Friday, June 27, 2014

Charlotte Restaurant Week: coming up

July 18 through the 27 will be the next Charlotte Restaurant Week (yes, yes: more than a week), with 113 restaurants partaking and three courses or more going for $30. The website is now live, so you can see menus, reservation info and the like.

The lineup this time around hits seven counties and ranges from Concord to Waxhaw, Lake Norman to Fort Mill.

First-timers include Heirloom near Mountain Island Lake, BAKU in SouthPark, Fahrenheit in uptown, Pisces at Lake Norman and the Summit Room in Dilworth.

Bistro La Bon, Bonterra, Bubble, Café Monte, The Cajun Queen, Copper, Primo and Vivace also offer a deal to AAA members who dine during Restaurant Week: A $50 gift certificate (for a return visit, that is) for $25.

Who's in? Here's the list by neighborhood:

Cotswold: Mezzanotte

Dilworth: 131 Main; 300 East; Bonterra; Copper; Dolce; Fiamma; The Summit Room

Eastover: Napa On Providence; Primo

Elizabeth: The Cajun Queen, Carpe Diem

North Mecklenburg/Iredell/Lincoln: 131 Main; The 220 Cafe; Alton's Kitchen & Cocktails; BRAVO!

Northlake: Campania Cafe; Chillfire; Dressler's at Birkdale; Epic Chophouse; Firebirds; Jeffrey's; Kabuto; The Melting Pot; Mickey & Mooch; Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge; Red Rocks Café; Trattoria Al Gusto; Twisted Oak American Bar & Grill; Verde Urban Mexican Grill & Cantina

Matthews: Amor de Brazil Steakhouse; Café 157; Santé

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

Mountain Island Lake: Heirloom

Plaza Midwood: Bistro La Bon; Fern

South Charlotte and farther South: 131 Main; Blackthorne; BRAVO!; Firebirds; Fish Market Bar and Grill; Gallery; Global; Maestro's; Mickey & Mooch; New South Kitchen; Passion8; Stone Mountain Grill; Terrace Cafe; Trattoria Antica; Trio; Villa Antonio; Vine American Kitchen; Waldhorn Restaurant

South End: The Liberty; Luciano's; Nan and Byron’s; Nikko; Sullivan's Steakhouse

SouthPark: AZN Azian Cuizine; BAKU; BrickTop's; Café Monte; Del Frisco's; Firebirds; Georges Brasserie; McCormick & Schmick's; Paco's Tacos & Tequila; Red Rocks Café; Ruth's Chris; Toscana; Upstream; Village Tavern; Wolfgang Puck Pizza | Bar and The Men’s Club.

University/Concord: Rocky River Grille; The Speedway Club

Uptown: 3 Trade Food & Wine; 5Church; Aria; Bernardin's; Blue; Brazz; Bubble; Caffe Siena; The Capital Grille; Chima; e2; Enso; Fahrenheit; Fleming's; Luce; Malabar; McCormick & Schmick's; Mimosa Grill; Morton's; Osso; Red Ginger; Room 112; Ruth's Chris; Savannah Red; Texicali; Vida; The Wooden Vine

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A new Harvest Moon

Chef Cassie Parsons emails that she's planning to open a new version of Harvest Moon Grille, the venture that began as a food truck utilizing the wares of Grateful Growers Farm, which is hers and Natalie Veres's, then morphed into the Dunhill Hotel's restaurant uptown. She left, the hotel's restaurant became The Asbury and now her plans call for a Harvest Moon to debut where the Main Street Cafe in Lincolnton (331 E. Main) was. No post-renovation opening date is given, but brunches and classes that were being offered at farmer*baker*sausage maker, in Mount Holly, "will be on hold until we get the Lincolnton restaurant

fbsmup and on its feet."  


Dinner Lab heading to CLT

Dinner Lab is headed to Charlotte, says its organizers.
The idea? Let chefs experiment. Let diners react to the food immediately, with ratings. Repeat.
The methodology? Prospective diners buy memberships first, at $150 a pop, to get to see the schedule for what will at first, here, be pop-up dinners. ("We don't want to be velvet rope-y," says CEO Brian Bordainick.)
When a dinner is planned, members find out and can reserve a seat, for somewhere around $60.
You might get five courses, you might get 10, and the push is for a chef to tell a story with the food -- and share new ideas on what Bordainick calls "a creative platform."
As Dinner Lab's press release puts it, "We've seen a disconnect between what chefs prepare on a regular basis and what they actually care about. We exist to see if those ideas they have for an original concept or grandma's recipe actually have legs."

The goal is to use chefs from the area (typically not exec chefs but the next few down the line) about half the time (one chef at a time) and from elsewhere -- the travel team, if you will -- the other half.

The organization is about 2 years old, says Bordainick, and in 10 cities currently, with differing frequencies. Members are members; if you're in town somewhere else (the 10 are New Orleans, Nashville, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Austin, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and D.C.), you can go to a dinner there. Calendars go out weekly, with upcoming menus. Charlotte is one of nine new cities; its Lab partners are Houston, San Antonio, Denver, St. Louis, Philadelphia, San Diego, Milwaukee and Baltimore.

Expect a late August launch here, though the Lab folks are scouting, they tell me, even as you read. Want more? Take a look here.

Interesting detail: About 60 percent of the Lab chefs are women, according to Bordainick, as are about 60 percent of the members.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Salsarita's to take "World's Hottest Burrito" nationwide

After testing it in Charlotte locations, Charlotte-based chain Salsarita's will take "The World's Hottest Burrito," trademarked as The BurHEATo, national at 59 locations, through Sept. 22.

The burrito is made with Smokin' Ed's Carolina Reaper pepper mash, made from a chile grown by the Fort-Mill-based PuckerButt Pepper Company. Founder "Smokin’ Ed" Currie holds the Guinness record with the Reaper for world’s hottest pepper, which is rated as 300 times hotter than the average jalapeno.

Also in the $9.99 items: grilled chicken, black beans, rice, corn salsa, tomatoes and cilantro.

Also during the BurHEATo time period, the Puckerbutt sauce "Shoot That's Hot" will be featured, replacing the more widely known Cholula sauce.

Heat-heads can get a free t-shirt from Salsarita's if they buy a BurHEATo, then post a video of themselves eating it on "social media" (so a wide range of options!), as long as they tag @Salsaritas and hashtag it #WorldsHottestBurrito.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

UPDATED: For the dads

Charlotte's Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar started an online photo contest today (June 13) to seek "The Bad Daddy's Best Daddy": Go to the Bad Daddy's Facebook page and upload a photo "with a caption that expresses why he deserves to be crowned this year’s Bad Daddy’s Best Daddy," says the press release. Photos can be submitted through July 13, and the one that gets the highest number of votes wins a year's supply of burgers (one a month, that is) for that dad.

The Liberty offers brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Father's Day (June 15, kids), with main plates ranging from barbecue pork sandwich for $10 to chicken and waffles for $15 or steak frites for $18: 1812 South Blvd.;

Harper's at Carolina Place offers a Father's Day deal: any steak special from the "Thrill of the Grill" menu comes with your choice of draft beer for $2 more. Also of note: kids eat free at Sunday brunch (two per dining adult) all summer long. 11059 Carolina Place Parkway; 704-541-5255.

The Red Rocks Cafe at 4223-8 Providence Road plans surf and turf specials for Dad on his day: 704-364-0402.

BLT Steak begins its "King of the Grill" package on Father’s Day weekend: To-go bundles of raw steaks, the place's signature steak rub and grilling tips from chef Ben Miles, plus sides and desserts, for $50 per person -- and you have to get at least four persons' worth. 704-972-4380, email or go to Order at least 24 hours before you want to pick it up; BLT Steak is at 110 N. College St. in the Ritz-Carlton.

The VanLandingham Estate hosts its fifth annual Father’s Day Lawn Party noon-3 p.m. June 15, weather permitting, with Eastern N.C.-style barbecue, slaw and pups and more for $12 per plate, and a cash beer and wine bar. In addition to their families, dads can bring blankets, lawn chairs, Frisbees, dogs "and whatever they'd like to have with them to enjoy a day of well-deserved rest and relaxation," says the Estate's press release. 2010 The Plaza (free parking onsite); reservations or info at 704-376-3357 or

Nan and Byron's will host a brunch buffet 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 15 at 1714 South Blvd.; 980-224-7492. Sibling 5Church (at 5th and Church streets) will also offer brunch, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; 704-919-1322.\

Del Frisco's will be open for both lunch (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) and dinner (4:30-9 p.m.) June 15, with the full dinner menu and $49 three-course "Sunday Prime Pair" menu (an 8-ounce filet with shrimp, crabcake or scallops, plus salad and side). A $12 kids' menu will also be available. 4725 Piedmont Row Drive; 704-552-5502.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bits and clams

The Melting Pot of Lake Norman begins a five-part summer wine series (with small plates and fondue) June 11, with offerings based on South Pacific flavors. New Zealand wines will be paired with bacon and jalapeno Swiss fondue, salad, Hawaiian flatbread and mango chocolate fondue, for $32.50. Upcoming dates: June 25 (Latin America), July 9 (All-American), July 30 (Italy), Aug. 13 (Mediterranean). Reservations: 704-987-2201; 16625 Statesville Road in Huntersville.

e2 starts "clambake Fridays" June 13, and plans to offer them 4:30-7 p.m. each Friday through July 25 on its patio. Middle neck clams (they're between littlenecks and top necks in size), chorizo sausage, corn on the cob and Yukon Gold potatoes are the menu: Cost is $20 per person and it's all-you-can-eat. 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts; 704-414-4787.

Arturo Cousino of Chile's oldest family winery, Cousino-Macul, comes to town June 18 for a wine dinner at Chima, with five courses, pairings and dessert and coffee. $69; 139 S. Tryon St.; 704-601-4141.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Links for a Tuesday

Barbecue fanatics, enjoy feeling your blood pressure rise with these Travel + Leisure survey results. Note how the introduction points out only certain cities were in the survey to begin with, so Lexington was never even in the ballgame ...

Uh oh. Yet, it does seem as if the critic successfully sued should have mentioned the whole it's-actually-two-restaurants thing ...

And ah, the wonders of technology. This tells you whether your favorite patio is sunny or in the shade RIGHT NOW.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Heritage wine dinner

Heritage in Waxhaw hosts a wine dinner with Vintner Wine Market June 19, with wines from Anderson's Conn Valley. On the menu: squash blossom with house ricotta and goat cheese, with 2012 Sauvignon Blanc; duck rillettes, cured duck breast and foie gras with strawberry gastrique and 2011 Pinot Noir; 36-hour short rib with Prologue Merlot; and more.

$85; reservations: 704-843-5236 or email 201 W. South Main St. in Waxhaw.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Asbury's first wine dinner

The Asbury, at the Dunhill uptown, hosts its first wine dinner June 13, with winemaker Andrew Murray. On the menu: Stingray oysters with cucumber caviar and fennel creme; green garlic burrata with roasted peach; Wild Turkey Farms lamb with smoked cabbage slaw; chocolate with cayenne marshmallow, brown butter caramel and boiled peanuts. In the glass: 2013 Esperance “Curtis Vineyard” Rose and Estate Viognier; 2012 RGB white blend (that's Roussanne and Grenache Blanc); 2010 “Terra Bella Vineyard” Syrah and 2012 Tous les Jours Syrah; and 2012 Esperance.

$80; The Dunhill: 237 N. Tryon St.; 704-332-4141.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bits and crumbs and half-prices

Half price on all by-the-glass wines, craft beer and bar appetizers 5:30-7:30 June 6 at Zebra; 4521 Sharon Road;; 704-442-9525.

Wild Wing Cafe (multiple locations) will have a new menu starting June 10, featuring new salads and wraps. A note: You can order "David's Chicken & Friends" the way the staff gets it, according to the chain's PR people: The regular components -- grilled chicken, ranch, bacon, onions, cheeses melted in the oven -- all put in a jalapeno cheddar tortilla and made into a wrap. Another server-generated twist: Order ribs in "Goldrush Marinade" "extra, extra, extra, extra crisp."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fahrenheit's next menu

Fahrenheit's new early summer menu will reflect "what our guests have told us," says chef-owner Rocco Whalen, and "will be in tune with the trends of the industry, the harvest and what our diners have been enjoying at Fahrenheit time and time again.” Look for "10 Vegetable Fried Rice" (jasmine rice with market vegetables), N.C. shrimp pizza, pan-roasted halibut with fennel and grapefruit, and wood-grilled filet mignon with barbecue carrots. 222 S. Caldwell St. at the Hyatt Place; 980-237-6718;

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dressler to open new place at SouthPark

Jon Dressler of Dressler’s will open a third restaurant, offering “elevated Southern fare” at Sharon Square, and opening this fall, if all goes according to plan. Dressler will aim at “finely prepared Southern comfort food in a casual environment with an open kitchen,” according to a press release, with roasted meats, fish, “locally sourced vegetables” and signature desserts. Lunch and dinner are planned, as is outdoor dining.

Dressler has two eponymous restaurants, at the Metropolitan near uptown and at Birkdale Village in Huntersville.

Corkbuzz is also slated to open later this year at Sharon Square, which is at the intersection of Sharon and Fairview roads near SouthPark.

Dine out, do good -- for Charlotte kids

Dine Out For Kids happens June 17: It's the 15th anniversary of the event, in which restaurants donate a portion of the day's sales to Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, which works to help at-risk students stay in school.

You can find out more about Communities in Schools -- which serves more than 6,000 students in 43 CMS schools, with 97 percent of kids it worked with staying in school last year -- at

A total of 88 restaurants are participating (as will the Charlotte Knights venues for the game of June 22):

Alexander Michael’s
American Burger Company
(SouthPark, Uptown)
Applebee's (Carolina Place Parkway, East Independence Boulevard, Piper Station, UNCC, Whitehall)
Bad Daddy's
(Ballantyne, Birkdale, Dilworth)
BRAVO! (Northlake)
(Birkdale, Blakeney, Dilworth, Foxcroft, Uptown)
Burger 21
Bytes Café
California Pizza Kitchen

Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
City Smoke
Crepe Cellar
Dilworth Neighborhood Grille
(Huntersville, Metropolitan)
Eddie’s Place
Five Guys
(Arboretum, Ballantyne, Blakeney, Galleria Blvd, South Blvd, Steele Creek)
Harper’s (Carolina Place Mall, SouthPark)
HMSHost at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (that's Bad Daddy's, Beaudevin Wine Bar, Brookwood Farms BBQ, Burger King, California Pizza Kitchen, Chili's, Cinnabon, Explorer’s Lounge, Genghis Grill, Great American Bagel, Home Team Sports, Original Rum Bar & Grill, Phillips Seafood, Pinkberry, Quiznos, Salsaritas, Sbarro, Speedway Grill, Starbucks, Stock Car Café, Tequileria)
Johnny Burrito
Mama Ricotta’s
(Arboretum, Ballantyne, Blakeney, Carolina Place Mall, Lake Norman, Matthews, Olde Towne Village, Park Road Shopping Center, University, Whitehall)
The Melting Pot (Midtown, Lake Norman)
Mert's Heart & Soul
Midwood Smokehouse
Mimosa Grill
Nothing but Noodles
(Midtown/Elizabeth Avenue, Stonecrest/Rea Road)
Paco's Tacos & Tequila
(East Boulevard)
Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q (Arboretum, Tyvola Road)
Taste Café
Toast Café
TRUE Crafted Pizza
Village Tavern

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bits and crumbs and no problems

5Church introduces its summer tasting menu June 6, six courses for $60, offered nightly, with wine pairings available from Sylvain Mousset, the place's new wine director. Among featured items: chilled asparagus soup, chilled lobster with black lava salt, sous vide flank steak, and chocolate crumble caramel cake. 127 N. Tryon St.;

Aria hosts a six-course wine dinner June 11 with guest Alessandro Cellai. Among the courses: salt-crusted whole wild striped bass with 2012 Monastero La Pineta Pinot Nero; roasted pheasant and confit of pheasant leg with 2012 Monastero Campanaio; and more. $100; reservations by email to 100 N. Tryon St.; 704-376-8880.

Moe's Southwest Grill now has a location in Jamaica: at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.

Dine out, do good -- for the Blue Ridge Parkway

"Plates for the Parkway" will happen June 16-19: Restaurants donate a portion of proceeds from meals to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. That supports the Parkway and funds projects that protect its environment and character, from renovations at Mabry Mill to updates to the Price Lake Trail. Two Charlotte restaurants -- Village Tavern and Hickory Tavern on Providence Road -- will participate, along with places in Asheville, Brevard and other towns. Get more info at

Monday, June 2, 2014

Heathrow gets top chef's newest

Rob Higgs. The Knife for Heston Blumenthal. from rob higgs on Vimeo.

Rock star Brit chef Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant, The Perfectionists’ Café, is slated to open this week at London's Heathrow airport, in a new "multi-million-pound" terminal called The Queen's Terminal. Travelers can expect food inspired by Blumenthal's TV shows and book series called "In Search of Perfection," though the chef hastens to explain in a press release that ""You cannot achieve perfection as it’s entirely subjective.”

So there's that. But he does go on to explain they used cement mixers and paint sprayers and unexplained things that led to "explosions along the way!" in the course of developing dishes. The menu will include some of "the UK's most popular dishes" and "favourites of the busy traveller, dishes that by their very nature are best cooked at speed."

To wit: pizzas from a wood-burning oven (presumably in Category 2), fish and chips (with a beer batter aided by a Leeds University scientist's study of "the science of crunch"), a burger of a physiologist-determined width, and an ice cream bar employing liquid nitrogen.

Above is the kinetic sculpture that will be used at the place's sign -- it's the basis for its logo, too -- called the Clockwork Knife.