Harvest Moon Grille is a unique eatery in downtown Lincolnton that is such a breath of fresh air. Their website says “an adventure in freshly foraged foods” and it is an adventure. The menu is different each time I visit. This is because they are farmers themselves, and build the menu off of what is currently available for harvest in their own and other local farms. And they make EVERYTHING…they make their breads, their soups, their sauces, their stocks, their dressings and their desserts. They even have a shelf for locally made products to take home with you. In addition to that, they cater: at their place, on site or boxed lunches for picnics lakeside. If you’d like to learn from these tremendous chefs, they also offer Saturday classes which include lunch!
They offer breakfast and lunch, both available from open to close. You can also get dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. On the day we visited my son got breakfast and I got lunch. The dining room is smallish, but you feel cozy, not cramped. The walls are filled with art from local artists. If the weather is nice, you should opt to eat outside on the patio. They have a very comfortable patio overlooking Main Street.
We opted for a locally crafted soda made in Waynesville, NC. The Raspberry Cream was fizzy with just the right amount of sweet. It’s the best. I love how they are served with a mason jar full of ice.
This is the child’s portion (Junior) of French Toast. He said it was delicious!
I had a falafel sandwich and a cup of tomato soup. The brioche bun that the sandwich came on was made fresh in house and was out of this world delicious. The falafel was a tiny bit loose for my liking, so ended up being too messy for me. The bitter greens brought a peppery element to the dish and the cucumber sauce (tzatziki) was tangy and cool. I have to say, the smallest detail was my favorite. The house-made pickles were perfect. Just pickled enough to be tasty, but still had a fresh taste. These chefs really know their way around the kitchen.
The tomato soup (served in a little mason jar!!) was also fresh and homemade. It didn’t taste like Campbell’s, didn’t taste like it came from a bag (I’m looking at you, Fatz) it tasted like it was made from my grandmother’s canned tomatoes. The drizzle of olive oil on top gave it a richness so it didn’t need cream.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
Girl Nosh goes to Kindred on Halloween! Not only were we adorable, but we were well fed. Kindred is the real deal, people. We decided to bump Kindred up on our list due to this article in Bon Appetit Magazine: Kindred, Davidson NC.
I had a large group of ladies able to attend on this night. So large that I had to call the manager and arrange a special table (I think there were 10 of us) since the place is a bit small and seating is limited. I thought it worth the extra trouble.
The place was PACKED. When we arrived, we did have to be patient and waited around for nearly 30 minutes for our table to be set up and ready for us. They were gracious about the delay, and allowed us to sit at separate tables until the party beside us was ready to leave, allowing us to push these two tables together so our whole party could be together.
This establishment serves small plates. Everything is a la carte, so the server recommended we each get 2 or 3 items, not including dessert. Some of us liked the small plate concept, and some of us did not. One of our party members thought that this concept should have been explained better, and felt that we were a bit condescended to when we didn’t quite know how to order.
We all agreed that people who post pictures of their food are the best people. As you can see from the photo at the right, we Googled dishes we wanted to try to see what they looked like. Wish I’d have Googled the crudo before I ordered.
When we finally sat down (after standing in the bar for a bit) the server brought us this most amazing Milk Bread. It reminded me of the rolls we used to get at school (when they were homemade) only better. Lighter, fluffier and sprinkled on top with chips of kosher salt. Served with a side of REAL whipped creamy butter…I’d go back just for that bread. All of us are STILL talking about that darn bread. Be warned, they don’t serve it at lunch, only dinner.
The Crispy Oysters were a favorite of the table. Lucky for me, Laurie thought they were too spicy and traded her oysters with my crudo. The oysters were perfectly fried in a light batter and they sat atop a puddle of dill aioli and Calabrian chili oil. I thought it was the perfect balance of heat and a nice cool down from the aioli. This dish is a hit! As good as the oysters were, I was just as charmed by the plate they served them on. I felt like I was at my grandmother’s house…my gourmet grandmother.
The biggest disappointment of the night was the Matsutake Mushroom Crudo. Shaved Asian pear slices, Matsutake Mushrooms and Parmesan cheese, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. Not one bit of skill needed, unless you count the mandolin? The idea is that the ingredients paired work well, and the quality of the ingredients are allowed to shine. But the mushrooms tasted like dirt. And I NEVER met a mushroom I didn’t love. One person at our table loved it, but the rest of us…no.
Another nifty thing they offer is the Farmhouse Cheese Tray. They give you a selection of four and each cheese is $4. It is served with thin baguette slices. It was good, the cheese was great quality, but you know…it’s a hunk of cheese. Get something the chef makes.
The Apple Salad was pretty and tasty, too. Hazelnuts, sliced apples and Serrano ham all nestled on a bed of peppery arugula made for a fresh start to dinner.
See above? That’s called Pappardelle and it is the best thing you will ever put in your mouth. It is a perfectly seasoned hand-made pasta tossed with a guinea hen ragu. Guinea hen tastes suspiciously like chicken, but this is so good, I don’t care if they tricked me. You see those little shavings that look like mushrooms? Those are fried chestnuts, for crunch. They used a tiny mandolin, shaved little chestnuts and then deep-fried them, just to give you a little crunch with your pasta. All I could say was thank you. Amazing.
So, the other not-as-lucky folks at my table opted to try the Bucatini. I snuck a bite of Erika’s, just for the purpose of this review, of course, and while it was yummy, it wasn’t as good as mine 🙂 This bucatini was in a buttery sauce with bay scallops, miso, shishito peppers and black truffle. It was rich and spicy and it was yummy…just not AS yummy as the papardelle.
Anessa ordered the Pasture Raised Chicken. She also got that with a side of Creamed Mustard Greens with Bread Crumbs. The chicken was baked to perfection, very tender and juicy and it sat atop a pile of polenta, collards and guanciale. Guanciale is an Italian cured meat or salami product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. I know this because I just Googled it. So, the chicken was great. The mustard greens? Well….not so much. Anessa enjoyed them, but they were so bitter I had to spit them out. I’ll admit I’m not a “greens” lover, but this was too much.
Dessert…aaaahhhh. We were pretty full, but we took one for the team and ordered dessert. We actually ordered dessert with our meal, since we were informed they might run out. No sense taking chances like that. First up is the Cookies with Cinnamon Ice Cream. The cookies were thick and chewy and the ice cream was perfectly creamy with just a warm hint of cinnamon. So perfect.
But the most perfect dessert was the Roasted Apple Galette. Sugar sprinkled flaky pie dough enfolds sweet yet tart apples, on a puddle of milk jam (tasted like caramel to me) and topped with buttermilk ice cream. That weed on top? Sugared thyme. I might have sucked on a leaf or two.
The Pumpkin Pot de Creme was a most requested dessert that night. They ran out! It was a smooth, spiced pumpkin custard (like a super smooth pumpkin pie filling, elevated) topped with Chantilly cream and hazelnuts. It was perfect, light and refined.
This was one of my favorite restaurants that the Girl Nosh group has been to. We had a few snags, but the experience was so unique and so personal, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it.
Restaurant Week is probably my favorite two weeks of the year. I mean, I love Christmas, but Restaurant Week allows me to have a fabulous meal that someone else cooks and cleans up after. That’s love.
This year I had the most handsome date on the planet…my sweet son, Ty. We went to Twisted Oak Bar & Grill in Statesville. It is located in Statesville’s charming downtown area, and in a factory-esque building. It is not facing the road, the front entrance is on the side. When you come up the ramp you’ll see a nice outdoor area with a fireplace and several seats around. Very cozy! The interior is spacious and homey with exposed brick and minimalist decor. I loved it. Also, on this night, they had live music.
Twisted Oak serves breakfast Monday – Thursday and the pictures I saw looked amazing. If I am ever near Statesville early in the morning, that will be my first stop. Lunch and Dinner are served Monday through Saturday.
As you know, Restaurant Week has a limited menu…3 courses for $30 each. What a deal! We both skipped the wine they offered at the beginning of the meal and opted for tea and water. The first course was a great start to a terrific meal. I got a delicious garden salad with a tangy and creamy homemade Ranch dressing. I love some salad. Ty got Peirogies. If you aren’t sure what that is, it’s a potato dumpling that is pan fried and tossed with caramelized onion and andouille sausage and topped with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Ty hit the jackpot with these. A HUGE plateful and they were the best peirogies I’ve ever tried. The outside was crispy and chewy and the inside was soft and creamy. I would order this and my salad for my meal next time!
For his entree, Ty opted for the Pimento Burger. It was a 1/2 pound Angus beef, cooked to medium atop a toasted bun slathered with melted pimento cheese, fried onion, bacon, lettuce and tomato (he opted out of that) and served with French fries. He said the burger was very good and the fries were homemade and perfect.
I got a special selection that was made just for Restaurant week: Beef Short Rib Lasagna. Tender bits of slow roasted short ribs in between pasta sheets with cheese, mushrooms and topped with a tangy and robust tomato gravy, Bechamel sauce and mozzarella cheese. So decadent, I had to take home half of it so I could enjoy dessert!
Our dessert choice was the 5 Layer Chocolate Cake. It was a huge slice of moist chocolate cake with plenty of rich, fudgy frosting. Satisfying to any chocolate lover!
We gave this comforting restaurant two thumbs up and will be dining there again very soon!