With so many new dining venues having opened recently in the south Charlotte area, I feel compelled to check some of them out and report back to you regarding my culinary expeditions. Here’s a couple that are both inexpensive and very family friendly.
One hungry lunch time took me directly to JJ’s Red Hots. Great casual atmosphere with a set-up that is more than ready for high-volume business. You order at the counter, they give you a number and you find a seat. Shortly after sitting down, my chocolate milkshake arrived. It was as good as any hand-spun ‘the-real-thing’ milkshake can taste. And it went perfect with the dog that I ordered, arriving seconds later. It was the Char Heel – a perfectly cooked frankfurter with chili, slaw, diced onions and mustard. I will be back soon. Check it out at www.jjsredhots.com.
I also made a trip to the new American Roadside on Fairview Road for a burger and a cold beer. Here you have a choice of placing your order at the counter and taking a seat, or you can sit at the bar for full service. I chose the bar. American Roadside serves Sterling Silver Premium Beef, made to their specifications; they are fresh, made-to-order, great-tasting burgers that can be topped with a variety of goodies, so it is truly just the way you want it. I ordered a burger with sautéed onions and mushrooms with provolone cheese. I was very impressed; the meat was tender, juicy and had a great flavor. The toppings were prepared just right and the cheese was appropriately melted. Just as importantly, the soft bun was perfect! What a great value and yes, the draft beer was ice cold. See the menu and more at www.ameri canroadside.com.
Billed as an all American rock ‘n’ roll bar and restaurant, Maverick Rock Taco is located on Montford Drive where 15 North gave it a shot and missed. Maverick Rock Taco is the new concept Xenia Hospitality Group (Big View Diner, Ilios Noche and Nolen Kitchen) created to provide a culture of food with true authentic Mexican flavors. The decor is a mix of vintage and weathered reclaimed furnishings. Murals of legendary rock ‘n’ roll greats are featured throughout the main dining area, with an entire wall dedicated to the American Flag. Find out more on their Facebook page.
Taylor-made sushi – One of the newest and tastiest eateries to open in the Ballantyne area is How Do You Roll. This ingeniously delicious culinary concept began in Austin, Texas, in 2008 as the first fast-casual, custom sushi shop. This franchise, locally owned and operated, just opened in the Ballantyne Corners at North Community House and Ballantyne Commons Parkway. Having sampled the options the day before they opened, I can highly recommend you check them out. This is truly a build-your-own-sushi roll restaurant, offering a huge array of ingredients allowing you to create an almost unlimited number of distinctly different sushi rolls. Think of it as a buffet of ingredients on the other side of the glass and the master roller will create the roll with the items you choose, in mere seconds. They are super-fast. First, choose your wrap and rice; then choose your veggies, followed by the fresh protein (meats); then top it off with any and all toppings and sauces you want. Sit down or take it out, complete with chop sticks, soy sauce and wasabi. Learn more at www.howdoyouroll.com.
South Charlotte arrives – Oodles of folks who have relocated to our neighborhood have been wishing for the one store they had back home or have shopped in, and desire to re-live the experience over and over. That opportunity is just around the corner. The Whole Foods Market is scheduled to have a Grand Opening at the new store in SouthPark on Aug. 29. For the un-indoctrinated, you can learn all about their philosophy and products, and sign up for updates at www.wholefoodsmarket.com. The new SouthPark location also has a Facebook page.
Chill out – Back in 1981, TCBY opened the country’s first frozen yogurt shop in Arkansas. Ballantyne Village will soon have its own TCBY in place of Kilwins (still miss them). Samuel Batt owns and operates 12 successful TCBY locations in the Carolinas with Ballantyne Village being his ninth in the Charlotte area. The Ballantyne Village opens in September. Learn more at www.tcby.com.
The age old question of “which came first…” has taken a new twist; “which came first, the egg or the heirloom egg?” Heirloom chicken breeds are those raised by farmers before the rise of industrialized agriculture. They were bred to be well-suited to local environmental conditions. In addition to having different colored shells, heirloom eggs have rich, distinctive flavors.
Pete & Gerry’s Organics, a leading cage-free egg producer with exclusive U.S. commercial rights to heirloom eggs laid by Ameraucana and Marans hens, is now offering its heirloom eggs at The Fresh Market stores throughout the U.S., including south Charlotte. Pete & Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs are characterized by pastel blue or chocolate-brown shell coloring. They are known for deep yellow yolks and very rich flavor. Learn more about Pete & Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs and explore recipes at the www.heirloom-eggs.com.
Fresh surf and turf – From dry-aged prime steaks to Kobe beef hot dogs, The Meat House in Robinson Farms has been pleasing south Charlotte residents by listening to what you want and providing what you ask for since April 2010. The products offered have changed based on what customers request, guaranteeing their success. Craft beers, fresh produce, milk and baked breads locally produced, along with wines, shrimp burgers and exotic meats like ostrich are all available. In fact, seventy percent of the products available at the Meat House are locally produced. You also will find a very cool new cooker and smoker; the Pit Barrel Cooker allows you to hang meat and smoke it as well as grill.
Most recently, you said you wanted ultra-fresh seafood and they listened, again. There is now a refrigerated case containing fresh catch; as the sign reads “Day Boat Fresh Fish – Freshest Fish in Charlotte.” The seafood does look spectacular; want to make your own calamari at home? They have fresh squid tubes ready to slice and sauté or fry. The P.E.I mussels, petite Mass. Bay scallops and Scottish salmon all looked beautiful. For the weekends, the case is teeming with the freshest swordfish, sushi-grade tuna, cod, flounder, haddock or red grouper – if it’s very fresh and available, you will see it. The Meat House has evolved into a great outlet for great meats, local products and now fresh seafood. Find hours and more at www.themeathouse.com.
Happy 6th Anniversary: What would you say if I told you I wanted to open a gourmet dining experience venue, in a brand new corporate office area, with zero on-street visibility from a major road; and oh, by the way, the office buildings around the restaurant are so new there are no tenants; yet. That was six years ago, and today, Bernard and Shannon Brunet are celebrating six successful years. And yes, in a location where the food and entire dining experience has to be so great that people will find it and highly recommend it. Global Restaurant is just that restaurant and is located just off Johnston Road on Toringdon Way, by the Earth Fare. This is a dining destination offering a delectable array of dishes that are derived from around the world; thus the name.
Consider culinary works of art like the Shrimp “Ooo La La!!!” – flash fried and tossed in a sweet and sour papaya vinaigrette; or the Eggplant Spring Roll – served with a zesty lavender honey dip, daikon and cucumber salad. One more – the Berkshire Pork Belly – 24-hour braised, with purple and green haricot salad, tat soi and tarragon vinaigrette. And these are just a few of the appetizers! Of course the menu changes regularly. See the mouth-watering creations and make reservations at www.global-restaurant.com.
Questions, comments, south Charlotte restaurant openings, closings and food news, email firstname.lastname@example.org.