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Balcony Seating 

Meals on high

Spring exudes its primal power on each of us and soon some of our thoughts turn to both the outdoors and romance. Except for those who suffer from deleterious pollen allergies, most would agree that spring is perhaps Charlotte's premiere season. The weather is perfect: not hot, not cold. Just about this time restaurateurs start to dust off their outside tables and hose down the patios and decks so we can dine al fresco. While sidewalk dining and dining on the plaza has an appeal, dining above the crowd has its charm as well. Here are some high-faluting spots around town.

One of the oldest restaurants to offer balcony seating is the Pewter Rose which moved into its current space in 1988. This charming restaurant is located on the second floor of a brick warehouse in Charlotte's SouthEnd. While the interior decor continues to evolve, the balcony seating has been a perennial favorite. Only occasionally are diners disturbed by the intrusive wailing of the occasional sirens emanating from the firehouse across the street.

Pewter Rose, 1820 South Boulevard, 704-332-8149. Balcony seats 45.

Overlooking the plaza in front of the Hearst Tower is the second story balcony of Ri Ra Irish Pub enclosed by a cast iron railing, which is reported to be 150 years old. Directly below this balcony are retail shops which front the plaza.

Ri Ra Irish Pub, 208 North Tryon St., 704-333-5554. Balcony seats 60.

Not all balcony seating is exterior. At Bonterra Restaurant & Wine Room, a building which first opened in 1914 as the Atherton Methodist Church, diners can sit above the fray in a former choir loft which is open to the dining area room below. Upstairs, diners can watch the sunlight streaming through the looming Palladian windows of the main dining room. The bonus to dining at Bonterra is one rarely forgets to say grace.

Bonterra Restaurant & Wine Bar, 1829 Cleveland Avenue at East Worthington Ave., 704-333-9463. Upstairs area seats 35 to 50.

Above my favorite urban park, The Green : the park which boasts the directional sign indicating that Charlotte is the center of the known world : is Aquavina, Innovative Contemporary Seafood, restaurateur Stefan Latorres' upscale spot in the Ratcliffe building. Aquavina's expansive terrace, which overlooks The Green, seats 100.

Aquavina, Innovative Contemporary Seafood, 435 South Tryon St., The Ratcliffe on the Green. 704-377-9911.

At Cosmos Café, the interior upstairs area features a large balcony area which seats up to 50 and also affords diners a higher voyeur, er vantage, point of the diners below.

Cosmos Café, 300 N College Street, 704-372-3553.

Up on the roof are the full service patios of the City Tavern (the Dilworth location on East Boulevard), and the Presto Bar & Grill downtown. Presto's patio seats 30 and City Tavern's roof seats 52.

Presto Bar & Grill, 445 West Trade Street, 704-334-7088.

City Tavern, 1514 East Boulevard, 704-343-2489.

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