Thursday, May 31, 2012

Taco Bell's new 'morning drink'

Links of the week:

Seriously, Taco Bell? Seriously?

And in a related drink debacle, the original Four Loko would pass New York's new sugary-soda ban. Say what?

Finally, here's the cookbook you need to stay ahead of the competition. Practically a breezy beach paperback compared to the original, a six-volume, 2,400-page work that'll set you back $625 or so (discounted, I see, right now to $455.93!).

Beer pairings

Blue hosts an Olde Mecklenburg Brewery evening June 6 with pairings of rabbit ragu with ricotta gnocchi and Captain James Jack Pilsner; pan-roasted squab breast with Rein Pale Ale, roasted top round with OMB Copper and warm toffee pudding with Fruehbock. Hearst Tower uptown; (206 N. College St.; 704-927-2583.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

'Don't dis the Dog'

That's the slogan of JJ's Red Hots, opening in Dilworth July 4 if all goes well, says Jon Luther. Look for hot dogs with lots of influences, especially western New York, with the base dog being from Sahlen's of Buffalo: a smoked hot dog of pork and beef, cooked here over flame in a char-broiler. Toppings will range from Weber's mustard (another import) to housemade chili, kraut and pickles.

"Red hots" just means hot dogs (historical accounts argue over invention and name-giving, but that's generally agreed on). These will come in custom combos (example: The Char Heel: chili, slaw, diced onions and mustard, on toasted Martin's potato roll).

JJ's will also sell "white hots," a housemade pork brat developed by the place's food and beverage director Jeremy Guthrie, as well as chicken-and-herb sausage, salmon sausage, andouille sliders, Italian sausage from Chicago, salads and soups. Also on tap: milkshakes, orangeade and lemonade, custom sodas, juices, teas, craft beers and "exciting wine choices, believe it or not," says Luther. He's founding partner; other partners include his father, who spent decades in the restaurant business, including Dunkin' Brands (yes, like Dunkin' Donuts). "But no burgers."

1514 East Blvd.;

2nd Quaker Steak coming

Quaker Steak & Lube will open its second Charlotte-area location (and second in the state) June 6, if all goes according to plan, at 10405 Centrum Parkway in Pineville. The national chain is known for wings, burgers and a car-racing theme. (The first is in Concord.) The new one will seat about 375 and have motorcycles suspended from the ceiling, a 1978 Sting Ray car, the #31 Caterpillar NASCAR car and a Corvette (hanging, naturally, in the "Vette Room"). More info:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bits and crumbs

The Palm looks to National Lobster Day (June 15) with exceptional fervor -- offering a fixed-price lobster dinner for $54.90 -- and a two-person deal for $99 -- June 1-Aug. 31. 6705-B Phillips Place Court (with a new outdoor patio); Phillips Place; 704-552-7256.

Zebra’s summer menu just started, including chilled tomato water soup, melon panna cotta and poached trout with L.A. farmers market baby vegetables (chef-owner Jim Alexander notes: “farm to market in 24 hours, another 12 hours to Zebra”). 4521 Sharon Road; 704-442-9525.

New on the menu at Sir Edmond Halley's: pan-seared trout, beef medallions, blackened cod tacos, Thai beef nachos and smoked salmon BLT, among other items. 4151 Park Road; 704-525-7775.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Buy one burger, get one free

Buy a burger at The Liberty on May 28 -- which happens to be National Burger Day -- and you'll get one free. The offer is good all day long, on any of the restaurant's burgers (including the pub burger at right), and the restaurant's Matt Pera says Southern Living recently named the "Crunch Burger" (with pimento cheese, bacon, salt & vinegar chips) among its "Best Burgers in the South" listing. 1812 South Blvd., 704-332-8830.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Puck Pizza is open

Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar is open in Phillips Place, with 17 specialty pizzas and a lineup of pastas, sandwiches, salads and grill items, too. Among the specifics: grilled chicken and broccolini pizza; smoked salmon pizza (with red onions and dill cream); potato and egg pizza; orecchiette pasta with rock shrimp and pepperoncini; roasted chicken panini; bone-in strip steak with polenta. Prices range from $8 for a sausage panini to $28 for the steak. Chef Scott Wallen, formerly at Upstream, is at the helm and plans to use local and organic foodstuffs. 6706-C Phillips Place Court; 704-295-0101;

Beer, wine dinners

John Marino, owner and brewmaster of Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, will cohost a dinner at The Palm June 1 and guide diners through beer pairings. Those will include OMB Dunkel Dark with choice of barbecued beef ribs, blackened sea bass or filet mignon. $90 plus tax and tip; reservations to Leigh Whicker, 704-552-7450.

Vivace hosts a Wine Vault dinner June 5 with Vitanza Winery: $69 for five courses, including grilled mahi with sundried tomato and olive gnocchi and Volare Sangiovese, and braised short ribs with Rosso di Montalcino. Reservations: 704-548-9463; restaurant is at 1100 Metropolitan Ave.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lots up at Osso

First: You can register to win dinner for two at Osso "at the same table where 'The Bachelorette' Emily Maynard and Ryan had their first date" -- and you can purchase a "Bachelorette Package," too: $125 gets you dinner for two, a bottle of Champagne, a red rose and a VIP table. The VIP table, that is. You can do this 5-10 p.m. any Tuesday through Saturday; 704-971-0550.

Next: An Italian wine dinner May 23 with courses such as oven-roasted calamari with crab and herb stuffing and Caposaldo Veneto Prosecco, and pan-seared rabbit thigh and sausage with 2010 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Le Orme.

And finally: new menu items. These range from saffron arancini (rice balls stuffed with a Roman-style short rib ragu) and orecchiette pasta with housemade duck sausage to pan-seared Alaskan halibut and grilled New York strip. 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd.; 704-971-0550.

Yesterday, Portlandia got into my blog. Today, The Bachelorette. Shall I be concerned?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Does eating organic make you a jerk?

Time online posits that it just may, and quotes a study in the Journal of Social Psychological & Personality Science, that exposure to organic foods can “harshen moral judgments.” Read it here, then tell me what you think.

Oh, and just for your Monday, here's the satiric "Portlandia" taking this subject to its extreme (thanks, Pam Kelley):

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wine dinner, driver

Morton’s The Steakhouse and Adobe Road Winery host a four-course meal May 24, with winery owner Kevin Buckler (and former pro race car driver) in attendance. Among the courses: filet mignon with shiitakes and 2009 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, and 2007 Bavarian Lion Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Knight's Valley; and a cheese course, with 2007 Petite Sirah, Russian River Valley. $150; 227 W. Trade St.; 704-333-2602.

City Smoke opens May 18

City Smoke, the newest uptown entry from longtime Charlotte restaurateur Pierre Bader -- joined by chef Todd Townsend -- is slated to serve its first dinner Friday night. Lunch service should begin Monday, May 21. Barbecue is the ticket here, from a variety of influences, including the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kansas and Texas. 100 N. Tryon St., 704-376-2295; $8-$26.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Softshells and sansho in Charlotte

TOMI hits softshell crab season with a special May 18-19 and 25-26: $13 gets you a jumbo softshell dusted with sweet potato flour and pan-seared, with a bit of sansho pepper, and steamed vegetables. If you research that pepper, you'll see lots of warring definitions: TOMI's Kevin Cheng says he also calls this mountain pepper, or Szechuan pepper, and describes its flavor as delicate and woody but not lemony. 7741 Colony Road; 704-759-1288.

Chick-fil-A giveaway

All Charlotte-area Chick-fil-As will give a free chocolate chunk cookie to any walk-in or drive-through customer 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. this Friday, May 18. No purchase necessary, one per person, "while supplies last," according to the release.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Whose about-to-open ceiling is this?

And do you know what it is? (Fun, huh?) Click on photo to enlarge.

$8.37 burgers at Palm

May 21 and 28, you can get an $8.37 lunch special at The Palm for National Burger Month: Choose one of the place's five USDA Prime SteakBurgers, served with hand-cut fries. (The price is for the place's first location's street address.) Print out the certificate at Phillips Place; 704-552-7256.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Try South End beers before they're out

The Liberty hosts a beer dinner May 19 that will feature beers from a brewery that's not open yet. Triple C Brewing is scheduled to open in July in South End, if all goes according to plan, at 2900 Griffith St. Some offerings will be specially brewed for the dinner, and the owners -- Chris Harker and Chris and Christina Murphy -- and brewer Scott Kimball will be there, to talk beer. On the menu: pork “rillettes” and crispy duck confit with Golden Ale; braised beef cheeks with deviled crab salad and Greenway IPA; smoked shoulder of lamb and lamb ribs with Cherry Wood Smoked Amber Ale; and chocolate beignets with Chocolate Porter. $40; 1812 South Blvd.; 704-332-8830.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Updated: For Mother's Day...

Harvest Moon Grille hosts a "Mother's Day Moonbeam Brunch" 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., with an a la carte menu ranging from $5 (biscuit with Grateful Growers Farm breakfast sausage gravy) to $14 (three-egg omelet with Carolina shrimp topped with tomato-basil relish, or the All American Pork Burger with Ashe County cheddar pimento cheese and bacon).
235 N. Tryon St.; 704-342-1193.

Del Frisco's will be open for brunch and dinner. Brunch will run 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and cost $35 ($12 for kids), while dinner (4:30-9 p.m.) brings a $49 three-course filet and crabcake meal deal, along with the regular menu. 4725 Piedmont Row Drive; 704-552-5502.

FireWater does brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with a menu ranging from seafood to carving and omelet stations, and kids will be able to create Mother's Day "surprises" on the patio. Brunch is $26 ($13 for mom and kids 6-12, free for younger). 8708 J.W. Clay Blvd.; 704-549-0050.

Villa Antonio at 4707 South Blvd. will do brunch 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. for $25 ($12 for kids younger than 12). 704-523-1594.

Epic Chophouse will be open 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. with a brunch buffet ($21.95, $7.95 for kids 5-12), then 5-8 p.m. for dinner with its full menu and a chef's feature. Reservations: 704-230-1720; 104 South Main Street in Mooresville.

Red Rocks Cafes at Birkdale and Strawberry Hill offer a buffet until 3 p.m., then will serve their regular menus. 8712 Lindholm Drive in Huntersville, 704-892-9999 ($25, $11 for kids 12 and younger); Strawberry Hill, 704-364-0402 ($24.95, $10.95).

The Melting Pot (Midtown and Lake Norman) will be open 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., with a four-course menu for $39 (cheese fondue, salad, entree and chocolate fondue), a $23 menu for kids 10-15 and a $9 entree for 9 and younger. 901 S. Kings Drive, 704-334-4400; 16625 Statesville Road in Huntersville, 704-987--2201.

Mama Ricotta’s will have both brunch dishes and signature items 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and moms will get a complimentary mini-lemon raspberry tart for dessert (while supplies last). The regular dinner menu will be offered 4-9 p.m. 601 S. Kings Drive; 704-343-0148.

The Liberty offers a special three-course brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for $24.95. 1812 South Blvd.; 704-332-8830.

Passion8 will do brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m., four courses for $40, and dinner 4-7 p.m. with an a la carte menu. Among the brunch courses: chilled asparagus and lobster salad, eggs Benedict, New York strip and more. 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill; 803-802-7455.

Vegetarian Fern begins a regular weekend brunch on Mother's Day, serving 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (after May 13, it will be offered both Saturdays and Sundays), with dishes such as the OM burger and warm kale salad, and other vegan and vegetarian items, such as quinoa and spinach Benedict; cinnamon babka french toast; summer romaine salad and more. 1323 Central Ave.; 704-377-1825.

TOMI will do lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with a $10 menu with choices for appetizer and entree. Dinner 5-9:30 p.m. 7741 Colony Road; 704-759-1288.

The Palm will be open 5-9 p.m., and will give mothers a $25 gift card she can use May 14-June 30. Phillips Place; 704-552-7256.

Table 274 plans a jazz brunch with live entertainment, beginning at 10 a.m. 274 S. Sharon Amity Road; 704-817-9721.

Blue hosts brunch with breakfast items, carving stations and more, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $39.95, $14.95 children 6-12, free for younger; reservations required: 704-927-2583.

BLT Steak plans brunch that will range from eggs "Ritz" (with spinach, crab and cayenne-lemon hollandaise) to peach Bellinis. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; 201 E. Trade St.; 704-972-4380.

e2 emeril's eatery plans brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with a menu ranging from buckwheat waffle with strawberry rhubarb compote to breakfast pizza. The regular dinner menu will also be offered. 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts; 704-414-4787.

Mom eats free on Mother's Day at Sonny's (at the Charlotte, Concord, Mooresville and Rock Hill locations) when one or more other folk in the party buy a regular price meal. She can have her choice of barbecue pork, beef or chicken lunch specials, and the offer is for dine-in only.

Osso will serve a family-style meal 5-9 p.m. Four courses -- among them lasagna Bolognese and bistecca alla Fiorentina -- for $29.95; the regular menu will also be available. 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd.; 704-971-0550.

The Ritz-Carlton will do a special Mother's Day afternoon tea 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on both May 12 and 13 in its 15th-floor Urban Sip; $32 for traditional and contemporary tea sandwiches, scones and Devonshire cream and assorted sweets. A children's tea menu will be $10, and there'll be live music as well. There's also a Chocolate Afternoon Tea at the hotel's Bar Cocoa, with the same menu: reservations for either: 704-547-2244. 201 E. Trade St.

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge will offer a Mother's Day afternoon tea with live entertainment in its main lobby 1-5 p.m. May 12 (note: That's the Saturday, not actually Mother's Day). There'll also be a Sunday brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. the next day, for $59.50 ($29.50 for kids 5-12 and free for younger). Reservations for brunch are required: 704-248-4100. 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

Kids can make pancakes for Mom while Mom sips Bloody Marys at the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark: Children get chef's hats and aprons and help making buttermilk pancakes with assorted add-ons. There's also a brunch buffet to supplement, as well as a Bloody Mary buffet with a range of garnishes. 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; $39 ($14 for kids 6-12 and free for younger); 5501 Carnegie Blvd.; 704-501-2510.

Bistro La Bon wine dinner

Bistro La Bon offers an Andrew Murray wine dinner May 23: Seven courses for $65, with Murray on hand as well. Among the plans: Lamb with toasted cumin and 2010 Watch Hill Syrah; Fettuccine with porcini cream and English peas with 2009 Terra Bella Grenache; and chicken and white anchovy with RGB Camp 4 Vineyard Blend. 704-333-4646; 1322 Central Ave.

Updated: Wine dinners approach

Two Anderson's Conn Valley vineyard dinners are en route:
May 18 at Del Frisco's, look for winemaker Todd Anderson to talk through five courses, including cured salmon with shaved fennel salad, with 2008 Pinot Noir; herb-crusted lamb chop over mashed sweet potatoes with 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon; and filet Tournedos with wild mushrooms and 1999 Cabernet. $150; 704-552-5502, 4725 Piedmont Row Drive.

Then, May 25, Zebra offers a dinner, also with Todd Anderson on hand and also $150, with $50 per reservation going directly to Heartbright Foundation in Charlotte (which promotes cardiovascular wellness and awareness). This is the last of Zebra's super-premium wine dinners until fall. Among the courses: griddled squab on warm pear and dried cherry crêpe with ’09 Pinot Noir; lemon confiture ricotta ravioli with pork shoulder and ’08 Right Bank; and rosemary rack of lamb with ’09 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserve. Reservations at Restaurant: 704-442-9525; 4521 Sharon Road.

D'Vine Wine Cafe plans its Second Annual Italian, Family Style Wine Dinner June 7, with five courses, for $49.99. 14815 John J. Delaney Dr., 704-369-5050.

Barbecue specials

Midwood Smokehouse offers weekly regional specials through this National Barbecue Month: This week is Texas, with a platter including chile-rubbed beef ribs with Shiner Bock chipotle sauce, plus brisket and beef sausage, plus beans and slaw, for $15. Week Two (May 13-19) is Memphis, with babybacks. Week Three is Kansas City with "double smoked brisket burnt ends" (which is just what it sounds like: the near-to-burned ends of the point part of the brisket, smoked again, then served in sauce) over fried mac 'n cheese, and Week Four is Carolina "West vs. East": pulled pork in tomato sauce vs. chopped pork in vinegar-based sauce. 1401 Central Ave., 704-295-4227.

Harper's does "BBQ Bonanza" through the end of May with pulled pork, Texas-style brisket, Danish babybacks, and hickory-smoked chicken, along with the chance to win an outdoor charcoal grill at month's end. (You can enter that contest each time you come in and order a barbecue dish.) 6518 Fairview Road, 704-366-6688; and 11059 Carolina Place Parkway, 704-541-5255.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dine out, do good

Correction: Donation will be 10 percent, not 15, as this said in first incarnation.
If you come in to Buffalo Wild Wings at Sardis Road North May 19 and mention the American Cancer Society or Relay for Life, 10 percent of your tab will be donated to the Society. Folks are gathering to watch the Sprint All-Star Race there that night, and there'll be drawings for prizes, including a NOMEX undershirt autographed by NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger. 2530 Sardis Road North; 704-849-9464.

'Top Chef' chefs stop in Charlotte May 17

Charlotte is the first stop on the newest "Top Chef" tour of 15 cities. May 17, Hector Santiago (from Season 6, below) will face off with Nikki Cascone (Season 4, right) in live cookoffs, with judges from around here - and an audience, of course.

(For hardcore fans: If you go to the tour's Facebook page, you'll find a place to tell organizers whether you think the two should have to cook shrimp or pork in the cookoff.)

Also scheduled to be on hand, at 225. E. 7th St., across from the 7th Street Public Market: "a 'Top Chef'-themed Cornhole Toss," "a 'Top Chef' Horseshoe Toss" and "Tip the Scale," in which you'll have to arrange items by weight.

Shows will be at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

5Church opening uptown

5Church will open, if all goes according to plan, May 18 uptown, at the corner of North Church and Fifth streets. Serving a New American menu, executive chef Jamie Lynch says in a press release that he aims to "reflect the purity of local products and to advocate proper techniques of food preparation in a respectful manner." His resume includes Le Cirque, Cafe Boulud and Aureole (he was most recently at Barrington's in Charlotte), and his opening lineup includes roasted Szechuan pork belly, St. Louis-style toasted mushroom ravioli, New York strip with "J-1" steak sauce, roasted N.C. group, plus housemade breads, pastas and cheeses (and ramps, according to a photo from his Twitter feed @chefjlynch, shown below).

Owners are Patrick Whalen, who'll be operator and whose experience ranges from Frames Bistro and Bowling in New York to general managing at Butter in Charlotte; Alejandro Torio, also marketing director (with background as marketing director at Butter NC and co-founder of Fashion's Night Out in Charlotte), and Mills Howell, interior designer.

Expect a look by Howell that is (according to its press) a "tongue-in-cheek interpretation of a neo-Victorian decor," "casual, yet refined" and "classic-meets-modern." Howell and colleagues have done Gallery Twenty-Two and Vida Cantina, among other Charlotte spots. Expect a feel, according to Torio, that's "where Uptown meets Plaza Midwood and Myers Park... an event experience."

The place will be open daily, serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and will offer complimentary valet parking. Info: 704-919-1322;

Monday, May 7, 2012

The CLT barbecue sauce winners!

Favorite part of this video, which reveals the winners of the Charlotte in 2012 barbecue sauce contest: Mimosa Grill chef Jon Fortes being diplomatic.

LEAN certified?

The U.S. Healthful Food Council just launched, a nonprofit, non-government group which aims to "improve the health of Americans by providing incentives, programs and tools to the foodservice industry to serve more fresh, minimally processed, local, and environmentally friendly options," according to a press release.

The gist? The group plans to promote places using what it considers nutritional best practices with labels and incentives, similar to what the U.S. Green Building Council did with LEED certification for structures. (LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; this plans to pronounce places "LEAN certified" -- Leadership in Environment And Nutrition.)

“Eating out has become a necessity for most Americans of all of ages and demographics, which means the restaurant and foodservice industry has unprecedented influence over the food choices and, consequently, the overall health of America,” says USHFC president Lawrence Williams. “The hyper-competitive nature of the restaurant business results in tremendous pressure to reduce costs, which typically comes at the price of consumers’ health.”

Places that use fresh produce, "moderate" portions, minimally processed foodstuffs, few additives, environmentally and humanely raised foods and special offerings, from kids' menus to gluten-free dishes, will get "credit."

Restaurants will be the group's first focus, but it also will look at grocers, markets and schools. More info:

Free Chick-fil-A for teachers

Chick-fil-A restaurants in the metro Charlotte area will give one free biscuit or sandwich to teachers and school staffers (must have valid school ID) from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 8.

The deal is valid for drive-through, too.

(Did you know there are 39 Chick-fil-As in the metro area? You can find them at

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bits, crumbs, wine

A farmer dinner May 21 at Fern brings five courses (vegetarian, but not vegan) with wine and beer pairings. Among planned dishes are summer gazpacho with Kuentz-Bas Alsace Blend. $45; 1323 Central Ave.; reservations: 704-377-1825.

Osso plans a five-course Italian wine dinner May 23, with courses ranging from oven-roasted calamari with crab and herb stuffing and Caposaldo Prosecco to pan-seared rabbit thigh and sausage with 2010 Michele Chiarlo "Le Orme" Barbera d'Asti and more. $65; 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd.; 704-971-0550.

Cafe Monte in Charlotte, along with The Bistro at Childress Vineyards in Lexington and Fearrington Granary in Pittsboro, made a national list of best brunch spots culled from reviews by Open Table (online reservations) customers.

Links of the week: Beer, map, Beard

Beer sommeliers = cicerones (ciceroni?) = interesting, here and here.

The Guardian creates an interactive map on one poll of the World's Best 50 Restaurants. Note the continental divide... here.

Really excited about the James Beard Awards? You can figure out how to follow the Monday presentation online here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

'Invite for a Bite': What do you think?

Cressida Howard in England invented "Invite for a Bite," a website on which women -- and only women -- around the world can search for dinner partners or invite others to a meal.

The idea: Women on their own for whatever reason (single, spouse or significant other traveling, woman traveling in a place where it's frowned on for a woman to go out alone, etc.) can have a hard time finding someone to go out to eat with. And, said the Charlotte reader who called the site to my attention: "I do not enjoy going out to eat by myself, especially if it’s a good restaurant ... a lot of people assume you either have no friends at all or are trying to get picked up. Also, you have to find something to do (read a book, fake a telephone conversation, text on your phone, etc. so you don't look so 'alone' which is ridiculous."

Men aren't allowed to participate; you also can't bring kids, since they can "raise safety concerns," as the site's FAQs explain. There's a section of safety tips, too, though it concludes with "If the fear of ‘stranger danger’ puts you off meeting people through Invite For A Bite, consider this: if you fell off your bike, or tripped over in the street on your own, who would stop and ask if you were okay? A stranger. And didn't your best friend use to be one of those once?"

On the site, you can search timeframes and locations for invitations already posted by others, or create your own. Though I checked in the Charlotte area today and found nothing in the next two months, the Charlotte reader had better luck when she first found it: "To my complete surprise, there was someone in Plaza-Midwood looking to meet at the Soul Gastrolounge on Central Avenue (that) next Wednesday evening... I think there are probably a lot of single women of all ages in this area who would be very interested in this."

A 65-cent burger

All Shoney’s offer their All-American Burger for 65 cents today (May 3, 11 a.m. to closing), to celebrate the company's anniversary of 65 years in business. It's the chain's best-selling burger, 6 ounces with fixings. Info and locations at

Uptown plans: Lesson, cocktails, 'porktastic'ness

On May 15, Levine Museum of the New South hosts "New South for the New Southerner - Eating Local" with Cassie Parsons of Harvest Moon Grille, Mecklenburg extension specialist Kristin Davis and guests, talking about area food and farming cultures, then and now. It's $10 (free for museum members) and includes wine and a buffet dinner: 704-333-1887 ext. 501.

Halcyon hosts a Sunday cocktail brunch May 20 with three courses, each paired with a cocktail. Among them is chef Marc Jacksina's "Lardcore Fried Chicken," which I will now nominate for best-named dish so far in 2012; and mixologist Maggie Ruppert's "ham hock bloody mary mix." $55; community seating; 500 S. Tryon St.; reservations: 704-910-0865.

UPDATE: This dinner has been cancelled: June 18 at Harvest Moon (235 N. Tryon St.) will be a "Porktastic 5-course dinner," with food paired with Charlotte's Birdsong Brewing Company beers. 704-342-1193.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New pizza place at uptown market

Pure Pizza holds its grand opening 11 a.m.-9 p.m. today (May 2) at the 7th Street Public Market at 255 E. 7th St. Calling itself "Charlotte’s only Farm-2-Fork Pizzeria," the place uses "a special mix of ancient grains" (yes, that does sound like Peter Reinhart, who is listed as chef) in the dough and locally sourced toppings. There'll be live music 6-9 p.m. and beer specials, too. is the website, but you'll find more info (like the photo here) on its Facebook page here.

Durham's Magnolia Grill closing

Ben and Karen Barker will close their Durham landmark restaurant Magnolia Grill at the end of May, reports the Raleigh News & Observer here. "We have co-workers we’ve been around more than our sons - it’s time for that to change," the much-decorated cooking couple said in an email. Raleigh food writer Andrea Weigl wrote about their influence here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wine events on the way

Blue does a Sicilian wine and food pairing May 10, with winemaker Alberto Graci on hand (and his limited Etna Rosso Quota 600. Five courses (such as arancini with braised short rib stuffing; grilled swordfish; pistachio semifreddo) for $45. Reservations required: 704-927-2583; Hearst Plaza uptown.

Bonterra hosts "7 Pinots & 1 Syrah" May 17 with sibling wineries Siduri and Novy, and winemaker Adam Lee on hand. Among the five courses: seafood ceviche and stuffed Niman Ranch pork chop "saltimbocca." $79; 1829 Cleveland Ave.; 704-333-9463.