Bye-Bye Kilwins – I am always saddened when any eatery closes, even if it’s just an ice cream shop; especially when it appears to be having a successful run over several years. I walked up to the door just a few days ago and it was closed, much to my surprise. I learned that the last day of business was June 24. Of course, Kilwins is no run-of-the-mill ice creamery. They offer chocolates, confections, truffles, crèmes, candy, caramels and fudge, much of it made by hand on site. It was a decadent treat to stop in after dinner and get a scrumptious hot fudge Sunday with whipped cream and a cherry. I can’t help but wonder what happened. Kilwins is a very successful company with excellent product and thriving franchise stores just beyond Charlotte and around the country. For ice cream, I will search out other options in south Charlotte. When it comes to gourmet hand-made chocolate treats, there are thankfully three excellent choices that come to mind – The Secret Chocolatier on Providence Road, Petit Philippe on Selwyn Avenue and Think Chocolate on North Community House Road. I wish each of these hard-working artisans continued success!
Newer to the Neighborhood
Don’t Dis the Dog! – That’s the rallying cry of the brand new JJ’s Red Hots that appropriately opened on July 4. JJ’s Red Hots proclaims they are the premier purveyor of handcrafted chargrilled hot dogs and sausages in south Charlotte. You’ll say ‘hot dog!’ when you check out this newly renovated space on East Boulevard that includes a take-out window and one of the largest roof decks around. The smokehouse hot dogs from Sahlen’s Packing Company in Buffalo, N.Y., are chargrilled over an open flame. Other quality American ingredients include Weber’s Mustard, Mt. Olive Pickles and Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls. JJ’s features made-from- scratch sides and toppings, and beer and wine are available. I look forward to learning which wine goes best with a particular red hot specialty. For more information, visit www.jjredhots.com.
Chee-burgy – American Roadside has opened a SouthPark location on Fairview Road; you can’t miss the bright red canopy. This is Rich LaVecchia’s second American Roadside to open following one Uptown a few months ago. American Roadside prides itself on being “a tribute to the American roadside hamburger stands of the past.” The restaurant features hamburgers made with premium beef, wings, salads, chicken sandwiches and more. Find out all about it at www.americanroadside.com.
Wolfgang Pucks Pizza/Bar – The restaurateur extraordinaire is back in south Charlotte; after faltering with a Wolfgang Puck Express a few years ago in the Promenade on Providence. Wolfgang has come back to our neighborhood with a corporate-owned pizza joint, located in Phillips Place directly across from The Palm restaurant. A full bar, several signature pizzas and much more; small tastes, like calamari or pan-roasted mussels. There are several salads, as in the roasted baby beet with arugula, Carolina goat cheese, Marcona almonds aged balsamic. Choose from a few pasta dishes or even a bone-in strip steak. Reservations are accepted, and I highly recommend calling one in. I arrived one evening with guests who had made a reservation and we were immediately seated at a comfortable booth; even as many walked in and were told an hour wait, the bar, also packed, or the empty patio, as it was about 100 degrees that day. Check out the entire menu and make reservations at www.-wolfgangpuck.com.
Just Beyond the Neighborhood
No oil changes here – Quaker Steak & Lube has opened in Pineville in the Centrum shopping center. The new eatery has seating for 375 people, including a patio and two bars. “The Lube concept is a unique blend of outstanding service, award-winning food to include Best Wings USA and the most unique décor in the restaurant industry. Our super-charged events and promotions are what separate this concept from the rest of our competitors. ” said John Longstreet, CEO of Quaker Steak & Lube. For example, the Pineville Lube will hold super-charged events all week including Kids Eat Free Mondays, All-You-Can-Eat Wings every Tuesday, All-You-Can-Eat Breaded Boneless Wings every Wednesday, Bike Nites on Thursday, weekend entertainment and Car Cruise-Ins on Sunday.
The décor is worth the experience if you’re at all into fast rides and racing. The Pineville Lube includes spinning motorcycles hanging from the ceiling, a 1978 Sting Ray 25th Silver Anniversary Edition Car, the #31 Caterpillar NASCAR and a Corvette hanging in the Vette Room. The Brickyard patio, a Quaker Steak & Lube signature feature, includes its own full-service bar. Guests can watch their favorite teams on the state-of-the-art 70-inch LEDs and 50-inch plasmas throughout the restaurant. They even dedicated a wall to local company “Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts” which features custom and rare automotive memorabilia. The diverse menu and more can be found at www.quakersteakandlube.com.
Indian Land – Quickly becoming ‘south Ballantyne,’ this area just across the state border is exploding with retail and restaurants. In front of the Wal-Mart on Charlotte Highway (521 South), there is now a strip of stores, including three eateries. Marco’s Pizza, Shane’s Rib Shack and a Krispy Kreme Donuts with drive-thru. Marco’s has a grand-opening special – a large two-topping pie for $9.99; there’s no limit, but it is for a limited time. I picked one up the other evening, with pepperoni and mushrooms, and thought it was pretty good pizza. Learn more and order online at www.marcos.com. For more info on Shane’s BBQ, chicken, ribs and custom catering go to www.-shanesribshack.com
Tortas – The term for grilled Mexican sandwiches is this dining spot’s specialty. Each made to order; they start with fresh baked white or wheat telera bread, your choice of meat, and then add cheese, mayo, field greens, tomatoes, jalapenos and avocado. Examples of the meat choices include mesquite grilled steak, roasted pork loin and grilled chicken breast. Mexquite Mexican Eatery celebrates four years in business this month; an excellent indication they are doing it right and offering delicious food at a good value. The fast casual Mexican restaurant is located among the stores on Ardrey Kell at route 521. Taco salads, grilled quesadillas and burritos are other options. You can find the full menu at www.mymexquite.com.
Eat like a Queen – The semi-annual Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week will return for its Summer 2012 engagement beginning Friday, July 20, through July 29. This summer’s promotion features a record 107 participating restaurants in seven counties. At least 40 of these wonderful dining establishments reside in the south Charlotte area. Charlotte Restaurant Week is a metro-area promotion during which upscale restaurants offer a prix fixe, three-course (or more) dinner for $30 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Reservations during Queen’s Feast are strongly recommended; reservation links and contact information for all participating restaurants can be found at www.charlotterestaurantweek.com.
Free cooking class – It’s always a treat when you can pick up a new technique or recipe, and the opportunity is available again this month thanks to the Fresh Market. This Saturday, July 21, at both south Charlotte Fresh Markets, local chefs will lead a free, step-by-step cooking presentation. Guests are invited to drop in any time during the event, 3 to 6 p.m., and learn how to prepare steak with caramelized ale onions and bacon BBQ glaze; along with summer herbed orzo salad. The recipes are online at www.freshmarket.com.
Questions, comments, south Charlotte restaurant openings, closings and food news, email -email@example.com.