Tag Archives: Restaurants

Tasting Charlotte

I’m a little behind in posts, so please forgive me as I catch up.  This past weekend was the annual foodie event, the Taste of Charlotte, which is conveniently held uptown (convenient for me).  Since I’m now working from home on Fridays, I have a chance to have lunch with friends and enjoy Uptown Charlotte during a weekday.  A lot of lunch-y spots are closed during the weekend so I thoroughly enjoy having Fridays to explore.

Brad and I had a wedding out of town (more on that soon), so Friday for lunch was my one and only chance to try Taste of Charlotte.  Somehow I missed out last year, which was my first true summer living in Charlotte.  Before my current living arrangement, I was back and forth between my place in Raleigh, where I was attending grad school, and Brad’s condo after it was built.  Before that Brad claimed to be homeless as he drifted from corporate apartments, hotels, and coworkers’ guest rooms.

Back to the food.  I rounded up fun people who like to lunch and will pretty much try anything, just like me, and we headed out to Tryon Road, which had been blocked off for Taste of Charlotte.

First up, the Fage booth.  🙂  Most food costs money at Taste of Charlotte, but we scored big time on free (and generous) samples of Fage.  We even scored a $1 off coupon!

Taste of Charlotte is all about the food but there are other activities as well, such as bull riding simulators.

The other free sample in which  partook were steak samples…

cooked medium well and served on toothpicks.

I was dying to try Woodlands, a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Charlotte, since all of a sudden I have decided that I like Indian food.  So I had the Somosa Chaat at their stand.

I’m kind of curious about their name since Woodlands doesn’t really sound like an Indian restaurant.  In fact, there’s a well-known barbeque join in Blowing Rock, NC called Woodlands as well.  If anyone knows why an Indian restaurant would be called Woodlands, I’d love to know.

Brittney thinks I look scary in the above photo, but this blog isn’t about being vain.  😉

Brittney with her Chana Masala.  She shared some with me and I thought it was really good.  It was nice to try something new, even though I probably wouldn’t order this again.  I just made Chana Masala the week or two before.  The Samosa wasn’t bad, but the little fried crispy things just weren’t my favorite.

You can tell if I’m really smiling if you can’t see my eyes.  This obviously is fo’ real.

Thank glory that Amelie’s was there.  I feel like a 90 year old lady saying that, but there’s no other way to give thanks for the local French Bakery.  It’s just so  yummy.  They offered petit fours, coconut macaroons, and what I think was a PB truffle.

You can’t go wrong with their coconut macaroons.  Britt and I both had one.

She also ordered the fried green tomatoes from The Flying Biscuit Cafe.  I ate half of one.  They were very thinly sliced and served with a dollop of goat cheese.  Typically, these are served much thicker, but since we were trying to cut through them while standing, the thinness of the tomatoes really helped with that.

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but this treat isn’t keeping you out of the dentist’s chair.  This is a green apple with mini M&Ms and caramel sauce.  Chloe ate this and it looked delicious.  See,  Brittney and I were not the only ones there!  Although, I really don’t have proof of that do I?  We were just way more into taking photos of each other eating than anything else and didn’t want to harass our lunch companions.  It’s always awkward asking people if you can take pictures of their food, I feel even more awkward asking to take pictures of them as well.

This event was really fun and actually had better restaurants represented than what I previous thought.  Sure, there were your share of chain restaurants.  I have nothing against chains, I just would rather see more local Charlotte food at an event like this.

I didn’t use all my tokens, which they make you purchase so vendors don’t have to take credit cards, so I used them to buy cinnamon sugar roasted almonds for the weekend trip.

Later that day I met up with Kath and  Emily, which was just so cool.  I’ve been reading Emily’s blog for a while and have been reading Kath’s blog since I first became obsessed with healthy food/lifestyle blogs.  I’ve never done a blogger meet-up before so this was something totally new for me.

Unfortunately, I had a horrible time trying to find the greenway where we had agreed to meet and run.  It took me 45 minutes to drive to the general area, while it usually only takes 20 minutes, because of crazy Charlotte traffic.  Then I could not find the greenway entrance anywhere.  Silly me forgot to ask them for their phone number because they hadn’t met me yet and I didn’t want them to think I was a stalker. So I called Brittney, who just happened to be at a Daughtry concert with Jenn, because she had ran at this same location before.  At this point I had turned into a maniac because I was 25 minutes late and had just nearly rear ended another car while trying to figure out where I was on my iPhone.

Without her, I would have never found this place, and probably would be so ashamed I would never attend another blogger meet up again.  I felt so bad about being so late, but Kath and Emily were so super nice about it.

Thank goodness we ran on a shady greenway because the heat was ridiculous at this time of the day.  I really pushed myself running with them, but was secretly ecstatic when Emily suggested we walk the last 0.3 of a mile while Kath really took off.  She was really hard core about finishing strong and it made me really want to work on my stamina.

They were awesome and I can’t wait to hang out with them again!  Too bad their both leaving Charlotte soon. 😦

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Filed under festival, running

I love the Crepe Cellar

Did anyone hear about the two plans that collided on the taxiway at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport? (Story here)  That’s really a dramatic way of putting it.  Basically one plane grazed the other plane’s tail with its wing.  One was parked while the other was being taxied in.  Well, the point is, a couple who Brad and I are friends with were on the plane that grazed the other.  They didn’t feel a thing!

But, sadly enough their flight to Florence, Italy was delayed and they lost a day of their vacation.  What to do but call Brad and I to show them a good time in Charlotte!

Previously that night I had been at my best friend (who is also my matron of honor) for a shower…actually a lingerie shower.  I’ll spare you the details which can be found here on Brittney’s blog.

They met us at our place and we went out to Cabo Fish Taco, which is definitely a favorite of mine and pretty much everyone who has ever visited Brad and I in Charlotte.  Sadly, I did not bring my camera.

The real highlight of the weekend came when we picked them up for brunch on Sunday morning.  In NoDa (stands for North Davidson), the same neighborhood where Cabo is located is mine and Brad’s very favorite brunch spot, and let me say there are quite a few to choose from in Charlotte.  It’s a tiny cozy little spot called Crepe Cellar Kitchen and Pub.  I have had dinner and brunch there and although I love everything about Crepe Cellar, brunch is my favorite part, hands down.

The photo actually shows the entire restaurant.  It is small, but waiting on a Saturday night for a table is worth every minute.

Per usual I ordered the Eggs Florentine…

…sans Hollandaise.  If you’re not familiar, Eggs Florentine is like Eggs Benedict,  without the ham.  Instead, it has wilted spinach and SMOKED SALMON…one of my all time favorites.  I just learned to like my eggs over easy, so with the runny yolks, Hollandaise is just not necessary.

I also had a green salad.

I never make salad for breakfast or brunch at home, but when eating out, it just feels right.  Plus, this way I fill up on my veggies and can save half of my Eggs Florentine for breakfast tomorrow.  Crepe Cellar x 2 is always a good thing.

Brad’s choice was definitely the star of our brunch.  It was the special.

Instead of shrimp and grits, their special was fish and grits, Wahoo to be exact.    Man, this was good.  The grits were so creamy, they might as well have been polenta.  The firm, flaky fish was seasoned perfectly.  This went together so well, I’m just now noticing that green beans were served with it.  Not your typical brunch fair, but I’ll gladly eat green beans for breakfast if it is accompanying this handsome dish.

To put it mildly I love love love Crepe Cellar.  If I ever get over my shyness of taking photos of my food when eating out with friends, you’ll definitely see their dinner offering sometimes soon.

For you other bloggers out there:  How did you get over the fear or nervousness of photographing your food when eating out with friends? Obviously I felt comfortable to do it with these friends, but that’s not always the case.   Then there’s always my case of the forgetfulness.  I’ll have the most amazing food experience and then kick myself because I forgot my camera.

I have to admit I’m getting a little better at this so hopefully you’ll see more of the restaurants I love in the future.  I have a lot of love to share with the restaurants in Charlotte. 🙂

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Filed under Breakfast, Restaurants

Capital Grille

Yesterday was beautiful in North Carolina.  And when Brad and I returned home yesterday evening after our six hour drive from his parents’ house on the coast, we 1- didn’t want to cook in the small amount of weekend time we had left and 2- wanted to eat outside.  After dropping our bags and Rascal off at the condo, we walked around uptown a bit trying to figure out where to go.  We strolled near Capital Grille, which has a really nice outside dining area.   I had never been to a Capital Grille, which is a chain, and Brad had never been to the Charlotte location.  We decided to give it a try and went inside to request a table al fresco.

Here is a slightly blurry shot of the menus (top and bottom).  The sun was beginning to set and it was somewhat shady between all of the skyscrapers and I didn’t want to use my flash and disturb the other diners.  We asked that the candle on our table be lit, but our waitress didn’t remember until we returned the check to her.

We decided to split everything, starting out with a bottle of wine.  I have been attempting to order Italian wines recently, in preparation for our honeymoon in Italy.  I feel like I know little to nothing about Italian wines and their names are always a lot more complicated and foreign to me, since I’m more familiar with French and Spanish wines.  By familiar, I mean I recognize the grapes and brands – I am no where near being a connoisseur.

I chose the 1872; the Santa Cristina.

It reminded me of a Chardonnay. We both had about a glass and a half.  We corked the rest and took it home.

This was the cork.  I snapped this a bit later in the evening.  The candle would have really helped here.

Our first course was a prosciutto wrapped mozzarella with vine ripe tomatoes, described as, “Classic fresh mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto and lightly sautéed. Served with crostini, fresh basil and a lovely balsamic glaze.”  The tomatoes and crostini reminded be of bruschetta, which I love.  It’s so summery.

The bread basket: a light and airy cracker, onion bread, and a seeded roll.  I had a bite of each.  Okay, maybe two bites of the onion bread.

The salad we split, field greens, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, which is described as, “A tempting trio of baby lettuces is the perfect base for juice, vine-ripe grape tomatoes and your choice of one of our carefully blended house dressings.”

Now that I am reading the description again, the two words “your choice” stick out to me. I don’t remember being given a choice.  The salad was lovely just the same.

Last was the main course.  A perfect portion; I’m so glad we decided to split this.  Luckily for me, Brad was in the mood for seafood.  I am ALWAYS in the mood for seafood.  So, we got the swordfish.  The Grilled Swordfish with Lemon Shallot Relish is described as “exactly grilled to achieve the perfect texture and moistness.  Served with a delicious mix of fresh lemon, fennel, and herbs.”

I am laughing a bit to myself right now after re-reading the description.  When this came out, Brad and I wanted to know what the yellow “stuff” was on top of the fish, not remembering exactly what we had ordered.   Brad had suggested fennel and I threw that guess out to our waitress, who replied that it was yellow peppers that had been cooked in ginger.  It really did taste like ginger.  So much that the actual yellow substance was unidentifiable.  We really didn’t think it was yellow pepper, which is confirmed by their menu.  I think our waitress was just trying to be helpful; I don’t think she realized I was going check her on it.

To be honest, the Capital Grill is just okay.  The food is good, but I wouldn’t call it outstanding.  Brad said it just didn’t “wow” him like Blue did the first time we ate there, and he’s right.  The main course was probably my least favorite part of the meal.  What the description didn’t tell you is that the swordfish is served over corn, asparagus, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Those things just don’t “go” together in my mind.  They didn’t taste bad together, because they had all been cooked in the same herbs and sauce until they all pretty much tasted the same, except for the sun-dried tomatoes.  I didn’t hate it, but I would order something else if I ever returned to the Capital Grille.

However, you couldn’t beat the weather or the company. 🙂

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Filed under Restaurants

Small lunch, big dinner

We had a really late lunch today.  My chocolate oats held me over until 2 pm.  It turns out that sitting in front of my computer in my pajamas does not require a lot of energy.  By 2 pm I knew that I needed to run the 9 miles I had planned as part of my half marathon training in order to make our dinner reservations.  I had a quick and small lunch of whole wheat pita stuffed with humus, roasted red peppers (from the farmer’s market), spinach, and a sprinkling of goat cheese.  Yum!  I will definitely be making this again.
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Usually I would eat more for lunch, but there is a delicate balance between eating too much and eating just enough when you immediately have to run afterwords.   I’m sorry for the sideways picture.  I haven’t quite figured out how to upload vertical photos so that they turn correctly.

During my run I overshot one of the turns I was supposed to take and ended up having to backtrack making it more like a 9 1/2 mile run.  The half marathon is in December and I just decided to do it so I’m kind of behind on training.  Because of this, I have set a goal to just finish it and not worry about my time.  BUT, it would be nice to beat my other two half marathon times, however unlikely.  We shall see.

After my run I was scrambling to get ready so we could make our dinner reservations with our friends Heather and Job.  We went to Bonterra, which we have been meaning to go to for a while since our friends Jamie and Katie were married there last June.  The atmosphere is really cool because the restaurant used to be a church before it was renovated.  Unfortunately this was all I remembered to capture of my meal.

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Needless to say, it was delicious.  I started with the “Magnolia” salad which had herbed goat cheese, toasted almonds, and mixed greens.  I devoured it.  I also had half of a piece of their walnut bread with a bit of butter.  Next was the Alaskan Halibut with a shrimp and corn maquec houx.  I’m not really sure what a maque choux is even after eating it, but it was also devoured.  I think I was done before anyone else.  I’ve been trying to eat a little lighter at restaurants lately, but after 9 miles of running I was getting the shakes and needed a substantial meal.  We all agreed would definitely go there again.  Brad got the scallops and ratatouille which was also very good.

Rodney Strong Pinot NoirI also had a glass of Rodney Strong Pinot Noir which was very very good.  Jon had the Cabernet Sauvignon before so we thought we would give the Pinot a try.  I would definitely try this again if I had the chance.

After our meal we went and saw a one man show followed by dessert at Flemings.  Flemings is a chain but it is upscale, which means its better than your average chain.  We ordered the Frozen Lemon Gingersnap Pie.

Frozen Lemon Gingersnap PieI had two bites, which was just enough.  And some decaf coffee.  I love coffee after a meal, but anything other than decaf keeps me up all night long.

Smiley and fullOverall, it was a nice night and we turned in kind of early for a Saturday night which I think is a telling sign that we’re getting old. 🙂

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Filed under Dinner, Lunch