Get friendly at Social House

I would like to know who first said ‘Location is everything’ when it comes to opening a restaurant or bar.

The Bradshaw Social House, our culinary expert says, has a good chance of sticking around for good in south Charlotte.

The Bradshaw Social House, our culinary expert says, has a good chance of sticking around for good in south Charlotte.

If you asked me what might be some of the better ‘prime locations’ in south Charlotte, I would want to include Robinson Farm on Rea Road. And then you would say what about Sweet T’s, Chees Mo’s, Domenico’s and Really Café – establishments that didn’t make it in that prime location?  I am convinced more than ever that it’s not the location as much as it’s the contents of the building.

The sports bar, the eatery, the restaurant or any variation on a theme can do well anywhere, if the theme is something that fills a want and is expected to be popular if well executed. Robinson Farm has transformed in the past several years and now appears to have several desirable dining destinations, including this newest entry.

The Bradshaw Social House is a nifty, novel addition to this area of south Charlotte and is obviously filling a need, as they are packing the place most evenings and especially on the weekends – or any evening there’s a good game on the tube, like the other evening when I last visited prior to a Panthers preseason matchup. Thirty minutes before kick-off, it was standing-room-only. And this is a pretty big place. Being a cool night, the glass garage doors were raised.

You first notice the outdoor patio with plenty of tables and chairs as you approach from the much-too-small parking area. On the inside are a few tables and booths to the left. The majority of the floor is filled with bar-height tables and stools, flanked on two sides by the very long, L-shaped bar. The bar top is cement with the initials BSH appearing here and there. There are some bar-height long tables for folks to sit or stand by, especially on game nights. The bar stools are heavy, soldered metal with very short backs (don’t lean back); and although the seat is contoured, they aren’t the most comfortable. In any event, you’ll be very distracted by all the large flat-screen monitors showing the popular games at any moment from the different venues; not to mention the cold, locally brewed drafts.

If Bradshaw is a sports bar, they’re trying very hard to make sure you see it as a good restaurant option, as well. In many ways and with several selections, they really do have some very good food considerations. Let’s take a stroll through the menu and I’ll share the highlights along with those that have room for improvement.

Start with sharable plates, especially weeknights from 4 to 7 p.m., when they are half-priced. The peel-and-eat shrimp is offered as a half or full pound. The shrimp were a very good size and prepared properly; cooked just until done and quickly chilled. They arrive with a homemade cocktail sauce (not what you might expect from a sports bar) that was thick and tangy – very tasty. The fried chipotle gouda also is well executed with hand-breaded cheese wedges also served with a homemade, in this case, marinara.

You also can consider fried green tomatoes, hummus, nachos and quesadillas. A couple of other starters of note: the cheesesteak spring rolls are very good. They are made from scratch with steak, cheddar and bell peppers, served with spicy ketchup for dipping. Also consider the cold plate, consisting of homemade chicken salad with celery and carrots and sliced Roma tomatoes. The chicken salad is obviously made in house and it’s delicious.

Bradshaw House is the kind of place that when you walk in, you expect them to have wings. And they do. And they’re really pretty good. The BSH wings are offered in several coating variations, each being homemade sauces: mild, hot, ‘stoopid’ hot, Carolina Dijon, bourbon, Thai, garlic-parmesan, Elwood’s BBQ, southern fried, honey chipotle, Jamaican jerk, Asian chili, lemon pepper, tequila lime and barbalo (a combination of barbecue sauce and buffalo wing sauce). Personally, I was very pleased with the Jamaican flavors, and I highly recommend getting them served fire-grilled as opposed to wet. They arrive with a delectable crispy exterior and are tender-moist meaty inside. Choose a half dozen or a dozen.

Salads as a meal may not be your thing anymore than it’s my thing, except on a rare occasion. However, it’s highly possible that someone in your party does want to order a salad-based plate, and they will be in luck. The fried

Cobb was a nice blend of mixed greens, Boar’s Head bacon, cucumber, egg and red onion, topped with Southern-fried chicken strips. Another good selection was the chef salad, with its crisp iceberg lettuce, Boar’s Head ham, turkey and bacon; and egg and cheddar with house croutons. Additionally, you can select baby spinach, Caesar, or Asian sesame salad; or the yummy chicken salad on a bed of lettuce.

Given the strong competition for offering burgers in south Charlotte, I will say that Bradshaw House has stepped up to the plate and meets the competition head on. The burgers are a custom grind of certified Angus brisket and chuck. They are served on a special toasted bun from Nova Bakery. I really enjoyed the BSH premium burger, with lettuce, tomato, Boar’s Head cheddar and, most importantly, bacon marmalade – a deliciously different taste.

Additionally, you can choose the Cajun cheeseburger, a skillet melt loaded with pimento cheese and topped with battered fried green tomatoes with mayo, red onion and spring mix on fresh sourdough. If you’re so inclined, there also is a veggie burger made with quinoa and brown rice. On the other side of the bun is the Bison burger: a half pound of grass-fed chipotle bison with white cheddar, red onion, spring mix and chipotle aioli. It is a bit pricey at $14, though it is really tasty with a wonderful beefy flavor and nice texture. All the other burgers are below $10.

You might think I’ve told you about the entire menu. Not so fast. That was just one side of the oversized laminated paper. There’s a long list of sandwiches: steak or chicken Philly, fish, club and a veggie are fairly familiar fare.

The homemade chicken salad as a sandwich is a step above. I was somewhat disappointed with the prime rib dip – thinly sliced prime rib topped with provolone, grilled onions and a horseradish cream sauce on a fresh-baked paean roll with au jus for dipping. It all tasted very good. The server did inform me it’s a lot of bread and that is correct. There wasn’t quite enough meat to compliment the bread, which was good; the bun was just too thick, or perhaps it just need a little more meat.

Southern-fried chicken is another menu item that BSH takes pride in, stating on the menu that it is all-natural, hand-battered and served with house chips and coleslaw. Choose from a quarter or a half. They do a good job with the fried chicken, be it as a dinner or atop a salad. Under the heading Comfort Food, you’ll find shrimp and grits, barbecue ribs and steak tips, among others. Another is the Southern fish and chips – panko breaded with Cajun spices and house chips. Once again, it was a question of proportions, as the fish was as thin as the breading. The fish needs to be much thicker, or consider changing to a lighter, puffier beer batter. The house chips are good, and the fries can hold their own, however, I’m not sure what’s up with the onion rings. I ordered a side on one visit, and they came out cooked to several steps beyond just done – so overcooked I had to send them back and ask what the kitchen thought. The server agreed and they made me another batch. I’m sorry to say, they came out just as overdone.

The look of the place is appealing and ultra-casual, though the steel bar stools almost say, ‘don’t be sociable for too long.’ The staff is friendly and service has been good, even when they get busy. There are plenty of bartenders to service the busy times, as well. And the full bar along with locally crafted drafts are a nice draw. A few tweaks of the menu, maybe even a few less choices done extremely well, and the Bradshaw House will be a long-term south Charlotte staple I look forward to frequenting.

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

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