Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Restaurant Week offers the perfect pregame

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 1:39 PM

If you’ve kept up with my articles, chances are you’ve realized that I’m a foodie. While pizza is my favorite, from the cheapest frozen pizza at Dollar General to Pure Pizza on Central Ave, my taste buds are anything but basic. I’ve been known to spend my lunch break eating $12 crab ravioli (three times a week) from OGGI Ristorante Italiano, mainly because lunch is the one thing I look forward to most in an eight-hour work day. But also because I eat for pleasure much more than I eat for sustenance.

I’ve always been picked on for eating super slow, savoring every bite. And, as with other aspects of my life such as movie-watching, I get on these kicks where I will eat something so often that I literally can’t stand another bite. My most recent addiction was Good Food on Montford. I went four or five times in a matter of weeks and realized I was addicted when I found myself ordering food to go — I didn’t even know it was an option at the small, intimate venue. And I didn’t move on until I got sick after trying green curry mussels.

You can imagine how overwhelming it has been to live in a place like Charlotte where there is a beautiful marriage between local, handcrafted cuisine and chain restaurants. The possibilities are endless! And if you’re a social media enthusiast like I am, you’ve noticed we’re clearly in the age of food appreciation in the Q.C. Everyone, and their mama, is either posting artsy food plate photos from around the city or they’ve started a separate Instagram account showcasing their food journey. And I follow every single one of them.

All of this is to say, I was ecstatic when my boss asked my team where we planned on eating for Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week which takes place January 22-31. If you’re not familiar with this heavenly celebration of food, it’s a great opportunity to explore different restaurants all over Charlotte, especially the more expensive ones. For $30 to $35 a person, you can explore three courses at select restaurants in the Queen City. Whether you’re planning a girl’s night out after work or a hot date, there’s something for everyone during Queen’s Feast.

Charlotte isn’t the only place that has a restaurant week. When I was in Durham, another food-centered metropolis in North Carolina, restaurant week was a great way for college students to snag a meal that wasn’t paid for in food points. We would grab our significant other, or a group of friends, and we would live the “good life” for a fraction of the cost.
The last time I participated in Charlotte Restaurant Week, was when I first moved to Charlotte and I went to Zink American Kitchen in South Park, which is now closed. Since then, I’ve had plenty of time to acclimate to the city and diversify my palate, so I enter this Queen’s Feast a veteran, locked and loaded.

I have already come up with a list of restaurants I have been wanting to try and started rating them accordingly. As such, the keys to executing the perfect dinner or dinners during restaurant week are:

Shop the menus beforehand. There are more than 130 restaurants participating in Queen’s Feast. And it’s impossible to try them all in a week, so make sure you’re selective in making your choices. Browse the menus of the places you’re most interested in going to, see if they are featuring an entrée you’re dying to try and compare it to where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Pay attention to portion sizes and don’t forget to make sure the first and third course offerings are noteworthy. Lastly, make note if certain items are offered only at an up-charge.

Take a look at the reviews. Granted, “Queen’s Feast” indicates a meal fit for a Queen, so you can count on only the best of the best showing up on “the list.” However, everyone’s different, and so are their taste buds. Whether I’m considering a hole-in-the-wall or a fine dining restaurant, I always glance at reviews for insight into the service and the quality of food. By doing this, I gauge whether or not the food and atmosphere will be worth my time. Avoid having a bad experience during Queen’s Feast by doing your homework.

Make a reservation. Ahead of time. Restaurants during this time of year get slam-packed! As if getting into a popular restaurant all year long wasn’t challenging enough, ensuring you get a chance to sit at the Queen’s table can be impossible if you don’t make a reservation. Secure your spot soon before it’s too late.

Where do you plan on enjoying Charlotte Restaurant Week this January? After all, a good meal is the perfect pregame, even if drinks aren’t included.

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