Monday, April 30, 2012

New Mexican spot

Picante Mexican Grill is open at 1500 W. Morehead St., a quick-service place with burritos, tacos (including fish tacos), salads and more, including vegetarian options and ... Mexican Coke! (Worth the trip if you haven't yet tried.) Open daily;; 704-375-6000.

'Over the Moon Mondays'

Harvest Moon Grille starts "Over the Moon Mondays and Mandolin" tonight (April 30): three courses and live entertainment for $30. Musician Chris English will perform; the menu includes charcuterie, pork confit in puff pastry and ice cream. 235 N. Tryon St., 704-342-1193.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Links of the week

Have you tried Kobe beef in America in the last two years? Larry says: No. You haven't. This Forbes writer goes through the issue of Kobe's reality and reputation, and posits that the very specific beef's reputation has been stolen, here. It's all interesting, but skip to here if you're short on time for a sort-of-summary version -- that's both more subtle and more clear on several points.

Define "we" in this list from Zagat called "8 Chain Restaurant Dishes We Secretly Love." (My personal tally: no, yes, yes but only for the first 90 seconds, no, never had, never had, never had, never had.)

Ever wonder about wasabi? (The REAL wasabi, I mean?) Take a look here.

Oysters up

April 29 is Growlers Pourhouse's oyster roast benefitting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation: live music, oysters and beer food 1-7 p.m. at the corner of North Davidson and 35th streets. $5 gets you in, with food and drink tickets costing $3 each. Info:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Coming up: Cinco de Mayo

Both Cantina 1511s (1511 East Blvd. and 7708 Rea Road) will do drink specials for Cinco de Mayo, from $2 Coronas to the 1511 top-shelf margarita for $8, as well as outdoor beverage service, with music, contests and more for the day (beginning at 4 p.m.). Sibling Paco's Tacos & Tequila (6401 Morrison Blvd.) will host an outdoor beer garden beside the restaurant (also beginning at 4), with Miss Kitty's margaritas for $5 and more. Designated drivers can get $2 Fiji bottled waters.

Also for Cinco de Mayo: Jim 'N Nick's, the national chain known for barbecue, offers taco and drink specials 11 a.m.-10 p.m. that day, describing the fare as "Southern food meets Mexican street food." That means a barbecued pork taco, fried catfish taco, brisket and hot link taco, and Mexican beers for $1.99.

Delta's is opening tonight uptown

Delta’s is slated to open to the public tonight (April 26), offering "fine Southern cuisine" and live jazz and R&B music in the former G.W. Fins spot at 525 N. Tryon St. The original, in New Jersey, opened in 1999, and Coretta King and Joshua Suggs say they plan to open in Houston, Atlanta and more in the next five years. In Charlotte, lunch, brunch and dinner are planned, and the place includes a banquet room, soundstage and patio dining. The dinner menu ranges from fried catfish and whiting to smothered chicken and pork chops to oxtails, and includes a "Tour of the South" that offers fried chicken, "BBQ pork ribs" and fried catfish.

Two locations of national chain How Do You Roll? make-your-own-sushi spots are scheduled to open this summer: in the Overstreet Mall uptown (BB&T Center, 200 S. College St.) and at Ballantyne (11318 N. Community House Road). The idea: You walk in, follow a line offering a range of ingredients and build your own rolls. (Yes, there'll be grilled chicken, gluten-free and vegan ingredients, too.)

'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' comes to Charlotte

The well-received documentary about one of the world's most acclaimed sushi masters, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," opens April 27 at the Regal at Ballantyne. Here's the trailer: Beautiful.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Super-sized significance: BK goes cage-free

Burger King announces all of its eggs and pork will come from cage-free chickens and pigs by 2017, reports the Associated Press here.

'Leftover Love': Take your own containers

Charlotte White began last September to work on a simple idea: Could she help protect the planet by getting people to take their own containers for leftovers to restaurants, reducing the use of styrofoam? And could she get restaurants to offer incentives for patrons to do so -- free dessert, a percent off the bill?

Beginning April 22, she got some traction.

Three sibling restaurants in Plaza Midwood -- Kickstand, Loco Lime and Hawthorne's (just the one in Plaza Midwood) -- began that Sunday (Earth Day, incidentally) to give patrons 5 percent off their bill if they bring their own containers for leftovers. (To be crystal clear: This is only for folks who dine in, and have leftovers -- you can't bring takeout containers for takeout orders and get a discount!)

A Charlottean with a master's degree in liberal studies from UNCC and a 2-year-old, White dubbed the initiative Leftover Love. She wrote: "I want my son, my family, and myself to remember that not everything has to be easy and convenient, which is what is always promised to us with disposable lifestyles. I do believe every action counts, even the small ones... I thought what an easy and cheap way to go that extra step, take your own container, reduce that styrofoam. So simple."

Interested? You can also sign White's petition through on the topic, here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Coming up: Brews, Spain, more

Menu's final for The Big Brew Ha April 27 at the Mint Museum Uptown: pierogis (dumplings) and sausage paprikash (it's a spicy sausage) from Harvest Moon Grille; "European-style chicken pot pie," jambalaya and "love cakes" made with black beans from the Flying Biscuit Cafe; baked potato croquettes and roasted red pepper and artichoke dip from Dandelion Market; and toffees from Lone Cone Toffee. Beverages will include craft-brewed java from Counter Culture and beers, from Belgian brews to lemonade-flavored beer to Peroni. $60 (and you get a stein); tickets at

Blue offers a Spanish wine and food pairing May 4, with five dishes and wines in a casual "tasting," plus Spanish music and a Flamenco dance performance. Among the fare: Iberico ham on bread with fresh tomato, with 2008 Contempo Rioja Crianza; and grilled hanger steak with sweet pepper marmalade with 2009 Tosalet, Old Vines Priorat. $44.95; Hearst Tower uptown; 704-927-2583.

A new Bonefish Grill opens May 7 at 8805 Townley Road in Huntersville, in Birkdale Village.

Monday, April 23, 2012

For Earth Day ...

Harvest Moon Grille honors Earth Day and local growers today (April 23) with a four-course, $40 menu 5-10 p.m. Dishes include "local pickled items," littleneck clams with spicy pork shank confit, braised pork shoulder with lamb sausage and strawberry pavlova. Reservations: 704-342-1193; 235 N. Tryon St.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Update: Best out-of-town dish so far

I posted this last week, during a trip. Of the guesses, one email came startlingly close: Right place, wrong fish.
Promised details on -- tada -- The Grocery will be here when our system decides to load it, and below are additional photos (though the fish is still the best). And as I noted, the photo gave you enough to suss out the place and the dish: A Google search at the time of "south carolina 'new restaurant' le creuset" produced the right restaurant as the first entry. (South Carolina would be a reasonable guess on where I was... the algorithm doesn't work now. Hmm.)

Fried oysters with deviled egg sauce (yes) and housemade bread and butter pickles.

Flatbread with house-smoked ham, asparagus and ricotta.
Original post:
Details to come. (Want to hazard a guess? Comment. If you nail it, I'll have to devise a prize...)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Prom menu

Gallery offers a fixed-price menu for prom at $40 per person. On the menu: choice of Caesar salad or iceberg wedge; roasted chicken or 6-ounce filet; chocolate cake or cheesecake. 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway; 704-248-4100.

Small-winery dinner series starts

The Wine Vault brings Wrath Winery wines to LaVecchia's uptown for a dinner April 27. Among the courses: crispy rock shrimp and calamari with artichokes and 2010 Wrath Chardonnay; and almond-crusted trout with 2010 Pinot Noir. $55 (including tax and tip); Hearst Plaza; 704-548-9463.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

'SteaksBeer and Shakespeare' in Charlotte

"SteaksBeer and Shakespeare" comes to Chima Brazilian Steakhouse 6-9 p.m. April 23, marking the Bard's birthday and raising money for Charlotte Shakespeare. That's the free performing arts festival from Collaborative Arts, and this will be its seventh year (it starts May 31).

Tickets are $75 (two for $130), and entitle you to all you care to eat of the rodizio menu -- skewered meats, poultry and seafood, along with a diverse salad and foods bar -- plus two glasses of beer or wine per person, and dessert, and that includes tax and tip.

During the meal, Charlotte Shakespeare Festival performers will do comedy sketches ("Think 'Saturday Night Live' meets Shakespeare" is how they describe it), and a silent auction will include chef services in your home; original artwork; a photo portrait session; wines; and more. 139 S. Tryon St. (complimentary valet parking in front of the restaurant); tickets online at

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How many of the 100 have you eaten?

A Facebook app offers this list of 100 "foods you should eat before you die," and estimates most people have eaten 20 or fewer. (At least online sources SAY that's what the app says; I don't give permissions to apps, so I didn't actually look.) But it's a fun list to go through. And alphabetical!
Note: This is, to belabor the point, NOT MY LIST. Just offering it for fun. Is there another mandatory one, in your opinion? Besides Krispy Kreme, which shows up in another version of the list? Leave in comments.

Tally and enjoy...

Baba ghanoush
Bagel and lox
Barbecued ribs
Birds nest soup
Biscuits and gravy
Black pudding
Black truffle
Caviar (right)
Cheese fondue
Chicken and waffles
Chicken tikka masala
Chile relleno
Clam chowder
Crab cakes
Dandelion wine
Dulce de leche
Durian (right)
Eggs Benedict
Fish tacos
Foie gras
Fresh spring rolls
Fried catfish
Fried green tomatoes
Fried plantain
Frito pie
Frogs’ legs
Funnel cake (right)
Goat’s milk
Head cheese
Heirloom tomatoes
Hostess Fruit Pie
Huevos rancheros
Jerk chicken
Key lime pie (right)
Kobe beef
Moon Pie
Morel mushrooms
Nettle tea
Oxtail soup
Paella (right)
Pastrami on rye
Philly cheesesteak
Pineapple and cottage cheese
Pistachio ice cream
Po’ boy
Prickly pear
Rabbit stew
Raw oysters
Root beer float
Sea urchin (right)
Softshell crab
Som Tam
Steak tartare
Sweet potato fries
Tom yum
Wasabi peas
Zucchini flowers (right)

(Photos from;; (Catfisheye); (Lorax);; (Marc Averette); (Portum);

Pappas Lanes turns into Ten

Ten at Park Lanes is what the former George Pappas Park Lanes (1700 Montford Drive) is becoming: a comfort-food restaurant (slated to open April 16) with an indoor lounge and bar, three outdoor patios, a 24-tap beer garden and cornhole boards. Ping pong tables, bocce ball courts and more are planned as additions. The bowling alley has been renovated to echo its original look, partner Adam Williams said in a press release. "We wanted to honor the building -- the look and the architectural style."

On the menu: "Mason Jar Signature Stacks" (that's stuff -- pulled pork, baked beans and slaw, for example, or smoked prime rib, mac-n-cheese and smoked jalapenos -- layered together in a Mason jar). Also available: barbecue from a custom-built smoker, burgers of short rib and brisket, slider and taco combos, flatbreads, salads and more. In the bar: a dispensing system that mimics a moonshine still, plus a menu of custom drinks (such as "Moonswine Mary" -- jalapeno- and bacon-infused moonshine with house Bloody Mary mix).

Plans call for a grand opening party April 28, featuring tastings of craft beer and moonshine, and live music. You won't miss the spot: It's landmarked with a vintage neon bowling pin sign and a bright orange canopy. The website ( is also slated to be up April 16; 704-523-7633.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Charlotte food on TV April 11

"Man v. Food Nation," the Charlotte segment, airs at 9 p.m. April 11 on the Travel Channel, and host Adam Richman will tell viewers about three places:

* The Penguin (1921 Commonwealth Ave.). Here, he gets a look at what press materials call "crispy fried pickles (and) mouthwatering melty pimento cheese" and burgers. When I checked in today with the restaurant's Lisa Ballentine, she announced she's close to a second Charlotte location for the Penguin. She also talked about her "Yellow Ribbon Project," in which one dollar of the price of every "Penguin Pounder" ($8; a burger with cheese, chili, onion rings and fried pickles on it) will go to "help employ former military in the expansion of locations of the Penguin." She's looked at Charleston too, and hopes to know details soon. Each new location, she said, "will be owned by veterans and employ people coming back from the war." The "theme" of each place, she said, "will be military service people." The Penguin Pounder is available now at the original location; she said the project won't be fully launched until the second location begins. Lisa's father, Jim Ballentine, opened the Penguin in 1954, and she said she's heard from many people that the Penguin was the first place they came upon returning from conflicts through the years, "and your dad fed me." (Lisa Ballentine isn't sure any of this made the Richman show.) Diners who come to the Penguin during the showing, 9-10 p.m., will get free fried pickles.

* Jackalope Jacks (1936 E. 7th St.). Richman shows up here "to coach a college student through the Big Eats Challenge": 25 pulled-pork sliders and a mound of fries that adds up to 5 pounds of food. Note: The Challenge isn't on the menu anymore, though it used to be (and I'm told some 10-15 people had met the Challenge in 45 minutes or less, through the years, for which the successful diner got recognition on the wall of fame/shame). This was a one-time event for the show, but on April 11, for the viewing party at Jacks, the restaurant will offer a "mini Challenge": four barbecue sliders and a side of fries for $5.

* And, of course, Price's Chicken Coop, for fried chicken ...

Friday, April 6, 2012

New at P.F. Chang's and Applebee's

P.F. Chang's (multiple locations) has a new lunch menu, with 20-plus lunch combinations (entree with soup or salad) for less than $10. A new dim sum lunch offers two orders of steamed dumplings, plus soup or salad, for $7.45. And the dinner menu adds salads, appetizers and entrees to both the regular and gluten-free lineup. In the first group are tuna tataki crisps, Thai chicken noodle salad and crab-fried rice; in the second are Vietnamese crab salad, caramel mango chicken and lemon-scented Brussels sprouts.

And it must be new-lunch-menu-for-chains week.

Applebee’s added several new items to its Pick ‘N Pair menu (75 possible combinations of sandwich, salad, soup), including fried green tomato and turkey club; roast beef, bacon and mushroom melt; and Fiesta chicken chopped salad.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


... a photo app, using chef Hugh Acheson's cookbook and this link to a nice column he wrote for Epicurious:

Farm focus at Passion8

Passion8 Bistro begins a series of monthly dinners featuring the harvest of a particular farm with a four-course dinner April 25, with A Little Bit of Heaven Farm. $48; 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill; 803-802-7455.

Wine, bits and crumbs

The Wine Shop at Rivergate hosts a five-course Flora Springs wine dinner April 11. Among the courses are pan-seared scallops with ginger pineapple salso and Chardonnay; and cocoa-dusted pork belly with mushroom and bean ragout, with Trilogy Red Blend. $44.99; 14142 Rivergate Parkway; 704-831-9000.

Dine out, do good: Every Thursday in April, both locations of the Melting Pot (Midtown and Lake Norman) donate $10 from every four-course fondue for two to Autism Speaks Charlotte Chapter.

The Palm hosts a Frank Family wine dinner April 27, four courses for $120, including Scottish smoked salmon crostini with 2010 Pinot Noir, Carneros; choice of filet mignon or Dijon-herb-encrusted Colorado rack of lamb with 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Big Brew Ha" aims to preserve St. Peter's

Look for "all things brewed" - coffee, tea, beer - and appropriate foodie accompaniments at "The Big Brew Ha," 7:30-10:30 p.m. April 27 on the top floor of the Mint Museum uptown. The event (the second annual) aims to raise money for preservation of St. Peter's Catholic Church, just across the street from the Mint and one of Tryon Street's oldest buildings. Harvest Moon Grille will provide Polish dishes, Dean & Deluca will offer Italian fare and the Flying Biscuit Cafe will also bring food, while coffee will come from Counter Culture and entertainment will range from live music to "Brew Pong" and balloon pops. (You pay $20 and get a surprise: restaurant gift cards, concert tickets, etc.)

$60 (and you get your own beer stein!); free parking at The Green parking deck; 500 S. Tryon St.; tickets and info:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Even more Titanic

Savannah Red at the Charlotte Marriott City Center plans an 11-course Titanic dinner evening April 14 (yes, this is the second one in our area; Epic Chophouse's in Mooresville is lower in the blog). See its stylish menu, complete with wine pairings, below (you should be able to click on it and zoom in). $150 per guest (and for an additional $100 you can stay the night at the hotel, and that includes breakfast for two in the morning); 100 W. Trade St.; 704-363-8161.

Sake tasting at SouthPark

Yama Asian Fusion hosts a drop-in sake tasting 5-8 p.m. April 10, with five sakes and light hors d'oeuvres for $30. Yama owner Birdie Yang, recently certified as an Advanced Sake Professional by the Sake Education Council, will be available to answer questions; I'm told he's the only ASP in the Carolinas. Sakes at the tasting will include:

* Shirakabe Gura White Wall - Tokubetsu Junmai, Hyogo (pictured)
* Suigei Drunken Whale - Tokubetsu Junmai, Kochi
* Kaiun Better Fortune - Junmai Ginjo, Shizuoka
* Shirakawago Bamboo Leaf - Nigori (unfiltered), Gifu
* Born Muroka Nama Genshu - Junmai Daiginjo (unfiltered, fresh unprocessed, limited release), Fukui

Sake is brewed from rice, and there are a lot of distinctions to be aware of, from how much the rice is "polished" before use (to get to the starchy core of the grain; it's generally thought the more it's polished down, the better the sake) to whether (and how much) distilled alcohol is added to the product. Tokubetsu Junmai, for example, is a category -- "Tokubetsu" means "special" and denotes more polishing or use of specific rice, while "Junmai" indicates no distilled alcohol has been added. The first part of these listings is the sake's name, and the last is where it's from.

720 Governor Morrison St. at Morrison at SouthPark; 704-295-0905;

Get on Food Network event guest list

Special email offer:

Tonight (Tuesday, April 3), at the EpiCentre theater, Food Network star Sunny Anderson hosts a special screening - not open to the public - of the documentary "Hunger Hits Home," about the crisis of childhood hunger in America. (The doc is slated to air at 8 p.m. April 14 on Food Network.) Tonight's screening begins with a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m.; 210 E. Trade St.

Organizer Lindsey Anthony says she'll add the first five people who email her now to the guest list: Email with HHH-RSVP as the subject line. Include your first and last name in the body of the email.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Becks and BK

Burger King announced today the "broadest expansion of food offerings" in its 58-year history, according to its press statements. The new stuff includes salads, snack wraps, crispy chicken strips, "Real Fruit Smoothies and Frapp├ęs" and a celebrity-drenched ad campaign with range -- as in Sofia Vergara (you know: Gloria in "Modern Family") to Mary J. Blige to David Beckham.

Updated with more restaurants: Taste of Nation April 11

The 17th Taste of the Nation event in Charlotte will be 7-10 p.m. April 11 at the Wells Fargo Center Atrium uptown. More than 30 area groups, from restaurants and culinary schools to wineries, show their stuff, along with live and silent auctions and live entertainment, and 100 percent of ticket sales go toward the national group Share Our Strength's initiative to end childhood hunger.

A VIP preview hour will be offered from 6-7, with a private lounge open for those attending. VIP tickets are $100; regular are $85. There's free parking in the parking deck. You can buy tickets online at or by phone at 704-376-1785.

Restaurants in the lineup include Amelie’s, American Roadside Burgers, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, Chima, Ember Grille, e2 emeril’s eatery, Enso, Fern, Flatiron Kitchen & Taphouse, Gallery at Ballantyne Hotel, Georges Brasserie, Halcyon, LaVecchia’s, Mama Ricotta’s, Mert’s Heart & Soul, Mimosa Grill, Queen City Q, Rocky River Grille, Savannah Red, Upstream, Vida Cantina, Village Tavern, Vivace, Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza Bar and Zink American Kitchen.