Charlotte · Isle of Palms

Best of Restaurants: Appetizers

Appetizers are my very favorite part of the meal.  Not a big commitment, you can be adventurous and not break the bank.  Here is a list of my favorites:

Caramelized Gnocchi from Aria Tuscan Grill

Fried Green Tomatoes at Huey’s Southern Eats in Isle of Palms

Mert’s Soul Rolls at Mert’s Heart and Soul in Charlotte

Homemade Lime Tortilla Chips served with Pineapple Mango Salsa from Caterer extraordinaire Food Junkie

Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Food Junkie

Filipino-style Pork Eggrolls with Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce from Food Junkie

Funghi Repieni at Caruso’s in Mooresville

Peirogies from Twisted Oak Bar and Grill in Statesville, NC

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Charlotte · Restaurants

WP Kitchen in Charlotte

Our Girl Nosh May 2017 was supposed to be an super-hip restaurant Stoke.  Because it was on my birthday, we had a wonderful turnout…so much so that Stoke couldn’t accommodate all of us in their regular dining room.  We were going to have a private room and forced to order family style off of a very limited menu.  We decided that we wanted to try Stoke with a smaller crowd and started looking for a restaurant that could take us all.  Hello WP Kitchen!  You can thank Open Table for that realization, Wolfgang.

First, let me say they were so kind to us.  You can book a table for 12 online (nice!) but the group began to grow.  When I hesitantly said I needed a table for 20 they didn’t miss a beat.  They sat us outside in an air-conditioned patio that was private AND allows dogs.  It was raining that night, so the valet was a welcome service.

The decor is a mix between rustic and industrial.  I know that sounds conflicting, but it works.  They have the wooden accent wall that everyone loves so much right now, and then all of these industrial fixtures and utilitarian furnishings.  I dunno, I like it.

The cocktails were strong and they were delivered quickly 🙂  We all agreed that our food was amazing.  Even the simplest dish, like pizza margarita, was done with such care it was top notch.

Caesar Salad, my old favorite.  This one was tangy deliciousness!

What a special treat: soft shell crab!  This was crunchy on the outside, briny crabby on the inside…perfection!

Gosh, by the time desserts arrived I was so full I wasn’t too interested.  It was my birthday, though, so had to indulge 🙂  I chose the creme brulee, as per usual, and it was sweet, creamy and perfectly executed.

Charlotte · Restaurants

Restaurant Review: Rooster’s Southpark

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If you haven’t been to Rooster’s in a while, do yourself a favor and get over there.  We decided to go after a chef friend recommended it so highly.  She told us that the Executive Chef, Zack Renner, was amazing and that they served her farm’s pork.  That’s all she had to say, we were there.

We reserved a table for 8 so they put us in a room that looked like it might once have been the hallway of a small strip mall.  BUT they’d doctored it up with pretty twinkle lights and a nice fountain in the middle.  And then there was this adorable pig door holder we were all entranced with…and we weren’t alone.  A few people stopped to take pictures of Porky.

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Our waitress was so kind and deftly handled our large(ish) group by giving us suggestions, fixing drinks when we weren’t satisfied and delivering the bad news about dessert.  The management also stopped by a time or two to make sure our night was going well..which it very much was.

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Cocktails are the best way to begin Girl Nosh.  Rooster’s has a fine selection of wine, brews and mixed drinks.  This one (I forget the name) was muddled cucumbers, raspberry and gin.  I have to admit it wasn’t for me, but others at the table found it refreshing and light.

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To soak up all of this alcohol, they brought us an assortment of delicious baked breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread was hearty and delicious.  Very nutty.

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Housemade bresaola.  I didn’t try, but doesn’t it look great?

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The French Onion soup was not one of my favorite soups.  It was hearty, but not as flavorful as it should have been for such murky and dark broth.  I didn’t opt for it on my second visit.

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The salads were all so fresh and dressed perfectly.  This one was on their daily offerings page, meaning it was what was fresh at the farmer’s market:  Whole romaine leaves topped with walnuts, tangerine slices and grated Pecorino Romano cheese.  Perfect.

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The next salad was baby arugula, chopped pears and chevre cheese. Yum!

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My salad was a wedge.  I don’t know why I’m not more adventurous.  I just love a wedge.  And this one was perfect.  The cold, crispy iceberg lettuce topped with creamy, tangy blue cheese dressing is a comfort food.  This one had some pickled red onions on top that were both sweet and tart, and really gave the salad a punch!

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When you go to Rooster’s, you must have something that was wood-fired or wood-grilled.  Shannon got the salmon, and it was perfectly cooked…charred on the outside and tender on the inside.  She was so happy with her choice!

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Other dishes I didn’t try but were reported to be delicious:  Wood-Fired Joyce Farms Natural Chicken.  Laurie said it was tender, full of flavor and really juicy.  

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Anessa got roasted veal with mushrooms and blue potatoes.  It sat in a deliciously flavored jus and drizzled with aioli.  Perfection.

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One of the best dishes for the night was Jennifer’s braised beef short rib.  Tender as a a slow-roasted pot roast, but packed with flavor.  The meat just melted in your mouth!

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I have mixed feelings about my entree.  I got the fried oysters, and while they were perfectly delicious: crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside with a nice briny flavor, I’d come to a restaurant that has “wood-fired” in its name and didn’t get something from the grill.  Supremely stupid.  You can get oysters at a fish camp.  Stick with something with the taste of fire.

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Have you ever seen a cheeseburger that looked this yummy?  And shoestring onion rings to accompany.  That’s not even fair.

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Amazingly simple spaghetti.  Perfectly balanced and flavored.

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Buttery seared scallops.  Oh my.

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You know, sometimes side dishes are predictable or dialed in.  An afterthought.  At Rooster’s the sides are at center stage alongside the entrees.  All sides here are designed for two people, but are so good you may not want (or be able) to share.

The fried corn should be your first choice.  It’s real corn.  Not from a can.  And it is pan-fried with spices that make is lip-smacking good.

The stone ground grits are another perfect choice.  Little nuggets of corny goodness are buried in them and there is plenty of heavy cream to make them rich and velvety.

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One of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth was the wood-fired sunchoke.  It sure didn’t look like much more than a ginger root when it came to the table, but the taste was amazing.  When I saw the word “sunchoke” I immediately conjured images or the artichoke.  The sunchoke, however, is a tuber, like a potato.  It was creamy and had a little bit of sweetness to it.  The wood firing brought out a nuttiness in it as well.  Very complex for such a simple dish.  One of my favorites for the night!

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Another favorite is this mess 🙂  This is a mix of mushrooms, which is probably one of my favorite foods in the world.  The table agreed that these were a favorite.  They were lightly seasoned and gently cooked, so their true flavors shown through.

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Macaroni and cheese: soupy and creamy…yum!!

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By the time we were done eating, most of the tables around us were empty.  And they’d take our top dessert choice with them: the coconut cake.  We didn’t let that stop us, though.  We all ordered the back up dessert which was an apple tarte.  The waitress called it something else, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what that was.  To describe it I’d say it was dried apples (re-hydrated, of course) placed atop a buttery and light croissant crust.  It was accompanied by a scoop of vanilla bean gelato and a spill of rich caramel sauce.  Even though apples aren’t my favorite dessert fruit, this reminded me of the fried pies my grandmother used to make.  The apples had a tart but sweet taste and were very soft.  The crust wasn’t overly sweet, so it was perfect with the gelato and the caramel.  Decadent and delicious!

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Chocolate Milkshake:  Runny and chocolately, just like I like it.

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We at Girl Nosh all agreed that this was one of our favorite places we’d been to.  That’s saying something, because we’ve been to some fine restaurants.  You will need a reservation, but you can make them on OpenTable.com.  Go on and get that done now.  You are welcome.

Rooster's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charlotte

Aix en Provence: French Cuisine for the Queen City

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Girl Nosh went French last night.  And we are definitely going back.  And very quickly let me apologize for the poor quality of these photos.  I took a photo with the flash and got an evil glare from another diner, so I had to abort the idea of great photos.  Good manners and all.

Aix en Provence is an intimate restaurant seating 56 on Providence Road in Charlotte in the spot that was once Terra.  I wanted to try it because Open Table had it ranked #1 in their Diner’s Choice awards.  I can see why, it is fancy without being too pretentious.  It’s an experience where I felt pampered and important, but not stilted and stuffy.  I loved it, and this is exactly what a fine dining experience should be.

A little background: Our server was actually one of the owners of the restaurant.  He was so knowledgeable and precise I just knew he was invested somehow, and his professionalism was evident throughout our entire meal.  He gave us recommendations that all turned out to be wonderful choices.  Each course was better than the last.  Bryan (that’s the server, we got on a first name basis as one does) gave us a brief history of the evolution of Aix en Provence.  They opened in December of 2015, just barely making a showing at the end of the year.  His business partner and co-owner worked at Lumière and with some globally renowned chefs like Daniel Boulud and Scott Conant .  Perhaps more importantly, he’s actually from France.

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While they have an extensive wine list, we opted for the cocktail that Brian recommended to us: L’eveilleur.  So refreshing and citrus-y!  He graciously gave us the recipe, too!  It’s 1.5 oz St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur muddled with a slice of orange, lemon, lime and 3 basil leaves (muddled to a fine pulp), strained into a martini glass and top with champagne, garnish with a basil leaf.  I had two and I was feeling pretty good.

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An unexpected treat arrived with the crusty bread and European butter: an Amuse Bouche!  That roughly translates to a bite sized hors d’oeuvre (saw that on Top Chef) and they are all the rage now.  This one was stelline pasta mixed with anchovy, capers and olive oil.  It was briny and packed a flavorful punch in that single bite.  A great start to our fabulous meal!

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The Octopus a la Plancha was a scattering of gently charred Octopus with a sampling of coulis: sunchoke, hearts of palm and cilantro.  The octopus wasn’t tough or chewy, instead it was pillowy soft.  The coulis were rich and packed with flavor.  Perfect and beautiful to look at.

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The Escargot was similarly tender.  I’ve never had them when they weren’t the slightest bit chewy, but these were soft with just the right amount of chew.  They were baked in an herb butter and topped with these tiny mounds of puff pastry.  I had to use the bread from the table to soak up the herb butter, it was too good to leave.

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The Lyonnaise salad is so simple, it shouldn’t be as good as it is. But every single aspect of this salad was executed perfectly.  The fresh frisee lettuce is dressed simply with a light vinaigrette, and when you cut into the poached egg, the egg yolk adds a richness to the tart dressing.  Stab a piece of the fried lardon and it is bliss.  We all laughingly called the lardons “meat candy.”

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The Squid Ink Gnocchi was a (for us) out on a limb, but there was no need to fear; it was perfectly delicious as promised.  The gnocchi were very tender and the squid ink gave it just a hint of the ocean, but the apple slices perfectly balanced the squid ink and the lump crab.  It was topped with a celeriac creme, all frothy and wonderful.

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The Bouillabaisse Marseillaise was recommended by our server.  All of this perfectly cooked seafood: fresh fish, poached lobster, mussels and clams, just sitting on a bed of celeriac and potatoes lying in a pool of the most delicious saffron broth infused with the flavor of the seafood.  It was topped with a slice of bread spread with some divine sauce, which I used to sop up the broth.  Perfect, tender seafood, each mouthful was a delight.

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If you want to eat a decadent Chocolate Souffle’, I will warn you, you are going to wait.  But, like all good things…you know the rest.  This is no exception.  It was more than delicious.  It was beautiful, it was silky, it was…luxurious.  Though I love chocolate, this is the first time I’ve ever had a chocolate souffle’.  I could be base and say it reminded me of a molten lava cake, but it wouldn’t be true.  The differences are huge to the discerning palate.  And to me.  Perhaps the most exciting thing was when the owner came out in front of our faces, made a hole in the center with a spoon (he took it away, too, he didn’t leave that messy spoon for us to use. Classy move) and poured in the most amazing vanilla cream.  I just wanted a cup of that to sip with my chocolate.  It was so rich, I just couldn’t finish it.  I brought it home and it was a different kind of delicious right out of the fridge at midnight.  Just like my hero Nigella.

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We also sampled the Apple Tart Tatin.  It was described to us as the French version of Grandma’s apple pie.  Lies.  My grandmothers are all awesome cooks, but this…oh.  This is fancy, compact and hugely packed with flavor.  Every single element of the dessert was executed perfectly. The crust was flaky, not soggy.  The apples were tender but still somewhat crisp.  And the syrup was sweet but not sickly.  All perfect, all delicious.  Together, bliss.

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The Girl Nosh group goes out to eat every month.  And we normally go somewhere fancy and noteworthy.  This restaurant, we all agreed, was one of our very favorite trips. We will be back soon!

Aix En Provence Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charlotte · Restaurants

Restaurant Review: Aria Tuscan Grill

May Girl Nosh was at Aria Tuscan Grill in Uptown Charlotte.  We were a small group this time, but the restaurant was jammed with prom-goers.  It made for some very interesting people watching.  I saw a lot of first time high-heel wearers.  Good times.  Anyway, here’s the girls:
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Our waiter greeted us and brought us some chilled water in a bottle for the table.  He gave us the option of sparkling water and Pellegrino (same thing?) and we all felt like cheapskates for saying that plain old tap water was fine.  But gah.  Who wants to splurge on water?  Save your pennies, and order a cocktail.

With the free water (which was just fine, by the way) they brought out the free appetizers:  White bean spread with fresh Italian bread.  Some of the folks at our table didn’t really love the white beans, but I did.  They were tangy with a splash of vinegar and minced onions and herbs and creamy when spread on the bread.  Drizzle with olive oil and you have a winner.

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Here’s what you were saving those pennies for:  D.S.L.  No idea what it stands for, but lord was it good.  It was a mix of Limoncello, Prosecco, Muddled Fresh Mint and Strawberry Purée.  How I found this was by asking the waiter which drink was the least strong.  Because I’m a wimp and I was driving.  This is the answer.  To lots of questions, I found out.

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For the paid appetizers, we all agreed to get something different so we could try each other’s.  Anessa got the Calamari Fritti.  This was a lightly fried mix of Calamari sticks and Scallions which were garnished with Peppadew Peppers.  The two dipping sauces were Spicy Tomato Sauce and Lemon Aioli.  I don’t know which I liked better.  The spicy tomato sauce packed a flavorful punch, but the aioli was subtle and creamy.  The calamari itself was lightly fried, not overcooked, but we missed those weird tentacle thingies.  Still, a favorite at the table.

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Heirloom Tomato Caprese features Burrata, Basil Pesto and the freshest heirloom tomatoes.  Skinny girl treat.

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Another skinny girl treat was the Asparagus + Prosciutto Tender braised asparagus served alongside a lightly dressed Spring Salad with a Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette with Prosciutto.  A splash of balsamic vinegar adorned all.  Laurie was pleased as punch with her choice.  She said it was so fresh and light.

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Eggplant Parmigiana 
You expect it to be fried, but just tryyyy it like this.  Seriously.  It was so good and fresh, and the Tomato Marinara that it swims in is so spicy and good.  Sitting atop is Mozzarella, Olives, Peppadew Peppers, Basil and it all somehow works together amazingly.  And look at the cool plate.

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Caramelized Gnocchi 
I always ask the waiter what his favorite dish is.  Very rarely am I steered wrong by the person who has tried everything on the menu and consistently brings food to patrons night after night.  So, when he recommended this, no brainer.  If you could get a bite with all 5 elements: Gnocchi, Prosciutto di Parma, Pear, Gorgonzola, Truffle Oil, you would hear the sound of angels and a light would emit from your mouth.  Not even exaggerating.

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Tuscan Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib 
If you’ve never had short rib, you might not realize that when braised it tastes just like pot roast.  But really tender, and so flavorful.  This one sat atop an English Pea Risotto, ringed with plops of Goat Cheese and garnished with Brussel Sprout Chips.  It was so rich and hearty.  I’ll get that next time.

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My choice for dinner was a special.  It was Grilled beef tenderloin, Caesar style potatoes & Swiss chard.  I had to send mine back because the steak was too rare for me (cold red center, blech) but they brought it back a few minutes later and it was perfect.  OK, still pretty red on that far right one, so I didn’t eat it.  But the rest was very delicious.  The meat was so tender, and seasoned perfectly.  I LOVED the small little potato coins and the parmesan sauce they were in.  Also, I never knew I loved Swiss chard so much.
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Roasted Arctic Char
Anessa got this dish, and because it was cooked so rare I could not taste it to report to you.  I will just tell you that it was perched upon Roasted Eggplant  and topped with Shaved Fennel Citrus Salad with a Walnut Vinaigrette,  She said it was cooked perfectly and delicious. But she left a lot of that eggplant on the plate, suspiciously.

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OK, so the polenta is a side dish, but I have to mention it because it is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  Creamy, buttery goodness.  I mean, just look at that lake of butter in this dish.  Sinful.  Amazing.

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Crispy Chicken Parmigiana 
We all know what this is, and it might be an unimaginative choice.  I can’t help it, it’s still an old favorite.  And when done well, like it is here with fresh Mozzarella and the spicy Marinara you sincerely can’t go wrong.  Simple and good.ariachickenparm

Spaghetti + Meatballs 
Mimo’s Meatballs, Red Sauce, Parmigiano:  Another classic that can’t miss.  Honestly, this was from another visit, and I never tasted it, but my dining companion said it was fine.

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Pasta al Nero 
King Crab, Scallops, Shrimp, Linguine, Spicy Marinara:  This was another of our waiter’s recommendations.  And was it spot on.  The shrimp were huge and cooked perfectly.  The crab was delicate as were the scallops, but the scallops were just on the undercooked side.  I’m sure bay scallops are hard to get exactly right since so small, but there you go.  The squid ink linguine was an unexpected surprise, but I didn’t taste any difference between it and regular pasta.
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Orecchiette with Sausage 
Toasted Garlic, Broccoli Rabe, Roasted Red Peppers, Chiles:  Another dish enjoyed on another visit.  My dining companion said this one was simply “Ok”.

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Aria Tiramisù 6
Espresso, Lady Fingers, Mascarpone Crema:  Is this not the most beautifully rustic dessert you’ve ever seen in your life?  And guess what?  It tasted just as good as it looked!  The coffee soaked lady-fingers were perfect; not too strong and not too wet.  The fresh cream was perfect and made for a light end to a delicious meal.13221704_1723691334580311_1064938938907246289_n

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake 
White Chocolate Crema:  And then there’s this.  Dense.  Chocolaty. Rich.  Hazelnutty.  If you like Nutella, you’ll love this.

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So, there you have it.  Aria.  It’s delicious.  I will say that both visits we had an issue with service.  Not a big big big deal, but our waiter was a little annoyed with us and was a little absent.  The owner did come over and chat with us about his friends in Lincolnton, so that was a nice touch.  Even with the snooty waiter, I’d go back.  Everything we ate was delicious last night.

Aria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charlotte · Restaurants

Restaurant Review: Mert’s Heart and Soul

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Mert’s Heart & Soul is located in downtown Charlotte.  When you walk through the doors, however, you forget that fact.  You feel like you are in an out-of-the-way hole in the wall establishment.  I love it.  The walls are filled with personal pictures and other interesting memorabilia.

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Some of the criticisms we’ve heard of Mert’s is that the service is lacking. We found that not to be a concern at all. Our waiter, DJ, took care of our large party perfectly. He even posed for a picture with me!

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Sincerely, I should put these cornbread cakes down there in the desserts.  Especially when  you slather them with this amazing honey butter.  But, alas, they bring them before the appetizers, so I feel I must insert them here.  This is what everyone talks about.  These tender pones are just sweet enough to satisfy the Yankees, but still savory enough to tempt the Southerner.  (I don’t know about your family, but my people call yellow, sweet cornbread “Yankee” cornbread.)  Whatever you call it, it is glorious.
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Mert’s has a limited selection of appetizers.  Everything we tried was delicious, but my favorites were Mert’s Soul Rolls.  These egg rolls have a unique spin:  they are filled with seasoned rice, black-eyed peas, collard greens and chicken.  They are served with a spicy honey mustard sauce that has just enough punch to elevate this crunchy favorite.

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Every Southern/soul food place worth its salt has Fried Green Tomatoes on the menu and Mert’s is no different.  The tomatoes themselves were sliced perfectly (not too thick) and fried crisply.  The remoulade sauce that dressed them was tangy and a little spicy.  It was a good dish.  But honestly, it is one of those things, much like calamari, that is on every menu, and there isn’t enough variation in taste from one to the other to really justify getting it and forsaking the trying of a new dish.  But hey, I understand cravings.  If you are just jonesing for some FGT, then by all means, enjoy.  But branch out!

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For dinner I got the Fried Chicken Wings with Winston-Salem Sauce.  They were maybe the best pieces of fried chicken I’ve ever had.  Crispy, not greasy, and seasoned perfectly.  The sauce is merely hot sauce dowsing it, which was perfect.  The macaroni and cheese was perfection and the black-eyed peas were creamy and well seasoned.  I’d get that exact same plate if I went again.  So good.

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Laurie got the Fried Whiting on the recommendation of our waiter, DJ.  She said it was amazing!  The fish was crispy on the outside, tender and flaky on the inside.  The macaroni and cheese was the best any of us had ever eaten.  Cheesy and creamy with just enough crusty edges to add a little texture.  The collard greens were braised perfectly, and topped with fresh tomato and onion: mixed together to make a perfect bite!

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Erika got the Salmon Patties with macaroni and cheese and greens.  She said the patties were fine, but nothing special.  Next time she’d try something else.

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Anessa got the Fried Catfish and Fried Chicken Combo with Yams and Macaroni and Cheese.  The chicken and fish were fried and seasoned perfectly.  The yams were slow cooked in brown sugar and butter…how can that be bad?  And the macaroni.  Yeah, we’ve already talked about how life altering that is.

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The lemon pound cake was tangy and had a good flavor.  Anessa reported it was a little dry, so next time she might try another dessert.

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My peach cobbler came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  It was decent cobbler, but my mom’s is better.  Not overly sweet, but not overly flavorful either.  The best dessert of the night was this:

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This is the banana pudding cake.  It was moist, cakey and full of banana flavor.  I never even thought I liked banana pudding all that much, but this cake…what a great twist on a classic.

Here’s the real deal:  No matter where we go, or what we eat, we always ALWAYS have a blast together!

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Mert's Heart and Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charlotte · Restaurants

Tupelo Honey – Girl Nosh

So I find myself in a separated state after 20 years of wedded bliss.  I gave myself a couple of days to wallow in misery and then got a plan together.  New job, new gym membership, new church…check.  The last piece of my happiness puzzle was surrounding myself with great friends.  Thus “Girl Nosh” was born.  We are a group of girls who enjoy going out to eat together and laughing our heads off.  We meet once a month and the only requirement is that everyone has to take a picture of their food for my blog and let me taste a tiny bite of what they got 🙂

Tupelo honey inside

Our charter meeting was held at Tupelo Honey in Charlotte.  We had to call for reservations, since I had too many folks coming to use the online reservation scheduler.  No big deal, they were nice and efficient and had our reservation when we arrived.  Actually, we arrived early and they seated us very quickly.  Awesome!

OK, so I have one knock on the place.  It was smoking hot.  I mean, I never cooled down.  We were seated by the door and it kept opening with each new customer, totally screwing us out of cool air every time.  Every time.  If only they had a more “closed in” entryway, perhaps that could be avoided?  All I know is I was hot.  But, I did buy two drinks, so maybe there is a method to the madness?

The Bar

tupelohoneysangria

Our table ordered white wine, Sangria (red) and a mixed drink called a Honeysuckle and Lavender Flip.  The Sangria was sweet and fruity and very refreshing.  The Flip…well…that was light and sweetly resplendent.  That’s right: resplendent.  It was made with Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka and a house made lavender sweet and sour mixed with soda water and a squeeze of lemon.  Served over cracked ice and a sprinkling of lavender buds on top, and you’ll hear an angel sing upon first sip.

Appetizers and Small Plates

Tupelohoneyfriedgreentomatoes

First up is a hearty appetizer: Fried Green Tomatoes.  Any southern restaurant worth its salt must have this on the menu.  But TH has their fried green maters on a bed of creamy goat cheese grits and that is nestled over the top of some brightly flavored red pepper coulis.  What a perfect combination.  The crispy, salty and sour fried green tomatoes was a perfect counter balance to the decadent grits.  The coulis added just enough spice to tie it all together.  A perfect dish that we had to order 2 plates of to share.

Tupelohoneyjumbolumpcrabcakeandkalesalad

The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake was another hit.  It might have been the best crab cake I’ve ever tasted!  Crispy on the outside and full of sweet large hunks of crab.  Seasoned just perfectly!  It came propped against a small salad a mixed dark greens dressed with a jalapeno aioli and tossed with sweetly sour baby tomatoes.  That salad had a bite to it!  Perfect addition to the simple goodness of the crab cake.

tupelohoneywarmpimientocheesedip

The table also thoroughly enjoyed Warm Pimento Cheese, like a Southern cheese dip, served with house-made tortilla chips.  I looked around to see so many tables enjoying this simple, but unbeatably delicious, sharable appetizer.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it didn’t even need salsa.  It was that good.

Tupelo Honey biscuitThe humble Biscuit.  Handmade, fluffy, salty and tender.  Served with honey (of course) and blueberry preserves.  A.mazing.

Brunch

tupelohoneychickenbiscuitgravywithfriedegg

Erika had a brunch item for dinner: Fried Chicken and Biscuits!  She couldn’t make up her mind what she wanted, everything looked so good, but the description of the basil gravy eventually won her over.  Let me set this dish up for you:  Huge bowl is filled with split house made biscuits.  Next, they place a perfectly fried buttermilk chicken breast patty.  Add crispy NC country ham and some basil and top all of that with a fried egg.  Which when Erika sank her fork in burst and gave a new level of richness to that gravy.  It was decadent and wonderful, and she could barely finish a third of her meal!

Dinner

Tupelohoneyduckbreastcarrotsbrusselssproutslaw

Laurie ordered Roasted Duck Breast.  It was topped with a cherry port wine sauce and served with cardamom ginger roasted carrots and a shaved Brussels sprout salad dressed with a honey vinaigrette.  Laurie said that the duck was cooked well, but the skin wasn’t seared enough, leaving it chewy.  She cut all of the skin off and ate the duck breast meat.  It was tasty, but she was disappointed with the skin.  The salad was so tangy and creamy, much like a cole slaw.

Tupelohoneyjumboshrimp

Vickie got the Jumbo Fried Shrimp.  These big, juicy prawns were buttermilk fried and topped with a sticky cherry pepper lemon aioli.  Vickie reported them amazing!  She got hers with a side of asparagus and a side salad.

Tupelohoneymeatloafokramac

I got the Hickory Nut Gap Farm Beef and Bacon Meatloaf.  I’m going to be honest here: I picked something that would go with the macaroni and cheese.  Because that’s what I was wanting.  If you are going to cheat on your diet, you should really go all out.  So, I picked fried okra, too.  NO REGRETS!  The meatloaf was so tender, and a nice brown color, unlike my gray offerings.  The gravy on top was a tomato rosemary shallot gravy that was zesty and packed with flavor.  I was dragging the macaroni and cheese through it, too.  The macaroni and cheese was gooey and cheesy.  I mean, even a bad mac and cheese tastes pretty good, but this one is yummy, no fear.  The fried okra was plump yet crispy.  Not that frozen mess you get at other places.  I was so happy.  Joyous, really.

Tupelohoneyveggiebowl

Kathy, the healthy one in the group, opted for the  Venerated Veggie Bowl.  We’ll never truly know how wonderful this was because Kathy refuses to share her food!  LOL  I can say that it looked amazing and she couldn’t eat it all.  Let me set it up for you:  On the bottom of the bowl there is a layer of SC Stone Ground Goat cheese grits and that is topped with salsa verde black-eyed peas.  They then pile on sauteed greens, fried okra and salsa.  I love meat, but this bowl looked amazing.

Lunch

tupelo honey shoo mercy cheesy grill 2

Lunch isn’t all that much different from dinner, but they do have more sandwiches.  My favorite is probably the Shoo Mercy Cheesy Grill.  A gooey mixture of Havarti and pimento cheese tops carmelized onions, crispy maple smoked bacon, salty smoked ham, fried green tomatoes and fresh basil all on wheat sourdough bread.  Sounds like a lot going on, but the combination is perfect.  Squishy, salty, creamy and crispy: it hits all the notes.

tupelo honey shoo mercy cheesy grill

I got my sammie with a bowl of their tomato soup.  Eh.  A little tangy.

Tupelo Honey Chix BLT

The Southern Fried Chicken BLT is another staple at Tupelo Honey.  I had one at lunch on another visit.  The chicken is seasoned perfectly, crispy crunchy and the bacon is smoky.  Perfect in its simplicity

Side Dishes

Tupelohoneyedamamesalad

You could make a meal on the side dishes.  Seriously.  Because they have a veggie plate where you can choose 3 or 4 for your meal.  But, if you just want a couple with your meat (do it!) you’ll be happy too.  Laurie got the Edamame, Pine Nut, Golden Raisin and Carrot Salad.  I was very suspicious of those healthy looking green beans, but I was pleasantly surprised at the sweet and tangy dressing, and the bite from the pine nuts.  Healthy never tasted so good.

tupelohoneyroastedasparaguswithbenneseed

Another favorite of our table was the Benne Coated Asparagus.  Asparagus can’t go wrong as long as it isn’t over cooked.  These were perfectly cooked, still had a bit of a snap, and the benne (sesame seeds, right?) added a nuttiness.  Yum!

Tupelohoneysidesalad

You may also choose a side salad as one of your “vegetables.”  This one comes with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, pickled onions and pine nuts.  The  pickled onions and pine nuts are tangy and crunch elements that are different from your run-of-the-mill side salad.

If you are looking for a delicious country meal that is a little on the upscale side, you have to give Tupelo Honey a try.  Just bring a fan.

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