Myrtle Beach · Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach Hits and Misses

The Gay Dolphin Gift Shop.  Lots of stuff.  I mean, a lot.

Myrtle Beach Skywheel.  Tip: buy those tickets online.

Pirate’s Voyage.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  Dinner with a show!

 

Captain Juel’s Hurricane Restaurant.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  Sushi and Seafood with a view!

You’re here!
Full view of restaurant
Gorgeous Oaks near restaurant
Hushpuppies
Oysters on the half shell
Crab Dip
Spring Rolls…eh
Spider Roll
Sushi

 

Side Salad (look at that crouton!)
Gumbo
Crab Legs

Croissants.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  Best food in Myrtle.

Croissants
Acai Bowl
Strawberry and Nutella Crepe
Eggs Benedict, Potato Casserole and Ambrosia
Fish tacos
Chai Latte
Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffin
Chicken Salad Croissant, Broccoli Cheddar Soup & Ambrosia Salad

Hamburger Joe’s.  See my review on Yelp!

Cheeseburger

MISSES 😦

Baron’s Steaks and Spirits.  Here’s my review on Yelp.

Filet Mignon with potato casserole
Chocolate Cake
Creme Brulee with Caramel Sauce

Margaritaville.  Here’s my review on Yelp.  It’s not horrible, but once was enough.

Margarita Hurricane
Watermelon Margarita
Crab Dip

Lava Lava Shrimp & Calamari
Taco Salad

 

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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

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

Click to add a blog post for Tupelo Honey Cafe on Zomato

Davidson · Restaurants

Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse in Davidson, NC

Flatiron is a steak place in Davidson, NC that we decided to try over the summer.  Such high hopes, because I love the town of Davidson.  Ultimately, this place just didn’t deliver.  While there were some high points to our meal, mostly our experience ranged from not great to not really memorable.

Flatiron calamari

We tried the Calamari Fries for an appetizer.  Ours came with a side dish of marinara sauce.  The calamari was tender, but the large mouthful of tender, almost flabby planks of squid actually put me off.  I prefer the rings, fried a little crispier.  I would definitely not get these again.

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One of the better dishes was the Wedge Salad.  Hard to mess those up, but this one was exceptional with bacon, diced tomatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, red onion and topped with a yummy Buttermilk Ranch dressing.  Also, they served it a bit chopped and not in the traditional wedge shape, so it was much easier to cut.  Loved it!

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Another pretty awesome dish is the Goat Cheese Bake.  They plop some goat cheese in a dish of marinara, bake it and serve with toast.  Simple and utterly delicious.

flat iron chicken fettucine

The Chicken Fettuccine Pasta dish was very good.  The chicken was tender, the sauce was flavorful.  The grilled bread atop was a nice touch.

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The Filet Mignon was also a good dish.  It was cooked well, but the sauce was a little tangy.  I loved the brussels sprouts with the charred edges and the potato puree was creamy and seasoned well.

flatiron scallops with sweet potato risotto

The Seared Scallops were just fine.  They did have a nice sear, but were not seasoned as well as we’d like.  The sweet potato risotto that they were atop was delicious.  The grilled asparagus were nicely cooked.  The dish was fine, but not particularly memorable.

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For dessert, they had quite a few offerings.  The Raspberry Cheesecake was probably the best thing our table sampled.  It was just sweet enough and very creamy.  The Creme Brulee is always a winner, and rarely have I had a bad one, this one was no disappointment.  The one dessert we sampled that was just inedible were the Hot Now Donuts.  They were like sugar coated bricks.  They are served in a paper bag, which is the best thing about them.  Maybe they were off that night, but I found them heavy and tough.  Never again.

The restaurant isn’t horrible.  There are simply better choices around.  A quick look around the menu shows me that they are trying to make some changes, so if I give it another try I will be sure and report my findings 🙂

Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse on Urbanspoon

Cornelius · Restaurants

Tenders in Cornelius

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Tenders is a popular fast-ish food joint in Cornelius, NC.  It is a on the corner of the beaten path, but you still have to know what you are looking for.  Hint: Follow the crowds, because this place is always jacked.

The food here is very fresh, and all of the ingredients are homemade.  Hand-breaded chicken tenders, not frozen and fried.  The fries are hand-cut and fried, not frozen.  In fact, they have NO freezers at all on premises.  The sauces are not processed bottled sauces, they whip them all up on site.  It’s a huge change from chains and you can taste the difference.

Another thing I love about this restaurant is that it is dine in, carry out or drive up.  Sometimes you just don’t want to get out of your car, you know?

OK, so by the name of the restaurant, you know you are getting some chicken fingers.  And you won’t be unhappy.  That’s what they do, and they do it well.  The chicken fingers are nuclear hot when they are delivered to you, and you get to choose your own sauce from about 8 homemade varieties.  You know I chose Ranch.  Delish!

Pics for your drooling pleasure…

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Tenders Fresh Food on Urbanspoon

Charlotte · Restaurants

The Cowfish

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Are you looking for an eclectic cuisine that fuses two well loved foods into one delicious dish? No? Nor was I. I just wanted to try food at a place called Cowfish. So glad we did!

We wanted both burgers and sushi, of course, so we opted to try the mini burgers of the week for our appetizers and each got a fancy sushi roll for lunch.

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The Burgers of the Week happened to be blue cheese burgers. Dustin was not a fan of blue cheese, but still managed to down two of them. They were cooked well, and very juicy. I loved them, but they were a little drippy (which all delicious burgers should be.) The Cowfish sauce was tangy sweet mayonnaise and the slaw was divine, even to someone like me who is usually pretty indifferent to slaw.

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My sushi roll, The “Prime Time” Filet and Lobster Roll,  was one of the best things I’d ever had.  And clocking in at $22 for one roll, well it should be.  But, I’m telling you, one is all you will need.  It is very huge and quite filling.  The inside was comprised of buttery lobster and crisp, fresh cucumber matchsticks.  Atop this were rare (yet in my case, I asked for medium) strips of filet mignon and strips of smoky slices of portabello mushrooms that were panfried in the juices from the steak, then tossed in truffle oil.  This tasted like bacon!  Bacon veggies!  Brilliant!

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Dustin chose the Blackened Tuna Roll.  Inside this is delicate lump crabmeat, gently mixed with cream cheese to make a delicious, light salad with a slight crunch from the tempura flakes. Topping this are strips of blackened tuna, a dollop of guacamole and a fresh sliver of jalapeno.  Talk about the perfect bite!  Everything was fresh and delicious.

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For dessert (yes, we did) we shared an order of Apple Pie Wontons.  Holy Moly.  Homemade apple pie filling encased by a wonton wrapper and flash fried.  As if that wasn’t enough, they serve it with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream that is surprisingly light and airy and drizzled with a caramel sauce.  You can’t really go wrong with a fried wonton, but this one was so rich, with the crispy wrapper and the apple pie filling was sweet with just enough tart to balance.  It was plenty big enough to share.

The restaurant is much bigger than it appears from the outside.  We even sat on the patio and it had plenty of heaters out there to keep us warm.  Our service was amazing, we lacked nothing during our visit.  We will be back soon!

 

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