closing that day and you get a burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos for $2. Proceeds from the fundraiser, up to $1 million, will benefit the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, which supports "farmers and organizations that make sustainable and humanely raised food possible," said founder Steve Ells.

New desserts, more at Gallery

Gallery's new fall menu is out. Among the introductions: roasted cauliflower soup, local-orchard fruit salad, short rib ravioli, tagliatelle pasta, duet of lamb, halibut, and desserts of banana pudding cake and a flight (above). 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway; 704-248-4100.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

BBQ & Blues

BBQ & Blues at the N.C. Music Factory Oct. 12-13 is sanctioned by the Memphis Barbecue Network, which means the grand champion gets a spot to represent the Southeast at the Memphis in May Championship. (That's "Hamilton," the mascot pig, at left.)

That's the competition side.

You don't get to eat that. But you can get food, including barbecue, at the festival, for which admission is free (parking before 7 p.m. at the Music Factory is $5). The event runs 5-11 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. Slated to be on hand: Mac's Speed Shop, Sauceman's, Dan the Pig Man, Big Bob Gibson's and more. Not all vendors accept debit or credit cards, but there will be ATMs on site.

Hamilton’s Hangout (in Reelworks Studios at the Factory) is presented by Charlotte restaurant City Smoke, which will be giving 'cue samples, and for $10, you'll be able to get five Brewfest beer samples from N.C. craft breweries.

Also planned: Zach Goodyear of Charlotte's Sauceman's, Debbie Holt of Clyde Cooper's in Raleigh and Sam Jones of Skylight Inn in Ayden will be filmed Saturday for "BBQ Pitmasters" on Destination America. The three will be competing in front of judges for an episode slated to air in November.

1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. Info: www.charlottebbqandblues.com/

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Updated: Foskoskies closing

Foskoskies on Shamrock will close after serving this Saturday, Oct. 13. "This decision was neither an easy nor a hasty one," Walter Rushton said in an email, and noted that regulars seem to be cutting back on dining out. Good news for fans, though: He says he'll continue to do some holiday and special-occasion catering and "may consider" a special-order baking business.

The restaurant, which Rushton named after his grandfather's Foskoskies Drive-In, Restaurant, Motel and Ice Delivery Service in Georgia more than 60 years ago, is at 2121 Shamrock Drive on Charlotte's east side, in the former Pike's Pharmacy's restaurant spot. (NOTE: The pharmacy is still open!) Rushton said his grandfather had made up the name. Before opening this, Rushton had worked for 13 years at Dilworth's Pewter Rose.

Monday, October 8, 2012

'Taste of the Mint'

The Mint Museum teams up with Halcyon and e2 for a new food-and-art experience: "Taste of the Mint" begins Oct. 16.
Participants start at e2 at 4 p.m. with a small plate and beverage pairing, and a talk about the food. At about 4:45, they move to Halcyon for another pairing and presentation, then move to the Mint uptown for a customized tour of new exhibition "Against the Grain: Wood in Art, Craft and Design," which runs through Jan. 27. They can also stick around to tour the rest of the museum until closing, at 9 p.m.
$40 ($35 for Mint members); reservations by email to kacy.harruff@mintmuseum.org, 704-337-2018, or online at www.mintmuseum.org/happenings/events.
The offer will also be available by reservation to tour groups of up to 25. When the Mint's exhibition "Food" opens -- in March 2013 -- the deal will again be offered to the general public.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Coastal wine dinners

Coastal Kitchen & Bar in the Hilton Charlotte Center City has dubbed October "Food and Wine Month," beginning with a Barrel 27/McPrice Myers dinner Oct. 11. Chef Clark Wade and sommelier Kristofer Carlson have a menu that includes pate and N.C. charcuterie with 2009 Barrel 27 Rock and a Hard Place (grenache), short rib with wild mushrooms and 2009 McPrice Myers Beautiful Earth and more. $50 (but you can get three for the price of two if you pay in advance); 222 E. Third St.; 704-331-4360.

Coming up are Oct. 19: Falcor and Oct. 25: Justin.

Queen City Q beer dinner

Queen City Q hosts a four-course beer dinner Oct. 8, with a welcome pint (so you get five brews). Among the courses: House-smoked trio of sausages with bacon apple confit, potato pancake and Four Friends' 24K Pure Belgium Gold; Olde Meck Copper-brined pork loin, smoked and finished on the grill, with Copper; and more. $45; 225 E. 6th St.; 704-334-8437.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Zink's new Sunday brunch

Zink now offers a buffet for Sunday brunch with live entertainment from Charlotte jazz musician Bill Hanna. It's offered 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for $18.95 (but I'm told that's "an introductory price." General manager C.J. Harvey characterizes the lineup as an extension of the place's holiday buffets, and new chef de cuisine Thomas Marlow plans to add a separate lineup of tapas each week (you can order as many as you wish) -- local farm egg Benedict, for example, or pecan-crusted French toast with berries. A build-your-own-Bloody-Mary bar will be offered after noon. 4310 Sharon Road; 704-909-5500.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bits and crumbs

The Melting Pots in Charlotte-Midtown and Lake Norman will have guest appreciation deals Oct. 14-27: Four courses (cheese fondue, salad, entree and chocolate fondue) for $29.95. Reservations recommended: Lake Norman location is 16625 Statesville Road in Huntersville, 704-987-2201; Midtown is 901 S. Kings Drive, 704-334-4400.

Fern will celebrate its 1-year anniversary Oct. 16, and for $20, you can come in for drinks, food and live music 6-9 p.m. by Jim Garrett of Plaza Midwood.

Harvey’s in Cornelius hosts a signature beer dinner Oct. 16, four courses paired with five beers from Raleigh's Lonerider Brewery. $25; 19707 Liverpool Parkway; 704-892-1001.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vida, tacos, anniversary

Vida celebrates both its second anniversary and National Taco Day in the next few days. On Oct. 4, it'll donate one dollar from every taco sold to Levine Children's Hospital, then match the total donation. On Oct. 5, it will celebrate its second year with drink specials and complimentary passed hors d'oeuvres from 7 p.m. to closing in the lounge. 210 E. Trade St. in the EpiCentre; 704-971-8432.

Pop(art)-Up: Meal at the Bechtler

Look for The Market Kitchen, chef Chris Coleman's pop-up restaurant venture, to materialize for "Canvas and Cuisine" Oct. 29 at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. The one-night-only restaurant will do this, a benefit for the Bechtler's outreach with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte, InReach and in-school artist residencies in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The four-course dinner by Coleman (chef at the McNinch House) is slated to include savory apple and hoop cheddar tart, braised beef short rib with Crowder peas and more, including wine pairings. It's inspired by a Giacometti exhibition in the museum now, and Coleman has titled courses Subject, Color, Technique and Texture. Seating will be at rounds of eight.

$80 ($40 is tax-deductible); 420 S. Tryon St.; get tickets online at purchaseonline.bechtler.org/public.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Bourbon: It's what's for dinner


Mimosa Grill hosts its fourth annual bourbon dinner Oct. 6. Five paired courses from chef Jon Fortes -- ranging from housemade salmon boudin and soft pretzel with Knob Creek Rye Boulevardier to duo of venison with duo of Single Barrel Knob Creek Smoked and Hot to "Bacon Makers Caramel Corn" (yes!) -- go for $65. Beam's Kevin Creasy will be there to talk about Kentucky bourbon. Reservations: 704-343-0700; 327 S. Tryon St.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

'Eden Eats' in Charlotte Sept. 28

The Cooking Channel's "Eden Eats" puts host Eden Grinshpan in a different city each week, with 24 hours to pack in ethnic eating experiences. The Sept. 28 show has her in Charlotte, learning to make Taiwanese pickle sandwiches and bubble tea at Grand Asia Market; a mackerel dish at Caribbean Hut, the Serbian bread samoon at Nova's, Venezuelan arepas at the Antojitos mi Colombia bakery, Korean rice cakes at PePeRo and chaat (including dabeli) at Bollywood Bites.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Feast at Historic Rosedale

"The Feast of the Hunter’s Moon Antebellum Dinner" is the poetic name for an interesting dinner: Historic Rosedale aims to evoke the 19th century on Oct. 22 with a five-course dinner from area chefs, coordinated by chef Geoffrey Blount. First, you'll have wine and canapés served on the lawn, by the 200-year-old boxwood; then you'll repair to the house, built in 1815, for a candlelit, china-and-crystal-decked supper with wine pairings. (And yes, I'm told, there will be some donning of period costumes, but not by everyone, so don't let that stop you...)

$150; 3427 N. Tryon St.; 704-335-0325; www.historicrosedale.org.

Green Flash en route

San Diego's Green Flash Brewing has its first N.C. beer dinner Sept. 28, at The Liberty, four courses and five beers. Among the lineup: roasted wild striped bass with Rayon Vert; and smoked and roasted Sonoma Valley duck breast with vanilla-roasted butternut squash with Tripel Ale. $45; 1812 South Blvd.; 704-332-8830.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top Chef, the restaurant?

Top Chef Kitchen opens Oct. 16 and serves dinner through Nov. 18 in New York's Tribeca, Bravo announced today.
According to a marketing VP, this gives "our highly passionate fans" a chance to meet "a range of our talented chef'testants." (Yes, that is apparently spelled with an apostrophe.) Look for chef'testants Richard Blais, Jennifer Carroll, Tiffany Derry, Tiffani Faison, Mike Isabella, Edward Lee, Antonia Lofaso, Paul Qui, Grayson Schmitz and Fabio Viviani to rotate as executive chefs.
Here's how it works: Two chefs' menus are offered simultaneously in Tuesday-Sunday timeframes, and you can mix and match or go with just one's lineup. The four-course dinner goes for $95 ($125 with wine pairings), or you can order an eight-course tasting menu with wines. Oct. 16-21, it's Mike Isabella (above) and Edward Lee (below), with dishes such as butternut squash gnocchi with pork belly; olive-oil-poached smoked lamb saddle with sunchoke and preserved lemon; seafood sausage and brown butter oysters with pearl barley; and tamarind pork breast with collards and kimchi. (Extra points if you can guess which dish goes with which guy. Without looking.)
211 W. Broadway; Reservations: www.topchefkitchennyc.com.


Herons in Cary hosts Fête du Bordeaux dinner

Herons, the restaurant at Cary's Umstead Hotel and Spa, is one of 10 destinations chosen for the 2012 Fête du Bordeaux, which will give diners a preview of the 2010 vintage -- and it appears to be a good one. It's the first time a restaurant in North Carolina has been included. (Other destinations this year include Spago in Los Angeles, the Four Seasons (NYC) and One Market in San Francisco.) Representatives from three top Médoc chậteaux will be on hand for the Oct. 25 dinner to guide the previews, and will present other wines as well, including the 2011 Blanc de Lynch Bages.

Among the courses: guinea hen with foie gras pudding and pine barley risotto; venison loin with quinoa and smoked dates; and apple tart tatin.

$185; 919-447-4000; 100 Woodland Pond Drive in Cary.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Here's my number. Call me, maybe...

... on the radio this Wednesday morning (Sept. 26), that is: WFAE's "Charlotte Talks" and Mike Collins will be discussing the Charlotte restaurant scene and you're invited to call in (or email, or tweet or Facebook message). We start at 9. Here are the contacts:

Join the live broadcast by calling 704-926-9323 or 800-603-9323.

Email: charlottetalks@wfae.org

Twitter: Twitter.com/CharlotteTalks

Facebook: Facebook.com/CharlotteTalks

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wine dinners: Frank and Barolo vs. Brunello

D'Vine Wine Cafe does a Frank Family wine dinner Sept. 27, with Danny Sanford of Fine Wine Trading as guest. Courses include seared quail with creamy polenta and peach-jalapeno jam, wtih 2010 Napa Chardonnay; and buffalo meatloaf with seared sweetbreads and side-by-side Cabernets: 2010 Napa and 2008 Rutherford Reserve.
$79.99; 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

Zebra creates the Barolo vs. Brunello challenge Oct. 18 with a five-wine, five-course dinner for $85. Among the selections: plank-roasted salmon with 2007 Giacomo Grimaldi Barolo "Le Coste," and venison loin with mustard and preserved figs with 2006 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino "Prime Donna." 4521 Sharon Road; 704-442-9525.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A taste of FreeMore (think neighborhood food)

The first “Taste of FreeMore” - which FreeMoreWest Partners (a nonprofit promoting Charlotte's west side) hopes to make an annual event - will be Oct. 6, benefiting itself and Classroom Central. Area restaurants Savor Cafe, Pinky's Westside Grill, The Burger Company, Open Kitchen, Dairy Queen and Picante will bring food, selling for $1-$5, and Four Friends and Birdsong breweries will sell beer. The event - 4-8 p.m. in The Burger Company's parking lot at Morehead Street and Freedom Drive - will include live music from The Blue Dogs, a large art tent with area artists painting and showcasing work, and face-painting and balloon animals for kids. Folks attending are also encouraged to bring pencils to donate to Classroom Central, or clothes and computer supplies to go to Goodwill. Admission is free; purchases are cash only.

“We wanted to create a signature event that brought people from all over the city to see how great FreeMoreWest is,” Chris Wannamaker, chairman of FreeMoreWest Partners, said in a press release. Info: www.freemorewest.com.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dine out for kids

Through Sept. 22, eat at participating restaurants and you're supporting No Kid Hungry, the effort of national hunger-relief agency Share Our Strength. You can find restaurants closest to you here.

But I'll give you a few names: Karma Kafe, Salsarita's, Bruegger's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Which Wich, Pizza Fusion, Arby's, Nothing but Noodles, Fuddrucker's, Papa John's, Mellow Mushroom, Palm, O'Charley's, Romano's Macaroni Grill and Genghis Grill, for a start (check the website for specific locations' participation).

Interested in this effort? You can follow @nokidhungry on Twitter (Sept. 17, you can be part of its twEATOut using the hashtag #nokidhungry), or check out the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nokidhungry.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Food truck news

Look for the official launch party for Papi Queso, a food truck specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches, Sept. 16 with a party at bricks-and-mortar Bistro La Bon. Samples will be free, and there'll be DJ'd music and outdoor seating on the restaurant's patio. Details here.

And tonight (Sept. 14) is Food Truck Friday in South End, from 5-9 p.m. at the corner of Camden and Park Avenue.

e2 gets LEED-certified

e2 emeril’s eatery has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) CI Retail Certification. LEED certification, developed (and awarded) by the U.S. Green Building Council, is meant to show a place "was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality," according to the USGBC.

“Earning LEED certification shows we’re serious about being a sustainable, environmentally focused and local farmer-friendly restaurant,” the press release quotes chef/owner Emeril Lagasse as saying.

Partners in the process, according to e2, were Wells Fargo, Philadelphia architecture firm Floss Barber and LEED certification expert tvsdesign, and local firms Balfour Beatty, Barrett Woodyard & Associates, Tobin Starr + Partners and Childress Klein.

The restaurant is at 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts; 704-414-4797.

New at Rock Bottom

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery begins its fall seasonal menu and seasonal beer (Rocktoberfest, naturally) Sept. 18 with a tapping party, at which you can taste both. Among the list: chicken spinach sliders, sausage mac 'n cheese, beer-glazed pork chop, German sausage platter (that's it, above) and more. 401 N. Tryon St.; 704-334-2739.

Peel party, etc.

The Pizza Peel has a lively late September on tap: Look for its Oktoberfest part 1-6 p.m. Sept. 22, with live music and the chance to win free pizza for a year. Then, Sept. 27, dress up as Sam Adams (or the lovely Ms. Adams) for a costume contest commemmorating Sam Adams' birthday; there'll also be a stein hoisting contest, and Sam Adams trivia competition. 4422 Colwick Road; 704-714-8808.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Palm burgers

The Palm offers $8.37 burgers Sept. 17-21 (because Sept. 18 is National Cheeseburger Day and because the original Palm was at 837 2nd Ave. in NYC), plus $1 burger sliders at the bar 5-7 p.m. and 9 p.m.-closing. The regular burgers are 12 ounces, come with fries and can be had in five versions, including one with Gouda and barbecue sauce, with prosciutto and pesto, and with Danish bleu and bacon. Phillips Place; 704-552-7256.


Dine out, do good

If you go to a Five Guys between Sept. 17 and Oct.1 and check in on Facebook or Foursquare, Kraft Foods will donate one meal to Feeding America, a national hunger relief group. The effort is tied to National Cheeseburger Day (which, as we all know, is Sept. 18, and BTW, Five Guys uses Kraft American cheese); September is Feeding America's "Hunger Action Month."


Rev the Lamborghini

Bonterra hosts a Lamborghini wine dinner Sept. 18 with Patrizia Lamborghini on hand. Among the courses: oven-dried tomato and ricotta tart with 2009 Lamborghini “Trescone” IGT; veal scallopini with fire-roasted mushrooms and 2007 Lamborghini “Torami” IGT; grilled lamb chops with 2006 Lamborghini “Campoleone” IGT, and more. (IGT is a designation of geography but allows foreign grape varieties to be used; Super Tuscans are an example.) $75, with partial proceeds to benefit children's charities of Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend 2014. Reservations required; 704-333-9463; 1829 Cleveland Ave.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bits and crumbs: Hospitality, spirituality, capitalism

Restaurateur Jim Noble of The King's Kitchen and Rooster's will be part of the kickoff of Myers Park United Methodist's autumn series on hospitality: a supper program Sept. 23 that's free with a suggested $5 donation for local missions. Noble will talk, with Rev. James Howell, about "what they've learned about welcoming others, and the spiritual dimensions of reaching out to those who are different." Reservations: 704-376-5520 ext. 5950; the church is at 1501 Queens Road.

Harvey's Bar & Grill has opened a second location in Lake Norman, on Liverpool Parkway in Cornelius. The original is at 13812 Cinnabar Place in Huntersville; both offer an eclectic menu of pizzas, steaks, burgers, sandwiches, wings, ribs and more. Two dozen microbrews on tap and a dozen television screens, plus live music, aim at a neighborhood-hangout feel. Owners Charlie Dyer and Luke Adams, both graduates of Appalachian State University, plan to broadcast games.

If you haven't seen it, area food truck TIN Kitchen has a project on Kickstarter, the website designed to help creative start-up ideas get funding through social media: http://kck.st/OU0boU. The goal: "a newer and more reliable TIN Truck." (Here's an example of a Kickstarter food project gone mad: something called the Porthole: http://kck.st/UslAcD.)


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Teleport into Amelie's

Amelie's is part of a live exhibit at the Science Museum in London, but anyone anywhere can bug in and out through Google Chrome. The idea, through something called "Teleporter," is an experimental one from Google. Google installed a camera in the middle of a pastry bench at Amelie's. When someone looks (in London) or clicks (everywhere else), it's as if they're popping their heads into the middle of production, watching chefs prepare goodies. You do need Google Chrome to do it, via www.chromeweblab.com.

Carrburritos on way

Carrburritos, which originated in Carrboro, is en route to Davidson. The original is a taqueria-style place focusing on burritos, tacos, quesadillas and specialty salsas, along with margaritas and Mexican beers. The second will take up space at 445 S. Main St., within the Wooden Stone Gallery, and will seat about 90. It's expected to open in late November or early December. Doug and Edie Surratt (co-founder of the Davidson Farmer's Market) will be partners with the owners of the original, her sister, Gail Fairbanks, and husband Bill.

New exec chef at Fern

Vegetarian spot Fern , approaching its one-year anniversary, has a new executive chef, with former sous chef Drew Trepanier replacing opening exec Alyssa Gorelick.
Expect a new fall menu in early October from Trepanier; he's testing things as specials now. Spanish and Asian influences will be noticeable, I hear, including vegan stuffed dates, housemade kimchi and vegan paella.
Gorelick says she's sticking around Charlotte and looking at opportunities. If you're trying to find her, try www.ChefAlyssa.com (link wasn't yet operational when I tried).

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vegetarian McDonald's? Yes, but not here...

Two meatless McDonald’s are slated to open in India in 2012, according to Time magazine: the first all-vegetarian sites in McDonald's 57-year lifespan (and about 33,000 restaurants worldwide). One is near Amritsar, a Sikh center of worship, and the other at Vaishno Devi cave shrine, a Hindu attraction. One dish offered: a fried potato patty in the McAloo Tikki burger. Beef and pork aren't big sellers in India, the report said (cows are sacred to Hindus and pigs are considered unclean by Muslims) - but there is a chicken-based "Maharaja Mac."

Free queso Sept. 20

All 13 Charlotte-area Moe's Southwest Grills will offer a free 6-ounce cup of queso 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 20 to every diner. There's also a VIP contest on its Facebook page here (post on it by Sept. 12), for which five posters will win free queso for a month - a free 6-ounce cup every day Sept. 20-Oct. 20.

Luna's to offer dinner

Luna's Living Kitchen is officially open for dinner, with dishes such as Divinity Bowl (cashew and coconut curry over vegetables and cauliflower rice) and Rawco Taco Salad (avocado, pico de gallo, walnut-almond crumbles and cashew sour cream over organic lettuce). Restaurant hours are now 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, with breakfast served until 11 a.m. 2102 South Blvd.; 704-333-0008.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beer and bacon

Growlers Pourhouse plans to do its regular Beer Education program Tuesday, pairing beers with bacons. Yes, various bacons, from regular to peppered to candied. Among the brews: Rogue's maple bacon one, named Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale. 3120 N. Davidson St.; 704-910-6566.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Rare burgers legal tomorrow!

You can, as of Sept. 1, order a burger rare in North Carolina! (Food editor Kathi Purvis writes about details in Saturday's paper.)

The Liberty, in response, will offer 50 percent off all pub burgers ordered rare this weekend. 1812 South Blvd.; 704-332-8830.

The Harper's group also plans celebrating what its Tom Sasser calls "an historic occasion!" He's at work with his brother, who raises beef cattle, to get a Wagyu animal ready to use for ground beef, and all the restaurants have a burger on the menu: Upstream, both Harper's, Zink and Mimosa Grill. Sasser says he's prepping a promotion and considering a contest among the restaurants for best burger.

In a quick survey of other known-for-burger locations:

Brooks' Sandwich House won't do anything differently: "We cook to well done all the time," said a server.

Frank Scibelli's Bad Daddy's Burger Bar group is making plans now, though DNC business will delay it a bit: Figure the next week or two before you see signs posted and rare burgers offered.

At fast-service Pinky's Westside Grill, partner David Rhames says "We're not going to mess with it; we move too quickly ... going to temp (offering burgers cooked to different temperatures) is way too much trouble. But we're all for it!"

The Crepe Cellar's Jeff Tonidandel, caught in a deli out of town (smart man), said they hadn't kept up on that, "but we'll be rocking that out, for sure."

Mimosa Grill open (security tight!)

Steve Seitz of Harper's Restaurants lets us know that Mimosa Grill uptown (327 S. Tryon St.) will be open to the public during most of the DNC, but found out this morning, he says, that customers will need to be escorted in by a hostess or security person. The restaurant will be open Sunday (including brunch buffet), Tuesday and Wednesday after 9 p.m. (with limited menu in bar area) and other days from 11 a.m. on.

Know of other recently discovered security developments? Let me know ...

Also open to the public: BLT Steak and the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton uptown. The former will extend its hours to 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 3-6 (and be open 5-10 p.m. for dinner Sept. 2). The latter will serve Blackberry Peach Old Fashioneds (with Makers Mark and S.C. peaches) and Backyard Peach Tea (with Woodford Reserve bourbon and ... yes ... S.C. peaches), plus chicken biscuits with green tomato chow chow; barbecued chicken flatbreads; and fried chicken lollipops. Also on tap: frozen hot chocolate at the hotel's Bar Cocoa.

Vivace (1100 Metropolitan Ave. at midtown) will be closed Tuesday, but otherwise, open for lunch and dinner every day.

Mama Ricotta's will be open daily through the convention, with the exception of Wednesday lunch. 601 S. Kings Drive.

If you're a restaurateur who's decided to stay open at the last minute, let me know and I'll add you to this posting.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

UPDATE: Lobbyist calls us 'grim', NYT: 'sleepy' (but a better place to eat now)

UPDATE: A story by international news agency Reuters quotes a Democratic lobbyist who scouted 30 Charlotte restaurants earlier this year as saying the situation is "grim." The story says Democrats may have a hard time getting this convention to live up to parties of the past - between spending restrictions and lesser attendance - and quotes lobbyist Heather Podesta as adding: "Going to the NASCAR Hall of Fame isn't reason enough to be in Charlotte." (Incidentally, Heather and Tony Podesta are slated to host a Farmhouse Chic Brunch fundraiser at Halcyon during the DNC. Tony Podesta, reported the Observer's Tim Funk, swapped time at his place in Venice, Italy, for time during the DNC at an apartment near Time Warner Cable Arena. So it's conceivable her taste is ... elevated.)

The New York Times weighs in here, explaining that the city is not a barbecue town, taking special note of Price's, Luna's Living Kitchen, Good Food on Montford, Harvest Moon Grille, Pure Pizza and Fran's Filling Station, and concluding, in writer Kim Severson's words, that "the sleepy banker’s town has become a much better place to eat."

From London's Daily Mirror comes the lead: "Barack Obama has a hot date with Charlotte... and you can hardly blame him for falling for her charms. Hip, chic Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, is easy on the eye and hard to leave." Dining was "a revelation." Places loved: Harvest Moon Grille, Rooster's Uptown and Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, where "even if you really go to town you shouldn’t pay more than £25 a head."

The Boston Globe's Sunday paper correspondent claims our "dining and drinking options abound," with shoutouts to Queen City Q, Amelie's, NoDa Brewing Co., NoDa Brewing Co., Cabo Fish Taco and Price's. (Sadly, she miscounted uptown barbecue, but hey...)

Esquire magazine features a convention shoutout to Common Market here. (Historic South End's site shows the page, to which you apparently can't get online.

The Washington Post's Tom Sietsema declares Charlotte's restaurant scene meh -- but is equally unimpressed with Tampa's, in case you're keeping (national-party-convention) score. (Worthy, to Mr. Sietsema: 5Church, Good Food on Montford, The King's Kitchen and the adjacent King's Bakery.

The New York Times, meanwhile, interviewed local folk in each location and came up with parallel recommendations for each city. Among its choices: Whisky River, Amelie's ("Best Place for Late-Night Speechwriting Takeout"), dish, Landmark Diner, Common Market, Morton's ("Most Convincing Simulacrum of Life Inside the Beltway") and Soul ("Most Likely Location of Your Intern After Hours").

For a different perspective: Inked Magazine weighs in with recommendations of The Diamond and JackBeagle's, from area tattoo artist Joey Vernon.

(If one is willing to backtrack to May, one finds CNN's smackdown between the two cities, featuring locals promoting Common Market, Phat Burrito, Soul, Harvest Moon Grille, Cabo Fish Taco, and all of these from one guy: Mac's Speed Shop, Sauceman's, Price's Chicken Coop, The Liberty, Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop, the King's Bakery, Rooster's, 5Church, Paco's Tacos & Tequila and Terrace Cafe.)

Have you seen what others are saying about our dining landscape? Feel free to share, or pop me an e-mail at hschwab@charlotteobserver.com. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oysters at Georges

"Shucked" will be 6-8:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at Georges Brasserie: steel drum music, unlimited oysters for $65 a person; oyster shooters and wine and Champagne pairings will also be available. Reservations are required: 980-219-7409. 4620 Piedmont Row Drive.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Taste of the World, in Charlotte

The next Charlotte East "Taste of the World" comes up Oct. 4 (and tickets are on sale now): The event lets folks tour Charlotte's east side and get tastes of the range of ethnic restaurants in the area.

This year, as usual, the lineup is remarkably wide-ranging:
Ben Thanh: Vietnamese
Bistro La Bon: European/Mediterranean
Carnitas Guanajuato: Mexican
Dim Sum: Chinese
El Arepazo: Venezuelan
El Pulgarcito de América: Salvadoran
Foskoskies: American
Fu Lin: Asian Fusion
Golden Bakery: Syrian
Intermezzo: Serbian (plus pizza)
Jamile’s: Somalian
Landmark: Greek/American
Lang Van: Vietnamese
La Shish Kabob: Middle Eastern
Mama’s Caribbean Cafe: Caribbean
Mily & Lilo: Peruvian
The Motherland: Nigerian
Nile Cafe: Ethiopian
Pollos Mario: Colombian
Portofino’s: Italian
Queen Sheba: Ethiopian
Three Amigos: Mexican
Woodlands: South Indian vegetarian

For $35, you get to begin with a reception (and tour) at the VanLandingham Estate, then board tour-guided buses to head for sample courses at three restaurants, then wrap up with dessert and coffee at the estate, along with a guest speaker and raffle drawings. More information (including restaurant descriptions) at www.charlotteeast.com/totw.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Upstream oyster bash

One month left to sign up for the fourth Annual Upstream Oyster Bash 6:30-9 p.m. Sept. 22. It's an all-you-can-eat-and-drink event for $95. You'll also be able to vote for your favorites and have a shot at prizes. Among the oysters organizers hope to offer:
* Komo Gway™ from British Columbia ("firm fleshed with a refreshing
briny taste and vibrantly coloured mantel with a subtle note of cucumber and a slightly sweet finish");
* Malagash from Nova Scotia ("mildly salty flavor with a slightly smoky, mineral finish");
* Rappahannock from Virginia ("deep cup, sweet, buttery, full bodied taste, with crisp clean finish");
* Connecticut Bluepoint from Long Island Sound ("satiny, almost liquid meats
with a high brininess and very mild flavor");
* Harkers Island from Beaufort, N.C. ("a local favorite - smooth shells yield a medium salinity oyster from our home state");
and more.
Reservations: 704-556-7730.

'DipJar': Thoughts?

Cool idea or nut-job opportunity for abuse? This lets you "dip" your credit card to tip, if you don't have cash or like to keep every nickel on plastic, at places with counter staff, where more people these days pay with plastic and don't have to sign receipts. Operators set it for a certain amount per swipe, such as $1; if you want to tip $2, you swipe twice.


Further explanation here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Macallan dinner


Gallery offers a Macallan Scotch dinner Sept. 15, with four courses and Macallan's Randy Adams on hand -- along with a Scotch Sensory Kit (yes, it's a way to learn, just like it sounds). Among the courses: Szechuan-salt-cured foie gras torchon with pickled local fig and Famous Grouse blended with Macallan, and sea scallops with citrus-oil-braised fennel and The Macallan 15 Year. $85; 704-248-4100; 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

'Appy Hour'; Puck lunch; expansion

e2 emeril’s eatery now offers “Appy Hour” (appetizer hour): From 5-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, certain appetizers will go two for $5. A sampling: barbecue pork cheek with sweet corn spoonbread; housemade garlic knots; and N.C. sweet potato chips with buttermilk blue cheese dipping sauce. 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts; 704-414-4787.

Wolfgang Puck Pizza|Bar plans to begin lunch service (11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday) on Aug. 27, with a menu ranging from two dozen pizzas to soups, salads, panini and pastas. It will also offer "daily duos" of soup/salad/sandwich choices for $9. Most lunch items are less than $15. 6706-C Phillips Place Court, 704-295-0101.

After nine years in business, the Taste of Buffalo Pizzeria is expanding, taking over the storefront space next to it and making it into a larger dining area, bar and salad bar. The current dining area will be used for parties and special events. 9610 Sherrill Estates Road, Huntersville; 704-439-0546.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mad Men, etc. at Ruth's Chris

Look for "Mad Men Lunch" at the uptown Ruth's Chris noon to 3 p.m. each Friday, featuring its "Sizzle, Swizzle and Swirl" menu (popular items and cocktails for $7) and a live broadcast by CBS Radio.
Also, at the uptown location: A five-course 90+ (Wine Enthusiast) dinner (meaning the wines will have been rated 90 or higher by that magazine) for $110 on Aug. 23. 222 S. Tryon St.; 704-338-9444.

Coming up at the 6000 Fairview Road Ruth's Chris: A Miner Wine and Benedetto Guitars dinner Aug. 24 for $99 (704-556-1115), and both locations offer Taxi Appreciation Day 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Aug. 28, offering a free lunch to go while supplies last. The lunch is grilled chicken sandwich or a burger, with bottled water, chips and cookies.

Moosehead wings compete


Moosehead Grill's wings will compete for the first time in the National Buffalo Wing Festival over Labor Day weekend in Buffalo, N.Y., with co-owner/chef Donnie Anderson taking his staples -- blackened and Bee Stings -- but also adding the fantastically named Hemogoblins (which use blood orange and ghost pepper) and tandoori wings. The place qualified by winning the Carolina Wing Festival competition last September, and co-owner Chris Neilsen and others will be heading to Buffalo as well. The competition categories are seemingly limitless: You can take a look at 2011's to get an idea here. (That's an Observer file photo above of Anderson and Neilsen, from way back in '08, when Moosehead wings won our inaugural Tournament of Food contest.)



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bite Your Tongue opens in South End

N'awlins food arrives in South End with the grand opening this week of Martine and Lucius Johnson's Bite Your Tongue at 222 E. Bland St. Their place had been tucked inside a medical building on Randolph Road, but the new space, along the light rail line at Bland and Rensselaer, gives room for sit-down dining and a larger menu.

Right now they're in "soft opening mode" - which means that the menu has been trimmed down and will change as they go, as will hours. Look for seafood gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, shrimp stuffed with crab, and beignets (the classic light donut-like confections, pronounced bay-nyays) and chicory coffee served in the morning.

Other, lesser-known New Orleans cuisine may show up along the way, from Ya-Ka-Mein (also called Old Sober, this is a kind of beef noodle soup) to crawfish pie to bananas Foster French toast.

The family's backstory is dramatic: They fled New Orleans (leaving their original Bite Your Tongue) and came to North Carolina the day before Katrina hit. Imagining how difficult it would be for their children to return as the city healed, they decided to stay and begin anew in Charlotte.

Breakfast ($3-$3.25), lunch ($6-$10) and dinner (entrees $7-$12) are served right now 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 704-376-0333; charlottecajunrestaurant.com. (Photos from Bite Your Tongue's website.)