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!

Mooresville

Restaurant Review: Provecho Mexican Kitchen & Cantina in Mooresville

Popped in to Provecho tonight for a yummy Latin inspired meal after having this one on my list for a bit.  Out in the Langtree area of Mooresville, it feels like it is quite far out (for me) but it’s becoming quite the little restaurant scene out here.

We arrived at 8pm on a Friday night, easily found a parking space and walked into the half full restaurant to a sign that asked us to seat ourselves.  We chose a half booth half table that felt comfortable to us and had a seat.  I love that we got to choose where we wanted to be.

The waitress came over to greet us quickly and got our drink order.  I ordered a Strawberry Cream Margarita and it was Instagram worthy.  It was frothy and cold, and sweet too!  I don’t know where the “cream” came in, but it did have this beautiful black sea salt on the side that was just gorgeous!  I have to say I wouldn’t have minded some sugar instead of the salt.  Still, a delicious drink.

We decided to begin with Queso Fundido, which the server explained was not like cheese DIP but rather cheese melted in an iron skillet.  It was served with flour tortillas but she also brought us chips, too.  It comes with a small cup of salsa verde, but I ordered a cup of regular salsa since I prefer the tomato based salsa.  The salsa was very chipotle forward, but it was fine.  The fundido was amazing!  Melted cheese with browned bubbles all over…wow!  It was my favorite dish of the night.

I had two tacos, one beer battered fish and one braised beef.  They were both great.  The fish was crispy and topped with avocado, crema, Mexican slaw and cilantro.  It was a nice contrast with the warm fish, the fresh slaw and the cool crema.  The beef taco was more about the meat, and it was delicious as well.  Think a Latin flavored roast beef.

My son got Arroz con pollo, which was delicious and you could really taste the adobo, which is not my favorite flavor oddly enough.  Still the chicken was cooked well and it was a flavorful dish.

This is a great little restaurant which looks like a lot of local people come to just hang out, have a drink and a snack as well as diners having dinner.  Give it a try!

Asheville

Restaurant Review: Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, NC

We had the chance to finally try Early Girl eatery on our weekend trip to Asheville.  I’ve heard many good things about the restaurant and we all enjoyed it very much!

We arrived for lunch and were seated immediately.  The parking lot was full of early voters, so parking was a little tricky, but it worked out for us eventually.

The food was great!  Some at our table got breakfast that is served all day and I got lunch food.  My fried chicken featured 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and was served with green beans and fried squash and zucchini.  Everything was just delicious.  The green beans were fresh, crispy and salty good!  The chicken was amazing and what a generous portion!  The best thing I had was the zucchini and squash.  Just like mama made!

My daughter got the fried chicken sandwich with french fries. The sandwich was huge and the fries were amazing.


My breakfast loving son got the biscuit french toast which was another amazing dish.  Scattered with sweet apples and topped with a whipped cream, it was like a decadent dessert.

The interior of the restaurant is like a mid-century farmhouse.  I loved the vibe!  I can’t wait to visit again!

Marion

Restaurant Review: Nopale’s Mexican Grill in Marion, NC

While coming home from Asheville, we got hungry and decided to stop in Marion for dinner.  This place was the closest Mexican restaurant we found to the interstate so we decided to try it.  On a Saturday evening the line was out the door!  It moved fairly quickly, but there was a large party that was taking up most of the tables in the middle of the room so not sure this would happen on a normal weekend night.

The service was hit or miss.  Our waiter was kind and efficient, but we’d go for longish periods without seeing him.  Again, busy night so we understood.

The food is actually very good.  I had a chicken quesadilla with a side of Mexican rice and Charro beans.  The Charro beans were fantastic!  They were seasoned with little bits of bacon and plenty of spices.  I loved them!  The chicken quesadilla was also delicious, filled with chicken and cheese and then topped with cheese dip.  Cheesy but good!  The rice also was topped with cheese dip which totally made that dish!

You do have to go up to the front to pay your ticket, which for some reason I hate.  In this instance, the cashier (without a word to me) left to go sing happy birthday with a crew of people.  When he came back, there was no apology for just abruptly exiting or an explanation.

While we enjoyed it, I believe I’d try another restaurant the next time I’m in Marion.

Mooresville

Restaurant Review: Cantina 1511 in Mooresville NC

I’ve eaten at the Charlotte Cantina 1511 restaurants in the past, so knew what to expect, but was still pleasantly surprised by this location.  It is in a convenient shopping center, and parking can get a little dicey at peak times, but is usually find-able.

They have an outdoor seating area for warm weather, and plenty of seating inside.  It is a rather sizable space.  The staff is warm and friendly.

They offer complimentary chips and salsa when you dine in, and the chips are fresh and warm and perfectly salted.  The salsa is cool and spicy, very delicious.  I love their Queso Dip too!

For lunch I had the 2 Chicken Tacos, which is one of the choices on the lunch menu special features for Tuesday.  The tacos were topped with lettuce, pico de gallo, a slice of avocado and Mexican crema.  They were so darn good!  The chicken was shredded and spiced and they lime wedge that they serve with it helped cut through the creamy crema and avocado.  So good.  It was served with black beans and Mexican rice.  Also cooked well.

My friend had the Chicken Tostado Salad off of the same menu.  Beautiful strips of chicken, spiced perfectly atop a mound of lettuce and tomatoes and topped with a scoop of guacamole and cotijo cheese.

We also couldn’t resist ordering a side of Street Corn.  My dining companion told me that this was the closest she’d had to the real deal in Mexico, so I had to try.  True to her word, the corn was plump and juicy and the crema and cotija cheese provided a wonderful creaminess which was balanced by the Tajin seasoning that was so sharp it made me pucker!  Definitely try this!

This is a great addition to the restaurants here in Mooresville, even though it is a small chain.  The service is top notch and the food is delicious and thoughtfully prepared.  I can’t wait to go back!

Troutman

Restaurant Review: Pelligrino’s in Troutman, NC

I visited Pelligrino’s last night with a friend and was pleasantly surprised that such a yummy place existed in the small and charming town of Troutman!  I’ve had it on my list to try for a while now, and finally got my chance.  So glad we did!  It sits in a small strip mall, but is surprisingly deep with plenty of seating!  And even on a wet Tuesday evening they were doing a brisk business.

We were seated without waiting at a table of our choice.  There was a tiny delay in our server coming over, but he did check in with us, so it was not a problem.  The server helped guide us on our entrees and gave us honest feedback on dishes.  I appreciated that!

My friend ordered Capellini Puttanesca which had tomatoes, olives, anchovies, garlic and olive oil.  It was really delicious, very tangy and so filling.  She had to take half home so we could save room for birthday cake!

I had the Pollo di Massimo which was a chicken breast pounded thin and lightly fried, topped with fresh tomatoes, prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella and their fresh tomato sauce.  It was served with a side of penne pasta in the same tomato sauce.  The chicken was well cooked and flavorful.  I loved the cheesy topping, and the flavor of the prosciutto together with the sauce.  The sauce,  however, did lack flavor on its own on the pasta.  The pasta could have stood some salt in the water it was cooked in, too.

The surprise delight of the night was the triple chocolate cake!  It is made for them by Queen City Bakery and it was so darn good!  It was very moist and pretty to look at!  Be warned, though..it is also quite rich!  We could have used some whip cream or ice cream to cut the sweetness.

We had a great night, way too much food with kind servers.  I will be back!

Uncategorized · Wilmington

Restaurant Review: Bridge Tender in Wilmington, NC

While in Wilmington last week, we asked the locals in our class where to eat.  Many of them said Bridge Tender…but they were cagey about the food, instead remarking on the beautiful view.  So, we canceled our reservations at a seafood place I’d made earlier in the week and headed over to Bridge Tender.

Here’s the deal…we get there at 7pm and it is raining and pitch black.  So, no view for us.  So, I can’t factor that into this review, which only leaves food and service.  Service was great.  Our server was very attentive and kind, guiding us on our selections, never letting us get thirsty and getting us whatever was needed.

Our food was just ok we agreed. Maybe it was in comparison to the wonderful meals we’d had earlier in the week, but this restaurant was our least favorite of the four we tried.

When we entered the building, we were hit with this smell that is very unpleasant.  Almost like septic issue.  Very unappetizing.  Perhaps it is because the building is old, or the proximity to the water?  Whatever it is, Febreeze that mug.

Now, the tables and ambiance were both very nice.  We were seated by a wide window, so on a better night we might have enjoyed a starlit view.

We girls usually order and share each other’s food so we all get to taste everything.  Aren’t those the best friends?  Food friends?

We got two appetizers: The Seafood Sampler and CRAB DIP.  The seafood sampler had oysters Rockefeller, a crab cake, spring rolls and coconut shrimp. The sauces tasted like they came out of a jar. The Oysters Rockefeller was served in a dish, not on the shells, so I was questioning if they were even fresh shucked oysters.  Not pleasant.  The crab cake was not great, very heavy on filling and lighter on crab. The spring rolls were inedible, with the noodles inside providing a weird texture.  The coconut shrimp were the best things, and they were really not that great either.  I was thoroughly disappointed in that dish and would never get that again.

The crab dip we all agreed was were it’s at.  That was truly delicious and creamy and the toast points they served it with were so good, light and made the perfect bite.  Highly recommend that!  It was the best thing we had all night.

For the salad course we chose the Lumina Greens, which has dried cranberries, roasted almonds, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, pecorino cheese and dressed with a white balsamic vinaigrette.  It was fresh and pleasant, but light on the toppings.  I just got big mouthfuls of lettuce each time. It was fine.

We had two entrees: Grilled Salmon and Tenderloin Medallions.  Both were great, but the tenderloin was a tad overcooked.  It was served with fried potatoes and asparagus.  All very good.  Nothing incredible.

Let me tell you what was incredible: Dessert. The Fudge Brownie Napoleon was just out of this world good.  The brownie was warm and gooey, the ice cream was cold and melty, it was just a perfect dish.  Sweet warm caramel in between two brownies and sprinkled with walnuts.  Worth every calorie.  Three of us shared and we still couldn’t finish the darn thing.  GET THIS!

This restaurant’s main draw is the view.  Know this going in and order smart, realizing that not everything on the menu is worth the price tag.  If you can manage your expectations, you can enjoy yourself here.

Uncategorized

Restaurant Review: Poe’s Tavern in Wrightsville Beach, NC

I love a themed restaurant.  And I love horror.  So, Poe’s Tavern has been on my bucket list for a good long while.  I was so fan-girling on our visit!

In our class several other REALTORS told us which restaurants around town to try, and Poe’s came up for their hamburgers.  Little did I realize, that was nearly all they had, but it was ok because they were really delicious and huge!


The interior is pretty darn cool.  There is a long communal table in the middle of the restaurant with high stools and a scattering of booths and tables around the other dining areas.  What struck me were the paintings of Poe on the wall and the gothic looking light fixtures hanging over those communal tables.  Even the bathroom was wallpapered with pages out of Poe’s books while an eerie voice read excerpts from his book while you did your business.

We ordered cocktails, I had the Poe’s Punch which was fruity and refreshing!  Not too strong.

For dinner I had the Black Cat burger with Cheddar cheese instead of the pimento cheese.  The burger was served well done, per my instructions, and still remained juicy.  The meat was perfectly seasoned all the way through, not just on the top of the burger.  It was loaded with toppings: bacon, drunken chili, cheese, lettuce, tomato..I could barely fit it in my mouth!  It was so good!

If you like a themed restaurant that does a great burger, this place is for you.

Uncategorized

Recipe: HEARTY BEEF STEW

Winter is a great time to get out your Dutch ovens and make stew!  This one is a favorite, but the broth is thinner than I’m used to.  I’m sure it’d be easy to thicken with a bit of a cornstarch slurry if you desire!

HEARTY BEEF STEW

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs beef stew meat
4 ounces tomato paste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium carrots, diced
2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks

1/4 cup frozen peas
5 cups low sodium beef broth
salt and pepper (to season)

DIRECTIONS
1. First, prepare your meat by cutting it into chunks and making sure that it’s dry so it
browns well (just use a paper towel). Season it well with salt and pepper. Heat the
butter and olive oil in a large pot, then add in the meat and cook it until it has browned
on all sides. Remove it from the pot and set it aside (you may need to cook the meat in
two batches so it browns well and the pot isn’t too crowded).
2. Cook the diced onion and minced garlic in the same pot, just until the onion softens,
then add in the tomato paste and stir it in well (I used a whisk for this part), then let
cook for a minute or two. Still stirring, add in 4 cups of the beef broth (reserve the
remaining cup for later, in case you need to thin out the stew), then add in sugar and a
dash or two of Worcestershire sauce. Stir well and return the beef and all its juices back
into the pot, then cover and reduce the heat to low and just let the stew simmer for
about an hour and a half, stirring it occasionally.
3. In the meantime, prepare your vegetables. Peel and dice your carrots and potatoes (you can omit the potatoes and instead serve the stew with mashed potatoes). After the stew has been cooking for about an hour and a half, add in the carrots, potatoes and frozen peas, and let the stew cook for another half our, or until the meat and the vegetables are soft. If the stew is getting too thick, add some more beef broth at this point too, and check the seasoning. Serve hot with some crusty white bread!

 

Huntersville

Restaurant Review: Verde Mexican and Nuevo Latin Fusion

Need a vacation but are stuck here in Lake Norman? You need to check out Verde in Huntersville.  This great restaurant will transport you to Cuba, Argentina, Mexico…without leaving this beautiful area.

The front is deceptively small, once you get inside the restaurant goes back pretty far and seats plenty.  They have a great little bar area with high top tables, and booths and tables in the restaurant area.  There is room enough for a large party of about 10.  Service is great, our waitress was so kind and attentive.

We started with cocktails and drinks.  I had the peach margarita which was on special.  It was sweet yet strong!  Very good!


Next we ordered the guacamole which comes with chips and salsa.  They also refilled our chips when we ran out for no charge 🙂  The guacamole was very fresh, chock full of tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro.  The salsa had a slight hint of chipotle to it, which isn’t my favorite flavor, but it wasn’t overpowering.  I liked it!

For my entree, I chose the paella with seafood.  It was as flavorful as everyone before has stated, but maybe a little heavy on the peas!  I could taste the smoky paprika, and most of the seafood was very fresh, but I did have one calamari ring that was a bit fishy, so I took the rest off.  The shrimp were delicious.

Ty had the Tacos Verde which were small but tasty.  He ordered a side of rice to accompany.  The tacos had tasty marinated steak and were topped with chipotle rouille, avocado salsa, Monterrey jack and cotija cheeses.  Yum!

We enjoyed our time there and will likely be back!