Charlotte

Cousin’s Maine Lobster

Cousin’s Maine Lobster

Last night Cousins was at D9 brewing for their summer concert series, along with 4 other trucks.  We decided on them because Lobster.

We placed our order from the pretty extensive menu (considering it is a food truck) and paid.  Our order was ready super fast!  I got a combo with a  Maine Lobster Roll (with mayo), tater tots and a water.

The Lobster roll was served cold, which I was fully expecting.  It was refreshing on the hot night and was good.  Not great, but good.  The tater tots were delicious, hot and fresh.  The bottled water was warm, so that was disappointing.

Had my buddy not given me a taste of her Lobster quesadilla, I might have given this truck a 3.  The quesadilla was so good!  it was served with a fresh salsa and a chipotle ranch dressing squeezed over all.  It was rich, but really delicious.  I’d definitely get that on a return visit.

Give them a try if you love lobster!

Maine Lobster Roll

Lobster Quesadilla

Tots!

 

Charlotte

Restaurant Review: Bricktops in Charlotte, NC

Bricktops has been on my list to try for a while ever since my friend sang its praises.  We finally had an opportunity to visit before the country went on lockdown, and I have to say…for my final dining experience for a few months, I’m pretty happy with my choice.

The food!  Oh My!  Everything was so fresh and delicious!  We tried many different dishes and ended up bringing home quite a bit that was delicious the next day.

Service is amazing here.  Everyone is very professional and helpful.  Top notch!

For starters we tried the Spinach and Artichoke Dip and the Deviled Eggs & Millionaire’s Bacon.  The dip was splendid.  It was different that I imagined, more like a sauteed spinach in Parmesan cream sauce.  It was served with tortilla chips which were crispy and fresh.  I think some sort of bread might have been a yummy choice as a dipper.  The millionaire’s bacon was out of this world good.  Candied bacon with just a hint of spice.  The deviled eggs were a little on the sweet side for me, but beautifully presented and smooth in texture.

We both chose a lighter entree because we knew we wanted dessert!  We both selected the Palm Beach Salad which was presented so beautifully.  They stack the salad up in a cylinder and unmold the beautiful salad to reveal the colorful and delicious layers.  Everything was so fresh, but my favorite bite was the crab layer.  So delicate and sweet!

The dessert was worth the sacrifice of a salad!  We got two different desserts so we could try each other’s dish.  The two we chose were Bread Pudding and Key Lime Pie.  The Bread Pudding was the favorite.  It was served warm atop a puddle of creme anglaise. So decadent and incredible!  The Key Lime Pie was also good, very tart and the macadamia cookie crust was a nice touch too.

I can’t wait to return to try their other offers when things open back up!

Charlotte · Restaurants

Restaurant Review: Big Ben Pub in Charlotte, NC

I wrapped up restaurant week with a visit to Big Ben’s with a couple of friends.  Man do these restaurants get busy during this week and the servers really hustle! We had a pleasant time and it’s a cool place to come to watch a soccer game.

Parking is intense here, few spots and lots of folks going in and out, swinging around other cars, so be careful.  I did see a Valet, but did not use.  There was no one at the stand so I can assume he was parking or fetching another car.  There were a few cars in line to use him, so everyone was swinging around them to get in and out.

When you walk in, it really has the air of a British pub…or at least what I imagine one looks and feels like.  There are flags hanging from the ceiling, a bar and television sets everywhere.  The atmosphere was cool and lively.

We were seated at our table which had to be bussed first, so we hung around the hostess station while that happened.  I had reservations, but it was no big deal as they were crowded and busy.  After being seated it took a minute for our server to acknowledge us and he was clipped and curt.  Still, not a huge deal, but did dim the experience a bit.  Our drinks were brought out and the sweet tea was really good.  My friends had a mixed drink and a chardonnay.

For starters I ordered the Ploughman’s Platter off of the regular menu.  That was the biggest disappointment of the night.  A few cubes of cheese, crackers, big pile of lettuce in the middle of the plate with a spoonful of cole slaw, a pickle and 2 spoonfuls of relish along with a boule of brown bread.  It felt like stuff I’d grab out of the fridge to feed popcorn visitors!  Don’t waste your money on that, it was truly ridiculous.

We also tried the sausage rolls and those were delicious.  These are kielbasa sausage wrapped in puffed pastry and served with spicy mustard and their house-made relish.

Jennifer was trying to be healthy and ordered a garden salad.  It was fine.  I thought the dressing was good.  She gave me some to eat with my lettuce on the ploughman’s platter.

Our entrees arrived swiftly…too swiftly.  We were still trying to eat our appetizers and had to shift things around awkwardly. The meals were good. We sampled Haddock and Chips, which was a HUGE amount of food!  Very impressive looking. The fish was well cooked, it simply lacked seasoning.

I had the Cornish Pasty which was a puff pastry filled with ground beef, onions, gravy, peas, carrots and potatoes.  It was so darned good!  I truly enjoyed it, very flavorful and seasoned perfectly.  It was served with delicious mashed potatoes and they poured more of that brown gravy on top of them and the pasty.  The only problem was that the gravy and mashed potatoes were cold on top and barely warm on the bottom.  I guess mine had been sitting in the window awhile.  Also accompanying was mixed veggies, which were barely cooked and not seasoned at all.  I LOVE veggies, and first dove into the squash and zucchini only to find it terribly bland.  So disappointing.

We also had the Steak Diane, and it was good.  Nothing special but very good.  It was a well cooked steak with a creamy sauce, accompanied by roasted potatoes and those same flavorless veggies.  I had a bite of the steak and determined it was nicely grilled and cooked to temperature.

The Queen’s Feast came with dessert, so my friends chose the Sherry Trifle and the Bread and Butter Pudding.  The waiter actually brought the apple crisp (you couldn’t tell because the thing was covered with so much stuff).  By the time we realized the mistake, we didn’t see the waiter again to ask him to correct the mistake.  The one bite I had of each was enough for me.  Both were sub par, lacking flavor and finesse.  They were both topped with Cool Whip and it kind of ruined the dessert.

While I was not wowed by the restaurant, I do think it is a good representation of an English pub.  I think if you go there expecting pub food, you will be pleasantly surprised, especially if you are drinking 🙂

Charlotte · Cornelius · Denver · Destin · Hickory · Huntersville · Mooresville

Best of Restaurants: Cheesy!

Oh, how I adore cheese.  You could melt it on a cardboard pizza top and I’d probably eat it.  These dishes are my favorite cheesy dishes at restaurants I’ve tried.

Pimiento Cheese Spread from Boschamp’s in Destin, FL

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese at Safari Miles in Denver 

Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza at Tony’s in Hickory, NC

Pizza Sub from Penn Station East Coast Subs in Charlotte, NC

Mushroom Gruyere Sandwich from Papi Queso in Charlotte

Shepard’s Pie from Metro Diner in Pineville

Queso Fundido from Provecho Mexican Kitchen & Cantina in Mooresville

Arancini from Barrel and Fork in Cornelius

Quesadilla Mexicana at La Unica in Huntersville

Charlotte · Denver

Thanksgiving Dinner Out?

There is a first time for everything!  This year my children are going to the mountains with their dad for Thanksgiving, so the rest of my family decided we didn’t need to cook a huge meal…and we’d treat ourselves to dinner out!

If that’s something that appeals to you, here are some restaurants around Lake Norman and Charlotte that are serving Thanksgiving dinner!

CHARLOTTE

 

Eddie V’s “Even the gravy is served with a side of glamour.  Join us for a traditional holiday dinner with all the trimmings.  And for anyone who chooses to abandon Custom in favor of lobster, our full menu will also be available.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-8pm
  • Pricing: Adult $43  Child $15
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Baby French green beans with sundried tomatoes

Fleming’s “Let us host your three-course Thanksgiving, including your choice of Herb-Roasted Turkey or Petite Filet Mignon.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-8pm
  • Pricing: Adult $45  Child $22
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake

Capital Grill “We’re hosting Thanksgiving for turkey and steak enthusiasts alike.”

  • Pricing: Adult $43  Child $15
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Slow roasted turkey with brioche stuffing

Chima Steakhouse: “Let us cook for you this Thanksgiving.  Complete Rodizio plus Thanksgiving favorites.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 12-8pm
  • Pricing: Adult $43  Child $15
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Thanksgiving menu offerings:  Roasted Turkey – cranberry sauce – stuffing – mashed sweet potato – green bean casserole – cornbread

Ri Ra Irish Pub:We are open through the holidays and look forward to welcoming you, your family and friends to the pub to enjoy lots of festive fun. Feast on tasty bites, cozy up with our winter warmer drinks and celebrate the season with us.”

  • Thanksgiving hours 11-10 pm
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • No special Thanksgiving menu posted

JP Charlotte: “Thanksgiving Brunch at the Westin in Charlotte.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 10-3pm
  • Pricing: Adult $58  Child $24   Under 5 FREE!
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Roasted Pumpkin and Carrot Bisque

The Palm: “Join Us for Thanksgiving Day!”

  • Pricing: Adult $59  Child $24   
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Charred Brussels Sprouts

New South Kitchen “Traditional Thanksgiving feast complete with all the fixins!!!.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-7pm
  • Pricing: $35 per person
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Deep Fried Turkey

Buca di Beppo “Start a new tradition and leave your Thanksgiving meal to us so you can spend time with the ones you love. We are open for Thanksgiving and invite you to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.”

  • Thanksgiving feast begins at 11 am
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Spicy Italian Sausage Stuffing

Bistro La Bon Never Too Soon To Start Thinking About Our Thanksgiving Smorgasbord

  • Thanksgiving is served from 10-4 pm
  • Pricing: Adults $37 per person  Children 5-10 $16 per person  
  • Reservations: Online Reservations
  • Interesting menu offering: Squash Lasagna

Harper’s:  gather ‘round our southern table”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-4 pm
  • Pricing: Adult $32  Child $15
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: The Best Prime Rib

Macaroni Grill: “Dine in and celebrate at our table. Regular menu will also be available.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-9 pm
  • Pricing: Adult $25  Child $12
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Traditional Cheesecake with Pumpkin Crème Anglaise

LAKE NORMAN

The Foundry in Denver:  “Giving Thanks at the Foundry”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-2pm
  • Pricing: Adults $39 per person  Children 12 and under $15 per person  
  • Reservations: Reservations can be made by calling 704.585.8780
  • Interesting menu offering: Mediterranean Cod Artichokes, Spinach, Lemon Butter Sauce, Capers

Chillfire Grill in Denver:  “Giving Thanks at the Foundry”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 10:30-5 pm
  • Pricing: Adults $29 per person  Children 12 and under $13 per person  
  • Reservations: Reservations can be made online: Reservations
  • Interesting menu offering: SMOKED SEAFOOD PLATTER: salmon, NC trout, dill cream cheese, fried capers, red onion, croustade

North Harbor Club (Cornelius) “WE FEATURE A THANKSGIVING THEMED BUFFET CURATED WITH SOME CLASSIC THANKSGIVING FAVORITES ALONG WITH OUR SIGNATURE SIDES.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-5 pm
  • Pricing: Adults $36 per person  Children 12 and under $16 per person  
  • Reservations: Reservations can be made by calling: CALL 704-896-5559
  • Interesting menu offering: Cajun Seafood Stuffing

Epic Chophouse: “This Thanksgiving, enjoy a grand meal in the company of family and friends at Epic Chophouse. Join us for an incredible Thanksgiving meal featuring fresh fruits and salads, deviled eggs, shrimp and grits and Norwegian salmon fillet. Of course we’ll have traditional favorites like oven roasted turkey, prime rib of beef, Chef’s famous fried chicken and more!”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-4pm
  • Pricing: Adult $33  Child $11   Under 4 FREE!
  • Reservations: Can be made by calling 704-230-1720.
  • Interesting menu offering: CRANBERRY AND APPLE ORCHARD SALSA
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!

Charlotte · Cornelius · Denver · Mooresville

Best of Restaurants: Bird

It’s my favorite protein with feet.

Fried Chicken Wings with Winston Salem Sauce at Mert’s Heart and Soul in Charlotte

Pollo Florentine from Caruso’s in Mooresville, NC

Bruschetta Chicken Crepe at The Crispy Crepe in Charlotte

Poussin with sweet pea and summer squash risotto from The Foundry in Denver, NC

Airline Chicken at Bistro La Bon in Charlotte, NC

Thai Sweet and Sour Chicken from Thai House in Cornelius, NC

Chicken Marsala at Chillfire Grill in Denver

Turkey and Dressing at Stacy’s in Denver, NC

Chicken Caprese from Jeffrey’s in Mooresville

 

 

Boone · Charlotte · 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

Green salad from The Gamekeeper in Boone, NC

The Palm Beach Salad at Bricktop’s in Charlotte

 

Boone · 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

Ray’s Mixed Grill (The elk was my favorite!) at the Gamekeeper in Boone, NC