Charlotte · Uncategorized

Restaurant Review: Halcyon in Uptown Charlotte

Halcyon has been on my wishlist forever, but sometimes parking in Uptown Charlotte is a hassle.  It definitely was yesterday afternoon, but we persisted.  We circled the restaurant maybe 7 times, each time finding a parking lot with a “Full” sign.  On our 8th trip we found a parallel spot a few blocks away and got in in only 2 tries 🙂  Nerve wracking!!

It was worth the concentration and anxiety.  Once we walked to where GPS said Halcyon was, we wandered around another 10 minutes trying to figure out where the heck it was.  We followed signs, we went down an alleyway….I eventually gave up and asked another patron walking around near the Levine Center where the heck it was.  Turns out, you go up this gigantic staircase into the MInt Museum (there is an elevator on the inside of the building!) and there the restaurant is in all its glory.

The restaurant is beautiful, as you’d expect. When we walked in, I was struck by all of the organic decorative touches.  The hostess station sits atop the most beautiful wood table I’ve ever seen.  I couldn’t quit rubbing it.  I slipped around the hostess and snapped a quick picture of a long dining table waiting for patrons because it was so beautiful and simple.  The light fixtures look like a nest of twigs.  I was really wowed.

Look at that gorgeous table!

Huge windows overlooking Downtown Charlotte and check the light fixtures!

Love the organically shaped plates.

Despite the beauty inside, it couldn’t hold a candle to the beautiful fall weather we had yesterday, so we opted to sit on the patio.  Unlike many places, the outdoor furniture was comfortable and also lovely.  And the view!  Could not be beat.

View of Uptown Charlotte from Halcyon

The food was just as amazing as the view.  We scoured the menu and tried to order something different from each other so we could taste everything possible!  With so many delicious choices, that was easy.

Lunch Menu

First we ordered tea all around.  It comes unsweetened and they serve it with a simple syrup.  So, I was charmed the first time this happened to me, but now I despise this trend.  I can never use enough to even taste it.  Just give me some Sweet and Low and I’ll be happy.

My food, however, was without flaw.  I ordered the Local Catch of the Day which was pan seared Snapper.  They placed it atop a mix of summer veggies with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette on the bottom.  Seriously one of the best things I’ve eaten in a very long time.  The fish, though prepared simply, was so flavorful and flaky; cooked perfectly.  The skin was crispy and the inside was white and tender.  The veggies were sauteed lightly and the broccoli was charred so that was a perfect contrast of flavors.  Finally, that vinaigrette sauce: I wish I could come home with a cup full and slather it on everything.  It was tart and perfect when you dragged your fish or a vegetable through it.

Local Daily Catch with summer veggies, charred broccoli atop a puddle of roasted red pepper vinaigrette

My friend Paula got the Pork Belly BLT.  It was gorgeous!!  It’s this open-faced sandwich made on a brioche bun and stuffed with thick cut heirloom tomatoes, pimiento cheese, pork belly and drizzled with herb aioli. The fries are in a class of their own.  So crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside and seasoned to perfection.   Paula was very happy with it!

Pork Belly BLT with fries

My friend Jennifer got the Open Faced Lamb Sausage Pita, and she let me take a bite of the sausage!  It was just so spicy and tangy.  The pita had spinach, the sausage which looked to be spiced with a tomato confiture, topped with tzatziki sauce, herbed goat cheese and a beautifully fried egg.  Served with those amazing fries!  Superb.

Open Faced Lamb Sausage Pita

We were all so darn full from our delicious lunches, but we did decide to indulge in one small truffle 🙂  It was just a ball of ganache, rolled in cocoa powder and served with a few blueberries.  But it was oddly rich and perfect.  Just the little bite of sweetness we needed to end our perfect lunch.  Jennifer also got a latte which she said was great!

The perfect bite: Chocolate Truffle with blueberries

Latte

This restaurant is perfect for an al fresco dining experience with a beautiful view, or a date night when you want to impress someone.  Take a moment and look around the museum while you are there!

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Lincolnton · Restaurants

South African Wine Dinner at Crafted Southern Speakeasy

Crafted Southern Speakeasy is not just a place to get hand-crafted cocktails and a bite to eat.  No, it is sooo much more than that.  They have events there that are really thoughtful and upscale!  I’ve been to tea parties, maker’s workshops where you make a seasonal craft, trivia nights, game nights and now I’ve been to a special 5-course dinner with wine pairings.  This was definitely a night to remember!

We were an intimate group of only 12 and the representatives for Babylonstoren were on hand to guide us through the pairing with each dish.  It was very informative and delicious!

The room was beautifully decorated.  I just walked around before the dinner really began and snapped pictures because I was so charmed by all of the little touches that were brought in to enhance our dinner.

Now, let’s get down to the reason we’re here: the food.  Oh wow.

Oyster with Shallot Mignonette & Orange Zest Paired along side Babylonstoren Chenin Blanc: Delicious subtle yet briny oyster perfectly matched with the tart mignonette.


Mixed Greens Salad paired along side Babylonstoren Chardonnay:  This salad was lightly dressed, but packed a big punch of flavor with the shaved Parmesan on top.

Lamb Lollipop over Cauliflower Mash alongside Sherried tomatoes with Fresh Grilled veggies paired with a Babylonstoren Babel Red Blend: This was my very favorite dish of the night! I didn’t even know lamb could taste like this!  Perfectly seared and seasoned. And what a revelation that cauliflower could taste this yummy!  Game changer!


Osso Bucco paired with the award-winning Babylonstoren Nebuchadnezzar red blend: I could tell this was cooked well, but I was unprepared for how much I was going to have to work for just a little bit of meat!  This was my first time trying oxtails, and it reminded me of pot roast with more fat and tendon.  The risotto, though.  That was the real deal.  Speckled with sauteed mushrooms, I could live off of that stuff.  The tender carrots, infused with that oxtail flavor were also winners.

Strawberry Basil Shortbread served alongside Babylonstoren Rose: This surprisingly delicate dessert was the perfect finish to the bold dishes we’d sampled.  The strawberries were plump and ripe and lightly macerated with sugar and the shortbread was dense enough to hold up to the sweet juices those berries gave off.  But my favorite component was this Chantilly cream that sat atop this dessert.  It was like eating a sweet cloud.  I still think about that cream.

What a wonderful night at Crafted Southern Speakeasy!  We will be back for many more!

Lincolnton · Uncategorized

Crafted Southern Speakeasy throws a Tea Party!

So, by now everyone knows that Crafted is THE place to go for the most delicious handcrafted cocktails and snacks.  But did you also know they do these marvelous events all of the time?  The last one I went to was a tea party.  And it was the coolest one I’ve ever been to.

Erika Thompson, owner of Crafted teamed up with Allison Gahrmann of the White Rose Manor in Lincolnton to put together this amazing event.

We bought our tickets online and when we arrived she ushered us all into the private party room which was decorated lovingly to be transformed into a Victorian tea room.  Allison brought her vast collection of delicate teacups made out of bone china for us to sip from.

Allison then gave us a demonstration about tea etiquette and history and even brought some hats that she’s helped to rescue and remake.  She asked these adorable little girls to model a couple of her favorites.  She then let us know that she and her daughter collaborated to blend some new tea flavors, some with a theme of Christmas and other with an Alice in Wonderland theme!  We all begged for an Alice in Wonderland themed Tea Party at Crafted next, so be on the watch for that!

The food was plentiful and delish!  We had every type of finger food you could imagine and then some!

 

A beautiful tablescape!

Bruschetta Bites

Cucumber Sandwiches

Peanut butter and jam sandwiches, Chicken salad sandwiches, Creme Brulee cookies and German Chocolate Cupcakes

Croissants with fresh jam

Parmesan Crisps

Jalapeno Pickled Quail Eggs

Anise Pizzelles

Scones with lemon curd

My plate!

Denver · Gainesville · Mooresville · Restaurants

The Best of Restaurants: Salads

What makes a good salad?  For me it’s all about the dressing.  It *has* to be homemade.  I can spot a bottled dressing a mile away.  The toppings are also important.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Black and Blue Filet Salad from Fresh Chef in Mooresville, NC

Insalata del giorno from Alino’s in Mooresville, NC

Tuscan Caesar at Paramount Grill in Gainesville, FL

The Wedge Salad from Chillfire Grill in Denver, NC

Charlotte · FL · Gaffney SC · Gainesville · Vale

Best of Restaurants: Steak

Steak is one of my favorite proteins.  The problem for me has always been that my dad and now my son make such good steaks, I find any I have in restaurants to be lacking.  Not the case with these picks:

Filet Mignon at Carolina Cafe in Gaffney, SC

Mills Family Farm Ribeye Steak with beef jus from Heirloom in Charlotte, NC

Pan roasted barrel cut Angus filet with roasted portabellos, puff pastry & a white-truffle sherry reduction from Paramount Grill in Gainesville, FL

Steak dinner at Willow Creek Inn in Vale

Charleston SC · Charlotte

Best of Restaurants: Bread

We normally don’t think of bread as being that important because too many restaurants give it to you as an afterthought.  But these restaurants made the extra effort to make their bread the very best, and should be commended.

Cornbread from Mert’s Heart and Soul in Charlotte

Milk Bread from Kindred in Davidson

Biscuit from Tupelo Honey in Charlotte, NC

Bread from The Oak Steakhouse in Charleston, SC

Complimentary bread and honey butter from Heirloom in Charlotte, NC