Queen's Feast - Charlotte Restaurant Week

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Charlotte Restaurant Week: Aria Tuscan Grill

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Queen's Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week is now in full swing. The city-wide culinary event has been running since Friday Jan. 21, and will continue until Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011. Participating restaurants are providing $30 three-course meal deals.

I stopped by Aria Tuscan Grill last night to check out their Queen's Feast menu. The Uptown Italian restaurant offers a great deal. Instead of setting a menu of just a few items for three-course meal, they allow you to choose anything from their regular menu. According to our waiter, the portion sizes are exactly the same as the regular menu too. Fabulous! The only difference between the regular menu and the Queen's Feast menu is that the prices have been omitted on the latter.

I went through the regular menu online today and found the prices for the items my boyfriend and I had ordered to calculate the savings (check out the prices in red). Looks like my meal last night would cost $36 regularly ... so I guess it's like getting a free dessert.

Overall, it was a great dining experience. The service was great, the ambiance was beautiful, and the food surpassed my expectations.

Here's what went down last night. My notes are in parenthesis:


$10 Shrimp Scampi - Oven Baked, Marinara, Chiles, Oregano

(Delicious! Buttery breadcrumbs mixed with a bright marinara sauce top 4-5 tender shrimp)

$11 Caramelized Gnocchi - Prosciutto di Parma, Pear, Gorgonzola, Truffle Oil

(Extremely flavorful gnocchi with a great slight crunch from the caramelizing. The pairing of the thinly sliced pear and prosciutto on top of the gnocchi and Gorgonzola sauce on the bottom were amazing. I'd dare to go out on a limb and say it's the best gnocchi I've ever had.)


$19 Spaghetti alla Pescatore - Shrimp, Clams, Mussels & Spicy Tomato Sauce

(Pasta was al dente, and the seafood tasted fresh. Wonderfully simple.)

$? Market Price Porchetta - Chef's Daily Preparation

(This portion of whole roasted pig served with greens and polenta was just ok. Not what I expected, but not bad.)


$6 Mascarpone Cheesecake - Strawberry Sauce

(Served room temperature, this cheesecake was fluffier than normal cheesecakes. Well done, but nothing extraordinary.)

$6 A Selection of Gelato & Sorbetto - served with Biscotti

(They have a huge selection of flavors to choose from. You get to pick three. I tried the blood orange sorbetto, pistachio gelato, and strawberry gelato. They came with a shortbread cookie instead of biscotti - no big deal. All were pretty good, but the blood orange was the flavor that got demolished the quickest.)

See the entire menu here.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Charlotte Restaurant Week: The Liberty

Posted By on Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 2:37 PM

After perusing the menus of all the restaurants participating in this summer's Charlotte Restaurant Week, which started last Friday, July 16, I decided to go back to The Liberty Gastropub again.

Their winter CRW menu was a hit, so why not go back to ol' faithful, I figured. The Liberty is comfortable, unpretentious, nice, yet not dressy, and always serves up interesting dishes that go beyond the ordinary. Check out their $30 restaurant week menu below.

Appetizer (choice of one)

  • Split Creek Farms Goat Cheese - heritage tomatoes, Vidalia onion salad
  • Sweet Maine Shrimp & Peeky-Toe Crab Cake - curry, new dug potatoes, English peas
  • Crispy Black Berkshire Pork Belly - radish, Puy lentils, local figs, Red Mountain honey
  • Salt-Roasted Heirloom Beets & Carrots - grilled Burrata, jamon serrano, aged balsamic

Main (choice of one)

  • Griddled Maine Diver Scallops - fresh field peas, Silver Queen corn, lomo embuchado
  • Roast Free Range Goosnargh Chicken - Benton's bacon, potato dumplings, baby carrots, young leaves
  • Roasted Wild Scottish Salmon - littleneck clams, melted leeks, "chowder" sauce
  • Roast Rib of Black Angus Beef - Yorkshire pudding, fingerling potatoes, rosemary, creamed spinach, horseradish, Coleman's English mustard

Hot & Cold Puddings (choice of one)

  • Raspberry, Bramley Apple & Almond Crumble - with Welsh custard
  • Bitter Valrhona Chocolate Pot - vanilla thin biscuit
  • Blueberry & Lemon Curd Tart - buttermilk ice cream
  • Potted Cheddar Cheese - with fig chutney

What we ordered: Pork belly, crab cake, scallops, roast rib, apple and almond crumble and the blueberry and lemon curd tart.

Thoughts: The appetizers were both good, but the crab cake was probably better than the pork belly, which was extremly crispy, but a bit dry.

The three scallops were ginormous and were cooked to perfection, though the succotash-like corn/bean mix was heavy on the butter. The roast rib was decent and the Yorkshire pudding was interesting, but nothing memorable.

The blueberry and lemon curd tart was definitely not what I expected. I was hoping for a pastry dough tart crust filled with a lemon curd custard and fresh blueberries – what we got was an upside-down mini blueberry pie type thing with runny lemon filling between whole blueberries. I'd say pick the crumble dessert over the "tart"... it's served warm with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Anything with ice cream makes me a happy camper.

Somethings to note: The online menu isn't exactly the same as the menu in the restaurant. The online menu lists potted cheddar cheese as a dessert option, but the item wasn't listed on the printed menu. Also, instead of the Bitter Valrhona Chocolate Pot, they offer a cake version instead.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Restaurant Week extended at Andrew Blair's

Posted By on Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 9:38 AM

Charlotte Restaurant Week starts this Friday, July 16.

Though it hasn't started yet, Andrew Blair's has already decided to extend their restaurant week specials a bit longer due to a large response during last winter's restaurant week.

The $30 menu, which will include four courses and a glass of wine, will be available through Saturday, July 31. (Charlotte Restaurant Week officially ends July 25.)

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Queen's Feast: Bonterra

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 12:57 PM

Housed in an old church in Dilworth, Bonterra Dining and Wine Room always keeps it classy. I can always count on them for impeccable service, delicious food, and special touches like specialty butters and freshly baked bread. Last night they served up three great courses as part of Charlotte Restaurant Week, which was extended at Bonterra to tonight, Feb. 2, due to the inclement weather this past weekend.

If you've got more than $30 to spend, check out their list of wine flights. For $9-20, you can taste a flight of four wines or bubbly (!).

Hurry, I just checked their online reservations via Open Table and they still have reservations available for tonight!

Here's what I enjoyed last night:


Azalea Salad - Chopped Iceberg Lettuce, Sliced Apples, Smoked Bacon Buttermilk Bleu Cheese


Coriander Crusted Pork Tenderloin - Cheddar Polenta, Rapini, Ravigote Sauce


Pecan & Sweet Potato Pie - Vanilla Ice Cream, Bourbon & Caramel Infused Whipped Cream

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Charlotte Restaurant Week: The Liberty Gastropub

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 5:48 PM

I made my first Queen's Feast, aka Charlotte Restaurant Week, restaurant stop at The Liberty Gastropub last night. Surprisingly, the restaurant wasn't as packed as I had anticipated  — which was nice as a diner. The meal was leisurely, the service was attentive, and we weren't rushed out quickly, as some restaurants do for restaurant week to turn tables.


Everything I tried on the menu was superb. As the meal progressed, the dishes got better and better. I started out with the Savory Lobster Crumble, Winter Vegetables & Ritzy Cracker Topping. Baked in a baby casserole dish and topped with a smoky grilled slice of ciabatta bread, it was rich with fresh corn and potato chunks. I also dipped my fork into my friend's Wild Boar Sausage first course, which looked like a little fat potato it was so plump.

For my main, I tried Pan Roasted Golf Coast Mahi, which was placed on Low Country red rice with shrimp and sausage. The creamy rice was thick like risotto and paired nicely with the fish.

Dessert was to DIE for. Not kidding. Hands down. The best. If you go, try the Crisp Apple Pie with Butterscotch Ice Cream. The pie is actually an empanada/croissant/apple handpie type of deal. Incredibly crisp and flaky dough enveloped warm apple filling. Served with creamy caramel ice cream — I was a pig in heaven. I'd go back just for that dessert. My friend suffered from a case of fullness by dessert time, so I took one for the team and devoured his Chocolate Bread Pudding, which I can say, was also very good. I am officially a Liberty Gastropig.

I think The Liberty has a few Restaurant Week reservation slots open still, so jump on it.

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