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

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

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

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.