Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Historic Haberdash in Dilworth?

Look for the Haberdash House, from the Crepe Cellar and Growlers folks, to open in Dilworth in 2014. Jeff Tonidandel says the spot, in the former Red Sky Gallery at 1244 East Blvd., will be a gastropub similar to the Crepe Cellar but "a little more high end" with a craft cocktail bar on the second floor, with housemade tonic and the like. He's looking at a late fall opening, most likely.

"We are trying to do some research on historic Charlotte recipes," Tonidandel said in an email. Cool idea. Any thoughts?

Monday, December 16, 2013

New, chef-driven, in Fort Mill

The Flipside Cafe is now open in Fort Mill, from chef Amy Kumpf, former sous chef at Upstream, with some help from Jon Fortes (executive chef at Mimosa Grill, a sibling restaurant to Upstream, in the Harper's Restaurant Group).

Serving breakfast and lunch daily and dinner Monday-Saturday, it opens at 7 a.m. weekdays (10 a.m. on weekends) and focuses on what Kumpf calls "simple, upscale-casual, comfort food that's homemade with the freshest ingredients, as local as possible." Among the offerings at dinner: the Flipside Melt (beef and pimento cheese on brioche), Amy's Shepherd Pie (using braised short rib) and roasted salmon with asparagus "noodles," grits and bacon jam, with entrees about $10-$18. Breakfast ($5-$12) ranges from buttermilk waffles to lobster quiche to housemade granola, while lunch and brunch bridge the two.

3150 U.S. 21 North, Suite 112 (formerly Eat Well Cafe, with a significant upfit), Fort Mill; 803-802-1711; www.theflipsidecafesc.com (photo from its Facebook page).

Dine out, bring toys

Bring a new, unwrapped toy to BLT Steak through Dec. 20 and buy an entree and you'll get a signature dessert for free. The restaurant will pass along the gifts to Toys for Tots. 110 N. College St.; 704-972-4380.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lunches start at Tupelo Honey; Mellow opening

Tupelo Honey will open for weekday lunch earlier than planned: It'll start serving at 11 a.m. Dec. 16, followed by the kickoff of regular weekend hours (meaning it'll open at 8 a.m. for breakfast) starting Dec. 21. 1820 South Blvd.; 980-225-9167; tupelohoneycafe.com/location/charlotte.

And the Mellow Mushroom in uptown opens Monday, too, at 255 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.: That's in the Catalyst building, next to Romare Bearden Park. 704-371-4725; www.mellowmushroom.com/store/charlotte-uptown.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Links of the week: Turducken of the sea

I've had nights like this:

Here,The Smithsonian takes a look at FDA's going after antibiotic use on farms, with links to good explanatory stuff.

And are apple cores just a myth?

More Cowfish

Universal Orlando, a resort with two theme parks and a plethora of other stuff (the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!), is adding The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar to its CityWalk area, the gateway area that is adding plenty of other stuff, too, in the next six months or so, from a Mexican spot called Antojitos to The Hot Dog Hall of Fame to Menchie's and Cold Stone Creamery.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dine out, do good

Eat at the Crepe Cellar Dec. 17 and 100 percent of the revenue (not profit -- all of it) will go to Second Harvest Food Bank. Tagline for the event (here on Facebook): "You do the eating. We'll do the donating." 3116 N. Davidson St.; 704-910-6543; www.crepecellar.com.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday hours

Lulu will be open Christmas Eve for lunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) and dinner (5-9 p.m.), then again Dec. 26 for its eighth anniversary (same hours, plus an hour later at dinner). For New Year's Eve, it will open for lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and dinner 5-11, and will serve brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. New Year's Day. Reservations: 704-376-2242; 1911 Central Ave.

Siblings Toscana, Mezzanotte and Trattoria Antica will all be open Christmas Eve. Toscana will offer a special menu in addition to its usual, with fare ranging from calamari stuffed with crabmeat to oven-baked branzino with porcini and potatoes. Toscana: 6401 Morrison Blvd., 704-367-1808; Mezzanotte: 2907 Providence Road, 704-365-4650; Antica: 3909 Providence Road in Waxhaw, 704-243-0633.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bits and pieces

Blake Hartwick is now executive chef at Blackthorne Restaurant, where his entree list ranges from chicken pot pie (done with Poultry Junction organic chicken and hen of the woods mushrooms) to cider-braised pork cheeks and five-spice pork belly with skillet corn pudding to osso buco with smoked chevre pierogies. 11318 North Community House Road; 704-817-5554.

The "No Kid Hungry" campaign continues at Harper's and other restaurants through Jan. 31 or so: American Express will donate $1 to the campaign, through national organization Share Our Strength, every time diners use their American Express cards at an "eligible dining establishment." (The donation is capped at $1 million, so it could conceivably end before Jan. 31.) Register your card here.

Get "endless fondue" at the Melting Pot at Midtown or Lake Norman Dec. 9-11 and support the Levine Children's Hospital's "Give Here for Kids Here." The dinner is four courses for $39.95, or three courses for kids 12 and younger for $19.95. Three dollars from each dinner will go to the initiative (no other discounts apply), and note: It's the entree fondue and the chocolate dessert fondue that are "endless," not the cheese. Midtown: 901 S. Kings Drive, 704-334-4400; Lake Norman: 16625 Statesville Road, 704-987-2251.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

More big opening news: French!

Lumiere, the newest from The Liberty partners Matthew Pera and chef Tom Condron, is slated to open Jan. 2 (see next blog item for coincidental timing) in the extensively reworked former Einstein Bagel spot in Myers Park, at 1039 Providence Road.

Condron will do upscale French food with some modern twists, says Pera, like the "modern duck a l'orange" above (photo from the restaurant), as well as classics. Below, see local Prime beef and local egg. Expect entrees in the $25-$35 range.

Since the name means "light" in French, also expect to see some really interesting things done with light in the space, designed by Wagner Murray, along with wallpapers and finishings and "lots of little visual surprises," says Pera: "We've spent a little bit of money on those," says Pera. "We're trying to put something in Charlotte that isn't here... For such a small space (it'll seat 55), there'll be so much to look at."

Info: www.facebook.com/lumierecharlotte.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chef Moffett's newest coming soon

Stagioni, the newest restaurant from Charlotte chef Bruce Moffett, is expected to open to the public Jan. 2 in Myers Park, in the historic Reynolds-Gourmajenko House (715 Providence Road).

The third restaurant -- after Good Food on Montford followed his original, Barrington's (both still open) -- will focus on Italian fare. Moffett is bringing Larry Schreiber, executive sous chef at Good Food, into the new place as executive chef.

Stagioni means "seasons" in Italian, and the 90-seat place will offer build-your-own plates of antipasti, bruschette and charcuterie, featuring area products, plus tuna carpaccio, fettuccine with wild boar ragu, halibut with escarole and more, including pizzas from a wood-fired oven.

Info: www.stagioniclt.com; 704-372-8110. (Photos from the restaurant.)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend plans

If you want the best chance at all the tickets you want from the Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend coming up in April, plan to be at the "official ticket launch party" Jan. 18 at Bonterra. More than 30 events will be held during this, the 25th anniversary Weekend (it's April 22-26). The upcoming Weekend's beneficiaries are Pat's Place, the Council for Children's Rights, Second Harvest Food Bank and Charlotte Concerts. Info: www.charlottewineandfood.org.

Links of the week: Could Applebee's replace servers with ... tablets?

* Applebee's has announced it will put a tablet at every table at every restaurant across the country in 2014, letting diners, as Slate puts it, "order food, pay the bill, and ignore their dining companions by playing video games." Chili's announced the same thing in mid-September. Will that mean a reduction in servers? Interesting question.

* Know who stole $25,000 worth of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and rye whiskey from a kentucky distillery? Spill and you could get 10 grand.


Fans of the animated Bob's Burgers will find recipes for an astounding range of the bizarro burgers -- favorite to date: "The Cauliflower's Cumin from Inside the House" -- made up on the show on this Tumblr account.

Monday, December 2, 2013

'Random Acts of BBQ'

Besides coming up with the best name for a promotion I can recall, Sonny's BBQ (multiple locations) is onto something with this: Guests get to nominate a deserving individual or family in their community to receive a free holiday meal. "We have all been touched ... by stories of those who triumph over adversity or give of themselves. Sonny's BBQ wants to hear those stories ... and reward some of those nominees," said Michael Alberici in the press release about the nominations, which will be accepted until Jan. 15.

Submit your nomination for "Random Acts of BBQ" through the website randomactsofbbq.com; up to 100 people in the nine states where Sonny's operates will get the meal, a choice of a ham or turkey dinner with fixings, sides and banana pudding, according to press materials.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Harvest Moon Grille closing, new concept on way

Harvest Moon Grille's last day of operations will be New Year's Day, consultant Craig Spitzer confirmed today. Plans call for the Dunhill Hotel uptown, where the restaurant is housed, to open a new concept in the space Feb. 1, with chef Chris Coleman, recently hired as culinary director for the hotel, at the helm.

You can get a sneak peek at what sorts of dishes the new place might offer at the Dunhill's bar, which will stay open throughout, serving a limited food menu. Coleman, formerly with the McNinch House, has said he wants to bring a fine-dining edge to the local/regional products the Moon has specialized in since opening in 2010.

In-house guests will be served breakfast in the second-floor Asbury Room, and room service will continue to be offered while the restaurant is closed. The name of the new spot is still being discussed, and, said Spitzer, "Chef Coleman is working on his own vision for the space ... We absolutely will continue to support and work with the local/regional network of farmers."

Chef Cassie Parsons, who left Harvest Moon in August (she'd opened it after beginning with a food truck with that name), said her new venture, farmer*baker*sausagemaker in Lincolnton, should open in March.

The Dunhill: 237 N. Tryon St.; 704-332-4141.

Friday, November 22, 2013

New bistro now open uptown

Tanner's Bistro & Lounge is now open in the former Kalu spot at 6th and Caldwell streets uptown. Paul Manley of Damian Dining, which launched the place, said he's pleased they could hire Eric Litaker as executive chef for this, a "New American bistro with Asian accents." Diners might remember Litaker from his work at the defunct Providence Cafe.

Dinner and late-night dining are offered now, with a lineup ranging from dumplings, burgers and sandwiches, to entrees such as pork tenderloin wrapped in pork belly and roasted, with charred okra and forbidden rice, and sorghum-glazed salmon with pickled vegetables and crisp house rice cake. Entrees run about $16 to $34. Look for lunch in the new year. (Photo from the website.)

505 E. 6th St.; 980-237-3134; www.tannersbistro.com/.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New in Waxhaw: Heritage

Chef Paul Verica's new Heritage Food & Drink opened this week, at 201 W. South Main St. in Waxhaw.

Here, the former chef at the private Club at Longview, with partners, aims to focus on farm-to-table fare "with Southern undertones," he's said. A look at the menu is here. I'm looking forward to "Tim's fish with veggies and stuff" and pork belly with bourbon, grits and collards. (Above, from the place's Facebook page, is an appetizer of sweet potato chips with spiced vanilla-bourbon "fluff.")

704-843-5236; www.heritagefoodanddrink.com.

By the way, you can get posts now on Google+ at www.google.com/+HelenSchwab.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday's Big Question

Women chefs: Discuss.

As in, are there too few? Just not known? Drowning in a good-old-boy world? Ignored by big-city media? Ignored by all media? Covered about right? A non-issue?

Time's Nov. 18 "The Gods of Food" cover has spawned all sorts of feedback; possibly my favorite standing woman-chef-recognition program is Amanda Cohen's of Dirt Candy in NYC: Some of her "Lady Chef Stampede" is here.

The gist: Time listed not a single woman chef in its pantheon -- but did list four women who do other things. No women in the family tree graphic below also led to comments. (The NYT moderated a nice debate here, and Slate sums lots of it up here.)

The Time story begins "Man doesn't live by Bread alone," which some might say is an oh-so-subtle cue as to which gender is in dominant here; others (like the editor, to Eater) might insist this is just "harsh reality."

Awards-wise, interestingly, last week's James Beard Foundation gala was subtitled "Women in Whites," honoring "the accomplishments of women in our industry." Yet JBF awards don't often go to women. (I'll do the math in a bit; Food & Wine's "Best New Chefs," usually 10 every year (sometimes duos), have named 16 since 2000.)

Charlotte's had women chefs of prominence for years -- think way back to Helen Scruggs, Ellen Davis (now an owner) and Catherine Rabb (now at JW), then forward to Cassie Parsons and Alyssa Gorelick and Juli Luna. Add the restaurateurs -- Jill Marcus and Karen Teed, Bonnie Warford and Tricia Maddrey, Fran Scibelli, Cathy Coulter and Susie Peck for instance -- and then add ones that might not spring to mind quickly but are memorable: Joanie Babcock, Martine Johnson and Erin McManus, for instance, and food truck females Kelli Crisan and 'Emma Merisier. These are a quick thought -- who am I missing right off the bat?

What say you on this topic?

(WFAE's "Charlotte Talks" plans a show about this in December, if you're the sort who likes to say what you think aloud, on-air.)

Time's family-tree chef graphic (click to enlarge, then hit the plus sign):

UPDATE: What'll be open for Thanksgiving?

5Church offers a four-course Thanksgiving meal 2-10 p.m. for $37 ($14 for kids), and a limited a la carte menu will also be available that day. Among the offerings: smoked ham, pan-seared scallops and organic roasted turkey breast and turkey leg confit. Corner of 5th and Church streets; 704-919-1322; www.5church.com.

The Liberty hosts its third annual Thanksgiving dinner 11 a.m.-6 p.m. for $29.95 per person, with a three-course menu that includes heritage turkey, prime rib, Duroc pork, Scottish salmon and more. 1812 South Blvd.; 704-332-8830; the menu's here.

Harper’s at SouthPark will serve a traditional spread 11 a.m.-4 p.m., with turkey, ham and prime rib, for $24 ($10 for kids younger than 10). 6518 Fairview Road; 704-366-6612; menu here.

Blue will be open for Turkey Day brunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., with carving stations of spiral sliced glazed ham and roasted turkey; Moroccan chicken salad; smoked salmon; chicken tagine; and an array of housemade desserts. $39.95 for adults, $14.95 kids 6-12 (5 and younger free); reservations: 704-927-2583. Hearst Tower at College and 5th streets.

The Capital Grille will be open, serving both a special of slow-roasted turkey with sides and its regular dinner menu. 201 N. Tryon St.; 704-348-1400.

Passion8 will serve 2-7 p.m.; the meal is $48, with kids 10 and younger free. 803-802-7455; 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill. Sibling American Cafe (3695 Foothills Way, in the Clarion Hotel, Fort Mill) will also serve that day, with the same pricing. 803-548-1158.

Chef Patty Greene and culinary director Chris Coleman devised "Emma Sue’s Blue Ridge Thanksgiving Dinner" for Harvest Moon Grille, which will be served family-style in two seatings, at 2 and 4 p.m. (Emma Sue is Greene's mom.) Among the offerings: oven-roasted Baucom's Best turkey; cider-brined and smoked ham; collards with house-cured bacon; and more. $39.99 for adults, $19.99 children 10 and younger. The restaurant will also serve breakfast that morning until 10:30 a.m. In the Dunhill Hotel, 235 N. Tryon St.; 704-342-1193.

Lulu will be open 11 a.m.-4 p.m., with its regular dinner menu and a fixed-price meal that's three courses (with oven-roasted turkey and sides as the entree) for $30 ($15 for kids 12 and younger). Reservations: 704-376-2242; 1911 Central Ave.

Both Red Rocks Cafes will offer brunch buffet 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (that's the last seating time), by reservation only -- and the menus will differ a bit (but both will have turkey and prime rib; see www.redrockscafe.com for details). $27 adults, $13 children. Birkdale Village in Huntersville: 704-892-9999; Strawberry Hill, 4223 Providence Road; 704-364-0402.

Brunch at the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge will be noon-4 p.m., with carving stations and live entertainment. $65, $32 for children 5-12, free for children 4 and younger. Private dining rooms are available for groups. At Gallery, the lodge's restaurant (that's it, above, in its newly renovated form), the regular menu plus a traditional turkey dinner special will be offered (reservations required): 704-248-4100; 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

Monday, November 18, 2013

More trendwatching for '14

Andrew Freeman & Co. calls its trend report "Blurred Lines" (then again, its press materials also mention its "trendologists"):


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Trending: Sour cocktails, 'family values'?

Technomic, a national consulting and research firm for the food industry, predicts the top 10 trends in 2014. Which thrill you? Which disgust you? Which are ... meh?

1. Convince me it’s real: Menus describing local sources, restaurants being "true to place," as in "if the restaurant positions itself as authentically Italian, for instance, it must use ingredients sourced from Italy and/or prepared using authentic Italian methods."

2. Pushing the parameters of proteins: Lots of chicken, more pork, lamb and game, egg and vegetarian alternatives, from mushrooms to beans to soy-based products. (Not sure what's trendy here, but ... it's their contention.)

3. Return of the carbs: Ramen to buckwheat noodles to other-ingredient pastas; rice bowls, flatbreads, waffles!

4. Creamy, cheesy, high-fat goodness: As backlash to healthier eating, more cheese melts "and oddities like doughnut-based sandwiches."

5. Pucker up: Pickled, fermented and sour foods, from kimchi to sour cocktails in reaction to "last year's candy-sweet drinks."

6. Day for night: "Consumers are less likely to eat according to a three-square-meals schedule; they nosh, skip meals, eat breakfast for dinner and vice versa." So restaurants are doing innovative breakfast items and serving them all day, etc.

7. Every daypart is a snack daypart: "The snacking lifestyle goes mainstream" so customers look for snack-size handhelds, car-friendly packaging, sharing dishes and flights.

8. On tap: Tap technology for cold-brewed coffee, sodas, wines and more.

9. For fast service, bring your own device: Ordering in advance and in the restaurant using your mobile device.

10. Everything is political: "Consciously or unconsciously, (customers) will gravitate to concepts that share their worldview, and some restaurants will promote this cultural identification."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beaujolais on the way

Celebrate the first grape harvests of the year -- aka "Les premières vendanges" -- by tasting the 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau and other wines from the Beaujolais region 6-9 p.m. Nov. 21 at Foundation For The Carolinas' Luski Gallery. Charlotte is one of 16 cities in the United States that is "an official Beaujolais city" as recognized by the Union Interprofessionelle des Vins du Beaujolais. Also on hand: French food from Santé and a dessert demo, plus a silent auction, raffles, live jazz and other entertainment (fencing! ballroom dancing!). $30, increasing to $35 after Nov. 15 ($25 for members of the Charlotte International Cabinet and Alliance Française; $60 for VIP tickets). 220 N. Tryon St.; 704-336-2174 or charlotteinternational.org, or afcharlotte.org.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bits, Blue and a BOGO

As final exams approach, Chipotle (multiple locations) has an offer: Bring your student ID into any N.C. Chipotle and get BOGO (buy one get one) on burritos, bowls, tacos or salads 6-10 p.m. Nov. 12.

"Rhapsody at Blue" happens Nov. 17: It's a five-course dinner with wine and music "pairings" from Charlotte Symphony musicians, plus a silent auction, for $150. Among the courses: seared jumbo scallops over pumpkin risotto with 2011 Benziger Sonoma County Chardonnay and Andrew Fierova, French horn; and Wagyu ribeye roasted with a pepper crust and savory goat cheese and mushroom bread pudding, with 2009 St. Francis Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and both Elizabeth Rennie, soprano, and Leo Soto, marimba. 206 N. College St. in the Hearst Tower; phone reservations to Sara Gibson at 704-714-5108.

Sullivan’s Steakhouse has a new lunch menu, with more quicker, lighter dishes, including sandwiches also available as lettuce wraps and a fixed-price meal ($18.50) called The Mixer. Among the new are an Asian Crunch salad (arugula, Napa cabbage, mango), lobster roll on buttered brioche bun and pulled chipotle chicken tacos. The Mixer is a choice of starter, entree and side from a lineup that includes the wedge salad, shrimp and lobster bisque, and porcini-shallot-crusted strip steak. 1928 South Blvd.; 704-335-8228.

Friday, November 8, 2013

UPDATED: Specials for veterans

On Nov. 10 (the Sunday before Veteran's Day), McCormick & Schmick’s honors U.S. military veterans with a complimentary lunch or dinner entrée from a special menu including fried shrimp, salmon, fish and chips, beef medallions and more. Verification of service is required. 200 S. Tryon St. and 4335 Barclay Downs Drive in Charlotte.

On Veteran’s Day itself, Nov. 11, FATZ Cafe (multiple locations) will serve a free entree to veterans and active duty military personnel: They can order any item up to $15 from the full menu. No purchase is required; show proof of service when ordering.

BLT Steak offers any veteran or member of the active military a 50 percent discount off the total check for parties of one or two, or a 25 percent discount for parties of three or more. 201 E. Trade St.; 704-972-4350.

On The Border (multiple locations) offers veterans and active military a free "Create Your Own Combo" feature.

Shoney's (multiple locations) will give a free All-American Burger to all veterans and troops on that day.

Offers require proof of military service.

And a recap: Brazilian grill Chima offers a buy-one-get-one-free offer on its rodizio (the all-you-can-eat meal) to veterans and active military with appropriate ID on both Nov. 11 and 12. 139 S. Tryon St.; 704-601-4141.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wine dinners

Bonterra hosts an Italian wine dinner Nov. 13, with winemaker Michele Satta on hand. Satta is known for Super Tuscan varietals and Sangiovese, from the coastal region around Bolgheri. On the menu by Bonterra chef Bill Schutz: pan-roasted N.C. grouper with caramelized fennel with 2011 Costa di Giulia DOC (Vermentino/Sauvignon); fire-roasted duck breast risotto with red-wine-braised grapes and 2011 Bolgheri Rosso DOC (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sangiovese, Teraldego); rack of lamb with glazed celery root with 2006 Cavaliere (Sangiovese) and 2005 Castagni (Cabernet Sauvignon); and more. $95; the restaurant is at 1829 Cleveland Ave.; reservations: 704-332-9910.

The Palm does a Revana & Alexana Vineyards dinner Nov. 15, with five wines and three courses. Among the offerings: baby arugula, radicchio, Belgian endive and poached Anjou pears with goat cheese and 2011 Alexana Riesling, Revana Vineyard; choice of braised beef short rib or pan-roasted salmon fillet with 2011 Alexana Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, Revana Vineyard, and 2010 Alexana Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard; and more. $125; 6705 Phillips Place; reservations: 704-552-7450 or kjohnson@thepalm.com.

Southside -- mid Charlotte

What was once Andrew Blair's (then, briefly, El Camino) becomes Southside, a lounge open on Friday and Saturday nights and used as a private-event space during the week. Andy Henson says the place caters to young professionals and hopes "to fill the void of upscale nightlife that exists outside of downtown Charlotte."
House cocktails -- including the Southside version of the South Side, traditionally made with gin, mint and citrus -- are on hand, along with a bar menu focusing on comfort foods for sharing, such as mac and cheese, truffle fries and flatbreads. 1600 Montford Drive; 704-525-8282.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nan and Byron's opens at last

Nan and Byron's opens to the public Nov. 7, with opening specials through Nov. 9. Sibling to 5Church and taking the spot of the former Vinnie's Southside Sardine in South End at 1714 South Blvd., the place serves what owners call "traditional American food" and aims to be family friendly.

Look for meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken roasted with Peruvian spices (hey, we're not begrudging a few twists on the theme, are we?) and lamb stew pie, plus a children's menu and a "handcrafted cocktail" lineup, from Farmhouse Lemonade to "G'night Moon," a moonshine drink.

The name? From the iconic "American Gothic" by Grant Wood, the restaurant took the names of his models: Nan, Wood's sister, and Byron, his -- wait for it -- dentist.

Menus are here, and the Facebook page (from which the photo above comes) here. 980-224-7492.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chicago chef Charlie Trotter found dead

The Chicago Tribune reports iconic chef Charlie Trotter, 54, was found dead in his home this morning. Known as a talented and detailed, tough leader who was both generous (he was named the James Beard Foundation's humanitarian of the year in 2012) and volatile, he closed his Charlie Trotter's restaurant last year after 25 years in business, saying he would pursue a master's in philosophy at the University of Chicago. (As a chef, he was self-taught.)

Accolades are arriving from Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to chef friends, and Twitter posts include links to stories of Trotter adventures and well-loved quotes. An autopsy is set for Wednesday, the Tribune reported.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

'Cue tradition revered and served at Midwood

Sam Jones from Skylight Inn in Ayden, a third-generation pitmaster, heads to Midwood Smokehouse to help with a traditional whole hog barbecue dinner with all the trimmings Nov. 20. Jones is the grandson of legendary Skylight founder Pete Jones. He'll work with Midwood pitmaster Matt Barry on a three-course dinner with beers from NoDa Brewing Company. A portion of the proceeds -- tickets are $35 -- will benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance. On the menu: pimento cheese and smoked jalapeno dip, house salad, whole hog 'cue with sides, apple cobbler.

Reservations: 704-295-4227; 1401 Central Ave.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pop up, speak easy

Nov. 2, the Frock Shop hosts a pop-up speakeasy by Haunt Bar -- which means cocktails, though there'll be beer and wine, too, along with food from Letty's and FuManChu CupCakes. Tickets are $25 (admission plus two drinks) and $10 (for the non-alcohol-interested, giving you admission and two non-booze beverages). "Get spiffy with your glad rags" is the dress code (!) and there'll be live ragtime. Tickets here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bits and crumbs and chicken feet

Halloween at Soul will include specials ("Chicken Spell" is glazed chicken feet with grilled hearts and whipped chicken liver mousse; there's also grilled octopus) and cocktail features: These include Fool's Fire (George Dickel Rye, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, housemade pumpkin syrup, Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters and a cinnamon-sugar rim) and Punch of Pamona (clove-infused Muddy River rum, Carriage House apple brandy, organic cider -- all from the area -- and cinnamon-caramel syrup). 1500 Central Ave.; 704-348-1848.

IHOP (multiple locations) will give a free Scary Face Pancake to each trick-or-treater 12 and younger 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 31.

Ruth's Chris SouthPark offers wine specials featuring Ghost Pines for $8 5:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 31, and $8 appetizer specials in the same timeframe: stuffed mushrooms, tenderloin skewers and more. 6000 Fairview Road; 704-556-1115.

Wednesday's Big Question: On beer

Let's try this for a few weeks: I'll ask a Big Question and you tell me what you think.
Question for the week: How much locally brewed beer can Charlotte sustain?

With this week's announcement of the opening of Sycamore Brewing in South End, we're faced with the riches of Olde Mecklenburg, Triple C and Four Friends in that area, plus the new Unknown, Free Range and District 9, plus the established NoDa, Birdsong, Heist and Ass Clown. (That's not mentioning Rock Bottom, which is a national chain but brews on-site.)

Business writer Ely Portillo and I were discussing the pros and cons: Charlotte's clearly a better hub for transporting the wares elsewhere than most N.C. spots, from the owners' perspective, while isn't it a more-and-merrier situation for drinkers? We're not sure. We need good. We need restaurants serving strong local brews.

What think you all?

Pinky's makes Zagat list; Charlotteans' conversational skills questioned

The White Trash Burger at Pinky's Westside Grill made a recent Zagat listing of 50 Burgers in 50 States, complete with the hilarious individual intro: "In Charlotte, a heated conversation about fried pickles isn’t an uncommon thing." Zagat, please see Esquire on the conversational powers of Southerners ...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Final Fire: Chefs battle for state's (bragging) rights

Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill (that's him on the far right) will take on John Bobby of the Winston-Salem Noble's (center) on Nov. 20, in the Got To Be NC competition dining extravaganza's championship bout, dubbed "Final Fire: Battle of the Champions."

This last series, held at Raleigh's Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel, continues Nov. 21 as Dean Thompson of Flights (at the Renaissance Raleigh; he's second from right) takes on the Nov. 20 winner. Then Gerry Fong of Persimmons in New Bern (second from left) goes up against Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill in Asheville on Nov. 22, and that winner takes on the Nov. 21 one in the final knockdown dragout on Nov. 23.

Tickets are $119 (excluding drinks, tax and tip) and go on sale at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at www.competitiondining.com/events/final-fire.

The winner gets $4,000, a hand-forged set of knives from Charlotte-based Ironman Forge and a trip to the pro chef program at the CIA Greystone campus in Napa Valley; runner-up gets $1,000.

A reminder on how it works: Diners get to blind-taste each of six courses created with a featured N.C. ingredient (the chefs, who do three courses each, find out what it is an hour before cooking), and rate them, as do culinary and guest judges, and the ratings are tallied to produce a winner. Photo is from Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series.

Monday, October 28, 2013

'Cooked, Corked, Poured'

The next "Cooked, Corked and Poured" dinner at Wolfgang Puck Pizza|Bar is Oct. 29, with Jim Beam bourbon as the feature. Among the courses: pan-roasted quail with chestnut stuffing and Jim Beam Honey; and porchetta (roasted suckling pig) with Jim Beam Devil's Cut. $50; with space limited (it's on the enclosed patio); 6706-C Phillips Place Court; www.wolfgangpuck.com/pb.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Holidays in Ballantyne

Holiday plans afoot at the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge (always the first to let us know what it's got going on):

Thanksgiving: Brunch will be noon-4 p.m., with carving stations and live entertainment. $65, $32 for children 5-12, free for children 4 and younger. Private dining rooms are available for groups. At Gallery, the lodge's restaurant (that's it, above, in its newly renovated form), the regular menu plus a traditional turkey dinner special will be offered (reservations required): 704-248-4100.

Holiday Afternoon Tea: This will be served in the lobby 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays (except for Christmas Day) Dec. 4-29, with live harp music. $32 for adults, $15 for children 5-12, free for children 4 and younger. A champagne tea is available for $40. Reservations required.

Christmas Eve: Gallery will serve 4-9 p.m.; reservations required.

Christmas Day: A buffet brunch will be served in the lodge noon-4 p.m., with live holiday music. $65, $32 for children 5-12, free for children 4 and younger. Gallery will serve its regular menu and a prime rib special; reservations required.

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge: 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway; www.theballantynehotel.com.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween at the Duke Mansion: Scary!

Check out a bit of Southern Gothic at the Duke Mansion's annual Halloween party, a benefit for the nonprofit, starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 25. The theme: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." Costumes or cocktail attire are appropriate, and there'll be live music, a silent auction and tidbits from chef Harrison Booth, ranging from devils on horseback (dates wrapped with bacon and stuffed with Gorgonzola) and angels on horseback (smoked scallops wrapped with sliced zucchini with yuzu and wasabi) to a grits station to carving stations offering Creole rubbed beef strip loin and turkey with pear cranberry chutney. Desserts and late-night snacks will be on hand as well.

You can make reservations, but walk-ins will also be welcome. Tickets are $75, with $25 of it tax-deductible; 704-714-4445 or kellis@tlwf.org. 400 Hermitage Road.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bits and crumbs

Georges Brasserie hosts the SHUCKED Oyster Feast 6-9 p.m. Oct. 23: all-you-can-eat oysters from both coasts, plus fried oysters, oysters Casino and oysters Rockefeller, plus crab cakes, hush puppies and salad, and unlimited selected wines. $95 for food and drink; $65 for just the food. 4620 Piedmont Row Drive; 980-219-7409. Also new at Georges: Executive chef Joe Lester, who has served as sous chef for the well-known Daniel Boulud.

BLT Steak offers a Highland Brewing Company beer dining Oct. 25, with four courses and craft brews. Among the offerings (which also include beer tastings, for $75): diver scallops with kabocha squash, chanterelles and country ham, with Clawhammer Oktoberfest; and beef short rib with porcini hash and Oatmeal Porter. 201 E. Trade St.; 704-972-4350.

Chima for veterans

Uptown Brazilian churrascaria/steakhouse Chima, which recently added shrimp to its all-you-can-eat lineup, will salute veterans on Nov. 11-12 with a buy-one-get-one-free offer on its rodizio. (That's the term for the way churrascarias serve: It's unlimited salad and prepared foods, plus servers rotate around the dining room offering an assortment of grilled proteins from large skewers; see above.) Diners must present a valid military ID or discharge letter, and reservations are recommended.

139 S. Tryon St.; 704-601-4141.

New menu at Fran's

Fran Scibelli has a new dinner menu at her Fran's Filling Station, one that also has a look that helps people understand, she says, that the "filling station" concept is "about filling your spirit as well as your body through hospitality."

Among new entrees: braised lamb marinated with harissa (the spicy North African pepper sauce) with cilantro yogurt sauce, and other dishes "very Metropolitan Cafe in style," she says, for those who recall her Foxcroft East spot from the '90s, along with some notes beside dishes letting diners know her inspirations. Those include "flavors bring back reading the menu at Chez Panisse every day on my way to school” and “My father always said ... the basil makes the sauce.”

Also new: a special each Tuesday and Saturday night, beginning Oct. 28, of two salads (choice of field greens, crispy greens or Caesar), one pizza (that's the mushroom and Gorgonzola above) and a bottle of wine from a selected list for $40.

2410 Park Road; 704-372-2009.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dine out, do good

Villa Francesca hosts the fifth annual "Take A Slice Out of Cancer" event 7-10 p.m. Oct. 22
The restaurant has raised more than $20,000, with the American Cancer Society, and will offer VIP tickerts for $125, and regular admission tickets for $20 in advance, $25 at the door (children are $10 in advance and $14 at the door). VIP gets you unlimited food, beer and wine and a seat in the meet-and-greet area; general admission gives you access to the buffet and all live entertainment. Live music and appearances by local celebrities are planned, plus a silent auction of jewlry from local artists and a Panthers helmet signed by Cam Newton.

321 N. Caldwell St.; www.villafrancesca.com; tickets also sold here.

Lobster, etc.

Bonefish Grill (multiple locations) offers lobster specials each Tuesday starting at $7.90 (that's lobster sliders; a lobster tail dinner is $12.90).

Zen Asian Fusion celebrates its eight-year anniversary through Nov. 8 with a three-course meal for two for $38: one appetizer/tapas, two dinner entrees, and one dessert to share. 1716 Kenilworth Ave.; 704-358-9688.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Breast cancer help

Throughout October, proceeds from “The Sure Thing” fixed-price menu at Sullivan's Steakhouse will be donated to breast cancer research. (Each October for the past five years, Sullivan’s has offered special menus at its 19 locations across the country and has raised more than $500,000 for breast cancer research.) The menu is three courses, with choices, for $39. 1928 South Blvd.; 704-335-8228.

FS Food Group, which includes Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, Mama Ricotta’s, Paco’s Tacos and Midwood Smokehouse, is taking part in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with Boar's Head: The restaurants will display survivor stories on tables along with a special dish named for each survivor. For every specialty dish that is ordered, the FS Food Group and Boar’s Head will donate $1 to Susan B. Komen for the Cure.

Burger 21 in Ballantyne Village will donate $1 for every Red Velvet Shake sold through Oct. 20 to Carolina Breast Friends, a Charlotte nonprofit committed to uniting and helping women with breast cancer in all stages of survival. Burger 21 also donates 10 percent of its proceeds to a charity or school on the 21st of each month. The Oct. 21 donation will go to Carolina Breast Friends. 14825 Ballantyne Village Way;

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

$1 pizzas? Yep.

La Tagliatella at the EpiCentre uptown offers its lunch-sized pizzas for $1 4-7 p.m. Oct. 21 and Oct. 28-Nov. 1, for National Pizza Month, and all those dollars will go to No Kid Hungry, a national hunger relief effort. Restrictions: it's just offered at the bar and patio Oct. 21, with a max of one pizza per four diners to share. The last week of the month, the deal will be offered throughout the restaurant, still one per four diners.

Featured pizzas include the Tagliatella pizza with fried eggplant, Parmigiana-Reggiano, honey and balsamico glaze; and the Bismark, with mozzarella, ham and an egg baked in the middle.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gallery hosts fest, Beard preview

Gallery Restaurant & Bar will celebrate Oktoberfest throughout the month with German beers, from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Mecktoberfest to Sam Adams Oktoberfest, and a specialty line of Sam Adams, plus a bratwurst sandwich special at lunch.

Also coming up: a dinner Oct. 19 previewing what Gallery will be doing at the James Beard Foundation in New York City
in November. It will be a five-course menu, paired with wines, focusing on local fall produce and game. $85; 704-248-4100.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Aria dinner Oct. 12: Barbaresco

Aria hosts a four-course, family-style "Meet the Producer" Barbaresco dinner Oct. 12. Claudia Cigliuti will talk about her family's Dolcetto, Barbera, Briccoserra and Barbaresco wines, with a menu that ranges from antipasti and ricotta gnudi with farm egg to braised beef shank and mini cannoli. $45; 100 N. Tryon St.; 704-376-8880; email to briana@sonomarestaurants.net.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

POSTPONED: Scotch and rocket science at Soul

Update: Andy Maurer emailed that Ardbeg cancelled; they hope to make it -- with the rocket! -- Nov. 7.

Ardbeg, a Scottish distillery, will do a Scotch tasting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Soul, with an extra twist: The rep will bring a rocket, to celebrate the experiments Ardbeg has going in space.

Yes: The distillery, on Islay in Scotland, which has produced whiskey for more than 300 years, sent unmatured malt compounds and particles of charred oak to the International Space Station last October, in an unmanned cargo spacecraft, to see how the two will interact without gravity and, therefore, how new products might be developed. Eventually. The experiment is expected to last at least two years.

Above is Soul bar manager Andy Maurer, who created the place's "Eye for an Islay" cocktail using the Scotch, with Carriage House apple brandy and Mariletti vermouth ($15).

1500 Central Ave.; 704-348-1848; soulgastrolounge.com.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chef Coleman moves from McNinch to Dunhill

Chris Coleman, most recently chef at the McNinch House uptown, is now culinary director at the Dunhill Hotel. In that capacity, he’ll oversee the hotel’s restaurant, the Harvest Moon Grille, as well as its banquet and catering operations, room service and the lobby bar. (Those of you who were fans of his pop-up ventures will have to wait; that effort will remain on hold, as it has all year.)

“I love what Cassie (Parsons, who opened the Harvest Moon) has built here... We're going to definitely keep it local but spruce it up a bit,” said Coleman, 30, who spent nine years at the fine-dining McNinch and plans to bring elements of that experience to this one.

He started last week, but notes a few dishes already: Charlotte Fish’s Tim Greiner brought a wahoo that Coleman served with an Asian-inspired turnip and radish stir-fry with tamari glaze that “sold like hotcakes”; he did a duo of Grateful Growers rabbit (braised leg and pan-roasted saddle over an arugula-barley risotto); and he’s planning fried green tomatoes with sunny-side-up quail egg, sweet-tea-boiled peanuts and wild baby mustard greens from the Seigle Farm Project Parsons started.

Expect new seasonal menus soon. The Dunhill: 237 N. Tryon St.; 704-332-4141.

William Parham, who's been sous chef, takes over as executive chef at McNinch.


That's another Octoberfest, but at the World of Beer in South End: This will be noon to 2 a.m. Oct. 12, with free admission, live entertainment, raffles and giveaways and flights, mixed drafts and some German beers on a Randall: That's an organoleptic hop transducer module (but you knew that, right?) -- a filter that can be connected to a tap of beer to add "flavor-enhancing ingredients," as explained by the Dogfish Head website, which is where the thing was invented.

Plan on seeing (or partaking in) a stein-holding contest, and expect bartenders and servers to be in dirndls and lederhosen. Chrome Toaster will be selling food.

222 E. Bland St.; wobusa.com/Locations/Southend.aspx; 704-333-2080.

Monday, October 7, 2013

ICYMI: Take a look at the new BAKU

I dropped in opening weekend at the new Japanese place near SouthPark. Here's a look.

Feast of the Hunter's Moon coming up

Look for a five-course candlelight dinner at the Historic Rosedale House on Oct. 21; it's the third annual Feast of the Hunter's Moon, an antebellum-period-style dinner and the only time in the year that food and drink are allowed in the circa-1815 plantation house. Chefs from CPCC's culinary school will prepare the meal, with wine pairings, and tickets are $150, with proceeds benefitting Rosedale.

Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be followed by the dinner, on the grounds' boxwoods and treasure trees. On the menu: shaved country ham with persimmon preserves; plantation-grown-sage corn chowder; baby greens and gourd slaw with pork belly lardons; roasted chicken; and charred apple brioche with bacon salted caramel.

Details are here and here.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dine in the dark?

The third annual Charlotte Dining in the Dark event is Oct. 9, a fund- and awareness-raiser for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, held at Great Wolf Lodge, 10175 Weddington Road NW in Concord. Diners wear light-blocking masks. Event chair Marilyn Green (the original Miss Winston, for race-goers) said in a press release: "Reactions to Dining in the Dark are truly powerful because people often don't realize the daily obstacles of living with low to no vision."

This year's event will honor Darrel Waltrip and Marcus Smith, both known in NASCAR circles, and will benefit the Foundation's research into blinding retinal diseases. Tickets are $350. Info: (919) 781-8014 or LIreland@FightBlindness.org.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Coming up at Passion8: Celebration, darkness

Passion8 celebrates its sixth anniversary with a six-course meal Oct. 16 for $60. Reservations: 803-802-7455; 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill.

Then, for Halloween, chef Luca Anunziata plans "Dinner in the Dark": three courses for diners to consume blindfolded, on Oct. 31, for $38.

Meanwhile, reservations are already open for Thanksgiving at sibling American Cafe (3695 Foothills Way, in the Clarion Hotel, Fort Mill): The meal will be $48, with children 10 and younger free. 803-548-1158.

'You ART What You Eat' in Mint Hill

Mint Hill Arts, a nonprofit offering art classes and exhibits, will host a food truck festival in its parking lot 2-7 p.m. Oct. 12. It's a kickoff for its new exhibit, "You ART What You Eat," a gathering of work inspired by food. The exhibit runs through Oct. 31. The festival will also feature culinary demos and work by students from Johnson & Wales and Central Piedmont Community College, plus a sidewalk sale of local artwork, a children's drawing contest, live music and more. More info: minthillarts.org, 980-226-5532 or email info@minthillarts.org.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

BAKU opens tonight

BAKU opens tonight (Sept. 26) at Sharon Station, and the website will give you a sense of the drama it's aiming at. It's slated to offer a robata bar (open-flame charcoal grilling) and sushi, and shared plates -- so it falls into the izakaya idea (which is sort of Japan's equivalent to a tapas place: the word means, essentially, sitting in a sake shop, and it's designed to offer a variety of things to eat while you drink).

4515 Sharon Road; 704-817-7173.

Another from the website:

Sunday brunch coming to AZN

AZN Azian Cuizine, near SouthPark at 4620 Piedmont Row Drive, begins Sunday brunch Oct. 6. It'll be served 11 a.m.-2 p.m., buffet-style, with stations for sushi, hot entrees, noodle dishes, salads, sweets -- and a dim sum cart, too. $22.95; 980-819-9189; www.aznrestaurant.com/charlotte.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oysters for Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend

Look for an oyster roast 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at 7th Street Public Market that will help the Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend raise money and awareness. (The Weekend, if you don't know, happens every two years, is one of the Southeast's largest wine events, and has raised more than $4 million for area charities since beginning in 1989.)

Expect steamed oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp and Olde Mecklenburg beer. Tickets are $25, available online only (no tickets at the door) at www.charlottewineandfood.org; 224 E. 7th St.

The next Weekend is April 22-26, 2014, and will be the event's 25th anniversary. Find out more at
the website.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hey, vegans and friends: Bean now serving brunch

Bean now serves Sunday brunch, with a menu that ranges from brunch bowls (scrambled tofu, cheesy grits, home fries, housemade sausage, carrot bacon and a biscuit) to fried tofu fingers and waffles and more. There's also a vegan artisanal cheese plate (yes, in the previous sentence, please read "cheesy" with air quotes). Choices for the plate: brick, pepper jack, brie, smoky cheddar, chipotle cheddar, brie with truffle oil, smoked gouda -- all are soy-based.

3001 E. Independence Blvd., 980-939-1234; www.eatatbean.com.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Take a look at Nom Nom Burger

This week's vid review is Nom Nom Burger, across from Park Road Shopping Center.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oysters at Upstream

The fifth annual Oyster Bash at Upstream happens 6:30-9 p.m. Sept. 20, with $95 buying diners all-you-can eat cold-water oysters such as Old Salts, York Rivers, Fanny Bays, Blue Points, Rappahannocks, Malpeques and more, plus still and sparkling wines, from La Marca Prosecco and Sella & Mosca Vermentino to Marques de Caseras Albarino and Brageon Muscadet. A portion of proceeds goes to Kids First, which helps families in need with donated items and supplies.

The event is bigger this year, having been moved into the main dining room, and will have live music and a raffle, too; reservations are required: 704-556-7730. 6902 Phillips Place.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

e2 offers $29 menu

e2 is doing this three-course, choose-it dinner menu for $29 all September:

First course: smoked trout and baby iceberg with citrus horseradish dressing; wood-oven-roasted oysters; New Orleans-style mussels with crawfish and andouille; Emeril's barbecued shrimp

Second: shrimp and grits; Heritage Farms double-cut pork chop; or duck bacon carbonara

Third: banana cream pie with caramel; or peanut butter and Concord grape float.

Levine Avenue of the Arts in uptown; 704-414-4787.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Updated again! Drink out, do good -- and dine, too

Through September, diners can go to any Harper's Restaurant Group location -- that's Upstream and Mimosa Grill, along with the two Harper's in town -- and get a specially created chocolate bread pudding, and the group will donate $5 for each one to the national No Kid Hungry campaign. Share Our Strength is a national hunger relief group and holds a fundraising event called Dine Out for No Kid Hungry; its goal is to end child hunger in America.

Through the month, all Salsarita’s locations will donate 25 cents to the campaign for every one of its Sol Lemonades it sells: That's a new beverage addition for the Charlotte-based change, a lemonade "with a hint of guava and a freshly squeezed lime."

Queen City Q, meanwhile, is donating $1 for every Sunday brunch entree sold in September, and 25 cents for every sale from its food truck this month at the Panthers Lair (across from the stadium), to No Kid Hungry.

Coming up

"Mexican Independence Day" at Maverick Rock Taco Sept. 14 and 15 means you can get a meal for two or three people for $35: antojitos (salsa and chips, chorizo fritters, guac classico); platos mayores (poblano chile relleno, with beef and cheeses; ancho chicken tamales and beans and rice); and dessert: flan and churros. 1513 Montford Drive; 704-527-1400; maverickrocktaco.com.

Links of the week

Entrepreneur writes about Chipotle's branding efforts here, and comments on this video, which may haunt me forever (with a version of "Pure Imagination" by Fiona Apple that is stunning):

Check out photographer Beth Galton's "Cut Food Series" here. Here's a peek at one:

And this is NOT about food, but is still the coolest video I've seen all week:

Fourth Ward Bread Company's open

Fourth Ward Bread Company opened this morning uptown. Here's a quick glimpse:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keep thinking internationally ...

A reminder that a series on international fare available in Charlotte starts Friday, with cool videos online, and I'm asking for your contributions. I've got a list, but would love to add your suggestions. Instagram or Tweet them with the hashtag #foodforhelen (and email me if you Instagram; several have and I can't see them because I don't know to follow you!), share them here or on Facebook, or email me at hschwab@charlotteobserver. We'll publish them by region, and Africa's up first. (That's Jamile Sheikh of Jamile's, and the Somalian deliciousness that is chicken suqaar, above, by The O's Davie Hinshaw.)

In the interim, check out Zagat's list of 10 cuisines that are up-and-coming. Do you know which Charlotte's already got going on?

ilios noche gets close in south Charlotte

Look for the long-awaited ilios noche at Quail Corners to open the week of Sept. 30, says the group's Stratos Lambos.
It'll have a "gorgeous" bar, an interesting bar program and the Mediterranean menu of the Providence Road original, plus more seasonal-centric stuff from chef James Jermyn, says Lambos.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Try a dozen Barbarescos -- with food, that is

Aria presents "Il Barbaresco a Tavola," a four-course "nose-to-tail" wine dinner with a blind tasting of a dozen Barbaresco wines Sept. 26. Barbaresco, from the Piedmont region, is made from the Nebbiolo grape like one of the other Italian B wines, Barolo, but is generally a bit lighter than that known-for-being-big wine.

On the menu: pork rillettes with black lentil salad; ricoltta gnudi with braised pork shoulder; herb-roasted pork ribs with mascarpone polenta and trotter jam; smoked pork loin; and dessert that includes chocolate drizzled crispy pig ears.

The wines will be listed after they've all been tasted, and this is the first in a series of four such regional wine dinners, says Aria's Briana Cohen. 100 N. Tryon St.; 704-376-8880.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Know your farms!

Find out more about where your food comes from -- Charlotte-area restaurants buy from some of these folks -- at the fifth annual Charlotte Area Know Your Farms self-guided tour: 30 farms in nine counties hold open houses Sept. 14-15, from the pretty well known (Grateful Growers in Denver, above) to the you-may-never-have-heard-of (Thomas Bee Farm in Kannapolis, below).

You can learn about growing methods you can also use in home gardens, and kids can get up close with cows, pigs, chickens, goats and more, through this venture, for which the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Piedmont Grown and the 10% Campaign are all partners.

The farms will be open 1-6 p.m. both days, and some will offer activities such as hayrides, petting zoos and cooking demos. You buy a ticket -- $25 per vehicle in advance, $30 on tour days -- and plan your route via the website. Check out the details at knowyourfarmstour.com/farms.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cheese shop celebrates anniversary

Orrman's Cheese Shop at the 7th Street Public Market celebrates its first year in business with the usual first-anniversary marker: melty cheese. (What, you didn't give that as a gift? You're behind the times.)

Raclette and all that goes with it will be on hand 5-7 p.m. Sept. 19; you can find more info and RSVP on the place's Facebook page here. 224 E. 7th St.; 980-226-3025.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wine celebration, dinner, series en route

Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda hosts its eighth annual Festa Italiana 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 14, billed as a celebration of Italian culture, food, music and wine. Admission is $15 and includes a tasting of three wines and a commemorative glass. Vendors will sell pastas, sandwiches, pizza, espresso, gelato and more. The vineyards are 10 minutes from the I77 and N.C. 421 interchange; www.raffaldini.com.

Del Frisco's plans a Sept. 18 Ramey Wine Cellars dinner, with winemaker David Ramey on hand. On the menu: scallop BLT sliders with Sonoma Chardonnay; filet mignon with Yukon Gold mash and Napa and Pedregal Cabernets Sauvignon; and more. $175;
704-552-5502; 4725 Piedmont Row Drive.

And Bonterra is launching its seasonal dinner series, with wine pairings, with a Fall Harvest Dinner Sept. 22. Chef Bill Schutz's menu includes potato and parmesan soup with NV Domaine Carneros Brut by Tattinger; wild striped bass with wild mushrooms and 2011 Solena Estate Grand Cuvee Pinot Noir, Williamette Valley; grilled saddle of venison with 2011 Paul Hobbs Felino Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina; and more. $100; 704-333-9463; 1829 Cleveland Ave.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kids eat free...

Lulu now offers Sunday dinner free (and a beverage) for kids 12 and younger, when accompanied by an adult buying a main plate. The special runs 5-7 p.m. Sundays, and Lulu's press suggests "Anti-kid people: Come to wine & dine after 7.") 1911 Central Ave.; 704-376-2242.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Coming up: Heritage in Waxhaw

Heritage Food & Drink is what chef-owner Paul Verica is doing now, after cooking at the private Club at Longview for eight years. He now, with partners (called The Munchies Restaurant Group), expects to open Heritage in early October; it's in the former Main Street Grill location at 201 W. South Main St.

Verica says he'll focus on "farm to table with Southern undertones," and the place will seat about 40 inside and 20 on a patio. Look for a beer menu including local and regional brews; "food-friendly" wines; and cocktails employing fruits, herbs and housemade infusions and extracts.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Q in CLT? Yes.

Texas chain Dickey’s Barbecue Pit plans to open in "late summer" at Ballantyne Commons East, next to Libretto's. The chain began in 1941 in Dallas, and has more than 300 locations nationwide.

Expect eight meats, fall-off-the-bone-style pork ribs and barbecue sandwiches. "Nowhere else in Charlotte can you find authentic Texas style barbecue and only Texas style,” general manager Robert Hart said in a press release. 15201 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-341-7427; www.dickeys.com.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New cocktails at Fern

Maggie Rupert, who's been Halcyon's mixologist, is now handling cocktails for the rest of the Mother Earth Group: First up is Fern with half a dozen new ones.
Among them is the Garden N' Gun (above): Bulleit boubon with yuzu, Aperol and fennel syrup ($12). Also on tap: The Fellini (American Harvest organic spirit with bee balm leaf, watermelon pepper melange and Prosecco), the Ne'er Do Well (Covington sweet potato vodka, local peach puree, jalapeno, Meyer lemon and egg white), the Bunnicula (Troy & Sons moonshine with carrot juice, almond milk, Krupnikas honey liqueur and chai syrup).
Fern: 1323 Central Ave.; 704-377-1825.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Video review of the week

Culina’s subtitle is “modern comfort food,” and that works – as long as your idea of “comfort” is seriously varied, slightly chaotic, bold flavors with hefty doses of sweet and soul.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Can you tell what this is?

1. It's part of a restaurant in Brooklyn, N.Y., called Do or Dine.
2. That restaurant is on a list of "Portlandia-worthy" restaurants created by Zagat.
3. Another of the restaurants on the list is Handlebar in Austin, which apparently actually puts mustaches on its glasses. Eww. Thank you, Stache House in Charlotte, for not -- at least to my knowledge -- doing this:

Give up? No fair Googling. I'll post the answer at 2.

Sullivan's plans party

Sullivan’s Steakhouse is doing a party Aug. 30 to "say goodbye to the White HOT Nights of Summer," featuring a "white" menu: crab fondue and smoked Gouda, white Cosmopolitans, Champagne cocktails and white chocolate cheesecake. Attendees are "encouraged to wear sexy summertime white attire." Flights of white wine will be offered for $18 and some cocktails will be $6. Reservations: 704-335-8228. 1928 South Blvd.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

UPDATED: Parsons departs uptown's Harvest Moon

UPDATE: See the story on what chef Cassie Parsons and partners have planned here.

Cassie Parsons is no longer chef at the Dunhill Hotel's Harvest Moon Grille; the pioneer in Charlotte's farm to table restaurant scene is now focusing on the upcoming Farmer•Baker•Sausage Maker in Lincolnton, expected to open in November.

Dunhill general manager Craig Spitzer said the hotel restaurant will continue the farm-to-fork concept with chef Patty Greene, and will continue to buy products from area farmers, including Grateful Growers. Parsons said she's still helping with the transition, as well.

Parsons and partner Natalie Veres have Denver's Grateful Growers Farm, known particularly for its pork products. Harvest Moon began as a food truck -- a way, Parsons has said, to prove diners would support businesses using locally sourced foods, and that chefs could afford to buy them and be successful.

It gained a brick-and-mortar home at the Dunhill in 2010, gaining notice both regionally and nationally. Parsons spoke at TEDxCharlotte about the farm-to-fork concept and sustainable eating as a lifestyle, in February.

Plans for Farmer•Baker•Sausage Maker call for a restaurant, plus a meat processing center and bakery in Lincolnton, allowing both diners and shoppers to buy goods (internet sales are planned, too). As its website puts it: "Farmer•Baker•Sausage Maker intends to rely on the 'forgotten culinary arts' of cooking, baking and butchery. Through our focus on spending money with local producers who use sustainable methods, we also intend to support the local economy. Spending money with local growers, rather than far-away megafarms and food processing factories, boosts the ability of the community to be economically more self-sufficient, keeps green space productive, and can help preserve the art of growing food."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another new restaurant en route to Myers Park

Chef Kent Graham, formerly with Block & Grinder, says he's en route to the former FABO space with owner Alesha Vanata to open LittleSpoon, in November if all goes according to plan.

They plan breakfast and lunch at first, adding dinner later, and Graham says he intends to be "true farm to table," printing the menu daily and requesting specific produce from farmers. 2820 Selwyn Ave. (File photo by Capture Happy Photography.)

Chow Down's back Uptown

Look in the 7th Street Station parking lot (that's at 224 E. 7th St., across from the public market) Aug. 22 for the last Chow Down Uptown of the summer, a food truck festival that will run 5-9 p.m. Among the offerings: pizza, Italian hero sandwiches, pulled pork with grilled cheese, ribs, pastries, crab and more. Trucks slated to be there include: Chef Street Bistro, JK Cones and Wafflez and Wingz (all three new), plus Auto Burger and Fry Guys; Gourmet Goombahs; Herban Legend; King of Pops; Maryland Crab Co.; Minacci’s Gardens; NC Icy Treats; Root Down; Roots Farm Food; Ruthie’s of Charlotte; Sauceman’s; Smoke and Go; Sunrise Grill and Sandwich Co.; The Homegrown Crepe; The Wingzza Truck; and Turkey And ...

Parking is $5 at the lot next to Chow Down. Note: Consider bringing lawn chairs but not a cooler with alcohol (it's not BYOB; beer and wine are offered at the market). Admission to the event is free; vendors have assorted prices. More info: facebook.com/ChowDownUptown.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sneak peek at BAKU menu

Here's a sneak preview of the BAKU menu (a sushi and robata place scheduled to open around month's end at 4515 Sharon Road near SouthPark; the v is for vegetarian):

Small bites and soups $4-12
steamed soy beans with sea salt /v
crispy calamari with ginger, garlic, green chile and lime
Kurobuta pork and sweet onion dumplings
wild mushroom and bean dumplings
white miso soup with spicy scallop and baby leek
porcini mushroom and smoked tofu miso soup
local quail with plum wine, and kinome
coal roasted shishito peppers with shaved bonito

Salads $6 - 12
Carolina vine tomato, roasted eggplant with ginger and rice vinegar
roasted beet with spicy grilled tofu and orange blossom honey
seasonal wild mushroom with herb garlic oil and sesame essence
BAKU salad of cabbage and leaf lettuce, candied pecans and umebosi dressing

Tempura $8-19
tiger prawns with sauce for dipping
dayboat grouper with pickled red onion and chile dashi
fresh rock shrimp with wasabi pea dust, lime and chile yuzu
assorted fresh vegetables with dipping trio

Maki Rolls $7 - 15
avocado with shishito mayo, wasabi, yuzu and shichimi
softshell crab with chile and tobiko sauce
yellowtail tuna with cucumber, serrano pepper and avocado
spicy pork and sweet egg omelet
shitake and enoki mushroom duo

Robata Skewers $6-15
Kurobota pork belly with mustard miso glaze and shiso slaw
sake-glazed chicken wings with lime and sancho salt flake
beef tenderloin and asparagus
chicken and baby leek yakitori
diver scallop with black plum vin cotto and yuzu mayo
chicken liver with shishito pepper
roasted oyster with garlic yuzu butter and dried shiso
Alaskan king crab with lemon miso butter

Sashimi/Nigiri & Small plates $12-18
seared tuna sashimi with daikon and ponzu dressing
prime beef tataki with porcini mushroom and essence of white truffle
cold-smoked salmon with maple, lemon and mint
Kumumoto oyster with pickled melon and cucumber mignonette
seared escolar with shiso pesto, yuzo, and white asparagus
chirashi with mango, avocado, macadamia nut and sweet chile soy
yellowtail sashimi with smoky pickled onion and truffle oil
Wagyu nigiri with quail egg, daikon and ginger lemon
bluefin toro nigiri, foie gras, ponzu and sturgeon caviar
sizzling kampachi with shichimi pepper, ginger and hot rice oil

Shared Platters and Pots $11-20
chef's selection of nigiri, sashimi or robata skewers
wild mushroom kamamashi pot

Robata Meats $17-26
marinated lamb chops with Korean chile and garlic
tea-brined duck breast with honey lime and peach salad
babyback ribs with house spice blend and sweet chile glaze
Wagyu ribeye steak with fresh wasabi
Jidori chicken breast with chili yuzu and herb glaze
spicy filet of beef with black pepper sesame sauce

Robata Seafood $18-25
miso glazed black cod with onion cress salad
wild king salmon teriyaki
giant Madagascar prawn with sweet chile, garlic, and yuzu
charred halibut with gochujang chile and honey

Robata Vegetables $6-9
local sweet corn with shiso butter /v
crimini mushrooms with garlic soy /v
asparagus with wafu dressing and sesame seeds /v
plum eggplant with spicy lemon miso dressing /v
baby artichokes with white truffle wafu dressing /v
sweet potato with honey and cinnamon /v
coal roasted shishito peppers with shaved bonito

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A look at Lumiere, at The Liberty

The Liberty hosts a preview dinner for its upcoming sibling Lumiere Aug. 31: Five courses will be paired with wines, and diners will be asked to rate each wine through the night (Tom Condron and Matthew Pera are working on the fine French dining spot's wine list). $125; thelibertycharlotte.com/events. The Liberty is at 1812 South Blvd.; Lumiere will be in Myers Park.

CLT BBQ: The Charlotte championship

The 11th annual barbecue championship and festival - that thing we used to call "Blues, Brews and BBQ" among other titles - gets a new name in 2013: The "Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship."

It'll also return to uptown, running 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Oct. 18 and 19 on Tryon Street between Trade and Stonewall. The contest, admission to which is free, is the largest one sanctioned by the Memphis Barbecue Network in the Southeast. Vintage Trouble will be the Saturday highlight (and it just toured Europe with The Who, for you older rockers), while The Soul Rebels are the headliner for Friday; the whole lineup will be announced and you can keep an eye on developments at the website: charlottebbqfestival.com. Mac's Speed Shop is the official vendor for the festival.

Registration for teams opens Aug. 16.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ALSO coming up at the EpiCentre

La Tagliatella is running "sneak preview" by-invitation dining this week at the EpiCentre, and plans to open to the public Aug. 14.

This chain, which has more than 135 sites globally and began in 1991, describes itself as capturing "the essence of the traditional Italian cuisine from the northern regions of Piamonte, Liguria, and Reggio Emilia." (Reggio Emilia is a city, not a region -- that would be Emilia-Romagna, and Piamonte is the Spanish spelling of the Italian Piemonte region. But let's not quibble: "More than 6 million customers in this last year alone enjoyed our Italian cuisine in Europe.")

The menu boasts nearly 20 sauces and various pastas, both fresh and dried, and is reminiscent on the whole (primarily pastas and pizzas, with lots of choice) to that of down-the-street European-owned chain Vapiano, though this lineup is lengthier and a little more upscale. Prices run about $14 to $28. Lunch and dinner daily; 704-900-5555 (listed on the website, but unanswered when I checked).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Coming up at the EpiCentre

Tin Roof is slated to open in about two weeks, if all goes according to plan (and, judging by the above on its Instagram account, if y'all bring in enough stuff), on the second floor at 210 E. Trade St. "This ain't no bar food" says one of the signs that make up the graphic element of the menu (you can check it out here) -- although that does kind of look like what it is: jalapeno poppers, wings, deep-fried dogs (!), quesadillas, sandwiches and "pizzadillas" (yes, exactly what you think). Look for live music (Jordan English and 70 and Sunny were mentioned; bands from Nashville, Lexington, Alabama "and here too"), and lunch and dinner daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m.. The menu's pretty standard at this chain that began in Atlanta in 1996; $8-$10 or so; 704-313-7103.

Here's a look at its Charlotte promo video:

Passion8 en route to Elizabeth

Passion8 will be opening a location in Elizabeth, on Charlottetowne Avenue according to the restaurant's Jessica Annunziata, possibly in January. (As she put it "We are over the moon excited to finally have a big boy kitchen with real life equipment!" and while construction is to begin in the next few weeks, "who knows how long it can take?") She and chef Luca Annunziata plan a semi-open kitchen with a chef's table, and seating for 75, with a private dining room/mezzanine for about 40 for special events.

This follows the couple's opening of American Cafe & Lounge in the Clarion Hotel in Fort Mill, S.C., which was markedly different from the slow-food, Continental approach they take at Passion8. Stay tuned for details...
(Passion8 is at 3415 Highway 51 N, 803-802-7455.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Another Broken Egg

Another Broken Egg Café opened Aug. 5 in Ballantyne at 11324 North Community House Road, and another will open Aug. 14 at SouthPark (3920 Sharon Road), if all goes according to plan. Diners can take part in fundraising openers at that location by calling for reservations (704-625-6489):

Aug. 11: Benefits BCC Rally, with seating 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Aug. 12: Isabella Santos Foundation; seating 9 a.m.-noon
Aug. 13: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; seating 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Diners will be able to order from the usual 90 menu items, ranging from half a dozen kinds of eggs Benedict to nearly a dozen omelets, bananas Foster over Belgian waffles, burgers, salads and more.

Begun in Louisiana, the chain's corporate office is in Florida, and it's aggressively expanding: http://www.anotherbrokenegg.com.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bits and crumbs

e2GO is doing special offerings for National Sandwich Month (that's August, y'all):
Now: Columbia Street (in Fall River, Mass., says Emeril) Grinder for $9.50.
Aug. 12–16: seared salmon with gingered radish pickle; Aug. 19–23: portobello with ricotta, arugula and truffle oil on brioche, $8; Aug. 26–30: French Bread pizza with hot Italian sausage, $8.
e2GO: 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts uptown, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays; www.e2emerils.com.

Blue extends the three-courses-for-$30 until Aug. 15; you can find the menu here.

BLT Steak has a Lion King-related menu: Aug. 6-Sept. 1, a three-course dinner for theater-goers will be $39, offered 5:30-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and to 11 Friday-Saturday. Diners get three choices for each course: Mushroom risotto, wedge salad
or sweet corn soup; stuffed chicken, N.C. trout or hanger steak and frites; and brownie, cheesecake or banana cream cake. 704-972-4350; 201 E. Trade St.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fire in the CLT: Dining, that is; competition.

"Fire in the City" is the Charlotte edition of the "competition dining" that's been going on in other regions, an "Iron Chef"-like venture by former restaurateur Jimmy Crippens and the N.C. Dept. of Agriculture's "Got to Be NC" program, aimed at highlighting N.C. products. The other incarnations: "Fire in the Rock" is in Blowing Rock (it began in 2005 on its own) and Asheville, "Fire on the Dock" in Wilmington, "Fire in the Triangle" encompassing that region (held in Raleigh) and "Fire in the Triad" covering that area (and held in Greensboro).

Reservations opened today for the Charlotte events, which will pit chefs in head-to-head, single-elimination matches, with each creating a meal featuring mystery ingredients that are revealed the day of competition. Diners, experts and celebrity judges vote on which chef advances. Winners compete for a grand prize of $2,000 in the regions, $4,000 for the "Final Fire."

Charlotte dinners are Sept. 3, 4, 5; 9, 10, 11; 23, 24; 30, Oct. 1; 7, 8; 14, 15; 21. They'll all be at Bonterra, in South End (1829 Cleveland Ave.) Check it out here.

Baoding turning 20, offering deal

Baoding celebrates its 20th anniversary this month and offer a $20 fixed-price menu all month, in addition to the regular lineup: shrimp summer roll; choice of seafood with red curry, teriyaki beef and chicken, pan-seared salmon, shrimp on skewers, pork shank; and dessert of the night. 4722 Sharon Road; 704-552-8899.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Coming soon to SouthPark: Robata!

BAKU is slated to open at the end of August at Sharon Station near SouthPark, a robata bar and sushi restaurant with a second-floor bar called BAKU Lounge. Robatayaki is a form of Japanese cuisine using open-flame charcoal grilling and, typically, food on skewers; robata means, essentially, "around the fire." Here, says executive chef Michael Shortino, food will be prepared in an open kitchen, on robata and yakitori grills. (Shortino opened the similar ROKA in Scottsdale, Ariz., a spinoff of a London robatayaki restaurant.)

Anoosh Shariat, formerly with Charlotte's Mez at the EpiCentre, serves as consulting culinary partner. A press release noted that "while the cuisine will be authentic, it will not be traditional, thus allowing for the chefs to add their culinary interpretations and spotlight local Carolina growers and producers." Shared plates, black rice sushi and premium sakes are among other features.

Tables are bamboo and the interior is done in earth tones, while the top floor features wood reclaimed from a 150-year-old bourbon distillery. Serving ware is pottery, some from area artisans and some imported from Japan. The place will seat about 250, with 40 on a patio.

Dinner nightly is scheduled, with weekend brunches on the horizon. 4515 Sharon Road; 704-817-7173 (not yet workable).

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lab-grown burgers and more: Links for a Monday

The world's first burger grown in a lab: Tasters in London declare it "like meat," "close to meat" and "a very good start," while critics point out that making more food doesn't address the core issues of hunger -- efficiency of production and distribution. Interesting stuff here.

Meanwhile, the upcoming movie "Chef," about a chef who gets fired from a restaurant and opens a food truck (note: it's from Jon Favreau -- as is this photo -- who acted in "Rudy" and directed "Elf"), is being well-followed on Eater, here.

And finally, the best bit about Twinkies since that Spy magazine thing is here, including "Do I detect notes of caramel and burnt butter? Probably not."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dine out, do good

Local Loaf hosts brunches Aug. 4, 11, 18 and 25 to help Crisis Assistance Ministry raise money for families to buy school uniforms and supplies. You can also bring in supplies and new or gently used uniforms to the restaurant. Brunch will run 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and cost $15 for adults and $5 for kids 7-12 (free for 6 and younger), and you can get validated parking at 7th Street Station. Local Loaf is in the 7th Street Public Market at 224 E. 7th St.