Culinary Corner for March 16

By Charles Jenkin

Culinary Awards

Jean-Pierre Marechal is executive chef of Savannah Red Restaurant & Wine Bar. Photo courtesy of Savannah Red

Best of the best: One of my favorite uptown restaurants is Savannah Red. It seats 28 guests and the chef creates gourmet delights that will thrill your palate. A delectable example, an appetizer, is the Lobster Cobbler; brandy-scented lobster etouffe in a phyllo tart with saffron ice cream and fresh chives. Jean-Pierre Marechal, executive chef of Savannah Red Restaurant & Wine Bar and the Charlotte Marriott City Center Hotel, has been named 2011 American Culinary Federation’s Charlotte “Chef of the Year.” Congratulations chef! Very well deserved. Make reservations at 704-363-8161 or via www.marriot.com.

Culinary Correspondence

Chef Huai Men Kwo works in the kitchen at Chef Kwo, in the Ballantyne East shopping center. Photo courtesy of Chef Kwo

Go to Kwo – Mindy writes: “ Hi – As you were underwhelmed with a couple of places, our family really enjoys the food at Chef Kwo in the Ballantyne East shopping center and suggest you give it a ‘taste test’ – highly recommend the Orange Beef as a starting point – the people are really nice and upon request will prepare their special hot mustard sauce (and yes, I always ask).  Love to get your ‘feed’ back.  Cheers, Mindy Kirshbaum.”

First, thanks very much for taking the time to write. I had not been to Chef Kwo and knew exactly where they are, across the parking lot from Harris Teeter. I took Mindy’s advice and was very glad I did.

Chef Kwo has been in business for six years and I know why; because the freshness, quality and flavors are consistently very good. I sat down with Jenny Kwo, who operates the restaurant with her mom, Huai Men Kwo, and her dad, Ho Pao Kwo; he has been cooking for 30 years. Jenny’s father does all the cooking, and Jenny helps when it gets busy in the evenings. That’s consistency! The wonton soup is excellent, with fresh mushroom slices, strips of bamboo shoots and sliced snow peas. I’ve also enjoyed the Egg Roll; Spring Roll; Mongolian Beef; General Tso’s Chicken; the Black Pepper Chicken; and the Orange Chicken – crispy chicken with orange peel in a spicy sauce. Stop by and pick up a menu. Open 7 days; delivery available. Phone 704-341-9900.

Meatloaf; not the singer – Jim writes: I am new to Charlotte and am requesting three to five places that have meatloaf dishes. My early experience has sent me to Lupie’s (Café), very poor quality and Firebirds, no taste. I appreciate the writing and reviews from Charles Jenkin and look forward to finding meatloaf: the food, not the singer. Thanks, Jim Healy.

Well, Jim, I have started searching the menus online, expecting a couple more eateries to have it on the menu. So far, I have found one consideration; a variation and I’m sure delicious. The Harvest Moon Grille at the Dunhill Hotel uptown offers Glen Reid Farms Love Loaf – Grateful Growers ground pork, Glen Reid Farms ground goat, pommes puree and smoked tomato demi-glace. If you have any recommendations for Jim, please email me and I will pass on your suggestions.

Great Q at Q Shack – Emily Writes: A restaurant you should check out if you have not already, is my FAVE Q place in town – it’s called the Q Shack and is located off Providence Road near the Interstate 485 exchange (Promenade next to Stein Mart). They are great guys – cook it on premises (as opposed to some places) it is casual, friendly and has great food – I LOVE their collard greens – full of flavor and NOT over-salted – a pet peeve of mine in restaurants! Slaw is great – just right- not too MAYO-y; even good hush puppies that aren’t greasy and the barbecue…..WOW! Have not had the chicken, but the beef and pork are fantastic. I leave off the bread on the sandwich – the meat is just too good and wonderful housemade sauces that you get your pick of. Check it out. This is a local place, not a chain and they know what they are doing there! Emily Chatham – a violinist in the Charlotte Symphony, who loves to cook and eat and would be a restaurant critic in my next life if I get to choose!!

Emily, I am with you 100 percent! I’m also a big fan of Dave Weil’s Q Shack. Everything is prepared fresh and the meats are scrumptiously slow-smoke cooked with the best hard woods. Oh, and be sure to get some banana pudding – that gets a Wow! Check them out at www.qshackclt.com.

Must reading for restaurateurs

Whether you own, manage or serve the public in the hospitality industry, this is a book that will absolutely increase your income. “The Lost Art of Superior Service” by Shawn Mobasher has just hit the shelves. You may recall I highlighted Shawn a few months ago for his amazing passion to offer superior service, something he practices daily as manager of Villa Antonio in Ballantyne. Shawn says, “It dissects service in different components; pointers on focused tasks; personal experiences and service techniques with photos plus an ACHIEVEBLE mission statement. A fresh and true look at what Superior Service really is; which translates to repeat guests by 70 to 75 (percent).” Email Shawn Mobasher to acquire the book at lostart.nc@gmail.com.

Just Beyond the Neighborhood

You have probably enjoyed a delightful Italian dinner in south Charlotte at Tosca at Specialty Shops at the Park on Morrison Boulevard. Hopefully you’ve devoured a perfectly prepared wood-fired oven pizza at Mezzanotte on Providence Road at North Sharon Amity. Augusto Conte and his restaurant group, including Luce and Malabar (formerly named Coco Osteria), both uptown, have gone farther south. Trattoria Antica recently opened in Waxhaw on Providence Road South. Antipasto Toscano includes fresh mozzarella, stuffed mushrooms, grilled eggplant, roasted peppers, coppa, Parma prosciutto and salami; it comes for two or four people. The homemade lamb ravioli I tasted was outstanding. The place was packed on a recent Saturday evening. Learn more and make reservations at www.­conterestaurantgroup.com.

New to the Neighborhood

Charlotte is one of the first cities in the country to offer these products. Wholesome Goodness includes family favorites like oatmeal, cereal, granola bars, omega and veggie chips, juices, dairy-alternative beverages, pasta sauces and marinades.  Each product is made with only natural ingredients – in fact, they ban the use of 126 ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and other artificial additives. Wholesome Goodness keeps prices below mainstream brands so families can better afford to eat healthy. I have tasted several of the products and they are very good. First availability is at the Wal-Mart in the Galleria shopping center. Visit www.wholesome-goodness.com.

Canine Cuisine: They looked and smelled so much like regular homebaked cookies, I had to warn the family not to eat them! Our Old English Sheepdog, Watson, loved them! You may have seen the ads on TV for Freshpet refrigerated dog food. Freshpet, the all-natural and high-quality pet food, believe dogs deserve fresh-baked cookies as well, so they developed Dog Joy ready-to-bake cookies. These 100-percent natural cookies come in two dog-friendly flavors and have just arrived in our area. There are several south Charlotte locations to purchase Freshpet products, including the cookies; certain Lowes Foods, BI-LO and Wal-Mart stores. Check the website for exact locations at www.freshpet.com.

Culinary Calendar

Perfect pairings: The Pizza Peel & Tap Room in Cotswold is hosting two special events for the third Charlotte Craft Beer Week: Meet & Greet with Natty Greene’s Brewery on Tuesday, March 20 – pairing four beers and four appetizers for $12; and a  “Not So Much Pizza and Highland Beer Dinner” on March 22. Make reservations at 704-714-8808 or email thepizzapeel@hotmail.com.

Get your Irish up:  On Friday, March 16, and Saturday, March 17, Gallery Restaurant will feature a special lunch menu with authentic Irish dishes at attractive prices; including traditional Irish stew ($6) and house-cured corned beef and braised cabbage ($8). To make a reservation, call 704-248-4100 or visit www.gallery-­restaurant.com. The Scotch Society of Ballantyne meets March 24 from 6 to 8 p.m.  Discover the different nuances of Irish Whiskey at Gallery Restaurant & Bar. The cost is $35 per person. Limited to 20 guests. Registration required at 704-248-4100 or htapper@theballantynehotel.com.

Ooh-la-la: On Saturday, March 17, both south Charlotte Fresh Markets will offer cooking demonstrations from 1 to 4 p.m. Local chefs will lead a free, step-by-step presentation. Guests are invited to drop in any time during the event and learn how to prepare Provencal Chicken Crepes with Hollandaise Sauce and Decadent Chocolate Strawberry Crepes. Yum! Learn more at www.thefreshmarket.com.

Questions, comments, south Charlotte restaurant openings, closings and food news, please email ­culinary@thecharlotteweekly.com.

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