Thursday, March 5, 2015

The blog is moving ...

... to The Observer's new website, which means I'll be here. That's within the Observer's website, and if you're looking on other devices, it's under Entertainment. Got a question, concern, comment? Let me know. This site will stay up (it's got lots of good info!), so if you're new here, please cruise through it and get some background, then head over to the new place.

As for the moving sale? Couple of plastic forks and some chopsticks. Make me an offer...

Thanks! See you in the new digs.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Emeril closing in uptown Charlotte

e2 emeril’s eatery and e2GO will close April 26, the company announced this morning. "It is with great sadness that we announce the closure of e2 emeril’s eatery,” chef Emeril Lagasse, owner and executive chef of the restaurant, says in a statement. The concept, at 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts, opened in 2012 and was a departure for the celebrity chef, who was one of the first Food Network stars (catchphrase: "Bam!") and first came to prominence with his New Orleans restaurants and food from that region. He eventually branched out to everything from burgers to steakhouses, in places from Bethlehem, Pa., to Las Vegas. Here, the menu was eclectic.

The Week quoted him in September as saying: "I have nowhere to go, really — other than broke" at an event to promote a TNT reality series, saying the industry was becoming increasingly difficult. The show's website seems to be not functional, and its Facebook page hasn't been posted to since December.

The Charlotte restaurant announced its closing on both its Twitter account ("The restaurant was never able to achieve the volume projected when we came to Charlotte" and its Facebook page.

It will maintain regular hours of operation for lunch and dinner through April 25. 704-414-4787;

Coming to Ayrsley

Look for Piedmont Social House to open in the Ayrsley area this spring, if all goes according to the plans of New Forum Inc., one of the area's developers. Described as "a restaurant/entertainment venue," it's slated to have "a modern menu influenced by traditional Southern flavors," along with bowling, darts, billiards, ping pong, corn hole, shuffleboard, bocce ball and more. It'll also be huge: 21,000 square feet of indoor space, plus a 5,000-square-foot patio. 2135 Ayrsley Town Blvd.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wine dinner explores N.C.

"State of Spring" is the title for a March 5 dinner at 7th Street Public Market, with seven courses from Local Loaf chef Adam Spears and wines from N.C. winery Jones VonDrehle, via Assorted Table Wine Shoppe. The lineup includes roasted corn and fennel ice cream, a cheeseboard from Orrman's (at the market), spicy shrimp wonton, fish and chips with Roquefort tartar sauce, rosemary and Brussels sprout risotto cake, duck confit, lamb sliders and "a sweet finish." $90; reservations: 704-277-3234 or email 224 East 7th St.

OMB tries to summon spring with Fruh Bock

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery will release the seasonal Früh Bock (say froo bock) Feb. 27, and since its name means "early" in German (and is short for Frühling, which means "spring"), maybe warm weather will immediately ensure. The brew is described as malty sweet with almost citrusy notes, and is 6 percent alcohol by volume (its Copper is 4.8).

Also coming up at OMB: a St. Patrick's Day party March 14, a sixth-anniversary celebration March 28 and a Louisiana Spring Crawfish Boil April 18.

4150 Yancey Road;

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Downton Abbey tea plus St. Patrick's Day specials)

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge will offer "Downton Abbey Tea" from 1 to 5 p.m. March 11-14, with "Countess of Grantham’s favourite tea savouries and sweets." You can opt out of the actual tea part and opt into Spanish sherry for $8, or Brandy Alexanders for $10. And you can also dress up: The hotel says "Attendees are encouraged to dress in 1920-1930s period clothing." $36 ($18 for "junior patrons" 5-12); reservations required: 704-248-4100.

Also coming up: Irish Whiskey specials for St. Patrick’s Day at the hotel's Gallery restaurant.

10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway;;

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Harvest Moon beer dinner

Harvest Moon Grille will hold its first beer/dinner pairing Feb. 26, with brews from Howard Brewing of Lenoir. On the menu: salt and vinegar popcorn (from Laughing Owl Farm), caramel popcorn balls with sorghum molasses hops, and miniature corn dogs; meatball sliders; mini-brat dogs with chili and cheese; jalapeno cheese poppers with sweet red pepper jam; black-eyed pea falafel; and ice cream floats made with stout, and Coke-brined peanut brittle. $40 and by reservation only: 704-735-4199. 331 E. Main St. in Lincolnton.

Beard semifinalists out: 3 Asheville chefs, 3 chefs and 2 bakers from Triangle ...

The James Beard Foundation announced semifinalists for its restaurant and chef awards, the 25th anniversary edition of those recognitions. It adds a new one this year, Outstanding Baker, and the Carolinas placed three people in that national list of 25: Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery in Durham; Lionel Vatinet of La Farm in Cary; and Lauren Mitterer of Wildflour Pastry in Charleston.

Also making the first cut:
Sean Brock of Husk in Charleston in the Outstanding Chef lineup.
Edmund’s Oast in Charleston in Best New Restaurant.
Hominy Grill in Charleston in Outstanding Restaurant.
Charleston Grill in Outstanding Service.
Both FIG and McCrady's in Charleston in Outstanding Wine Program.
Ari Kolender of Leon's Oyster Shop in Charleston in Rising Star Chef.

And the Best Chef: Southeast list of 20 includes:

North Carolina:
Katie Button of Cúrate in Asheville
Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani in Asheville
John Fleer of Rhubarb in Asheville
Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston
Scott Howell of Nana's in Durham
Matthew Kelly of Mateo in Durham
Aaron Vandemark of Panciuto in Hillsborough

Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh
Josh Keeler of Two Boroughs Larder
Jason Stanhope of FIG

The rest:
Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow, Atlanta
Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir, Atlanta
Steven Satterfield, Miller Union, Atlanta
Billy Allin, Cakes & Ale, Decatur, Ga.
Kathy Cary, Lilly's, Louisville
Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville
Damian Heath, Lot 12 Public House, Berkeley Springs, W. Va.
Daniel Lindley, Alleia, Chattanooga
Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis
Tandy Wilson, City House, Nashville

Semifinalists in the 21 categories come from a list of more than 34,000 online entries (it's an open call). A committee then reviews the list and chooses semifinalists. That list goes to a volunteer panel of 600 judges across the country, which picks both the finalists (five in each category) and the winner. Finalists will be named March 24 and winners May 4 at an event in Chicago.
More info:

Wine education at D'Vine

D'Vine Wine Cafe resumes its wine education series on Feb. 26 with Craig Strange and wines from Santa Barbara County wineries Dierberg, Three Saints and Star Lane. Strange will talk about pairing wines and food, and five wines will be paired with five courses. $30; reservations: 704-369-5050. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bits and crumbs: Oyster roast; Duckworth's uptown

"Shuck 'n Awe" is the title of the third annual Winter Fling at the historic VanLandingham Estate (above): It's an oyster roast Feb. 21, held in partnership with the Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association. Dinner (roasted oysters, shrimp, red rice and collards) will be served 7-9 p.m., and there'll be a silent auction fundraiser, cash bar, door prizes, dancing and live music. $30 ($25 for PMNA members who buy in advance); 2010 The Plaza. Information and tickets at;; 704-376-3357.

Duckworth's Taproom is opening in the three-level space where Fox & Hound was on Tryon Street uptown (330 N. Tryon, to be exact); Rob Duckworth expects to open March 2.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bad Daddy's in national contest

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar will compete in the 2015 Amstel Light Burger Bash Feb. 20, hoping to win the People's Choice Award. Thirty burger chefs will vie in the competition, part of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami, hosted by Rachael Ray. Bad Daddy founder Frank Scibelli worked with his corporate chef, Tim Kast, and Kast's team to create something called The Bash Daddy: a burger made of short rib, brisket and chuck, with Raclette and Comte cheeses, onions caramelized with Amstel and bacon, and housemade mustard aioli, on a potato bun. Bad Daddy's was chosen to compete by ground-beef purveyor Schweid & Sons.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New wine bar/wine shop coming to Dilworth

Foxcroft Wine Co., a wine shop and wine bar, plans a second location in Dilworth, and hopes to open in June or July, says owner Conrad Hunter.

Foxcroft (which used to be called the Wine Shop at Foxcroft) opened in 2004 at 7824 Fairview Road. Its second site will go into a remodeled space in the Kenilworth Commons shopping center on East Boulevard, Hunter says, with design by Eric Boyd and Tom Long from Reaching Quiet Design (which has done Stagioni, 5Church, Nikko's and more), and the architect is Brian Conroy of Citizen Design.

Hunter says he'll keep the format and feel of the SouthPark original, with room for about 9,000 bottles for retail.

Chef Justin Solomon's menu will remain a blend of New American and comfort food (as at the original), but this will add a wood-fired brick oven, and some dishes Solomon did in his time in the Pacific Northwest and at Customshop in Charlotte. There'll also be about 40 wines by the glass.

Here's a peek at the menu in progress:

Free childcare from Olive Garden Feb. 20?

For the second year, Olive Garden hosts "Parents' Night Out": This year, it's Feb. 20. The restaurant chain has arranged with the My Gym children's fitness chain for about 30 kids per location to be there while parents dine. Parents must contact the My Gym locations to get details and reserve (there's a deposit required). Two Charlotte My Gyms are participating, the ones at 5110 Park Road and at 9852 Rea Road; click on the link for details. The four-course "Festa Italiana" meal starts at $12.99 and includes choices of soup or salad, small plate, entree and mini dessert (shown above; photo from Olive Garden's website).


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

More 'cue coming at second location of Q

Queen City Q plans to open a second location, at Plantation Market Shopping Center in Matthews, in early summer. The original opened in uptown nearly three years ago, and began selling barbecue at the Knights' ballpark last season. The new location will seat about 120, including space on a covered patio. Queen City Q smokes pork, brisket, ribs, chicken and sausage. (Photo from its website:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Have a rescue dog? Put him on a wine label!

Raffaldini Vineyards, in Ronda, features a rescue dog on the label of its Pino Vino each year, and the search is on for Pino Vino VII's. Part of the proceeds benefit animal rescue organizations, says vineyard owner Jay Raffaldini. The new wine, a red, will be unveiled June 13, and entries close April 30. Send a digital photo of your rescue dog to, and include your name and contact information, the dog’s name and its rescue story in 50 words or fewer. The winner will be notified May 8. Last year's winner was Munson, shown above with his owner, David Hayes (right) and Raffaldini.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Kindred slated to open Feb. 17 in Davidson

Kindred, from chef Joe Kindred and his wife and co-owner, Katy, is scheduled to open Feb. 17, with what they're describing as "chef-driven American cuisine": Expect seasonal fare, global influence, Southern tradition and both modern and classic techniques in food and drink. (That's tortelloni with celery root, Gruyere and black truffle above.) Chef Kindred was most recently with Roosters in Charlotte, and the restaurant is in the restored Tom Clark museum/town pharmacy at 131 N. Main St.

Here's a look at the opening menu (the phone numnber's not set):

And a peek at the 10-seat bar:

Updated: For Valentine's

Sante in Matthews will offer a four-course Valentine menu Feb. 13 and 14 for $70. Lobster bisque, truffle-scented wild mushroom soup, "French Hearts Salad" (artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, Tega Hills' French crisp hearts -- that's a lettuce -- and tomato hearts), herb-broiled Dover sole, seared filet mignon, flourless chocolate torte and pear and blackberry crumble are a few of the choices. 165 N. Trade St. in Matthews; 704-845-1899;

Global's five-course Valentine menu is $69 ($99 with wine pairings), and begins with Hudson Valley foie gras cromesquis (think foie encased in croquette) and 2011 Sauterne Chateau Fleur D'Or; then Maine lobster and orzo with 2013 Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc; wild boar shoulder with 2011 Cashburn Pinot Noir; duck "cassoulet" (with breast, leg and egg) and 2011 Le Couroulu Vacqueyras Blend; and "folie a deux" -- dark chocolate craquant parfait with cranberry orange marmalade with Simonet. Reservations: 704-248-0866; 3520 Toringdon Way;

Vivace's Feb. 14 menu has classics and twists, from a carbonara with duck prosciutto instead of bacon to beet ravioli with goat cheese; the regular menu will also be offered. Among other specials: sea scallop crudo with blood orange; crispy lamb ribs with spiced rosemary honey; lobster bisque with brown butter ricotta gnocchi, pork chop Milanese, beef tenderloin with Gorgonzola potato cake, black and white tiramisu, chocolate bomba and more. 704-370-7755; 1100 Metropolitan Ave.

The Ritz-Carlton's Bar Cocoa will do a Valentine's pop-up at the Urban Garden 2-6 p.m. Feb. 12-13, offering lots of Norman Love chocolates (above) and more. Also at the Ritz: BLT Steak will be open both on Valentine's Day and from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 15, with a regular menu and a Valentine's one, that's offered both a la carte or as a prix fixe for $60. That includes Maine lobster risotto; peppercorn-crusted New York strip with trumpet mushrooms and foie gras; side of orzo and crab gratin; and dark chocolate bombe with raspberries. 110 N. College St. in the Ritz-Carlton; reservations: 704-972-4380.

From 1-9:30 p.m. Valentine's Day, Kabuto's Lake Norman will have combination hibachi specials, with two glasses of house wine or Champagne and a dessert to take home, for $59.90-$69.90 per couple. 704-655-0077.

Bonefish Grill will offer meals for couples for $29.90 a person after 4 p.m. Feb. 9-15, with surf and turf and shellfish-stuffed sea bass among the options. Multiple locations:

D'Vine Wine will offer its full menu plus specials Feb. 12-14, and there'll be special sparkling wines by the glass. Among the specials, all small plates: grilled watermelon with barbecued shrimp and mixed greens; roasted garlic and truffle white bean hummus; turkey burger on honey-pumpkin roll; and seared tuna with soba noodles and edamame. Reservations will be taken by phone only, at 704-369-5050. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive.

Have you been (or are you still, or do you plan to be) procrastinating about Valentine’s Day dining? The Capital Grille anticipates your pain, and is doing a “#ReservationRescue” dinner giveaway on Facebook Feb. 11-12. Enter it and one winning couple will get a 6 p.m. reservation for two on Valentine’s Day, and $150 worth of dinner. You’ll need to go to its Facebook page at between 7 a.m. Feb. 11 and 11:59 p.m. Feb. 12 (both times are Eastern Standard) to enter. The restaurant chain will post on the page to open the contest. You’ll need to “comment with one word to describe their significant other (aka: Valentine)” – suggestion here: Don’t use that one – then “list their local TCG (the city/location).” One winner per location will be chosen at random; they’ll be contacted on Facebook on Feb. 13 and will have four hours to accept, or they forfeit and someone else is chosen. More rules, etc.:

Zebra will offer an $85-per-person menu Feb. 13-15, with choices that range from lobster bisque and Malpeque oysters on the half shell to roasted wild striped bass and tournedos of beef tenderloin Diane. 4521 Sharon Road;; 704-442-9525.

Passion8 offers three Valentine variations: A 5 p.m. seating with three courses for $45, a 7 p.m. seating with four courses for $65, and a 9:30 p.m. seating with five courses for $85. A photographer and props provider will be at the restaurant, to arrange and record the evening; images are free for customers. Actually, there are four variations, if you count the next day’s Sunday brunch: live music and the Bloody Mary bar. There'll also be a three-course, $30 brunch Feb. 15. 704-910-3161; 1523 Elizabeth Ave.;

Del Frisco's will offer an 8-ounce filet and 8-ounce lobster tail for $79 Feb. 13-15. There'll also be a full menu on Feb. 13, a limited one on Feb. 14, and on Feb. 15, the Prime Pair menu will be added to the lineup, as usual on Sunday nights: choice of salad, filet paired with crab cake or barbecue spiced shrimp or lemon garlic scallops, plus a side. (That's $55.) 4725 Piedmont Row Drive; 704-552-5502.

The Ballantyne hosts "a magical Princess Tea" 1-5 p.m. Feb. 11-14: It's a family-style Valentines event, and kids are encouraged to dress up in princess gowns, jewelry and tiaras (wear 'em if you got 'em): $36 for adults, $18 for kids, plus tax and tip. Reservations required: 704-248-4100.

Feb. 13-15, the hotel's Gallery restaurant offers a three-course fixed-price dinner with choice of root vegetable soup or sea scallop as appetizer; beef tenderloin or shellfish ravioli as entree, and a chocolate petits fours platter, chocolate strawberry terrine or sorbet for dessert; a Champagne toast is included. Cost: $65 per person; reservations at or 704-248-4100. 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Burrata, Barolo, bits and crumbs

Mezzo soprano Daidree Tofano serves up Italian love arias and Passion8 four courses on Feb. 11, for $65 per person. Among the offerings: burrata with prosciutto di Parma; gnocci alla Luca (with caramelized onion, crispy eggplant and sausage), braised beef and Amarena cherry panna cotta. 704-910-3161; 1523 Elizabeth Ave.;

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority named The King's Kitchen its restaurant of the year.

Foxcroft Wine Co. will do a Ceretto Winery dinner Feb. 17, with the winery's Andrea Pace on hand, and a menu of traditional Piemontese cuisine: vitello tonnato with 2013 Langhe Arneis Blange, wild mushroom tagliatelle with truffle oil and 2012 Dolcetto D'Alba Rossana, rabbit roulade with 2009 Barbaresco Bricco Asili, osso buco with 2009 Barolo Brunate, and torta di nocciole with 2013 Moscato d' Asti. $75; 704-365-6550; 7824 Fairview Road; (And if you're not on this email list, you should be: Dinners like this are described beautifully, with evocative history on wineries and their leaders.)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bean Vegan Cuisine's 'vegan conquest' advances

Bean Vegan Cuisine plans to open a second location in Asheville this spring, "if not sooner," says the restaurant's Charlie Foesch. The new place will be in south Asheville, at 2145 Hendersonville Road. "The restaurant god were smiling on us," he says, and the only thing that needs to be brought in is vegan equipment (as in, equipment that hasn't been used in non-vegan food preparation). The location is near new shopping and the airport, as well, says Foesch, "which is good for us; we get a lot of travelers." Expect an identical menu to Charlotte's (where some dishes, such as the cowboy burger and fishless filet, are moving soon from the specials list to the permanent menu). Expect, too, a third location in either Raleigh or Durham, he says: "The Triangle Vegan Society has been lobbying for us to open ... and I think that's part of our vegan conquest." The plan had been to follow the addition of the grocery store element in Charlotte with a place in Asheville, then in Raleigh or Durham. He says that decision hasn't been made, but Durham appears to be favored.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

'Three free bagels' at Bruegger's

Feb. 5 is the annual giveaway from Bruegger's Bagels, celebrating its birthday (it's 32). You need a coupon to get three free ones and you need to get there before 11 a.m. Go to its Facebook page, or go to the website to get one (its eClub members automatically get one via email).

Friday, January 30, 2015

Midwood Smokehouse folks do 'barbecue boot camp,' plan 'Crossroads 'Cue Supper'

Midwood Smokehouse's Frank Scibelli is again working on a few things with chef/food writer Robb Walsh, as Midwood gets ready to open its second location in March (in Ballantyne).

"Barbecue boot camp" is what they're calling their trip through Austin and Houston, with Midwood pitmaster Matt Barry (see his on-the-road Tweets, above and below) and Paco's Tacos chef Phil Carter in two. (Paco's is a sibling to Midwood, also highly Texas-influenced.) They hit CorkScrew BBQ, Southside Market and Barbecue and El Real Tex Mex, and plan to import influences (and dishes like Texas barbecue-style beef ribs) to Midwood's menu.

"When you go on a trip like this, you are learning from people who have made barbecue with the same family recipe for 80 years," Scibelli said in a press release. "We want to bring back those experiences ... so that we can create the most authentic Texas barbecue dining experience possible.”

Upshot for diners: A "Crossroads 'Cue Supper" Feb. 25 at Midwood: three courses, served family style, culled from Walsh's 10 cookbooks, plus beer from NoDa Brewing. 1401 Central Ave., 704-295-4227;

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lafite Rothschild dinner at the Palm

The Palm hosts a wine dinner highlighting Chateau Lafite Rothschild on March 20, with a Lafite specialist guiding diners through the pairings. Lafite's been around since the 1670s, and has domaines in Chile and Argentina as well as France. This dinner will offer wines from the French and Argentinian estates. Five courses; $155 per person ($140 for the restaurant's 837 Club members), plus tax and tip. On the menu: seared jumbo sea scallops with English pea and truffle puree, with 2013 Lafite Reserve Speciale Blanc; roasted beet and baby arugula, with 2013 Los Vascos Chardonnay; braised beef short rib with parsnip puree, wild cherry drizzle and 2010 Bodegas CARO Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec; ancho chile- and espresso-rubbed lamb rib chops with 2011 Lafite Reserve Speciale Pauillac; and apple strudel with Chateau de Cosse Sauternes. 6705 Phillips Place Court; 704-552-7450.

Zoës Kitchen clarifies its giveaway

Zoës Kitchen's people are clarifying the giveaway at the new location at 1823 East Arbors Drive, which opened today (Jan. 29): You must enter a contest at its Facebook page to be in the running for one of the 500 meals it's giving away. Enter the contest for that, and you might also win free food for a year. The chain offers fast-casual Mediterranean-inspired food.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Zoës Kitchen in Charlotte is 137th!

Zoës Kitchen plans to open its newest location -- the 137th in the country -- Jan. 29 at 1823 East Arbors Drive. The chain features Mediterranean-inspired food in a fast-casual setup, with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes offered. To celebrate the opening, the restaurant will give away 500 meals at the new location, and you might win free food for a year from the place by entering a contest at its Facebook page by Jan. 29. There's also an app: the Zoës "L.I.F.E.," which offers free tidbits, lets you order online, "set fun life goals and receive daily inspiration."

Friday, January 16, 2015

Three courses for $20?

Through Jan. 25, Harper's at Carolina Place (and that location only) answers Restaurant Week with "WinterFest," a three-course meal for $20: soup of the day or a house, Caesar or Cobb salad; entree choice of sirloin with vegetables, salmon with grilled asparagus or half a roasted chicken with braised cabbage; and a mini apple pie or mini brownie sundae. Also offered: If you eat twice or more at any Harper's Group location -- Upstream, Mimosa Grill (both of which are in the three-for-$30 Restaurant Week promotion), or at either Harper's -- you get a $20 gift certificate; go four or more times and you get a $50 one. 11059 Carolina Place Parkway; 704-541-5255.

Mimosa and Barnett and wine; Flying Saucer and Founders

Mimosa Grill hosts its seventh annual Barnett Winery dinner Jan. 20, with winemaker David Tate hosting. Tastings will include 2013 Sangiacomo Chardonnay, 2013 Savoy Pinot Noir, 2012 Merlot, 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Cabernet Rattlesnake Vineyard, and the dinner will center on a whole roasted suckling pig. $85; 704-548-9463 (the Wine Vault); the restaurant is at 327 S. Tryon St.

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium will do a Founders Tap Takeover Jan. 24, tapping 10 Founders brews and bringing in the newly released Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. Tickets: 704-717-8179.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bits and crumbs

Mooyah Burgers Fries & Shakes is slated to open at Sycamore Commons in Matthews in early February; plans call for 20 or more Mooyahs -- a Texas-based fast-casual burger chain -- across North Carolina.

New dishes at D'Vine Wine Cafe: hot caramelized onion, beer and cheddar dip; chicken sofrito with farro; duck confit with sweet potato risotto. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dine out, do good: Soup on Sunday coming up

This year's Soup on Sunday benefit on Jan. 25 will be the 15th for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region. Hosted 11 a.m.-2 p.m. by CPCC, at the culinary arts center at 425 N. Kings Drive, it will include soups from area restaurants, the chance to buy pottery from local potters, and add-ons, such as chocolates, from culinary students from CPCC, Johnson & Wales and the Art Institute.

For $40, you get a handmade potter bowl, plus food and beverages; for $30, you get just the food and drinks, and kids 7-12 eat for $10 (younger is free).

Participants and their planned soups include:

300 East: butternut squash with Gorgonzola; Artisan (at The Art Institute of Charlotte): venison chili and apple cheddar soup; Barrington's/Good Food on Montford: potato-leek; Brixx: chipotle chicken chowder; Chuy's: chicken tortilla; Community Culinary School of Charlotte: carrot ginger; e2 Emeril's Eatery: chicken and andouille sausage gumbo; Fenwick's: tomato bisque; Flavors Café: green chile stew; Global: smoked cauliflower; Johnson & Wales: shrimp bisque (and chocolates -- not in the soup!); Local Loaf: Southwestern chicken corn chowder; Mama Ricotta's: pork minestrone with pasta; Newk's Eatery: white bean and kale, and lobster bisque; Sante': roasted butternut squash; The Liberty: butternut squash bisque; Trio: mulligatawny; Village Tavern: potato-leek; and Vivace: winter vegetable minestrone with cici beans and rapini pesto.

Info:; you can get tickets there or by phone (704-335-4312) or at the door.

Charlotte Chipotles out of pork

The Observer's Andrew Dunn reports Charlotte Chipotles are out of pork, part of what's at a third of national problem. The reason, according to the Associated Press, is that a supplier violated Chipotle standards on raising pigs, particularly on their housing; the chain requires certain humane standards for animals it uses, though it has said it has trouble getting beef that's raised to those standards.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dine out, do good

Fox & Hound at Northlake hosts an event to benefit Steve's Coats for Kids and Crisis Assistance Ministry on Jan. 21: It begins at 6 p.m., and for a $10 admission, you get to sample a buffet of new and signature menu items (such as hummus, chicken tenders, Black Forest sliders and more) and two drinks (ranging from margaritas to wine and beer).

Coats can be donated until the event date at the restaurant, and you can buy tickets to the event at the door. "For the 11th year, Steve’s Coats for Kids is trying to get new and gently used coats into the arms of kids who don’t have a coat during this cold winter season,” said Steve Udelson, who is WSOC TV Channel 9's chief meteorologist. All ticket proceeds will go to Crisis Assistance Ministry, which distributes the coats. 704-509-2853; 9325 Center Lake Drive; For info on donating coats: and

Monday, January 12, 2015

Harvest Moon wine dinner

Jones von Drehle of the Yadkin Valley is the winery featured at the Harvest Moon Grille's next wine dinner, Jan. 21. There'll be four courses, and the winery owner will be on hand to talk about the place. $55; 704-735-4199;

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Midwood Smokehouse adds 2nd, plus another Bad Daddy's

Look for the second Midwood Smokehouse to open in late March in Ballantyne, says Frank Scibelli, with a menu identical to the Plaza Midwood original. It will go into the former Sticky Fingers location, at 12410 Johnston Road. Barbecue in place of a barbecue place that didn't make it? No, says Scibelli: He went to the original Sticky Fingers and "that concept in no way resembles what that concept was.
"I love that location; it's a great location." Pitmaster Matt Barry will be in charge, and a patio will be added as well. It's a little bigger than the original, and will probably take on much of the concept's catering work. "We'll continue to work on the menu, evolve the menu -- but we don't want to get too funky," Scibelli says.

Also new from Scibelli's restaurant group: A Bad Daddy's in Mooresville opened last week, at 279 Williamson Road;

Charlotte Ritz-Carlton plans The Punch Room (goodbye Urban Sip)

Feb, 14 is the target date for the Ritz-Carlton's new -- well, let's let the release describe it: "The Punch Room will evoke the legendary, sometimes notorious beverage dens of yesteryear. Dark and glamorous, its moody setting will reflect steel, metallic, gold and black design accents ... include stylish chandeliers and plush sofas ... (and have) a curated music vibe of blues, soul and doo wop." Perched on the 15th floor, it will offer beverages (and make use of "an on-site cocktail carbonator"), wines and spirits, a punch bar, and a few light dishes.

Hours will be 5-11 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. No reservations will be taken, but you can wait to get in on Fridays and Saturdays (the Room holds about 40, and some spaces will be held for hotel guests) in the lobby lounge.

201 E. Trade St., at Trade and College;

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tupelo Honey changing it up

Big changes headed for the eight-restaurant Tupelo Honey chain (which also plans to open two new locations in Virginia and another in Myrtle Beach this year):

The new menu, which will begin in the Raleigh site Jan. 14 and roll out in Charlotte next, Jan. 28, will keep "long-standing tried-and-true Southern favorites" but add many sharing plates, such as country ham and cream cheese wontons with shaved honeyed Brussels sprouts salad; baked three-cheese macaroni with Cajun blackened shrimp; and house-cured Atlantic salmon with crispy potato pancake and tomato jam. It's adding entrees as well: roasted duck breast with cherry port wine sauce; grilled lamb chops with blackeyed pea and French green bean salad and mint chimichurri; and pan-seared sea scallops with spring pea risotto.

Drinks get new emphasis, with Tyler Alford (formerly with Commander's Palace in New Orleans) taking on the bar program. The interiors change too, with new paint colors, and the signature yellow plates are out; off-white ones are in.

Also new: Throw It Back Thursdays, a '90s retro night when there'll be a '90s movie on bar TVs, build-your-own old fashioneds and a free bar snack with purchase.

A news release quotes the company's executive chef Brian Sonoskus: “Southern tastes are changing as a new generation of diners is influencing the way in which we eat. They want to share their food as a table, they want bold global flavors, and they want to be able to customize their meal." Reacting to that, Tupelo will offer chicken choices, for example, of Southern buttermilk fried, Cajun blackened or curried fried thigh with fresh apple salsa.

Also quoted is CEO Steve Frabitore: “After looking at our research, we want the Tupelo Honey experience to remain
creative, fun and relevant. We’re still focused on Southern food – both traditional as well as the Southern food that’s being influenced by different cultures, ethnicities and traditions now thriving in our region.” Tupelo Honey began in 2000 in Asheville; it now has locations (on addition to Charlotte) in Knoxville, Johnson City and Chattanooga, Tenn.; Greenville, S.C.; and Raleigh. Info:


Friday, January 2, 2015

Stagioni turns 1 Jan. 6

Stagioni, the third restaurant for the Moffett Restaurant Group (following chef Bruce Moffett's Barrington's, then Good Food on Montford), celebrates a year in business on Jan. 6, and diners will be offered a complimentary glass of Prosecco, which the restaurant keeps on tap. Chef Ashley Quick plans in the new year a monthly online column called "Honest Cooking," focusing on seasonal and local foodstuffs. He'll also be offering cooking classes on traditional Italian fare at the restaurant.

715 Providence Road; 704)372-8110;