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.