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 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

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; (Photos from Bite Your Tongue's website.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Coming up: Brewer's Ball, Tavern 24

Sept. 8 at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is The Brewer's Ball, a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Charlotte. Tickets are $75 (with $30 of that tax-deductible). You'll get to sample ales and lagers from area microbrewers, along with food from area restaurants, and a silent auction is planned. Featured brewers: Big Boss Brewing, Birdsong Brewing, Carolina Brewery, Four Friends Brewing, Highland Brewing, LoneRider Brewery, NoDa Brewing, Olde Hickory Brewery, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Triple C Brewing World of Beer and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly. Restaurants and food purveyors include All American Pub, Cupcrazed Cakery, East Blvd. Bar & Grill, Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse, JJ’s Red Hots, Kickstand, The Liberty, Midwood Smokehouse and Whiskey Warehouse. Info: Email Dede Brand at or call 704-321-7852.

Tavern 24 will open in December at 421 Cox Road in Gastonia, if all goes according to plan for Cafe Enterprises Inc. (parent company of FATZ). The tagline: Tavern 24 is "for anyone who'd rather drink in a restaurant than eat in a bar." Described as a laid-back tavern environment with American cuisine, it's slated to seat about 260. Its name comes from the "unlikely coincidence" that there are 24 hours in a day and 24 beers in a case. So you get its drift. Fare includes a stuffed beer burger (marinated with stout and stuffed with Monterey Jack and cheddar), baked wings, thin-crust pizza and salads.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Coming up

The Wine Shop hosts a Solena dinner Aug. 21 with Solena's Doug Cohen on hand. Among the courses: pan-seared scallops and succotash medley with 2009 Elvenglade Chardonnay, and pork rillettes with cherry compote and 2010 Domaine Danielle Laurent Pinot Noir. $60; 7824 Fairview Road; 704-365-6550.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Arthur's Uptown closing

Arthur's Uptown at One Wells Fargo -- 301 S. College St. -- will close after lunch Aug. 17. There's been an Arthur's at that location since the building opened, in 1988, says Arthur's John Balsley, and there's been at Arthur's in uptown for more than 40 years. It was originally in the Ivey's building.

UPDATE: Balsley confirms it was a volume-based decision: "We leased 4600 square feet of prime Uptown retail space," he wrote me in an e-mail. "To make the business model work with only one meal per day and weekdays only, our volume was no longer sufficient to support the rent structure. We have had an incredible run Uptown and are grateful for many loyal customers and wonderful memories of serving them. We plan to operate in Belk at SouthPark for many years to come."

That's the Arthur's in Belk at SouthPark, which will continue to operate as both restaurant and wine shop; Balsley notes it's been in Belk since '91, and at SouthPark since '74 (formerly, again, in Ivey's).

Have a favorite memory of Arthur's as an uptown place? Feel free to share. Old-timers may remember the Observer's Lew Powell rooting up who Arthur was: Arthur Pressman, who had a wine and gourmet shop on West Fifth Street in the old Clayton Hotel. "I decided to retire, and two young fellows bought my inventory," Pressman told Powell. "They asked if they could use my name and I said of course ... I feel good the boys are doing good." That was in 1984; Pressman was 77. The young fellows were brothers John and Robert Balsley, who added sandwiches, moved Arthur's into Ivey's and had expanded to five locations by the mid-80s.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Art, lunch, discount

Through August, try the new tuna sandwich on focaccia ($9) at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art's cafe and you get 10 percent off your total purchase in the museum store (you must buy within two days of eating). The cafe's open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday and Wednesday-Saturday; 420 S. Tryon St.; 704-353-9200. Here's the menu.

Vegan wine dinner at Fern

Fern will focus on Carmel Road white wines for a five-course vegan dinner Aug. 20, beginning with Lenny Boy Kombucha cocktails and appetizers on the patio. (Wondering about kombucha? It's essentially a sparkling fermented tea.) In the lineup: chilled apple, melon and fennel soup with "Liberated" Chardonnay; smoked chickpea-stuffed baby eggplant with Monterey Riesling; olive oil cake with housemade vegan ricotta and Solletico Prosecco; and more. $60; reservations: 704-377-1825; 1323 Central Ave.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BlackFinn offers prizes

For its four-year anniversary, BlackFinn at the EpiCentre plans a party 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Aug. 24 (into Aug. 25), with giveaways, including an "Ultimate Charlotte Prize Pack." That's four passes to a Panthers game, a Bobcats game, a NASCAR race, the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament "and more!" 210 E. Trade St.; 704-971-4440.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Global celebrates 6 years

Global has turned 6 years old -- "hard to believe," says chef-owner Bernard Brunet -- and among the current menu offerings are beef tartare with pickled baby squash from New Town Farms (above) and heirloom tomato salad. The rest of the menu is here. 3520 Toringdon Way; 704-248-0866.

The Krispy cometh

Krispy Kreme plans to open a new store at 119 N. Sharon Amity Road on Sept. 24. Starting at 6 a.m. (when, of course, the "HOT" light goes on), there'll be prizes (including a year's worth of free doughnuts and t-shirt to the first 100 customers in line), with a ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m. Yes, this location will have a drive-through, and the store will be open 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. (And about the year's worth: The first person in line gets one dozen original glazed per week for a year; the next 99 get a dozen per month for a year.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New at Terrace Cafe

Terrace Cafe (both at SouthPark and Ballantyne) has revamped its dinner menu to reflect its new Modern American Southern direction. Among illustrative dishes: barbecue calamari (offered as one of an often-changing lineup of small plates), halibut with sweet corn beurre blanc, and shrimp and grits. 4625 Piedmont Row Drive, 704-554-6177; and 14815 Ballantyne Village Way, 704-369-5190.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Providence Cafe becomes Napa on Providence

Look for Napa on Providence to open in early November at the former Providence Cafe spot. Jeff and Paula Conway, franchisees of Ruth's Chris in two Charlotte locations, as well as in Asheville and Savannah, are running the new place, bringing in chef Mark Allison, dean of culinary education at the Charlotte Johnson & Wales, as a consultant. Also en route: Joe Lazar, formerly at Ruth's Chris uptown, will be general manager, with Max Gilland of the SouthPark location coming on to oversee beverages, along with sommelier Doug Snyder.

Jeff Conway said in a press release that they're “thrilled" to acquire what he termed a "trophy location"; "best practices of Napa food and beverage" and a decor that's "comfortable and earthy" are the goals. Former owner Don Both is helping with transition for "many" of Providence Cafe's key employees, according to the release.

A taste of dishes planned: asparagus flan with smoked salmon; prosciutto-wrapped tuna sandwich; country ham with goat ricotta, melon, basil and mint; housemade charcuterie; and artisan cheeses with dried fruit compote.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Yiasou moves (date, that is)

Yiasou, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral's Greek festival in Dilworth, which is usually the weekend after Labor Day, will be a week later this year: Sept. 13 to 16. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Admission, as usual, is $2, and the food lineup, as always, ranges from Greek pastries to lamb, chicken and fish entrees. Details:

Taste of the World art contest

The winning artwork for this noteworthy area event last year (shown in the flyer) was by Abel (Ronnie) Jackson III.

Friday, August 3, 2012

On tipping: a new perspective

Aaron Collins, according to his family, thought tipping could change things. This story, and the video below (but read the story first), sounds as if Aaron, who died July 7, might have been right.

Free at Moe's, deal at Del Frisco's, discounted at Palm

The 12 Charlotte-area locations Moe's host the chain's first Facebook Fan Appreciation Day Aug. 15: Fans of will get one free junior burrito; the deal is offered all day. You'll need to show on your phone or a printout that you're a fan.

Del Frisco's offers, throughout August, a three-course steak and seafood menu for $49.50: crabcake with choice of 8-ounce filet mignon, 12-ounce Prime strip or 12-ounce Prime ribeye -- plus salad, side and dessert. 4725 Piedmont Row Drive; 704-552-5502.

Through August, Classic and Signature cocktails and after-dinner drinks are $8.37 (referencing The Palm’s first location at 837 Second Ave. in NYC) all day Monday-Friday at Palm Bar. Phillips Place; 704-552-7256.

Wine, beer dinners approach

Osso hosts a five-course Justin wine dinner with master sommelier Joseph Spellman Aug. 8. Among the fare: roasted guinea hen with grapes and grappa with 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, and duo of grilled lamb loin eye and lamb cheek sugo with 2009 Isosceles (that's a Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc). $65; reservations required: 704-971-0550. 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd.

D'Vine Wine Cafe's third annual beer dinner/cookout will be Aug. 16, with Bell's brews and courses that include fish tacos, tandoori chicken lollipops, orange-bourbon-glazed babyback ribs and more. $49.99; reservations required: 704-369-5050; 14815 John J. Delaney Drive.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Updated: Continuing, and coming up

Del Frisco's offers, throughout August, a three-course steak and seafood menu for $49.50: crabcake with choice of 8-ounce filet mignon, 12-ounce Prime strip or 12-ounce Prime ribeye -- plus salad, side and dessert. 4725 Piedmont Row Drive; 704-552-5502.

Blue extends the three-for-$30 Restaurant Week deal to Aug. 18. 704-927-2583; Hearst Plaza uptown.

Among dishes on the new menu at the Villa Antonio at 4707 South Blvd.: lollipop lamb chops (braised, with mint butter); chicken Tuscany (pan-seared, with baby spinach, mozzarella, goatcheese/garlic pomodoro sauce, with Gorgonzola gnocchi); and spinach salad with strawberries and feta. 704-523-1594.

Food trucks will be on hand during this week's South End gallery crawl Aug. 3, with film to follow (7-10 p.m.): "Carolina Stories," videos described as "showcasing unique people, places and community efforts from Charlotte and the Carolinas."

Wish Julia Child happy birthday (and eat her food)

Julia Child would have turned 100 on Aug. 15. Among the celebrations: special menus at a handful of Charlotte restaurants that honor the legendary chef and teacher. Here's what's up:

Fern will offer a three-course meal of choices for $30 (and you can get wine pairings, for an additional $15) through the week of Aug 7–15. The choices: Greek mushroom salad with creamed onions; scalloped potatoes au gratin; ratatouille; cassoulet; spinach crepe; floating island with sweet potato meringue; duo of chocolate truffles. 1323 Central Ave.; 704-377-1825.

Halcyon will do a three-course meal for $60 (three-wine flight $15 on request) in the same timeframe. The choices: vichyssoise with chilled moonshine; soup au pistou (vegetable soup); N.C. teres major (that's a cut of steak, known for its tenderness); roast chicken with garlic and lemon; N.C. bourride (a fish stew using N.C. daily catch); peach tarte tatin; and crème brûlée. 500 S. Tryon. St. in the Mint Museum; 704-910-0865.

Something Classic Cafes will do take-home specials, ranging from vichyssoise to coq au vin to boeuf bourguignon. 1419 East Blvd., 704-347-3666; and
220 N. Tryon St., 704-331-9158.

e2 will offer, Aug. 7-15, an a la carte Child menu: vichyssoise for $8; curly endive and bacon with poached egg for $12, and cherry flan with liqueur for $9. 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts uptown (between Tryon and Church streets); 704-414-4787.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tequila, wine dinners

The Palm plans a four-course Patron tequila dinner Aug. 10, with the pairings including Nova Scotia lobster gazpacho with Patron Silver; choice of pan-seared Chilean sea bass with anejo cream sauce or ancho-chile-rubbed filet mignon with poblano butter, both with Patron Reposado; and more. $120 ($95 for 837 Club members); 6705-B Phillips Place Court; reservations: Call Leigh Whicker at 704-552-7450 or email

The Wooden Vine hosts a Pacific Northwest wine dinner Aug. 21. Among the courses: maple-smoked salmon with purple sweet potato Lyonnaise with 2010 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Villages Cuvee, Willamette Valley; elk with five-spice marinade and rye bread pudding with 2008 L’ecole No 41 Merlot, Columbia Valley; and more. $65; 231 N. Tryon St.; 704-376-8463.

Links of the week: $666 burgers, Yelp, Ted Allen

Ted Allen (remember him from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "Chopped"?) gives the James Beard House the skinny on N.C. barbecue. Because, you know, we always use pickled red onions...

The psychology behind a $2,300 hot dog, from The Atlantic. Note: A plethora of links within!

I'm picturing an evening of this at Actor's Theatre: Yelp reviews, read by professional actors. I die...

What's top fast-food chain in country?

Depends on whether you're looking at number of locations or amount of sales - and, to be clear, we're talking both "fast-casual" and "quick-service." QSR, a trade magazine (short for quick service restaurant), offers a chart of the top 50 in the country; you can sort them any way you like.
Highlights: McDonald's easily tops sales, though Subway has the most units. Starbucks places third and Burger King fifth either way you look at it. Chick-fil-A - which is 21st in number of units and 10th in sales totals - tops the sales-per-unit category, handily beating McDonald's.