Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Restaurant Week starts Jan. 16

The website's live now for the next Charlotte Restaurant Week, Jan. 16-25, with 124 places sprawled over eight counties (yes, it's a record) offering three courses (occasionally more) for $30, plus tax and tip.

You can check out menus and make reservations on the site, and check the Facebook and Twitter feeds (@queensfeast) for more info. Among the first-timers: The Flipside Cafe, Lumiere, Dogwood Southern Table & Bar and Eight Sushi Asian Kitchen.

Some participating restaurants will also do an AAA-member offer: If you present your membership card while dining there during the Week, you can buy a $50 gift certificate for half price.

The restaurants by general neighborhood:

Dilworth/South End: 131 Main, 300 East, Bonterra, Copper, Dolce, Fiamma, Fran’s Filling Station, The Liberty, Luciano's, Nan and Byron’s, Nikko, Sullivan's Steakhouse

Eastover/Myers Park: Lumiere, Napa On Providence, Primo

Elizabeth: The Cajun Queen, Carpe Diem, Passion8

Gaston County: Nick’s Steak and Taphouse, Old Stone Steakhouse, Rodi Med-American Grill

Hickory: Youssef 242

Lake Norman/North Meckleburg/Iredell, Lincoln counties: 131 Main, The 220 Cafe, Alton's Kitchen & Cocktails, BRAVO!, Campania Cafe, Chillfire Bar & Grill, Dressler's, Epic Chophouse, Firebirds, Jeffrey's Restaurant, Kabuto at Lake Norman, The Melting Pot at Lake Norman, Mickey & Mooch, North Harbor Club, Red Rocks, Trattoria Al Gusto, Twisted Oak American Bar & Grill

Matthews: Amor de Brazil, Café 157, Santé

Midtown: Dressler's, Maharani, Mama Ricotta's, The Melting Pot, Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge, Vivace

Mountain Island Lake: Heirloom

NoDa: Heist Brewery

Plaza Midwood: Bistro La Bon; Fern, Flavors from the Garden; The Peculiar Rabbit

South Charlotte/etc.: 131 Main, Blackthorne Restaurant & Bar, BRAVO!, Firebirds, The Flipside Cafe, Gallery, Global, Lure Oyster Bar, Maestro's Bar & Bistro, Mickey & Mooch, New South Kitchen & Bar, Sky Asian Bistro, Stone Mountain Grill, Terrace Cafe at Ballantyne, Trattoria Antica, Trio, Villa Antonio, Vine American Kitchen, Waldhorn

SouthPark: AZN Azian Cuizine, BAKU, Brio Tuscan Grille, Café Monte, Chuy’s, Dean & DeLuca Wine Room, Del Frisco's, Dogwood Southern Table & Bar, Firebirds, Georges Brasserie, Harper’s at SouthPark, McCormick & Schmick's, Paco's Tacos & Tequila, Red Rocks Café, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Toscana, Upstream, Village Tavern, Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar

Southwest Charlotte: Food For Thought, Omaha Steakhouse

University area/Concord: Rocky River Grille, The Speedway Club

Uptown: @7th, 5Church, Aria Tuscan Grill, Bernardin's, BLT Steak, Blue, Brazz, Bubble Charlotte, Caffe Siena, The Capital Grille, Chima, Coastal Kitchen & Bar, e2 emeril's eatery, Eight Sushi Asian Kitchen, Enso, Evoke, Fahrenheit, Fleming's, Luce, Malabar, The Mandrake small plates + wine, McCormick & Schmick's, Mimosa Grill, Morton's, Osso, Red Ginger, Ruth's Chris, Texicali, The Wooden Vine

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lightning, scorpion bowls, 10-foot Moai: Tiki Hideaway keeps it low-key

Look for the Tiki Hideaway to open Dec. 19 at the former Hef's at ParkTowne Village (beside Park Road shopping center). It's "Polynesian Pop," says owner Mike Barrea, designed with a back-wall "temple of doom" with "secret doorways" and a -- well, we'll let the press release describe the place: A "giant Tiki stands watch over a diorama of a Hawaiian Lagoon and the bar is built around a ten foot tall Moai that holds fine and rare rums in his gaping, back lit mouth. Guests will also enjoy live beach scenes
from web cams in the South Pacific, stylized murals spanning twenty feet, an iconic A-frame thatch roof over their heads and choreographed Hollywood clippings that help kick back and escape. Lightning will flash and the ground will rumble when a scorpion bowl the size of a foot bath is ordered."

Classic cocktails share space with rum punches and apothic shrubs in the liquor lineup, while the food, from chef Allen Evans (formerly with Global), is Pacific-Rim-inspired, from taro chips with smoked pineapple salsa to spiced pork belly and beef tataki with green papaya salad. Prices range from about $3 (per oyster, cold smoked with papaya relish, or grilled with miso scallion butter) to $15 (short rib with grilled cabbage and smoked onion marmalade). Hours will be 4 p.m.-midnight Tuesday-Sunday; 1600 E. Woodlawn Road; www.thetikihideaway.com (not up when we checked).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Longtime Charlotte restaurateur gets citizen award from governor

Restaurateur Pete Politis, who says he began as a dishwasher at the Presto Grill before owning and operating Charlotte restaurants for some 60 years, was accepted into The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Dec. 15.

That puts him among a prestigious group of citizens: The recognition is for "outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the State," according to the honor's website. Gov. Pat McCrory presented the award.

Politis immigrated from Greece in 1951. Among his restaurants were the Town and Country drive-in restaurant on Wilkinson Boulevard, The Sandpiper on East Independence Boulevard, The Athens on East Fourth Street, The Plantation Restaurant at Eastway and The Plaza, the original Sandwich Construction Co. on East Independence Boulevard, and the Matthews Family House.

After retiring, Politis began working four days a week, greeting patrons at the Skyland Family Restaurant, which he and Jimmy Kakavitsas opened.

“I came to this country in 1951 with no money, no education and got a job washing dishes at my cousin’s restaurant in Fayetteville. I couldn’t speak English,” Politis is quoted as saying. “When I look back I ask myself, ‘Where else on earth could this happen?’ ”

Other members of the order are Maya Angelou, Dale Earnhardt, Billy Graham, Andy Griffith, Michael Jordan, Earl Scruggs, Dean Smith and Bob Timberlake.

Joseph Drouhin wines at Lumiere

Lumiere hosts a Joseph Drouhin five-course wine dinner Dec. 17, with special wines also offered for sale.
On the menu: "Shellfish in Seawater" with 2012 Chassagne-Montrachet; red snapper with almond and orange and fennel jam, and 2008 Puligny-Montrachet Folatieres Premier Cru; Hudson Valley duck with roasted celery root and quinoa, with 2012 Chorey-les-Beaune; Wagyu beef with marrow crust, baby Swiss chard and shallot-hazelnut crumble, with 2011 Pommard; and petits fours with goat cheese and red pepper jelly, and black olive madelines, with 2012 Beaune ler Cru des Mouchas Rouge.

$80 (plus tax and service): lumieremyerspark.com/events/drouhin. 1039 Providence Road; 704-372-3335.

Monday, December 8, 2014

OMB do-over on the Christmas market

Weather got in the way of part of last weekend's Weihnachtsmarkt at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, but it will return this week: 4-9 p.m. Dec. 12 and 2-10 p.m. Dec. 13. The Biergarten becomes a marketplace with vendors selling baked goods, crafts and gifts. 4150 Yancey Road; www.oldemeckbrew.com.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Heritage in Waxhaw hosts wine dinner Dec. 18

Heritage hosts "Bubbles and Big Reds" Dec. 18, a wine dinner with Fine Wine Trading Company and The Black Chicken Wine Cellar. Among the offerings: slow-cooked duck with apple, almond and butter with Duval-Leroy Brut Champagne; braised rabbit with sweet potato, greens, chocolate and chile pepper with 2011 Casarena Malbec, Jamilla Vineyard; New York strip with smoked potatoes, blackberry gastrique and 2011 Croze Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford; and more. $90; 704-843-5236 or email info@heritagefoodanddrink.com; 201 W. South Main St. in Waxhaw.

The Yolk reopens!

The Yolk, a breakfast/lunch place that does a lot more, has reopened at 1912 Mount Gallant Road (Suite 108) at Riverview Commons in Rock Hill.

An electrical fire had closed the restaurant, known for items from classic breakfast standards to Mo-Joe Hash (coffee-marinated steak with sweet potatoes, mushrooms and eggs) to Tennessee fries (specially seasoned), in August.

After four months, almost to the day, owners Greg and Subrina Collier reopened about a mile north, with the help of customers and friends who pitched in financially to the tune of some $8,000, said Subrina Collier.

"It cost almost $100,000 to get open, and (their) money really helped," she said, adding she was able to partially pay employees in need through the period the restaurant was closed. "They're really faithful -- and they're still here!"

Dec. 5 was the first full day back after two soft-opening short days; now it will be open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, with the exception of Christmas and New Year's. "I'm real big on family stuff," said Subrina.

Chef Greg Collier is doing dinners for some of the big donors, but then plans to start back with scheduled special dinners for the public, she said.

"You know what? Everything happens for a reason," she said. "I'm happy we could come out of it clean, and I was able to do what I wanted to do here." That includes increasing seating capacity from about 50 to 60, getting bigger booths and a community table that seats 20. "The goal was to welcome new people, but not make my other customers feel they couldn't come in."

803-792-4449; www.theyolkcafe@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Improper Pig opens: New 'cue at Cotswold

The Improper Pig is open now for dinner at Cotswold: A barbecue concept from Stomp, Chomp & Roll, a restaurant group that’s been involved with the Pizza Peel & Tap Room and local franchises Flying Biscuit Café and Moe’s Southwest Grill. That’s collectively. Hugh and Mary Bigham were also part of Harper’s, son Will Bigham began at Mimosa Grill, and Bob Reid started with Sister’s Chicken and Biscuits in Columbia.

Here, they’re doing ‘cue, in what they’re calling a “portal to the barbecue explorer’s world.” That means it’s got St. Louis-style ribs in addition to the pulled pork and chicken and brisket, plus Southern egg rolls (sweet potato hash mixed with collards, with spicy mustard), Korean barbecue salmon, a “no pig” portobello sandwich and sauces whose names include: Eastern BBQ, Mary B’s BBQ, Korean-style, Tong’s Thai, Teriyaki, General’s, Buffalo, Inferno, Jeff’s Mustard and Chile Manzano Hoisin. Entrees about $9.50-$24, sandwiches $6.50-$12. 110 S. Sharon Amity Road; 704-714-7878; www.theimproperpig.com (website was still under construction at deadline).

Charlotte's '12 Days of Hot Dogs'

Come up with a winning combination of toppings and you might win one of the 12 spots in JJ's Red Hots' "12 Days of Hot Dogs" contest, starting Dec. 5. You can submit your combo and your name for it online or in the restaurant and it must use toppings from the list JJ's provides -- but the form does allow you to name one wild card not on the list. JJ's will choose 12 finalists, and will feature each combination on one day, beginning Dec. 11. (Each dog's creator gets to come in that day and try it out.) A winner will be chosen based on number of dogs sold, and its creator will get a $150 Amazon gift card.

Notes the form: "Name it something cool and market the crap out of it. This is America!" There are two JJ's, in Dilworth and Ballantyne; jjsredhots.com.

Olde Meck wins 'best tour' from USA Today readers

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery was named No. 1 in the country for its brewery tour, topping Budweiser in St. Louis, Sam Adams in Boston and more, in a USA Today/10Best poll: A panel of experts nominated 20 breweries across the country (including Yuengling, New Belgium, Abita, Rogue, Stone and more), then readers voted over a four-week span. Magic Hat (Vermont) and OMB were neck-and-neck for much of that time.

With more than 3,000 U.S. breweries currently operating, according to the national craft beer trade group the Brewers Association -- which is probably the most since the 1870s, says the BA -- founder John Marrino said in a press release he was honored just to be nominated in the top 20.

“What makes this selection ultra-special is that OMB was one of only three truly local craft breweries on the list, which means we are not that well known outside of North Carolina. Score one for fresh, local beer,” Marrino said in a press release. “We’re thankful for this honor and will celebrate with our friends over a beer or two. Prost!” OMB's complex is at 4150 Yancey Road in south Charlotte; tours are free and run at 2, 3 and 4 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Charlotte's Jon Fortes wins dining competition title

Chef Jon Fortes, representing Mimosa Grill (though he's now at Fort Mill's Flipside Cafe with spouse and co-owner/chef Amy), won the statewide final of the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series on Nov. 22.

Fortes, who had won the Charlotte-based "Fire in the City" leg of the series, faced chef Dean Thompson of Flights in Raleigh, who had topped the "Fire in the Triangle" leg, in the final, held in Raleigh.

The competition, which began with 64 chefs in five regions, worked like this: Two chefs, with accompanying help, cooked three courses each in head-to-head competition, using a surprise N.C. ingredient that was announced just before beginning each event. Winners advanced to finals in each region; those then faced each other. Organizers chose the chefs and seeded the brackets. Culinary professionals and diners who bought tickets helped judge each event, scoring each dish as the night progressed.

The surprise ingredients Nov. 22 were Apple Mill apple butter, caviar from Atlantic Caviar and Sturgeon Company, and Biltmore Winery's Sparkling Blanc de Blanc. Fortes' highest scoring dish (above) was his Duo of Carolina Pork: apple butter pork rillette and sparkling-wine-braised pork belly with goat cheese, andouille, leek and mushroom bread pudding, and sparkling wine and apple butter squash sauce. Highest scoring dish of the night was Thompson's carrot and apple butter cake with caramelized white chocolate and apple butter streusel, sparkling wine icing, apple butter mousse, sparkling wine and caviar salted caramel, sparkling wine apple chip, candied walnuts and apple-butter-brandy frozen custard (below).

Final score: Fortes, 27.13310185 to 25.90297158. Fortes' teammate Thomas Marlow is now executive chef at Mimosa, while alternating members DJ Ivey and Joe Cornett, are also still with Mimosa.

“Dean Thompson is a phenomenal chef and competitor, so it was clear that we needed to execute at a high level to be able to take home the title,” Fortes said in a press release.

The 2015 series will begin in January with the Triangle series, followed by Charlotte, then the Triad, hosted for the first time in Winston-Salem. Tickets and more info: www.competitiondining.com.

New menus from NoDa to uptown Charlotte

Heist Brewery's new winter menu offers lots of "twisted eats": Among the highlights are The Grilled Cheese (shown above; made with black truffle butter, Manchego sheep's cheese, cave-aged Gruyere and Jasper Hill Farm blue cheese, and served with White Oak & Hickory Smoked tomato bisque); dates stuffed with Ashe County Cheddar blue cheese and served with candied pecans, applewood-smoked bacon and a ginger pear chaser; and chicken and waffles: whipped meringue waffles with maple horseradish syrup and pink peppercorn and Champagne butter​. 2909 N. Davidson St.; 704-375-8260; www.heistbrewery.com.

The fall menu at The Asbury, dubbed the "campfire" menu, includes more small plates ($4-$10), with deviled eggs, house-pickled vegetables, BBQ caramel popcorn and winter squash fondue -- and that's just on the Snack Plate. Chef Chris Coleman says his childhood memories of fall -- "smoke, embers, warmth and comfort" -- inspired the lineup, from Campfire Trout (shown below; from Sunburst Trout Farms in Canton, this is brined in smoked water and seared in cast iron) to chicken and dumplings (which uses herb and potato gnocchi) to Ooey Gooey Candy Bar, which is housemade marshmallows, boiled peanuts and chocolate in a bite-sized serving.
Also new: Matthew Krenz, formerly with Passion8, is now chef de cuisine at The Asbury, which uses beef from his family's Krenz Ranch. 235 N. Tryon St.; 704-332-4141; www.theasbury.com

5Church has a new lunch lineup. Among the list: French onion roast beef sandwich; honey-mustard chicken wrap; chicken Cordon Bleu; mussels and fries; plus new salads and lighter plates. (FYI: The lamb burger stays.) 127 N. Tryon St., 704-919-1322.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Crowne Plaza reno includes restaurant

Food for Thought is the revamped restaurant in the renovated-to-the-tune-of-$10 million Crowne Plaza Charlotte Executive Park. Executive chef Michael Cowan aims at farm-to-table and locally sourced ingredients "with a Southern twist" and has cooked at the Omni San Francisco and the Boathouse II restaurant in Hilton Head. Look for stone, reclaimed wood and a more open setting in the restaurant. 5700 Westpark Drive, off Tyvola Road near I-77.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Growlers Pourhouse opens for lunch in NoDa, Lumiere starts brunch

Growlers Pourhouse now serves lunch starting at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday, and its housemade sausage and brats, twice-fried fries (and poutine -- fries with gravy and housemade cheese curds on top) and panini (and there's gluten-free bread). Lunch starts at noon Saturdays and Sundays, as in the past. 3120 N. Davidson St.; www.growlerspourhouse.com.

Lumiere plans to start serving Sunday brunch on Dec. 7: Look for classic French omelets, pastries and more: 1039 Providence Road; 704-372-3335.

Speedway Christmas coming

“Speedway Christmas” at Charlotte Motor Speedway lets visitors dine in the Speedway Club and overlook a holiday light show with more than 3 million lights and an infield Christmas Village (there’s a Santa’s workshop, mini fair rides and a petting zoo) – plus, you can sign up to drive the track. This is the fifth year for the event, and the course has been redesigned; this year, you drive under the concourse behind the front stretch grandstands as part of the 3.1-mile course. Drive-in holiday movies will be shown Friday and Saturday nights.

The driving course opens Nov. 22, and the Christmas Village will be open each Thursday-Sunday until Christmas Day, plus Dec. 22-24, then will open again Dec. 26-28. The light show goes through Dec. 30 (closed Christmas Day). Entrance is $20 per car on nights the Village is open, $15 per car when it’s closed. Visitors can dine at the Speedway Club each day in that timeframe except Christmas, and on Thanksgiving Day, it's serving 400 troops. The speedway is at 5555 Concord Parkway S. in Concord; info at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or 800-455-3267.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bubbles and Bordeaux

D'Vine Wine Cafe hosts "Bubbles & Bordeaux" Dec. 4 for $49.99. On the menu: Sauternes with foie gras "rocher" (think of Ferrero Rocher candies, then think foie gras); Vieux Manoir Red Bordeaux with duck confit, sweet potato waffle and cranberry chutney;
Delamotte Brut Champagne with pear frangipane tart, and more. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

Heritage celebrates 1 year with tasting menu

Heritage Food & Drink in Waxhaw celebrates its first year with a tasting menu from chef-owner Paul Verica, offered Tuesdays-Thursdays through the end of the year. The menu features some of the dishes the place opened with, says Verica.

Options include the pretty beet salad above (with walnuts, goat cheese, parsley and balsamic), sunchoke chips, pulled pork in a jar (with grits, collards and a topping of crispy onions), short rib with house pasta, N.C. shrimp with black rice and Asian greens and more. Three courses for $33, four for $40; 704-843-5236 or email info@heritagefoodanddrink.com; 201 W. South Main St. in Waxhaw.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

5Church, Chicken Salad Chick plan 2nd locations

Chicken Salad Chick plans to open a second Charlotte location Dec. 16, in the Bank of America Plaza uptown at 101 S. Tryon St. Owners Julie Beville and Michelle Singleton plan 10 Charlotte locations, according to the Alabama chain's press release, and founder Stacy Brown's company has sold 100 franchises, from Florida to Texas.

5Church's owners plan to open a second location in Charleston this summer, at the corner of Market and East Bay streets. While the Charlotte one's named for its location at Fifth and Church streets, this one earns its moniker by being sited in a former church. Look for "neo-Victorian" decor and Sun Tsu's "The Art of War" lettered on the ceiling -- both signature details of the original.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wondering where to eat in Charlotte on Thanksgiving?

If you're not cooking, take a look at this list of Charlotte restaurants that will be open, and get your reservations in. It's a bigger list than usual this year.

(I love this image, and I think it may come from cool educational site www.raucousroyals.com, though I'm having trouble being sure. Happy to recredit if someone else knows...)

Dine out (well, buy out), do good

Common Grounds Farm Stand hosts its sixth annual Cornucopia on Nov. 22: It's a fundraiser for the Urban Ministry Center, with free admission, live music from Wicked Powers and a vendor village, ranging from artists to food makers, plus the Plated Palette food truck, and a raffle for family-meal dishes from Chef Alyssa's Kitchen, Block & Grinder, Bonterra, The Asbury, 300 East, the Tin Kitchen, Hot Box Street Food, Harper's Restaurants and the Moffett Restaurant Group (that comprises Barrington's, Good Food on Montford and Stagioni). The Farm Stand will also be selling frozen family-size dinners, soups, chilis, baked goods, cheeses, dips and more. The event runs 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at 119 Huntley Place.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

'BeerGiving' at Flying Saucer

BeerGiving at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium on Nov. 22 means Thanksgiving dinner -- with deep-fried turkey, green bean casserole, stuffing and more -- plus 10 specialty beers on tap (including Founders Backwoods Bastard and Stone's Hibiscusicity). 11 a.m.-2 a.m. (yes); 9605 N. Tryon St.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bits and crumbs: Brunch, Bloodies, bubbly

Starting in December, Passion8 will serve weekday lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday brunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., including a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Also coming up: A tasting of bubblies (half a dozen, from Prosecco to Cava and more) and tidbits, at 6 p.m. Dec. 10 for $18. 1523 Elizabeth Ave.; 704-910-3161; www.thepassion8.com.

Vivace’s fall menu, from new executive chef Mike Suppa (who's logged high-profile time with star chef Todd English), includes all new first-course and pasta dishes except for two stalwarts, and Suppa calls the grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes and green goddess dressing "a standout." Second courses are all new but for the veal saltimbocca; they range from skate wing Milanese to braised lamb shank with saffron risotto to tomato-braised swordfish with Tuscan white beans. Check out the whole lineup here. 1100 Metropolitan Ave.; 704-370-7755.

Among dishes on the newest menu at McCormick & Schmick (two locations): blue crab and corn chowder; bouillabaisse; ginger-pear-glazed wild salmon; miso-seared scallops and more.

It's the annual Weihnachtsmarkt at Olde Meck (What? You don't know what that IS?)

The Weihnachtsmarkt is a marketplace, and it'll be open Dec. 4-6 at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s 8.5-acre spread at 4150 Yancey Road.

Vendors of gifts, crafts and baked goods will set up in what's usually the OMB Biergarten, and you can drink your beer (or Gluhwein, "glow wine": think mulled red) while you shop. The market will open at 4 p.m. Dec. 4, and the year's Yule Bock and tree lighting are slated for 5 p.m. Hours will be 4-9 p.m. Dec. 5 and 2-10 p.m. Dec. 6.

Super tasting at D'Vine

D'Vine Wine Cafe does its Holiday Super Taste from 2 to 5 p.m. Nov. 15. For $25, you'll be able to try more than 36 wines, and taste them with turkey and ham, with sides, so you can get your wines for Thanksgiving just right. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A new gluten-free option in Charlotte

Add Jayla's Gluten-Free Cafe to your list of gluten-free (and if you missed the lengthy story about places able to deal with dietary choices and restrictions, take a look here).
Owner Beth Donovan said she was in the food business in Denver, Colo., before opening this Sept. 15. On the menu: pizzas, sandwiches, salads, "Power Breakfast Muffins" and more. It's open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays; 1515 Mockingbird Lane (near Park Road shopping center); 980-219-7797.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Links for a Monday: Honey Sriracha Pizza Hut? Little espresso?

Pizza Hut, going the way of other chains letting customers make things their own ways, plans a menu overhaul for mid-November that will make honey sriracha sauce an option, says the Associated Press.

Check out this lovely short documentary on Appalachian salt directed by Charlottean Tim Alden Grant:

Literary Starbucks is a Tumblr, for when you're thinking WWADSEO? (What would Antoine de Saint-Exupery order?)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Specials for veterans on Veterans Day

JJ’s Red Hots, in Dilworth and Ballantyne, will give an unlimited free meal to veterans on Nov. 11, including a hot dog called "Red, White and You" with bacon, beans, onions and house barbecue sauce. But they don't have to have just that -- veterans and active duty military personnel can get "unlimited hot dogs, sausages, sides and non-alcoholic drinks."
“Our veterans and troops’ efforts are limitless so we felt they deserved the same,” said owner Jonathan Luther in a press release. 1514 East Blvd. and 15105 John J. Delaney Drive.

Brazilian restaurant Chima, whose rodizio dinners offer an array of meats and hot and cold dishes, served in all-you-can-eat, yet-upscale style, offers a free rodizio for veterans with the purchase of another rodizio ($52.50) on Nov. 10 and 11. Veterans are encouraged to make reservations, and bring a military ID. 139 S. Tryon St.; 704-601-4141.

On Nov. 11, Olive Gardens offer a free entrée from a special menu (seven of the chain's most popular entrees, plus unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks) to active-duty military and military veterans with proof of military service.

LongHorn Steakhouses offer a free Texas Tonion appetizer and non-alcoholic beverage of choice to active-duty military and military veterans with proof of military service.

At participating On The Borders (multiple locations), veterans with proof of service get a free create-your-own combo.

Participating Shoney’s offer a free All-American Burger (dine-in) all day to veterans with proof of service.

Texas Roadhouse restaurants in Concord, Gastonia, Hickory, Matthews and Rock Hill offer free lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 11 to veterans and active members of the military, with proof of service.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Turkey Day ... burger?

Yep. Bad Daddy's Burger Bar's "Lucky Pilgrim" is a turkey patty with Brie, sausage stuffing and cranberry spread, on a brioche bun with a side of turkey gravy for dunking. It's $10.95, and will be in the restaurants Nov. 10-26.

What's up at Heirloom?

Heirloom's November cooking class will be Nov. 13, focusing on Toska Truffles and a pasta dough recipe chef Clark Barlowe says he adapted from his time at The French Laundry; it includes a three-course meal and cocktail afterward, for $35.

Nov. 19 is the monthly artisan dinner: Five courses with five N.C. beverages, for $75.

Also new: The restaurant is serving complimentary tapas 5-7 p.m. daily to customers who buy a drink (including the nonalcoholic kind). "This was inspired by my time in Spain in 2008," writes Barlowe. Such a civilized custom. 8470 Bellhaven Blvd.; 704-595-7710.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sausagefest this Saturday in Charlotte

JJ's Red Hots hosts its third annual Sausagefest 3-7 p.m. Nov. 8, in the parking lot of its 1514 East Blvd. location, with quite the array of housemade sausages. Look for smoked elk sausage with chipotle BBQ sauce; Asian shrimp and pork "dim sum" sausage with spicy blood orange marmalade; traditional Italian sausage with peppers, red wine and basil pesto crema; andouille sausage with housemade slaw and remoulade; and pepper jack cheese bratwurst. Cost is $25, and you get unlimited sausages; craft beer from Unknown Brewing, Olde Meck, NoDa, Triple C, Sugar Creek and more; live music and raffles -- plus a keepsake half-pint glass from Good Bottle. Founder/owner Jonathan Luther (whose band will play) calls the event "a family-friendly, dogs-welcome kind of festival."

Julbord at IKEA

IKEA hosts its annual Julbord feast Dec. 12: That's a Swedish dinner featuring specialties such as Swedish-style meatballs with lingonberries, the wonderfully promising "assorted varieties of herring," poached salmon, smoked salmon with horseradish sauce, cucumber salad, ham, sausages, red cabbage, boiled potato with dill, cheeses, Swedish rice pudding, Glögg with raisin almond mix (that's a hot spiced wine punch) and lots more. Tickets (there's limited seating) are $14.99 ($4.99 for kids 12 and younger).

IKEA Charlotte will have two seatings, at 4 and 6 p.m.; 8300 Ikea Blvd.; 888-888-4532.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sip out, do good

Sip wines at a tasting 4-7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Cru Wine Shop and you'll be helping SOS Feline Rescue of Charlotte, with 10 percent of all sales in that time going to the rescue. The nonprofit, aimed at helping homeless and feral cats, is currently full, and can't take in more until some are adopted. (Interested in, for example, the pictured Roxanne? Go to the rescue's site at sosfelinerescue.org, its Facebook page, or its online adoptable list.

Cru is at 12206 Copper Way.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Wine dinners coming up

Halcyon offers a Wrath wine dinner Nov. 4, with Claire Marlin of the winery on hand. Among the dishes on the tasting menu: ceviche of hamachi and pickled shrimp, with 2013 Ex Anima Sauvignon Blanc; roasted scallop and butter-poached oysters with 2013 Ex Anima Chardonnay; wild boar bolognese with sweet potato agnolotti and 2012 Ex Anima Pinot Noir; and venison with 2012 San Saba Pinot Noir. $85; 500 S. Tryon St.; 704-910-0865.

Upstream hosts a Dashe Cellars dinner Nov. 12, a four-course meal by chef Scott Wallen. On the menu: hamachi tartare with 2013 Dry Riesling, McFadden Farm, Potter Valley; robata grilled octopus with kabocha squash confit, and 2011 Les Enfants Terribles Zinfandel, McFadden Farm; slow-roasted "lambchetta: with sweet and sour plums and 2011 Zinfandel, Todd Brothers Ranch Old Vines, Alexander Valley; and Asian pear tart with palm caramel and gingered pear gelato and 2009 Late Harvest Zinfandel. $65; reservations required; 6902 Phillips Place; 704-556-7730.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

'Final Fire' pits finalists in competition dining

Tickets are on sale now for "Final Fire," the chef competition in November that pits winners of regional N.C. competitions to determine a champion. The events will be at the Renaissance North Hills Hotel in Raleigh.

Charlotte's winner, Jon Fortes, formerly with Mimosa Grill but now at The Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill, gets a first-round bye. The events, dubbed the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series, begin Nov. 19 with "Fire on the Dock" champion (for the Wilmington area) Antoine Murray of the Cape Fear Country Club facing "Fire on the Rock" winner Michelle Bailey of Season's at Highland Lake in Flat Rock. Fortes, who won "Fire in the City," will take on the winner of that match on Nov. 20.

"Fire in the Triad" champ Tim Thompson of Marisol in Greensboro faces "Fire in the Triangle" winner Dean Thompson of Flights in Raleigh on Nov. 21.

Tickets to those are $129 (plus tax, tip and drinks). The Nov. 22 finale will cost $139; all are available online.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Melting Pot celebrates silver anniversary with deals

The Melting Pot celebrates 25 years in Charlotte with a 25-day special benefitting Levine Children's Hospital. Nov. 1-25, you can get a four-course fondue meal for two for $99.95, with $25 going to Levine -- and each couple who get that special will also get a $50 certificate to use on a visit to either of the Charlotte locations (midtown and Lake Norman) in 2015. The four courses are cheese fondue, salad, entree of mixed meats and chocolate fondue.

Giveaways on Facebook will include vintage fondue sets and free fondue for a year. The midtown location, opened in 1989, is at 901 S. Kings Drive (704-334-4400); Lake Norman's, opened in 2011, is at 16625 Statesville Road (704-987-2201).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dunkin's is 'croissant donut,' not Cronut

Dunkin' Donuts will start dishing "Croissant Donuts" (left), which the company describes as "a delicate and flaky criossant ring that is glazed like a donut," Nov. 3 at some locations, including Charlotte's.

(And in case you're thinking, "Hey, that sounds familiar. Wasn't there some New York bakery doing something like that?" -- yes. Dominique Ansel's Cronut became world famous and still is. But Dunkin's president of global marketing and innovation, John Costello, told NBC News: "Are we copying a specific bakery in New York? The answer is no.")

Plus this one will be $2.49, about half the Cronut cost.

Also new at Dunkin': Pumpkin donuts shaped like jack-o-lanterns and Boston Screams (the company's regular Boston Kreme with orange icing drizzle) for Halloween.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween food -- that isn't candy!

Morton’s offers a Halloween dinner Friday for $35: choice of Caesar or Morton's salad or baked five-onion soup; choice of filet mignon, chile-glazed salmon or chicken with side; choice of double chocolate mousse or Key lime pie. 227 W. Trade St.; 704-333-2602.

South End's Food Truck Friday goes "Truck or Treat" this week, adding a costume contest for kids and dogs, and ghost stories by the fire pit, we're told, at Camden Road and Park Avenue. Trucks planning to be there, 5-9 p.m., include Autoburger, Comfort Foods, Dan the Pig Man, Gourmet Goombahs, Maryland Crab, Papi Queso, Plated Palette, Smoke n Go, Southern Cake Queen, Spice Wagon, Sticks and Cones, Sugar Donuts and Tin Kitchen.

And at Artisan, the Art Institute's restaurant, diners get buy-one-get-one-25-percent-off at Tuesday lunch or Wednesday or Thursday dinner this week. Lunch runs 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; dinner is 6:15-7:45 p.m. 2110 Water Ridge Parkway; 704-357-5900 for reservations.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chef Jon Fortes makes a move

Jon Fortes, recent repeat winner of the Fire in the City competition dining event for the Charlotte area, says he's left the Harper's Restaurant Group (he'd most recently been executive chef at Mimosa Grill) and is joining his wife, Amy Fortes, at The Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill. Fortes says they plan to begin offering cooking classes, wine dinners and "a lot of catering," and that the couple is also "in the process of designing another location" in Fort Mill, a different concept that they aim to open in summer 2015.

The Flipside offers a comfort-food-driven lineup that emphasizes locally produced foods, at 3150 Highway 21 North; 803-802-1711.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Chef Coleman's a little bit everywhere

Chris Coleman, chef at The Asbury, is bouncing around the area at light speed these days (and has a new menu slated to be out next week at the uptown restaurant, at the Dunhill hotel):

Saturday (Oct. 11), he'll be in Chapel Hill, serving at the Grand Tasting in the TerraVita Food & Wine Event, a festival that began in 2010, aimed at showcasing "excellence and sustainability in the South," from wines and local craft brews to edibles.

Oct. 19, he'll be at the Piedmont Culinary Guild's "Carved" event, with chefs competing with their pumpkin-carving skills at Atherton Market.

Oct. 27, Coleman will join others in the Angus Barn of Raleigh's fundraiser for the National Restaurant Assocation and the N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Oct. 29, he and Laetitia Vineyards and Nadia Wines owner Nadia Zilkha host a wine dinner featuring the California wines. $85.

Nov. 11 brings an Artist's Dinner; the restaurant hangs art curated by the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, and Charlottean Ben Premeaux's photography is up now. Some proceeds will benefit the McColl Center. Details at www.facebook.com/theasbury.

And Nov. 17, Coleman will be in "Sliced" at Whole Foods in SouthPark, taking on Passion8 chef/owner Luca Annunziata in another competition.

The Asbury: 235 N. Tryon St.; 704-332-4141.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Coming up: tastings and dinners

Zebra offers a South African wine dinner Oct. 14: four courses and wines for $75. 4521 Sharon Road; 704-442-9525.
Also coming up: The new autumn dinner menu begins Oct. 16.

Blue does a "Taste of the Northwest" with wines and food pairings Oct. 24, with a dozen wines offered in a tasting, then a five-course paired dinner. Among the menu items: peekytoe crab salad with Asian pear slaw and 2013 Boedecker Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Gris; and N.C. heritage pork in a Pinot-braised shank with crisp pomegranate-glazed belly, and roasted tenderloin with a sweet potato and bacon puree, with 2012 Ken Wright Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. $75; Hearst Tower at College and 5th streets; 704-927-2583.

Also Oct. 24: A Woodford Reserve dinner in the Carolina Room at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge. The dinner will officially unveil The Ballantyne Bourbon, the place's "personal selection bourbon" from Woodford Reserve, and there'll be a pairing menu with specialty cocktails and other Woodford Reserve selections. $150; 704-248-4100; 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Bits and crumbs: wine at Palm, tofu at Chipotle

Chipotle adds the new vegan Sofritas to North and South Carolina stores starting Oct. 13: the dish uses organic shredded tofu braised with chipotle chiles, roasted poblano peppers, tomatoes and spices. Price is $6.50 -- same as chicken, which will doubtless irritate some vegetarians.

The Palm hosts a Ceretto Italian wine dinner called "Barolo, Truffles & Best of The Alps" on Oct. 24, with four courses and pairings for $175. Among the lineup: choice of espresso-rubbed carpaccio of beef tenderloin or Tuscan kale Caesar salad with 2013 Ceretto Arneis Blange; Nova Scotia lobster pasta with 2011 Ceretto Barbaresco; choice of black-pepper-crusted Prime New York strip or seared jumbo sea scallops with 2008 Ceretto Barolo Brunate; and chocolate nut torta with 2013 Ceretto Moscato d'Asti. 6705-B Phillips Place Court; RSVP to Leigh Whicker at 704-552-7450 or lwhicker@thepalm.com.

Friday, October 3, 2014

New at Bonterra

Bonterra has a new menu, from new chef Blake Hartwick (above), who's especially excited about oysters (below; wood-grilled Rappahannocks from Virginia with candied orange mignonette and bacon foam), and plans to change the menu weekly. Look for fare like the fried green tomato BLT with pimento cheese coulis, pickled onion and bacon jam, and the N.C. monkfish osso buco with saffron risotto. 1829 Cleveland Ave.; 704-333-9463.

New at D'Vine

The new fall menu at D'Vine Wine Cafe is out. Among the goods: kale and quinoa salad with goat cheese; shrimp fra diavolo pasta (with veal sausage and a not-too-spicy tomato sauce over fusilli) and a return of a past signature dish: Rack of boar with sweet potato puree, roasted Brussels sprouts and mushrooms.

Coming up: a wine dinner with Ramey Wine Cellars on Oct. 22.

Also new: valet parking (in front of Rush espresso), with a $5 voucher from the complex owners, matched by a $5-off coupon from D'Vine.

14815 John J. Delaney Drive; reservations: 704-369-5050.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fire in the City wraps; Fortes gets 2nd win

Mimosa Grill chef Jon Fortes repeated last year's victory in the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series regional final in Charlotte, dubbed Fire in the City, on Sept. 29, defeating Mama Ricotta's Tom Dyrness. The competition began with 16 chefs in head-to-head matchups that involved the last-minute announcement of ingredients they had to use in preparing three courses. Their dishes were then judged by both food professionals and diners who paid to attend.

The last dinner's surprise ingredients were sweet potatoes from Scott Farms, and Pepsi. Fortes and his team won, and also had the night's highest-scoring course, with a Pepsi-braised pork belly, sweet potato bread pie, Brussels chips and bacon and Pepsi-pomegranate glaze. Fortes got a $2,000 cash prize and handmade chef's knife from Ironman Forge, and advances to what's called the Final Fire in November, pitting winners from the Wilmington, Asheville, Greensboro and Raleigh areas.

That series begins Nov. 19; details are at www.competitiondining.com.

Dine out, do good: Feast of the Hunter's Moon

A five-course antebellum-style dinner is the signature annual fundraiser for Historic Rosedale, and an interesting one it is: candle-lit, with a cocktail hour in the gardens (and "butlered hors d'oeuvres"!), and wine pairings for each course from CPCC chef Rob Marillo and others. This year's is Oct. 27 and aims to, as Rosedale executive director Deborah Hunter puts it, "recapture an entire era of elegant dining experiences." (And, since it's a historic site, its people share other tidbits, like this: The Hunter's Moon is the Native American name for the full moon closest to the Harvest Moon, while for ancient Celtic tribes, this moon was called the Moon of Ivy, the plant which in Scotland is said to harbor dancing fairies.)

On the menu: Shaved N.C. country ham with muscadine preserves, hearth-baked bread and pickled onions; acorn squash bisque with citrus and chive; baby greens with fall gourd slaw, pork belly lardons and smoked heirloom tomato jam; roasted chicken with sweet potato and freekeh (that's a grain) pilaf and glazed baby vegetables; and poached apple with brown sugar crumble and apple sorbet.

Prepaid reservations are required and non-refundable; the dinner is $155, with $70 tax-deductible: the link is here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Next artisan dinner at Heirloom

Heirloom's next artisan dinner will be Oct. 15, with five courses paired with N.C. beverages. Specifics are still being pondered, but chef Clark Barlowe invites the people who raise or grow the foods featured to be on hand to talk with guests.

$75; 8470 Bellhaven Blvd.; 704-595-7710.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dinner Lab debuts Oct. 10

Dinner Lab (see here for background) launches Oct. 10 in Charlotte, with dinner from Atlanta-based chef Dustin Sandell, who's chef de cuisine full-time for Dinner Lab Atlanta. The idea is to let chefs can experiment outside the bounds of what they may typically do, and let diners assess their work -- the chefs get audience feedback, so they can tinker with what they're thinking about.

Diners join the organization, which is now in 20 cities, to get info on upcoming dinners. There's a membership fee of $125 per year in Charlotte, then each event is priced individually (typically in the $55-$85 range, we're told). This link to join offers $20 off a first dinner if you join. About half the time, the chef for an event will be from the home area, about half will travel in.

The menu for Oct. 10 (members will get an email with location and details about 24 hours before the event):
"The Bone": triple-filtered beef consomme with marrow cloud, barley and sage brittle
"The Leaf": pepper and watercress with local bacon, bleu cheese, cane vinegar and honey-grilled apple
"The Shell": crab pancake with crayfish butter, grilled lemon gel and chive blossom
"The Trotter": pork cheeks with foraged field peas and beans and smoked white corn relish
"The Grain": oatmeal crumble cake with bittersweet black sesame syrup and blackberry thyme sorbet

Sandell's bio, from the Lab: He's "a well read southern gentleman, with a penchant for exploration. Most say his food tastes like a Kerouac novel without the poor grammar. Whatever the case, this dinner will be an epic culinary journey ..."

More info at www.dinnerlab.com.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Passion8 bids farewell to its Fort Mill site

As Passion8's Luca and Jessica Annunziata prepare to open a new restaurant in Elizabeth, they're offering a "Last Hurrah" dinner Oct. 8 at the original, at 3415 Highway 51 N, Fort Mill: An eight-course dinner for $88, featuring what they're citing as their best dishes paired with their best wine and spirits ("we're emptying the cupboards"). Reservations: 803-802-7455. That will be the last dinner served at the venue; the new place is aiming to open mid-October at 1523 Elizabeth Ave.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fire in the City down to 2

And then there were two: chefs, that is, in the Fire in the City competition dining event: In the Sept. 29 final (it's sold out), Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta's will face returning champ Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill.

Details on the semifinals:

Sept. 22:
Matchup: Dyrness and David Feimster of Fahrenheit.
Surprise ingredients: Not Just Coffee's coffee and donuts from Your Mom’s Donuts.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Coffee-crusted elk, sweet corn flan, port-cherry reduction, cast iron corn and chipotle salsa with Goat Lady Dairy and Your Mom’s Donut biscuit (by Chef Dyrness; see below).
Advancing: Dyrness, with a score of 28.08291032 to 26.76362869.

Sept. 23:
Matchup: Brian Williams of Upstream and Fortes.
Surprise ingredients: America’s Best Nut Co. peanuts and Heritage Farms applewood-smoked bacon.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Heritage Farms Cheshire pork bacon taste plate, bacon confit with creamed kale, bacon and cheddar gougeres with crispy America’s Best Nut Co. N.C. peanut slaw, collard-wrapped Romano pork and bacon sausage with sweet potato puree (by Chef Fortes; see below).
Advancing: Fortes, with a score of 28.92828283 to 26.08716049.

Monday, September 22, 2014

BLT Steak turns 5, gets visit from namesake and $5 lineup

Founding celeb chef Laurent Tourondel will pop in to BLT Steak to cook with chef de cuisine Ben Miles, and the place will offer a $5 lineup at dinnertime as well, on Sept. 26 and 27. On that specialty menu, for $5: all dinner appetizers (including shrimp cocktail, crabcake, tuna tartare and oysters from both coasts, by the half-done), all dinner desserts, a cocktail called the Apple Pie Old Fashioned, and select wines by the glass. 110 N. College St. in the Ritz-Carlton; reservations: 704-972-4380.

McAlister's celebrates 15 years in Charlotte with freebies

McAlister’s Deli, a regional chain which opened its first Charlotte location in 1999 and now has 17 stores in the area, is celebrating this week with the following freebies and fundraising at the Arboretum, Olde Towne, Lake Norman, Monroe, Mooresville, Ballantyne, Rea Road, Park Road, UNCC, Concord, Matthews, Whitehall, Carolina Place, Baxter and Rock Hill locations (see the Facebook page for details):

Monday (Sept. 22): A free cookie

Tuesday: 15 percent of all proceeds will go to Autism Speaks, Greater Charlotte Chapter, in honor of National Autism Awareness Month

Wednesday: Kids eat free all day, and there's a VIP Night at the Arboretum location (8046 Providence Road)

Thursday: Free tea

Friday: All Charlotte-area city service employees get $3 off their purchase (you must show ID) on this Service Appreciation Day

Friday, September 19, 2014


Georges Brasserie hosts its third annual "Shucked" on Oct. 2: an all-you-can-eat-and-drink oyster feast for $95 ($75 without drinks). The event offers oysters from both coasts, plus clams on the half shell, oysters Rockefeller, roasted oysters, steamed clams, clam crostini, fried oysters, wine, beer and oyster shooters, and live entertainment, too. 4620 Piedmont Row Drive; 980-219-7409.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Coming Monday: Carolina Apple Days Feast

After a visit last Sunday to Horne Creek Farm to gather apples, Heirloom hosts the product Sept. 22: A special apple-riddled dinner that's also a fundraiser for Slow Food Charlotte, Lomax Incubator Farm and the Piedmont Culinary Guild.

The menu, for $100 (wine pairings for $40 more):

1st: Clark Barlowe of Heirloom
"Crudo & Crudite"
Charlotte Fish Company seasonal crudite with apples in textures

2nd: Majid Amourpoor of Bistro La Bon
Chestnut apple soup

3rd: Ben Philpott of Block & Grinder
Foie gras and truffle stuffed apple, Gorgonzola mousse, Lucky Clay Farm baby greens

4th: Marc Jacksina of Earl's Grocery
Beef heart carpaccio, tart apple, horseradish

5th: Michael Bowling of Hot Box
Crispy rind pork belly, salted smoked apple butter, roasted root vegetables, Bulleit Rye apple chips

6th: Greg Collier of The Yolk
Smoked apple buckwheat poundcake, Apple Pie Moonshine ice cream, white cheddar brown butter crumble, apple cider crème anglaise

Reservations: 704-595-7710. Heirloom: 8470 Bellhaven Blvd.

Fire in the City, Round 2 wrapup

The second round of Charlotte-area chef competition wrapped this week, so the Got To Be N.C.-product-related event is down to four chefs: Brian Williams of Upstream, Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill, Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta's and David Feimster of Fahrenheit.

Sept. 15:
Matchup: Jon Spencer of Epic Chophouse and Williams of Upstream.
Surprise ingredients: N.C. fish and Old Mill of Guilford grits.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Sweet grit and almond cake, vanilla Railhouse Porter marshmallow, buttermilk sherbet, pine nut toffee (by Chef Williams; see below).
Advancing: Williams, with a score of 30.31212914 to 25.69503916.

Sept. 16:
Matchup: Paul Ketterhagen of Carpe Diem and Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill.
Surprise ingredients: Texas Pete Cha! (it's a sriracha sauce) and Goat Lady Dairy chèvre.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Orange-scented five-hour braised Heritage Farms Cheshire pork belly, almond-crusted Goat Lady Dairy chèvre sweet potato cheesecake, melted squash and Texas Pete Cha! Q (by Chef Fortes; see below).
Advancing: Fortes, with a score of 27.77736220 to 21.70314136.

Williams and Fortes face off Sept. 23, and yes, that is a matchup of chefs who cook at sibling restaurants; both work for Harper's Restaurant Group sites. The other second-round competition yielded a Sept. 22 matchup of Dyrness and Feimster, both of whom cook for high-profile owners: Mama Ricotta's Frank Scibelli has several places around town; Fahrenheit's Rocco Whalen's original is in Cleveland. No one cooking for himself in a one-location-place remains. (And yes, "himself" is right: No women started.)

The final is set for Sept. 29; all competitions are held at Bonterra in Dilworth, and are currently sold out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wine dinner at Del Frisco's

Del Frisco's hosts a Jordan Winery dinner Sept. 20, with Dena Zigler speaking. In the lineup: salmon carpaccio with Meyer lemon peach vinaigrette and Chardonnay; braised beef short rib over pan-roasted summer vegetables with 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon; filet mignon with duxelles and creme fraiche potatoes and Cabernets from both 2003 and 2005; and mixed berry shortcake with the 2008 cab. $175; 4725 Piedmont Row Drive; 704-552-5502.

Dine out, do good: An all-star edition

Final reminder: An all-star edition -- with notable chefs from around the Southeast -- of dinners to avert childhood hunger happens Sept. 20 at Mimosa Grill.

Mimosa executive chef Jon Fortes hosts; visiting chefs are Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston (and of the upcoming Season 2, premiering on PBS Oct. 5, of "A Chef's Life"); Colin Bedford of Fearrington House in Pittsboro; Jay Swift of Atlanta's 4th & Swift; and Joe Trull of Grits and Groceries in Belton, S.C.

Cost is $175 and proceeds go toward national hunger relief group Share Our Strength's effort to end childhood hunger. (You can also become a sponsor, at varying levels.

On the menu:

Passed appetizers from Fortes, including Springer Mountain chicken "ballontine" (with country ham, preserved apricot and sage); N.C. Shrimp Tacos with pickled Harmony Ridge cabbage; Tobaccoville beet carpaccio with local beans, citrus and Looking Glass goat cheese; and Wagyu beef gougere with Ashe County cheddar pimento cheese.

First course from Bedford: Yuzu crab salad with black-pepper-poached pineapple, celery root, truffle and crispy tapioca, and Avant Sauvignon Blanc

Second course, from Howard: Carolina Gold red rice with crispy okra and green tomato vinaigrette, and Carmel Road Unoaked Chardonnay

Third course, from Swift: Crispy Heritage Farms pork shank with jowl bacon succotash, hot muscadine mostarda, and Belcreme de Lys Pinot Noir

Fourth course, from Trull: Apple and fig bread pudding with cider caramel, candied cashews and Jorge Ordinez Special

327 S. Tryon St.; info: Adele Nelson, anelson@strength.org, 202-594-3595.

Festa Italiana on Sept. 20

Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda will celebrate its ninth annual Festa Italiana 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 20, with wine, food, live music and more. Cost of admission is $15, and includes a tasting of three wines and a commemorative glass (parking is included).

Italian supercars from Foreign Cars Italia will be on display, plus Italian-influenced artwork from area artists; Italian folk music from Mebanesville; and Italian language tips, and vendors will sell Italian pastas, sandwiches, brick-oven pizza, espresso, gelato and more.

Info: www.raffaldini.com; 336-835-9463; email info@raffaldini.com.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Heritage wine dinner

Heritage hosts a wine dinner Sept. 18 focusing on Flora Springs Vineyard, with the winery's with Danny Sanford on hand. Among the courses: smoked duck, spice "bubbles," orange and smoked lemon with 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay; N.C. shrimp with rosewater, ginger, lemongrass and 2013 Oakville Sauvignon Blanc, Soliloquy Vineyard; and short rib with cherry cola, black pepper, potatoes and 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. $95; 704-843-5236 or email info@heritagefoodanddrink.com; 201 W. South Main St. in Waxhaw.

Fire in the City's second round begins

Fire in the City's second round has begun:

Sept. 8:
Matchup: Luca Annunziata of Passion8 and Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta’s.
Surprise ingredients: Joyce Farms pheasant breast and Cackalacky Cheerwine sweet sauce.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Joyce Farms pheasant breast roulade with cornbread chorizo stuffing, Cackalacky Cheerwine-glazed Heritage Farms Cheshire pork belly, fall squash hash and tomato chow-chow (by Dyrness; see below).
Advancing: Dyrness, with a score of 27.26469580 to 27.09347079.

Sept. 9:
Matchup: David Feimster of Fahrenheit and David Moore of Gallery.
Surprise ingredients: Perry Lowe Orchards Honey Crisp apples and Carolina Distillery Carriage House apple brandy.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Vanilla goat cheese panna cotta, five-spice & Carriage House apple brandy-braised apples, Perry Lowe Orchards apple chip, apple & brandy syrup (by Feimster; see below).
Advancing: Feimster, with a score of 29.39230769 to 23.51789030.

Dyrness and Feimster face off Sept. 22.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A 2nd Block & Grinder on the way

Owner Jed Kampe says he's signed a lease for a second location of Block & Grinder, this at the LangTree development off Exit 31 of I-77, at Lake Norman, and is aiming at a late spring 2015 opening. Also on, or coming to, the property: an amphitheater on the lake, a 12-story hotel, a healthcare facility, apartments and condos, he says.

His new spot will be bigger "but won't be crazy in terms of seating" and will have a clearer division of restaurant and retail for its butcher shop and wine offerings, plus private dining and patio space both covered and uncovered, Kampe says. The current place is at 2935 Providence Road.

Fire in the City wraps up 1st round

Fire in the City, the Charlotte-based branch of the Competition Dining series highlighting N.C. foods, has wrapped up its first round, whittling the 16 starting chefs to eight. The last four battles in the first round:

Sept. 2:
Matchup: Nicolas Daniels of The Wooden Vine and Paul Ketterhagen of Carpe Diem.
Surprise ingredient: RayLen Vineyards & Winery Riesling.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Manchester Farms quail ballotine stuffed with quail sausage, with smoked farro risotto and Riesling gastrique (by Ketterhagen; see below).
Advancing: Ketterhagen, with a score of 26.29415301 to 23.93311475.

Sept. 3:
Matchup: Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill and David Sullivan of Fish Market Bar and Grill.
Surprise ingredients: RayLen Vineyards & Winery Riesling.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Duo of Maple Leaf Farms duck: Riesling-marinated cold smoked breast, two-hour confit of leg, Scott Farms sweet potato apple bread pudding, parsnips and Riesling cider butter (by Fortes; see below).
Advancing: Fortes, with a score of 29.74561404 to 25.46072351.

Ketterhagen and Fortes will compete Sept. 16.

Aug. 26:
Matchup: Brent Martin of The Summit Room and Jon Spencer of Epic Chophouse and Chillfire Bar & Grill.
Surprise ingredients: Fogwood Foods blueberry syrup and Certified Angus Beef ribeyes.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Marquise au chocolat over pistachio and Fogwood Foods blueberry syrup crust, with blueberry syrup gastrique (by Chef Spencer; below).
Advancing: Spencer, with a score of 27.17516159 to 26.55705128.

Aug. 27:
Matchup: Chris Coleman of The Asbury and Brian Williams of Upstream.
Surprise ingredients: Mirepoix, potatoes and Uncle Scott’s Root Beer.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Cast Iron Certified Angus Beef ribeye, Yukon Gold chevre purée, roasted mirepoix, Uncle Scott’s Root Beer demi-glace (by Chef Coleman; below).
Advancing: Williams, with a score of 26.50819820 to 24.64995532.

The second round begins tonight (Sept. 8); Spencer and Williams face off Sept. 15.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Smashburger donates to help kids

Setting aside $1 from each burger sold during its opening month (mid July to mid August), the owners of the new Smashburger in Cotswold have now donated more than $15,000 to Ace & TJ’s Grin Kids, which aims to enhance the lives of children who are terminally ill or chronically handicapped by taking them, with families, to Disneyworld.

The location of the national chain is in Cotswold Village Shops (4400 Randolph Road; 704-626-1110); owners are Steve Taylor, Chris Smith and Jay Kikel.

New at the Music Factory: Sushi

Eight Sushi Asian Kitchen opens today at the NC Music Factory, a collaboration between Alex Myrick (of Blue, Osso and Texicali) and owners Lisa Bennett and Robert Ortez (who also own Label nightclub in the factory).

Yes, chef Gene Briggs is in charge of this one, too, and he advises that the menu will be moderately priced and "sushi-heavy" -- but will also use Asian influences and techniques on ingredients from nearer by. Think tempura, dumplings, spring rolls and skewers.

A wall mural of a female Samurai by Charlotte artist John Hairston is the dining room's focal point and there's a "bar front story of the Last Emperor" by Matt Moore and Matt Hooker, done in "graffiti street art style" as a press release described it. The overall design of the space, in the century-plus-old mill building, leans to the industrial (photos to come).

1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.; 704-900-6147; www.eightcharlotte.com.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Global wine dinner

Global hosts an Australian wine dinner Sept. 10, with Alex Sherrah from Coriole Vineyards on hand. Among the courses: coconut-marinated kangaroo loin with squash blossom quinoa and 2011 Coriole Estate Shiraz; and confit lamb belly with bacon and cheddar scrolls and 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. $69; 704-248-0866.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New chefs en route to Bonterra, Rooster's

Blake Hartwick, last cooking in Dilworth at the helm of defunct Las Ramblas, says he’s excited to return to working with owner JD Duncan mid-September, taking over the kitchen at Bonterra. Las Ramblas makes a one-night “return” at Bonterra Sept 4, with Spanish fare and wines taking center stage and both Hartwick and current chef Bill Schutz cooking.

Schutz is moving into the chef spot at Jim Noble's Rooster’s, whose current chef, Joe Kindred, is preparing to open Kindred in Davidson.

Hartwick says he plans to focus on “really cool stuff at the bar” first, and getting some wine dinners planned. “It’ll still be New South, New American. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel ... (but I) want to get us out on a new avenue as well.” Expect a few Spanish incursions, such as grilled octopus or maybe crispy eggplant, at the bar, while price points will stay about the same. Says Duncan: “We want to keep that classic Southern cuisine, but I’m going to give him the room to go a little more contemporary... This is our 16th year.”

Rooster’s chef/owner Noble, meanwhile, says he’s happy to finally hire Schutz, with whom he’s wanted to work for years.

Fire in the City continues

Results from the latest two Fire in the City matchups:

Aug. 20:
Matchup: David Feimster of Fahrenheit and David Quintana of Southminster (a retirement community).
Surprise ingredients: Olde Mecklenburg Brewing Copper Amber Ale and peaches from Pee Dee Orchards.
Highest scoring dish of the night: OMB Copper Amber Ale almond fraisier (that's a French word -- say "frez-yay" -- denoting a sweetened cake served with fruit and some kind of cream) with dark chocolate mousse, OMB dulce de leche, Pee Dee Orchards peaches (by Quintana of Southminster; see below).

Advancing: Feimster, with a score of 26.94034091 to 26.14361111.

Aug. 25:
Matchup: David Moore of Gallery and Ben Philpott of Block and Grinder.
Surprise ingredients: Garlic and okra from New Town Farms and Heritage Farms Cheshire pork rack.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Confit Heritage Farms Cheshire pork rib, cured pork and New Town Farms okra terrine, okra seed and okra pickle, papaya and prickly pear (by Moore; see below).

Advancing: Moore, with a score of 26.98105263 to 24.07513193.

Feimster and Moore face off Sept. 9.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

25th annual Chef's Best is Sept. 5

Chef Chris Coleman of The Asbury is the headliner at the 25th Annual Chef's Best, a fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina this Friday, Sept. 5. A live auction and raffle are planned; reception begins at 6 with "Southern-inspired" foods from the culinary school at The Art Institute of Charlotte, and dinner is four courses and a cooking demo from area chefs. Tickets are $100 and offered here.

New place from BAKU people coming to SouthPark

Expect Treehouse Whiskey & Fork to open mid-month, beside sibling BAKU at 4423 Sharon Road. The idea? A rustically whimsical site -- yes, there's actually a treehouse -- and a menu executive chef Alek Goncharov describes at "a new take on BBQ and New American style cooking."

That means house-smoked meats and lots of whiskey-based sauces made daily (including the signature, a whiskey molasses sauce, served with a platter of hickory-smoked brisket, ribs, barbecued chicken and more). Entrees will run $15 to $45. Goncharov is a graduate of The Art Institute of Charlotte and a native of eastern Europe, to which he returned last year, working on Eastern-Western fusion food.

Owned by the Asi Group, this, like BAKU, is the product of architect Jason Hood and interior designer Scott Carpenter. The treehouse will be a private dining area for eight, on the patio; that space will also have swinging outdoor furniture and a fire pit. (The accompanying photos are from its Facebook page.)

More than two dozen whiskeys and nearly three dozen beers on tap will be on hand, plus house cocktails. (The Treehouse Trapdoor is described as "a Whiskey/Bourbon mix, cranberry juice, pineapple juice (no ice), shaken then poured over fresh ice, garnished with an orange half wheel, and topped off with a tree design grenadine floater.")

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chefs, ice, ALS support, today: What's not to love?

So you might be over the ice bucket challenge raising crazy great money for ALS, but here's a twist: Chef Jim Noble (of Rooster's and The King's Kitchen fame) has challenged chef Joe Kindred (who's worked for Noble and is about to open Kindred in Davidson) to a "double dunk" uptown, at College and Fifth streets near the Square, at 4:15 p.m. today (it's Friday, Aug. 22).

(The back story: Kindred challenged Noble first, but Noble's contending Kindred didn't have ice in his bucket at the time, Noble is upping the stakes and taking it public. Also on the down-low: Rooster's staff folks are slated to show up, too, which I'm told Kindred doesn't know.)

Here's Noble's challenge:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fire in the City results begin

Results from the first two Fire in the City matchups:

Aug. 18:

Matchup: Luca Annunziata of Passion8 and Clark Barlowe of Heirloom.
Surprise ingredients: N.C. eggs and molasses from Harrell Hill Farms.
Highest scoring dish of the night: a raviolo using Joyce Farms' Poulet Rouge egg yolk, ostrich carbonara, crispy oyster mushroom, roasted pattypan squash with molasses and charred corn (by Annunziata; shown below, courtesy of Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series).
Advancing: Annunziata, with a score (and we admire this precision) of 29.04825581 to 26.69338999.

Aug. 19:

Matchup: Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta’s and Brian Mottola of e2 Emeril’s Eatery.
Secret ingredients: Windcrest Farms tomatoes and Uno Alla Volta cheese.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Confit of Heritage Farms Cheshire pork tenderloin, Windcrest Farms yellow and green tomato compote, U.A.V. burrata chili grits, heirloom tomato oil, aged sherry jus (by Dyrness; below).
Advancing: Dyrness, 30.02278369 to 22.74213836.

Annunziata and Dyrness face off Sept. 8.

Labor Day brunch in uptown CLT

The 7th Street Public Market hosts a 2014 Labor Day brunch and barbecue, with Local Loaf and other vendors serving up their wares from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Grilled entrees and ice cream, live entertainment (and face painting and balloon art) will be on hand. 224 E. 7th St.; www.7thstreetpublicmarket.com.

Upstream's oysters en route

Upstream's sixth annual Oyster Bash will be Oct. 3: You get unlimited tastings of oysters from all over, from Olde Salts to York Rivers to Malpeques and more, plus wines both still and sparkling, and live entertainment and a oyster/wine pairing contest. $125; buy tickets online here or call 704-556-7730; 6902 Phillips Place Court.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Taste of the World coming up

Oct. 2 is the next "Taste of the World" in east Charlotte, which has some 25 participating restaurants this year, with cuisines from five continents. How it works: You buy a ticket ($45; here), and show up at the VanLandingham Estate (registration starts at 4:30 p.m.).

There, you get live music, drinks and tours of the historic property. About 5:45 p.m., you'll board one of the tour buses, each of which has a community guide and a route that takes passengers for samplings of food at three area restaurants. When you return (about 8:45), there'll be a dessert reception, more music and prizes.

Restaurants include: Ben Thanh (Vietnamese), Bistro La Bon (Mediterranean/European/French), Carnitas Guanajuato (Mexican), Dim Sum (Chinese), El Pulgarcito de America (Salvadoran and Honduran), El Rancho (Mexican), Euro Grill (Bosnian), Fiesta Jalisco (Mexican), Fu Lin (Indochinese), Jamile’s (Somalian and more), Kabob House (Persian), Krazy Fish (“world soul seafood fusion”), La Shish Kabob (Middle Eastern), La Terraza (Colombian), Landmark Diner (American), Lang Van (Vietnamese), Letty’s (Southern), Mama’s Caribbean Grill (Jamaican), Mily & Lalo (Peruvian), Motherland (Nigerian), Peculiar Rabbit (American), Portofino’s (Italian), Queen Sheba (Ethiopian), Three Amigos (Mexican) and Woodlands (Indian).

Taste of the World is run by the volunteer group E.A.S.T. (Eastland Area Strategies Team), which seeks to promote and boost economic growth in east Charlotte.

VanLandingham: 2010 The Plaza.

Monday, August 18, 2014

'The Feed' premieres Aug. 21

Chef/author/TV guy Marcus Samuelsson (on right, of Aquavit in New York and lots more), Gail Simmons (Food & Wine special projects director, who you know as a "Top Chef" judge) and "comedian and food writer" Max Silvestri debut Aug. 21 in "The Feed," a show in which they chase trends, and compete in weird challenges.

I've seen an episode and it's reasonably entertaining (though one gets the feeling a producer kept telling Marcus to "turn it up!"): In that, slated to be the second aired, the three tackled a make-your-own-mashup and invented something useful (and Gail's actually was). More info here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Coming up: artisan dinner; beer dinner and a cafe returns (temporarily) from the dead

Heirloom's chef-owner Clark Barlowe does his next artisan dinner Aug. 20 (the following one will be Sept. 24), with producers on hand to talk about what you're eating. On the menu (four courses for $75): N.C. clams, steamed, and Harker’s Island oysters in a Barbee Farm garlic and parsley broth, with Fonta Flora's Alpha Vs. Beta Carotene (a carrot IPA from the Morganton brewer); Lucky Clay’s butter lettuce "cups" with housemade pimento cheese and Anson Mills Carolina Gold rice cakes, with 2012 Jones von Drehle Petite Manseng (a big white wine); Heritage Farm’s crispy pork belly with western N.C.-style barbecue sauce, with NoDa Ramble on Red (a red ale); "Faux Gras" (a beef liver pate made with Salem Hills' grassfed Black Angus) and 2011 Biltmore Cabernet Sauvignon N.C.; and a flourless dark chocolate cake with foraged-wineberry gel, and Jones von Drehle's blackberry dessert wine. 8470 Bellhaven Blvd.; 704-595-7710.

Look for a "beer dinner/picnic" featuring N.C. craft brewers Aug. 21 at D'Vine Wine Cafe. Five courses with six brews for $39.99, with the beers being: Mother Earth Kolsch Style, on draft; Mystery Brewing "Evangeline Saison," Belgian Style, with grilled salmon and spicy Thai salad; Rail House IPA with crabcake and guacamole crema; Rail House K-Bar Brown with grilled sausage; Duck Rabbit Milk Stout with foie burger and roasted potatoes; and Highland Mocha Stout with an espresso brownie sundae. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

And Bonterra will host a one-day return of the defunct Las Ramblas, the Dilworth tapas place that was once where Toast is now: Sept. 4 will offer a tasting of 21 Spanish wines from the Wine Vault, followed by a three-course Spanish dinner (dishes TBA). Reservations: 704-548-9463; Bonterra is 1829 Cleveland Ave.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wallis wine dinner at Lumiere

Lumiere will do a wine dinner Aug. 26 featuring Wallis Estate, a Napa winery (Diamond Mountain) owned by Marilyn Belk Wallis and her husband, Edward Wallis, that produces just a few hundred cases of wine a year. She'll host the dinner, and the focus will be a four-year vertical of Little Sister, a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Among the courses: braised black pig salad; wild sea bass poached in red wine; dry-aged Piedmontese beef; and vanilla-bean-roasted figs.

$138; tickets here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Olde Meck Brewery opens to public

The new Olde Mecklenburg Brewery opens to the public 11 a.m. Aug. 15, on its 8.5-acre facility ("child and pet friendly"!) at 4150 Yancey Road in Charlotte. There's a taproom and restaurant designed to resemble a German bierhall, a big patio and biergarten, and the brewery itself (think 60-barrel) is four times the size of the old one. The copper tap tower pictured above (from OMB's Facebook page) is one of two on-site.

Live music and giveaways are planned, and the place is set to stay open until 11 p.m.

16 Charlotte restaurants get Wine Spectator awards

It's an interesting list, this Wine Spectator awards lineup:

Blue, Del Frisco's and The Fig Tree get Best of Award of Excellences (I just went ahead and picked a word to make plural, since the actual name of the award is nonsensical anyway).

Aria, BLT Steak, Chima, D'Vine Wine Cafe, Fleming's, Gallery, Mama Ricotta's, McNinch House, both locations of Ruth's Chris, Sullivan's, Capital Grille and The Palm won Awards of Excellence.

Notice anything? Steak, steak, steak.

What's up, Morton's? Skip the $250 entry fee, even for the Chicago restaurant? (I have a call in to Morton's and will post when/if I hear back.)

Also of interest: The magazine classifies wine lists as Inexpensive, Moderate or Expensive. Charlotte's strongly in the moderate camp, with Mama Ricotta's deemed inexpensive, and four expensive ones: Capital Grille, Del Frisco's, Fleming's and BLT Steak -- which calls itself "French/American" rather than a steak house, FYI.

Fire in the City approaching

FYI, the first faceoff (Aug. 18) is sold out in the Fire in the City competition dining -- and it'll be one of the more interesting ones, pitting Passion8's Luca Annunziata against Heirloom's Clark Barlowe. (Also FYI, Passion8's latest estimate for its move to Elizabeth is "September.")

The Sept. 29 final is also sold out. A recap of the lineup is below; here's how it all works, and ticket info, etc. is here.

Aug. 19: Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta’s vs. Brian Mottola of e2 Emeril’s Eatery.

Aug. 20: David Feimster of Fahrenheit vs. David Quintana of Southminster (a retirement community, not a restaurant).

Aug. 25: David Moore of Gallery vs. Ben Philpott of Block & Grinder.

Aug. 26: Brent Martin of The Summit Room vs. Jon Spencer of Epic Chophouse and Chillfire Bar & Grill.

Aug. 27: Chris Coleman of The Asbury (at the Dunhill) vs. Brian Williams of Upstream.

Sept. 2: Nicolas Daniels of The Wooden Vine vs. Paul Ketterhagen of Carpe Diem.

Sept. 3: Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill (last year’s City champ) vs. David Sullivan of Fish Market Bar and Grill.

... Upscale there (Davidson)

Executive chef Joe Kindred, of Rooster's uptown, and his wife, Katy, plan Kindred in Davidson by the end of the year or so.

It'll serve chef-driven American fare, housed in an early-1900s building at 131 N. Main St. that was once a pharmacy, and (parts of it) a bookstore and for a time, the former Tom Clark Museum. (Gnomes!)

The Kindreds live in Davidson and, says Katy: "Joe literally grew up walking distance from the space so it is a bit of a homecoming for him.

"It has been our brain child for the better part of a decade and we are so thrilled to watch it come together up here in Davidson where we live with our two kids."

Kindred will sprawl across the building's three floors, with a street-level bar and dining area, the kitchen and a chef's table downstairs and a dining room and private dining upstairs -- plus a patio in the back and side.

Expect prices in the $30-per-person range, according to Katy, who says they both are still working for chef Jim Noble (she's in marketing), who's "like family to us, he has been so unbelievably supportive."

She says she and Joe met at the Pump Room in Chicago, where both were working at the time (she got certified as a sommelier at 21, and has done an array of restaurant and wine work, including stints in Montalcino, Italy, and at Quince in San Francisco). He's also cooked at Tru and 160 Blue in Chicago and at Delfina in San Francisco.

Chicken Salad Chick here (south Charlotte) ...

Chicken Salad Chick is open at 7617 Pineville-Matthews Road in Carmel Commons, the first in what owners Julie Beville and Michelle Singleton plan as a 10-location area hereabouts (they also have sites in Greenville, Lexington and Columbia). Look for 15 flavors of chicken salad (with onions, jalapenos, pineapple/macadamia, ranch/bacon/cheddar, etc.), plus soups, salads and desserts, in a fast-casual setting; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 980-938-8482.

Founder Stacy Brown said in a press release: "We are proud that our restaurants offer not only fresh, homemade food, but also a full Chicken Salad experience!” The chain is based in Alabama and is opening through the Southeast.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Global goes Italian

Global hosts an Italian wine dinner Aug. 14, with Kobrand Fine Wine's Sean Nowak hosting. On the menu: fried capers with smoked egg yolk and tuna tartare, with 2012 Tenuta di Nozzole Le Bruniche Chardonnay, Toscana; lamb pancetta and truffle risotto with 2011 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera D’Asti Superiore; veal osso buco with 2010 Tenuta Campo Al Mare, Bolgheri; and tellagio cheese, balsamic-braised pine nuts, New Town Farms roasted figs and prosciutto di Parma, with Caposaldo Veneto Prosecco.

Reservation required: $69 (plus tax and tip); 704-248-0866.

Coming up: $1 steak sandwiches! Petite, that is.

Morton’s The Steakhouse celebrates "National Filet Mignon Day" (you had this on your calendar, right?) Aug. 13 with $1 filet mignon sandwiches in the bar area all day (which runs 5-10 p.m. in Charlotte). Note: It's a "petite" sandwich.
“We look forward to commemorating this day with diners at any of our over 70 locations across the country” is the press-release quote from senior VP Tim Whitlock. The Charlotte location: 227 W. Trade St., 704-333-2602; www.mortons.com.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

... Chicken Salad Chick there (south Charlotte)

Chicken Salad Chick is open at 7617 Pineville-Matthews Road in Carmel Commons, the first in what owners Julie Beville and Michelle Singleton plan as a 10-location area hereabouts (they also have sites in Greenville, Lexington and Columbia). Look for 15 flavors of chicken salad (with onions, jalapenos, pineapple/macadamia, ranch/bacon/cheddar, etc.), plus soups, salads and desserts, in a fast-casual setting; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 980-938-8482.

Founder Stacy Brown said in a press release: "We are proud that our restaurants offer not only fresh, homemade food, but also a full Chicken Salad experience!” The chain is based in Alabama and is opening through the Southeast.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Rural Hill's first wine dinner: Spanish in Huntersville

Rural Hill, a 265-acre working farm, historic site and educational center, hosts its first wine dinner Aug. 16, with the wines of Cena de Vino, via Eric Solomon's European Cellars.

The dinner will be five courses, with an aperitif and wine pairings for each course, and will seat 60 in Rural Hill's cultural center building. On the menu, from chef Tara Quinones: ham croquettes; gazpacho; Mediterranean salad; paella; and flan.

The dinner is by-reservation-only, and $90: 4431 Neck Road (off Beatties Ford Road) in Huntersville: www.ruralhill.net.

Friday, August 1, 2014

360 Bistro open

360 Bistro is open at 520 University Center Blvd., from Dan Glasser (a Johnson & Wales of Charleston grad who says he's been everything from an executive chef to a general manager to a caterer in Philadelphia) and exec chef Anthony DeMello. "Between the two of us and my talented management team, we plan to take over the culinary scene in the University area," Glasser emails.

He calls the place an Italian-style bistro with a raw bar twist, and along with starters such as broccoli cheddar soup made with NoDa Brewing's Ghost Hop IPA, and fried artichoke hearts, it offers an array of 10-inch pizzas, pastas ranging from spaghetti with meatballs to lobster ricotta ravioli, and seafood options such as oysters Rockefeller and sesame-crusted seared tuna. Look for local brews from Olde Mecklenburg and NoDa, with drink specials, a tapas menu at the bar and weekend brunch on the horizon. About $8-$19; 980-938-5813; www.the360bistro.com.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beer here (Charlotte) ...

On the way: Gastropub Draught Charlotte in the former Hartigan's spot at 601 S. Cedar St. near the stadium, from owner Jason Astephen, who has Prohibition in Charlotte and Craft Tap House in New York. Look for 34 craft beers on tap (about half from Charlotte and nearby N.C.), says the place's Maura Howe, plus "mason jar cocktails" and two bars.
As for the food, exec chef Tony Maiolo and sous Bruce Florio, both Johnson & Wales graduates, plan such items as pimento cheese fritters with crusted red honey; fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and roasted red pepper aioli; beer-braised pork "wings" with sweet chile Cheerwine barbecue sauce; Korean-style bulgogi lettuce wraps; and a smoked duck French dip sandwich, dubbed the Third Ward Sandwich.

Grand opening target date is Aug. 8. The website's in progress; Facebook page is here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tacos/tequila coming into former tacos/beer spot on East Boulevard

Going into the former Longboards tacos and beer spot on East Boulevard is Bakersfield. A tacos/tequila/whiskey chain, it serves Mexican food, is based in Cincinnati (with locations in Columbus and Indianapolis), is named for the California city of Bakersfield, and says on its websites that it's evoking the "Bakersfield Sound" (the music of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, which was a reaction to the Nashville sound of the time).

Target opening is the last week of August, says the company's Lauren Altman, in town Wednesday to help local partner Brian Riggenbach finalize some things. The menu will be "very similar" to other locations, she said. And what will distinguish these tacos from the ones that just vacated the premises? Tortillas made in-house daily, for one thing, she said -- and "the food and service will speak for themselves."

The space has been "completely gutted; we even moved the bar" and Altman dubbed it a neighborhood bar, "with outstanding bar food." 1301 East Blvd.