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;

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:

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; 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: 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:

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;

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.