The semi-annual "Queen's Feast" Charlotte Restaurant Week returns next month, starting Friday, Jan. 21, and ending Sunday, Jan. 30.
This round, 83 restaurants will be participating in the prix-fixe, three-course dinner for $30 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Now's the time to try those restaurants you've been meaning to visit.
The website www.CharlotteRestaurantWeek.com (which will go live Friday, December 31) will list the restaurants' special Queen's Feast® menus.
Participating restaurants in the Winter 2011 Charlotte Restaurant Week are:
131 Main - Dilworth
Cantina 1511 - Dilworth*
Primo Tuscan Grille*
Lake Norman / North Mecklenburg / Iredell County
131 Main - Lake Norman
Alton's Kitchen & Cocktails*
Dressler's - Birkdale
Flatiron Kitchen & Tap Room*
Kabuto Japanese Steakhouse
Mickey & Mooch - Huntersville
North Harbor Club*
The Prickly Pear
Red Rocks Cafe - Birkdale
Dressler's - Metro
The Melting Pot - Midtown
Bistro La Bon*
South Charlotte (Ballantyne / Arboretum / Pineville / Fort Mill, SC)
131 Main - Blakeney
Cantina 1511 - Stonecrest*
Maestro's Bar & Bistro
Mickey & Mooch - Arboretum
Rudy's Italian Restaurant
The Liberty Gastropub
SouthPark / Park Road / Foxcroft
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House
McCormick & Schmick's - SouthPark
Paco's Tacos & Tequila*
Red Rocks Cafe - Strawberry Hill
Ruth's Chris Steak House - SouthPark
Southwest Charlotte / Yorkmount
University / Concord
The Melting Pot - University
Rocky River Grille & Lounge
The Speedway Club
Aria Tuscan Grill
BlackFinn American Saloon
The Capital Grille
Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
Enso Asian Bistro
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse
Frankie's 710 Trattoria*
Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth*
LaVecchia's Seafood Grille
McCormick & Schmick's - Uptown
Morton's The Steakhouse
Ruth's Chris Steak House - Uptown
Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina*
West Mecklenburg / Gaston County
Old Stone Steakhouse
* First-time Charlotte Restaurant Week participant.
Kickstand Burgers -N- Bar has been open in Plaza-Midwood for a few months now. The new restaurant took over what used to be Common House restaurant, but is still owned and operated by the same owners (who also run Hawthorne's Pizza and Loco Lime).
Like the name suggests, the burger bar has a biking theme throughout the restaurant. Their menu items are named accordingly too "Cross Country burger," "Hungover Cyclist," "Tricycle."
The service was friendly and the food was good. I appreciate the unique burger creations which include preset creative condiments and toppings. My Cross Country burger was loaded with citrus BBQ sauce, Pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, and jalapeño cilantro spread.
Sides include super crunchy battered fries, combination sweet potato and plain tater tots served with maple syrup sauce, and Onion Tanglers.
Desserts available are simple, yet perfect for a post burger-gorging meal. Kickstand offers milkshakes and parfaits. The Key Lime parfait I tried came served in a large shot glass. It was just the right portion size to satisfy my sweet tooth without sending me over the edge, as in I-wanna-unbutton-my-pants-now.
With good food, no wait to be seated, ample parking, and reasonable prices, I'd say this place is a prime player in the Charlotte burger restaurant scene.
Kickstand Burger -N- Bar
1101 Central Ave
Charlotte, NC 28204
Charlotte bakers gathered at the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge to compete in the 3rd Annual Ultimate Cupcake and Cookie Challenge on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 19.
Open to both amateur and professional bakers, contestants brought their best cupcakes and/or cookies to the competition in hopes of impressing the judging panel, which consisted of the culinary and hospitality team at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge.
Entries were to be completely homemade (no boxed or pre-packaged products allowed), baked at home, and then presented with care at the competition. Items were judged on taste and presentation. The grand prize for each category was an overnight stay in a Parlor Suite with breakfast in bed.
I entered the cupcake portion of the competition, making this my first baking competition. Whoa. I had no idea what I was in for.
Competition was fierce. My fellow bakers are extremely talented and creative - just check out some of my photos below. As I set up my display, I was a little intimidated by others' elaborate table displays with holiday lights, cupcake trees, props, ornaments, tinsel, sparkley table cloths and pretty display plates.
Teams of judges walked around and sampled each item. Contestants had to explain what their entry was and how it was made. Using plastic spoons, judges silently sampled a bite from each and kept a straight face, not giving away any inklings whether they liked the cupcake or not. After roughly two hours of tasting and deliberation, the judges were ready to announce the winners.
Congratulations to first place winner, Wendy Rickard and second place winner, Mariza Zeibert!
Who took third place?
I'm proud to say it was me. I was able to bring home the 3rd place ribbon with my cupcake concoction: An intense dark chocolate cupcake with a chocolate peppermint ganache filling, vanilla buttercream with crushed candy canes, and a white chocolate snowflake.
Ah... the sweet taste of victory. Ecstatic about my first competition win, I'm already thinking about my entry for next year's contest.
The following restaurants will be offering special NYE dinner and events:
Kalu will be hosting an eight-course dim sum dinner in Kalu's Lounge. Guests will also receive a bottle of sparkling sake. $150 per couple. Kalu Restaurant. 505 E. 6th street
Charlotte, NC 28202. (704) 910-4877. http://www.kalunc.com
New Year's Eve is all about the bubbles. Georges will be offering a 3-course chef's tasting menu along with optional wine pairings and Veuve Clicquot specials. Ooo la la. $75 per person. Georges Brasserie. 4620 Piedmont Row Dr. Suite 110. (980) 219-7409. http://www.georgesbrasserie.com/
Sir Edmond Halley's
Sir Ed's is back. For New Year's Eve they will be featuring a special menu which will include dishes like Maine lobster pot pie, bison short ribs, and almond creme brulee. Prices vary. Sir Edmond Halley's. 4151 Park Road. (704) 525-7775. http://halleyspub.com
Red Rocks Cafe - Birkdale Village
Want to stay away from the Uptown crowds? Ring in the new year in Birkdale Village. In addition to their regular menu, Red Rock will be serving several chef specials. Prices vary. Red Rocks Cafe. 8712 Lindholm Drive. (704) 892-9999 http://www.redrockscafe.com/
Global Restaurant, Bar & Lounge
Enjoy a five-course meal, in addition to a glass of champagne. If you're looking for more, pair your courses with wine for an additional $30. Two seating times available: 6 pm or 8:30 pm. $65 per person. Global Restaurant, Bar & Lounge. 3520 Toringdon Way. (704) 248-0866. http://www.global-restaurant.com
Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
Eat (lots!) and be merry at Chima. For New Year's Eve Chima will be offering their Rodizio all-you-can-eat dinner along with a glass of champagne. $46.50 per person. Chima Brazilian Steakhouse. 139 South Tryon. (704) 601-4141. http://www.chima.cc/
Phil & Tony's
The Italian cuisine sports bar will be hosting a prix fixe dinner with a champagne toast and party favors. $65 per couple. Phil & Tony's. 2225 Matthews Township Parkway. (704) 541-3111. http://www.philandtonys.com/
New Year's Eve at Theatre Charlotte will feature a buffet, as well as live entertainment from Theatre Charlotte performers, an open bar with wine, beer, and more. $45.00 per person. Reserved table $250. Theatre Charlotte. 501 Queens Road. (704) 376-3777. http://www.theatrecharlotte.org/
Listen to The Presley Brothers while you enjoy a 3-course dinner at Blue. Like sweets? They'll have seven desserts to pick from. Complimentary champagne toast and party favors, along with other wine and drink specials. $29.95 per person for first seating, 5 - 6 pm. Blue. 206 N. College Street. (704) 927-2583. http://www.bluecharlotte.com
The newest restaurant at the NC Music Factory will be ringing in the new year by offering a 5-course dinner with "boutique small batch champagne" pairings. Two seatings: 6 pm, 8:30 pm. Bask. 1000 Seaboard St., Suite C-1. (980) 613-8282. http://www.baskonseaboard.com.
Lava Bistro & Bar
Enjoy a special 3-course New Year's Eve dinner menu, along with a glass of champagne and 1/2 price bottles of wine. $39.99 per person. Lava Bistro & Bar. 8708 JW Clay Blvd. (704) 549-0050. http://www.lavabistro.com.
The Plaza-Midwood restaurant will be offering a special dinner menu with items like surf and turf and creme brulee stuffed chocolate cupcakes. They will also have a prix-fixe NYE dinner package that comes with a bottle of Cava for $50. Soul Gastrolounge. 1500-B Central Ave.
(704) 348-1848. http://soulgastrolounge.com/
New at the N.C. Music Factory is the restaurant Bask, which opened to the public yesterday, Dec. 14.
Located in the main courtyard area, the restaurant features a gated-in patio area, prime for people-watching in the summer. On the interior, they have white leather booths and chairs, wood accents, unique lighting fixtures, and an open kitchen.
The menu is organized into small plates, soups and salads, medium plates, large plates, and desserts. Small plates include items like short rib samosas (photo below) and crab cakes.
Medium plates (~$11) are sandwich-type items served with a choice of fries, mashed potatoes, or veggies. And large plates, which range from $16 to $30, include steaks, salmon, pork chops, and chicken dishes.
In addition to wine and beer, Bask offers many specialty cocktails featuring vodka, gin, bourbon, and champagne. The Derby Punch, made with bourbon, was pretty good, but not very strong.
Ice cream flavors on the dessert menu change daily. The chef is known for his alcohol-infused ice creams, which have a very different texture. They're kind of icy, and upon first bite, they almost have the same mouth-feel as cake. Last night I got to sample the chocolate Guinness and the Jack and Coke flavors.
Bask is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
Get into the holiday mood with a few glasses of festive bubbles. Blue is hosting a champagne and food pairing dinner this Friday, Dec. 17.
I love this pie.
My family has been making this mocha fudge pie each holiday for years now.
Um, let's just overlook the fact that it contains alcohol and I have been making since I was in high school. La-di-da...
The recipe comes from Cooking Light and it isn't exactly light, but it's not calorie-laden like a cheesecake either. Each serving has 297 calories. The pie consists of three layers: a brownie crust, a creamy chocolate pudding mocha layer, and then a coffee whipped cream layer.
It's delicious. It really is. You'll be tempted to eat the filling layers as you go. Go ahead and lick the spatulas and bowls when you're done.
Mocha Fudge Pie
1/3 cup hot water
4 teaspoons instant coffee granules, divided
1/2 (20.5-ounce) box light fudge brownie mix (about 2 cups)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
3 tablespoons Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur, divided
1 (3.9-ounce) package chocolate-flavored instant pudding mix or 1 (1.4-ounce) package sugar-free chocolate-flavored instant pudding mix
3 cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed and divided
Chocolate curls or cocoa powder (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°.
Combine hot water and 2 teaspoons coffee granules in a bowl; stir well. Add 2 cups brownie mix, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg whites; stir until well-blended. Pour mixture into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 22 minutes (brownie will be fudgy when tested with a wooden pick). Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Combine milk, 2 tablespoons Kahlúa, 1 teaspoon coffee granules, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and pudding mix in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer 30 seconds. Gently fold in 1 1/2 cups whipped topping. Spoon pudding mixture into brownie crust; spread evenly.
Combine 1 tablespoon Kahlúa and 1 teaspoon coffee granules in a bowl; stir well. Gently fold in 1 1/2 cups whipped topping. Spread whipped topping mixture evenly over pudding mixture. Garnish with chocolate curls or cocoa powder, if desired. Serve immediately or store loosely covered in refrigerator.
Calories: 297 (20% from fat)
Fat: 6.5g (sat 3g,mono 0.1g,poly 1.6g)
Warm up tomorrow morning with some free coffee.
Kangaroo Express, the title sponsor of the Thunder Road marathon in Charlotte this weekend, is offering free coffee to runners and spectators alike.
The coffee can be found at the start and finish line. Kangaroo Express will also be handing out coffee coupons at the Kangaroo Express store on Charlottetowne Ave, which is 1.3 miles into the marathon and half marathon course.
For those of you crazies who run marathons (I am in awe of you, btw): The Cowfish wants to reward those who are running the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte this Saturday.
The Cowfish is offering one free milkshake or one free draft beer to those who run the race.
Runners just need to either become a fan of The Cowfish on Facebook, or bring in their bib number after the race.
This offer is only good on Saturday, Dec. 11.
The Cowfish restaurant has opened in SouthPark.
In the location that used to be The Counter, The Cowfish serves up the most unusual combination of food. Burgers and sushi. And even "Burgushi" a combination of beef and sushi items.
Their menu is extensive and can be overwhelming, as it's both a burger restaurant and sushi restaurant in one place, but the waitstaff can help you navigate the menu.
Both burgers and sushi rolls can be custom designed with every single condiment and filling imaginable. Burgers are half-pounders, made with veggie-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free beef. The list of "fusion specialty" rolls takes up an entire menu page. Prices for an 8-piece roll range from $10 to $18.
The appetizer menu includes items like coconut battered onion rings (I recommend getting these the rings were as big as my head and extremely crunchy), edamame, mini burgers, fried pickles, lettuce wraps, and crab rangoon dip.
Last night I tried the Fusion Specialty Bento Box from the "burgushi" menu. It was a combo meal of the Mimi & Pop's Pimento Cheese Burger, sweet potato fries, Thai cucumbers, edamame, and 4 pieces of sushi. It was the best of both worlds.
Desserts include cakes, creme brulee, mousse, and a variety of hand-spun milkshakes.
A cute detail: The aquarium behind the bar housed a handful of little cowfish fish.
A funny detail: They have big gong for guests to bang, if desired.
Bonus: The Cowfish has their own convenient mini bus to shuttle diners to their cars, and to and from SouthPark mall.
4310 Sharon Road
Charlotte, NC 28211
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