Eat My Charlotte | Creative Loafing Charlotte

Friday, July 30, 2010

Patron Secret Dining Society in Charlotte

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Patron tequila has put together the national Patron Secret Dining Society which hosts dinners created by local master chefs and mixologists. Guests are treated to elaborate multi-course meals paired with Patron cocktails.

These dinners are secret because seating is limited and the dinners occur under a veil of mystery. Diners aren't told what or where they will be eating, and often have to first pass through riddles or other gateways to get to their final destination.

I, along with twenty lucky Patron enthusiasts from the Charlotte area, took part in a very secret meal last night, Thursday, July 29, when Patron hosted a SDS dinner in Charlotte. By registering on Patron's website, guests were selected though a lottery system this past Tuesday to attend the free dinner. The selected people were contacted by phone Thursday afternoon and told to arrive at the Customshop restaurant at 7:15 pm.

Upon arrival, the only people greeting us were the waitstaff at Customshop. They seemed clueless as to what we were supposed to do next. They handed us a napkin with an address handwritten on it, and a computer-printed map to The Palmer Building.

With napkin and map in hand, we jumped in our cars and searched for our next destination. We arrived at The Palmer Building off of 7th Street and were welcomed into a dark reception area scattered with high-top tables with hazy liquid nitrogen centerpieces. Waiters floated around the room passing out "Sangrita" cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, which included cold cucumber gazpacho, eggplant caponata bruschetta, and grilled proscuitto wrapped figs stuffed with mascarpone.

Finally after 30-40 minutes of slight confusion as to what was to happen next, the Patron representatives introduced Chef Brett Mckee, of Oak Steakhouse and 17 North Roadside Kitchen fame (and who is opening 15 North in Charlotte next month), and mixologist Chip Townsend, from Customshop, who were creating the delightful dishes and cocktails for the night.

At dinner time, black curtains were drawn back and we were ushered into the dining area. Name cards for each guest were set at the candle-lit linen-covered banquet tables. The event looked as elaborate as a wedding banquet. Impressive. The spectacular dinner consisted of four courses and cocktails:


As you can see from the menu, we all ate and drank a lot ... probably too much. But what can you do when the food and drink is so good? Luckily, I didn't need to utilize the "transportation service" that Patron had so considerately arranged for guests.

To get in on future Patron Secret Dining Society events and news, check out

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Toasted Coconut Custard Tart

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 3:24 PM

I haven't been able to get the coconut cream pie from Capital Grille out of my head since my first bite a few months ago.

Yes, it's been months that I've been dreaming about it. It was just so good. The shortbread-like crust was perfectly flaky and filled with cool, coconutty cream. Topped with mile-high whipped cream, it was a feast for the eyes. I housed most of the dessert before my friend suggested that I stop inhaling the pie and box it up for later. Party pooper.

After searching far and wide on the internet for the recipe, I still haven't been able to get my paws on Capital Grille's version of coconut cream pie.

... But I did find this Dorie Greenspan recipe for Toasted Coconut Custard Tart that comes very close to the coconut cream pie which dreams are made of.



A sweet pastry tart shell is filled with a smooth vanilla rum custard that has toasted coconut flakes swirled in. It's then topped with lots of rum-spiked whipped cream and dressed up with more toasted coconut. Heaven on earth.

It's a three-step process to make, but worth it.

(Prior to tart assembly, reserving and eating some of the custard part with a spoon is highly recommended.)

P.S. Here's a pic of the coconut cream pie from Capital Grille.

  • Capital Grille's Coconut Cream Pie.

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Get $1.50 cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 9:29 AM

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Tomorrow, July 30, is National Cheesecake Day, but The Cheesecake Factory is starting celebrations a day early.

Today (7/29) only, they are offering slices of their cheesecake for $1.50. Just visit their Facebook page, "like" them, and print out your invite.

To receive the offer, you must bring in the printed invite and valid ID. Dine-in customers only.

And then tomorrow, you can eat more cheesecake with their half-price any slice of cheesecake offer.

Need I remind you of all their luscious flavors?

The Original

Fresh Strawberry

Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake™

30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle®

Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake

Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake

Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple

White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake

Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake

Dulce de Leche Caramel Cheesecake

Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheesecake

Tiramisu Cheesecake

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Chocolate Tuxedo Cream™ Cheesecake

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle®

Kahlua® Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake

Dutch Apple Caramel Struesel

Brownie Sundae Cheesecake

Chocolate Chip Cookie - Dough Cheesecake

Wild Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake™

Low Carb Cheesecake

Low Carb Cheesecake with Strawberries

Key Lime Cheesecake

Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake

Snickers® Bar Chunks and Cheesecake

Craig's Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Oreo® Cheesecake

Cherry Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

$2 off at Quiznos

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 10:55 AM

Certainly you've seen those disturbing sponge monkeys and singing kittens in Quiznos' ad campaigns. The ones that sing in strange voices?

  • Dude, check out his bazillion legs!

I'm not quite sure how being serenaded by scary looking rodents with googly bug eyes and jacked up teeth make you want to eat sub sandwiches, but the commercials certainly are memorable. I can't help but laugh.

Well, if these little buggers make you want to eat a Quzinos sub, here are a few coupons. One is for $2 off, and the second is for free chips and drink with the purchase of a sub.

They got a pepparrrrr barrrrr!



Click here to print coupons!

Watch the commercial:

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Las Ramblas is back?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 3:11 PM

According to an ad running in Creative Loafing this week, it looks like food from Las Ramblas will be making an appearance at Sunset Grille (Las Ramblas' old location) on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Sunset Grille

2400 Park Road

Charlotte, NC 28203


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Holy guacamole

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 11:36 AM

What's green and creamy, and delicious? (Nope, it's not boogers. Gag, gag. Who does that?!)

Guacamole is incredibly easy to make. The worst part is paying an arm and a leg for avocados at Harris Teeter.

A tip: To get the pit out of the avocado, smack the blade of a heavy knife into the pit, twist, and remove. To get the pit off the knife, simple pinch the knife blade right above the pit and it should pop off.

This guac recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare. Since it doesn't contain any jalapeños, those Hint of Jalapeños Tostitos Scoops tortilla chips complement it well.

Get dipping.


Holy Moley, Easy Guacamole

3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and diced

1 lemon, juiced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup diced onion

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)

In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash together the avocados, lemon juice, and salt (leaving it as chunky as you like). Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Chipotle puts the "free" in tax free weekend

Posted By on Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Chipotle Mexican Grill is taking part in tax free weekend by giving you a free burrito, salad, order of tacos or bowl.

So, how does that work? It's a buy-one-get-one free deal. Just stop by any Charlotte Chipotle store Tuesday, August 3, or Wednesday, August 4, and save the receipt. Go back on tax free weekend, August 6 - 8, show your receipt and get a free item, no strings attached.

Chipotle is tasty, but free food is always tastier.

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Hello, Mellow

Posted By on Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 10:54 AM

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After leaving the Charlotte market for two years, The Mellow Mushroom pizza franchise is returning to town.

Look for their new location on Selwyn Avenue later this summer. Check out their new store's website, which is set up already with menus, photos, and updates.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lemon curd cupcakes with raspberry mascarpone frosting

Posted By on Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 4:18 PM

See ya, my old vanilla cupcake recipes. It's official. We are breaking up. I've found someone else ... Magnolia Bakery's vanilla cupcakes.

I've finally tried Magnolia Bakery's vanilla cupcake recipe. Reviews online for Magnolia's cupcake recipe are all over the place. Some say it's the worst ever, others say it's amazing. Well, I had to see for myself.

I'm giving these a big stamp of approval. The texture of the cake is dense, tender, holds up well under frosting, and is the perfect canvas for any type of cupcake. The directions are simple and not fussy (I can't deal with drama). Although the recipe calls for self-rising flour (which I do not keep on hand), I was able to make my own SRF and we've settled our differences. All is well.

3 cupcakes


Here, I used the vanilla cake base and added lemon zest to make lemon cupcakes. Though the hint of citrus in the cake is light, you'll get a surprise in the center of each cupcake ... a bite of creamy tart lemon curd.

For the frosting, I used a raspberry mascarpone frosting. Though it tastes pretty good with these cupcakes, I'd definitely consider using a different frosting next time. This one came out soft and un-pipeable. I love frostings that are thick and fluffy, and that pipe out into voluminous clouds on top of cupcakes.

Now that I've found the ultimate cupcake recipe, I should probably settle down and take a break from testing the cupcake waters, eh? I guess it has been cupcake madness recently...

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Free pizza at Donatos today, July 20

Posted By on Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 10:01 AM


Hey, baby, what's your number?

Just add a Donatos store's phone number in your phone and you'll get a free medium one-topping pizza from Donatos today, July 20.

Stop by any store tonight between 5 and 8 pm, show that you have a Donatos phone number saved in your cell phone, and you'll get a free pizza.

Offer is good for the first 300 people at each of the stores in Charlotte. One pizza per phone per person please.

Find a store (and phone number) near you.

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