Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Charlotte place makes Esquire top 8

The legend continues: Charlotte's Price's Chicken Coop made the final eight places in an Esquire survey, and now you can vote to keep the publicity rolling. "What's the most life-changing fried-chicken joint in America?" the national magazine asks. You know the answer, and it had better not be Bubba's in Dallas ... (Photo from Gourmet.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dine out for kids: June 19

Don't forget: When you go to a restaurant participating in Dine Out For Kids June 19, a percentage of what you pay goes to Communities In Schools (CIS), a nonprofit that helps at-risk students stay in school, graduate and achieve. The restaurant list includes
Alexander Michael’s, Applebee's, Aria, Bad Daddy's Burger Bar, Bytes Cafe, BRAVO!, Brio, Brixx, City Smoke,
Crêpe Cellar, Don Pedro
on South Tryon, Dressler's at Metropolitan, Eddie’s Place, Harper’s at Carolina Place, Johnny Burrito, The King's Kitchen, Mama Ricotta’s, McAlister’s Deli, The Melting Pot, Mert's Heart & Soul, Midwood Smokehouse, Mimosa Grill, Mortimer's, Nothing but Noodles at Midtown/Elizabeth Ave. and Stonecrest/Rea Road, Paco's Tacos & Tequila, Pewter Rose Bistro, Showmars on East Boulevard, Sonny’s at the Arboretum and Tyvola Road, Taste Cafe, Terrace Café at SouthPark, Upstream, Village Tavern and Zink. Details:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Beer at Rooster's, wine at Bistro

Rooster's uptown hosts a Mother Earth beer dinner June 25. On the menu ($55): house-cured salumi and cheese with Sisters of the Moon IPA; bigoli al torchio (a kind of big, rough-textured spaghetti) with shellfish brodetto and Pale Ale; pan-seared duck confit with summer bean cassoulet and Trippel (Belgian-style ale); and more. 150 N. College St.; 704-370-7667.

Bistro La Bon hosts an Austrian wine "and slightly Austrian influenced" dinner June 26, according to organizer The Wine Vault. Among the courses are scallops with white pepper and peppery greens with 2011 Bauer Gruner Veltliner Gmork; honey-ginger-glazed salmon with 2011 Netzl Chardonnay; boneless pork spare rib with 2009 Hillinger Hillside Syrah; and more. $75; reservations: 704-548-9463; restaurant is at 1322 Central Ave. 

Bits and crumbs

Which Wich, a national sandwich chain, opens June 17 in the Metropolitan, 1055 Metropolitan Ave., and will be open daily with more than 50 customizable, toasted "wiches." Also offered: milkshakes, house chips, cookies and more.

Zebra's got its first golden chanterelles in this season, and chef Jim Alexander plans to sauté them in butter with shallots, deglaze in white wine and finish with a touch more whole butter, over a simple risotto "with hmm ... maybe some butter (or reggiano parm!) And let's serve with a glass of ’09 Rex Hill Pinot Noir!" 4521 Sharon Road; 704-442-9525.

Bonaparte at Passion8

Chef Joe Bonaparte will do a spread of local foods with an Italian theme as guest chef at Passion8 on June 20. Bonaparte, for the few Charlotte diners who don't recognize his name (he's been on the scene for years), is director of curriculum at the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes. Six courses for $68; 803-802-7455; 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill.

Reader input sought: Choice cocktails, small-batch bourbon or ... ?

The best cocktail I've had lately: The Negroni at Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar. This classic, made with gin and Campari, with orange garnish, was turned out exceptionally smoothly.

Now it's your turn -- but with a twist. (Ha. See what I did there?) I seek uptown spots (as defined by the squarish area bordered by I-277) serving what you think is best in the following categories:

* Creative cocktails
* Classic cocktails
* Craft beer selection
* Wines by the glass
* Wines by the bottle (as in best wine cellar)
* Small-batch bourbons
* Cheeeeeeap!
* And the category-of-your-choice -- be it best-poured-Irish-beer or strangest martinis or frozen margaritas or whatever.

UPTOWN, remember: Not elsewhere. (We'll get to that later.)
You can email me if you prefer, at

Thursday, June 14, 2012

$1 lobster sliders June 15

The Palm celebrates National Lobster Day June 15 with $1 lobster sliders in the bar area: The sliders (lobster salad with bacon, oven-dried tomatoes, avocado and micro greens) are $1 each with purchase of a beverage.

Also offered on the Day: $45 3-pound Nova Scotia lobsters, served with melted butter and lemon, all day while supplies last (the price does not include drink, side, tax or tip). 6705-B Phillips Place Court; 704-552-7256.

The BK Bacon Sundae: An opinion

It's Flag Day in America, and what better day to debut something as keenly democratic and capitalistic as the Bacon Sundae at Burger King?

No better day, that's when.

So, while others have called this "obvious pandering, a clumsy and manipulative stab at trend-chasing" and a "caloric bomb", I call it ... a tiny opportunity for reflection on the state of such things in Charlotte.

So here's what we know. In Charlotte on the debut day, it wasn't offered in the uptown Trade Street store yet, according to the guy who answered the phone. And at the nearby location I finally found, it actually looked like this ...
which is the soft-serve ice cream with "bacon crumbles" placed at the bottom and on top. It's debut day, after all, and things are chaotic: The cashier said when I ordered, "I don't think we're even serving that yet," despite the giant video running behind her on a large screen, then couldn't find it on the register. Still, she knew a little about how it was supposed to be made: When I ran back in from the car to say "Isn't there supposed to be chocolate sauce?" she said: "Yes. And it's supposed to be at the bottom."

She added some -- a nicely fudgy thick sort, too, I must say, making it look like this:
(Actually, it was also missing caramel sauce and a "thick-cut, hardwood smoked bacon garnish," but I loathe quibbling.)

How was it? Awful. Hammy-textured bacon (as in all chew, no crunch, even on the bits not buried at the bottom), no salty pop, thick fatty edges that turned leaden. Mind you, I like chocolate-covered bacon, and have written lovingly about it -- unpublished, though, since it was suspected the average reader would not be interested in the stuff. This, at $2.80 (including tax), has more than 500 calories, 61 grams of sugar and 18 grams of fat, and is worth exactly none of that. ( Meh, said Esquire, with whom I agree.) Is it dehumanizing? Another way corporate fast-food places are trying to kill us? A statement on Americans' obsession with fat and sugar and disregard of nutritional health?

I think not. It's just a junky conversation piece that will be gone in a few weeks. It's not nearly as disturbing as the Double Down or cheeseburger-stuffed pizza crust.

And ... there are two heartening pieces of good news, Charlotte:

1. The ice cream product actually did melt on my way back to the office, placing it squarely in the normal range of ice cream behavior, something that cannot always be said of fast-food ice cream products.

2. And at nearly 1 p.m. Thursday, mine was only the second Bacon Sundae this location had sold. I'm proud of my city. And curious about whoever bought the first ... Call me!

Green award

Chef/owner/farmer Cassie Parsons from Harvest Moon Grille has won a Citizen Entrepreneur title from Global Green USA for her work helping Seigle Avenue Presbyterian Church with a start-up urban farm, the Seigle Farm community garden. Global Green USA is the American affiliate of Green Cross International, which aims at a "global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future." Read more here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chow down uptown Thursday

Hit the uptown Food Truck Festival 5-9 p.m. June 14 at the 7th Street Station parking lot and you'll find lots of trucks, live acoustic music and more. Among the trucks slated to be there:

Cupcake Delirium and its Elvis cupcake.
Goody Woody’s with fried tacos, sandwich wraps, burgers, hot dogs and more.
Harvest Moon Grille and its focus on local foodstuffs.
Herban Legend and American and international "comfort food."
Maki Taco with Pan Asian fare.
Napolitano’s with Italianate sandwiches and more.
Sal’s Roadside Eatery offering sausage and peppers, hot dogs, eggplant parm, etc.
I Scream 4 Ice Cream and its "air-conditioned mobile ice cream parlor."
Outdoor Feasts with barbecue and more.
The Roaming Fork and its pulled pork/grilled cheese sandwich, a Chow Down favorite, I'm told.
Smoke and Go with smoked ribs, chicken, turkey, beef brisket and more.
Southern Cake Queen with cupcakes in dozens of flavors.
Wingzza, pairing wings and pizza.
and TCBY: Yes, yogurt.

Street address for the lot is 224 E. 7th St. Admission is free (but bring cash, since not all vendors take debit or credit cards), and parking will be available for $5 in the lot next to the Chow Down. Alcoholic drinks will be sold at the 7th Street Public Market.

Wine dinner

Savannah Red hosts a Flora Springs wine dinner June 15 for $65. Among the courses are sesame ahi tuna terrine with 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Oakville; cocoa-nib-infused elk strip steak and orange-lacquered duck breast with 2009 Merlot and 2009 Trilogy, both Napa Valley. 100 W. Trade St.; 704-363-8161.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Updated: What's up for Dads' Day?

Harper's at Carolina Place offers Father's Day specials of 11-ounce prime rib (with side and salad) or hickory-grilled shrimp and sirloin (with same) for $21. Its regular menu will also be offered. 11059 Carolina Place Parkway; 704-541-5255.

Upstream does a backyard cookout 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with pulled pork, beef brisket, barbecued ribs and chicken and more, plus the signature raw bar, for $29.95 per adult, $14.95 for kids 5-12 and free for younger. 6902 Phillips Place Court; 704-556-7730.

Del Frisco's will be open for brunch and dinner on Father's Day (June 17), with a $35 brunch menu (along with the regular dinner menu, a $12 kids' menu and a Bloody Mary and mimosa bar) offered 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.. For dinnertime (4:30-9 p.m.), a three-course $49 dinner menu (filet mignon and crab cake) will be available, as well as a Father's Day feature lineup. 4725 Piedmont Row Drive; 704-552-5502.

Three-course brunch at The Liberty for Father's Day is $21.95 per person, and if you're on its email list (which you can join by going to, you can access a coupon that lets Dad eat for half-price. Among the course choices: heirloom tomato gazpacho with Maine lobster; hearts of palm salad with shiitakes; Lowcountry shrimp and grits; prime rib with truffle-parmesan herb fries; and more. Brunch is 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; 1812 South Blvd.; 704-332-8830.

Mimi's Cafe offers a Father's Day deal: dad gets a three-course sirloin steak dinner (soup or salad, 6-ounce steak, ice cream sundae) for $9.99. 10244 Perimeter Parkway; 704-509-5911.

5Church holds a Father's Day Sunday Brunch Party, with brunch served all day (starting at 11 a.m.), plus a DJ and specialty drinks. 127 N. Tryon St.; 704-919-1322.

The Palm at Phillips Place will offer for the day surf and turf for $54.90 (single cut filet, 6-ounce tail plus starter and one side), along with its summer lobster dinner for two deal ($99) and a new lineup of cocktails and after-dinner drinks. 6705-B Phillips Place Court; 704-552-7256.

Oysters and Riesling for summer

Vin Master, Atherton Mill's wine shop, hosts an oyster fest June 20, with wine pairings, for $25. Guests get all-you-can-eat oysters, both raw and cooked, from Lucky Fish (another Atherton purveyor) and at least four wines chosen by Chris Woodrow of Vin Master.

Expect a Riesling or three, for the first day of summer and the Summer of Riesling, a movement begun in New York that espouses the idea of pouring nothing else all summer. Vin Master participates in the movement. "Riesling is an awesome wine in general," Woodrow said in a press release. "... Like a good lemonade, you keep the tartness, but need a little sugar to balance it out."

2000 South Blvd.; 704-996-7471.

Bits and crumbs

Bar Macaron has opened inside the Ritz-Carlton's Bar Cocoa area, selling a wide range of the brightly colored cookies made with almond flour, egg whites and sugar, plus a sweet center. Among the flavors: chocolate (with cocoa nibs and ganache filling), vanilla with vanilla buttercream, cinnamon with dulce de leche, lemon, red velvet (with cream cheese filling), mint chocolate, orange creamsicle, lavender (with whipped honey filling) and more. They've been the best-seller at Bar Cocoa and can be bought to eat there, take home or gift-wrapped. 201 E. Trade St.; 704-547-2244.

Mezzanotte has a new summer lunch menu ($7-$14), adding a handful of entree salads (grilled chicken over baby arugula with caramelized walnuts, roasted red peppers and blue cheese, for example), more pastas (including fettuccine alfredo) and a trimmed-down pizza selection in two sizes, 8 and 12 inches. 2907 Providence Road; 704-365-4650.

Osso offers a 10 percent discount off your food bill if you've got tickets to something at the Fillmore, Time Warner Uptown Amphitheater or Comedy Zone. It's also got a specific concert and show menu, offering an array of appetizers, pastas and pizzas ranging in price from about $9 to $16. Show your tickets for the offers. 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd.; 704-971-0550.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New in South End

All American Pub is open at the former Jillian's at 200 E. Bland St. (next to Greek Isles) in South End. This operation, from the Bottle Cap Group (the folks doing Brazwells, Whiskey Warehouse and Jack's Corner Tap in Cornelius), offers a menu ranging from the unusual (an appetizer of watermelon layered with spinach and goat cheese, and the Fiery Drunk burger, with fried jalapeños) to more typical fare (lots of burgers, wings, wraps and salads, plus entrees such as steak, chicken and pasta). The place has two party rooms for 50 to 1,000, says the group's Alfonso Giacomucci, and will offer Sunday brunch with a Bloody Mary bar as well. Open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily, with a limited menu 11 p.m.-1 a.m. and kitchen closing at 1); about $7-$14; 704-370-2000.

No, John's Country Kitchen is not closing

Jimmy Margiotis of Plaza-Midwood landmark John's Country Kitchen tells us he's heard the rumors, too, but no, he and his mother, Margaret, are not closing the place. He is, however, working on opening a new place: a pizza restaurant, with Philly cheesesteaks and more (but no plans for breakfast), at the former Carmela's at Carmel Commons. He's shooting for an October opening there. Details to come.

As far as John's (which Margiotis took over running from his dad, John, in 1984) goes, he says he has about 4 1/2 years left on his lease, and currently plans to stay open through the end of that. Known for its simple diner menu with Greek overtones (hot cakes to country-style steak to souvlaki), spare decor and for serving brains and eggs for breakfast, it's won plenty of regulars in its 35 years at 1518 Central Ave.

Moon's Monday

Harvest Moon Grille's "Over the Moon Monday" menu for June 11 (6:30-10 p.m.): purple couscous salad with herbed ricotta and cucumber noodles; shrimp pappardelle with lemon basil-sunflower see pesto; and balsamic-peach ice cream. $30; 235 N. Tryon St.; 704-342-1193.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Phat Burrito heads to Elizabeth

The first franchised location of South End's Phat Burrito will go into 415 Hawthorne Lane sometime around July 1, says partner Jeff Bardin. Jeff and Paul Bardin, owners of the Snoops location there that closed June 2, and Bob and Patty Dowdy (of National Restaurant Properties) will be owners and operators of the new place. The menu and prices will be identical to South End's, with burritos, tacos, salads and more (see for more). Jeff Bardin adds "Expansion is going to happen; we will have franchise rights for the area (and) can look other places, too." The Snoops burger place at 2900 Westinghouse Blvd. will remain open, and there are no plans to turn it into another Phat Burrito, Bardin said.

Drink out, do good

You'll find a donation-only lemonade stand 11 a.m.-2 p.m. this Friday (June 8) in the Wells Fargo Plaza at the corner of South Tryon Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Proceeds will benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises awareness and money for childhood-cancer research. Wells Fargo will be lighting up the Duke Energy building in yellow the night before, according to Svend Deal of Cozen O'Connor, the firm doing the stand.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Free iced coffee

Bruegger’s Free Iced Coffee Day will be June 21, nationwide; you'll need to either Like the place's Facebook page and print out a coupon for it, or join its email club at before June 19 (you'll get a coupon via email). For each new Like to the page, the company says it will donate $1 to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Funds raised by customers' donations on-site in Charlotte will go to Levine Children's Hospital.

Monday, June 4, 2012

More Fern photos

More views of Fern, since only one of photographer Adam Jennings' nice shots made the paper.
Warm kale salad with beet vinaigrette, displayed with Unita Baba Black Lager.

Quinoa and spinach benedict with marinated tofu and hollandaise.

Fern sous chef Drew Trepanier squeezes juice from a grapefruit for a beverage.

And this is executive chef Alyssa Gorelick (courtesy of LunahZon Photography).

BBQ Bash June 9

Mimosa Grill kicks off summer with its annual BBQ Bash 1-9 p.m. June 9, with executive chef Jon Fortes grilling brisket, ribs, chicken, oysters and more on the Mimosa patio. $35 buys you all you can eat, and there'll be $2 beer specials, specialty drinks, live music and more.
On the menu: Siler City pulled pork, Silver Queen corn on the cob, N.C. cheddar mac 'n cheese, Harper's signature cole slaw and more. 327 S. Tryon St., at 2 Wells Fargo Center (complimentary valet parking available); reservations 704-343-0700.

Free salads

"Sowing the Seeds of Salad" is this Thursday at Noodles & Company: On June 7, the first 50 people in line at Noodles restaurants nationwide will get a card for a free salad from the new Summer Salad lineup at the chain, plus three "garden stakes," each good for a free salad, to give to others. One offer per family, notes the company.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

More American Roadside

The second Charlotte American Roadside plans a grand opening event June 9 at 5821 Fairview Road at SouthPark, becoming the flagship store of the brand and putting corporate offices next door, according to chairman and CEO Rich LaVecchia. (The first area location is uptown and opened in October.) The SouthPark location will begin serving lunch and dinner June 11. 704-733-9037.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sunday supper at 5Church

5Church starts new Sunday Supper this week (June 3): Served family-style 6-8 p.m., this is three courses for $29, including a non-alcoholic drink. On the first menu: Bibb salad with herb buttermilk dressing and country ham; choice of spaghetti with Prime beef meatballs and savory herb tomato sauce or buttermilk fried chicken with creamy mashed potatoes and wilted spinach; chocolate pudding and sugar cookie sandwiches. 127 N. Tryon St. (with complimentary valet parking); 704-919-1332.

Area barbecue offerings keep growing

Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, a barbecue chain out of Birmingham, Ala., with 29 locations across the Southeast, has opened its second area location, at 7791 Gateway Lane NW in Concord, near Concord Mills. Known for pork, chicken and ribs done in a gas smoker, the place offers plates (about $10-$19) and sandwiches (about $6.50-$9.50), plus salads, catfish and more. Lunch and dinner daily; 704-453-2791.

Meanwhile, the Zagat website's "Ultimate BBQ Guide" puts the closest "Must-Try BBQ" in ... Washington, D.C. ...