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 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.;

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:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

'Drive-thru Dining Guide'

Charlotte's Dan Ballister says he came up with "The Drive-thru Dining Guide" (see 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);

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;

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:

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 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;

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:

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, 704-337-2018, or online at
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

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.