A little more food for thought around town

Culinary Correspondence

“Thank you for your recent article on ‘Food for Thought’ in the South Charlotte Weekly. I thoroughly enjoyed it and could not concur more! I have vacationed on a few cruises and each time I have been so impressed with the outstanding customer service and high-quality cuisine. On more than one occasion, I ordered not one but all the appetizers offered on the menu. (Same goes for desserts, by the way.) Why limit myself?! The service staff was unfailingly polite, professional and courteous, and made my trips most unforgettable. Sincerely, your faithful reader, Jane.”

If you’re looking to head out of south Charlotte for a dining experience, it might be worth checking out Chima in Uptown, our culinary expert said.

If you’re looking to head out of south Charlotte for a dining experience, it might be worth checking out Chima in Uptown, our culinary expert said.

Jane, thanks so much for your email. The stark difference is something I find truly amazing. On the one hand, the wait staff is living primarily within the confines of a ship for several months at a time, working full shifts, living with co-workers in employee cabins. Yet they are able to perform at such a consistently high level. On the other hand, too many of the wait staff at local eateries, which work a shift and go home each day, seem to find it a challenge to perform their job professionally and courteously; not even close to the same level of commitment I have personally experienced on each Carnival cruise. So enamored by the kindness and professionalism of the wait staff and entire crew of each cruise, I have already booked another one, this time to the Bahamas, out of Jacksonville, Fla.

Just beyond the neighborhood:

Long on flavor – Just beyond south Charlotte, located off Pineville-Matthews Road in Pineville, is the LongHorn Steakhouse. It’s a testament to getting it right; that’s why they have been open for 14 years as one of the longest-running dining establishments in Pineville. Several other eateries have come and gone in the Centrum shopping center, yet LongHorn is going strong.  It’s easy to understand why: very good service and a great value for steak dinners has kept them very popular. Changing up the menu and offering new items keeps them fresh and keeps us coming back. LongHorn’s Peak Season menu introduces a variety of new menu items highlighting the best ingredients of the season. It is available for a limited time only, as it rotates four times per year.

I have tasted the following offerings and can report that they are absolutely delicious. New items include Oktoberfest pretzel sticks, served warm with Sam Adams beer cheese and bacon honey mustard. LongHorn’s new apple harvest salad features crisp Fuji apples, pecans, dried cranberries, bacon and sweet potato crisps on a bed of fresh spinach, served with apple cider vinaigrette. The porcini portabella ribeye was recently added as part of LongHorn’s new Chef’s Showcase menu. This juicy ribeye is rubbed with porcini dust, brushed with balsamic butter sauce and topped with a cedar-grilled portabella. You may change your mind if you didn’t think you like the following – Brussels sprouts au gratin features roasted sprouts with bacon in a four-cheese cream sauce, topped with provolone and parmesan bread crumbs. At least share this yummy ending – pumpkin spice lava cake is a warm pumpkin spice cake filled with a cream cheese icing and drizzled with Maker’s Mark bourbon-caramel sauce and candied pecans. The entire menu resides at www.longhornsteakhouse.com.

Uptown

A feast! – When we decide to dine outside south Charlotte, many of us head Uptown. Whether it’s a special occasion or if you just want to feel really special, you need to go to Chima. First, consider the sumptuous salad bar, which is an understatement. Chima’s sumptuous salad bar blends Brazilian and American favorites from salads, cold cuts, cheeses, soup and traditional Brazilian hot dishes. From smoked salmon to beef carpaccio and everything in between, all are extremely high quality – just like the churrasco choices. Gauchos roam the dining room continuously offering exquisite churrasco of more than 15 rotisserie meats including top sirloin, filet, ribs, lamb, pork, chicken, sausage and fish. Personally, I adore the lamb chops. You’ll find mint jelly and other yummy sauces like a horseradish cream, perfect for dipping the filet mignon, at the salad bar. You can choose from rodizio and salad bar or salad bar only (includes grilled fish).

I also can attest to the refreshingly excellent level of service offered by the entire staff. On our last visit, the gentleman taking care of us was personable, gracious, positive and professional, providing us outstanding hospitality.

That’s probably why they had more than 400 reservations on a Saturday evening with zero events Uptown that day. Both dining rooms were full. Chima also offers a selection of great wines and champagnes from across the world and a full liquor bar. This is an authentic Brazilian churrascaria providing a very memorable dining experience with your friends and family. Learn more about Chima at www.chima.cc. I highly recommend reservations.

That’s amore’ – One more reason to dine Uptown; this recently opened establishment showcases authentic northern Italian recipes. La Tagliatella offers guests a relaxed, yet distinctive atmosphere and the menu features a variety of signature dishes, including Napoletano-style pizzas and customizable pasta creations, along with hearty pork, steak, chicken and salmon entrees. Meals can be complemented with a selection from La Tagliatella’s vast wine list that features fine Italian choices. Desserts include a variety of artisanal sweets. Key ingredients are carefully sourced from a network of small growers and manufacturers throughout Italy. From the Parmigiano-Reggiano that is cured in caves for 24 months to the best-in-class tomatoes from the Puglia region, La Tagliatella selects the highest quality ingredients to deliver the most delicious meals possible. It’s all at www.latagliatella.us.

How sweet it is! – Sweet Lorraine’s Bakery’s chef/owner Christine Guerriero brings her New York heritage to the Dilworth neighborhood. Named in honor of her late mother, this family-owned business is launched by Christine, her dad, Chuck, and her sisters, Michelle and Stephanie. Christine applies her classical French training, received at the French Culinary Institute in New York City, to a menu that includes family favorites, American classics, and exciting new creations.

“We want our customers to feel like they’re family and to depend on us to provide something special for an everyday treat, weekend entertaining or family gatherings.” Products are made from scratch, on the premises, using only the highest quality ingredients and locally grown produce when available. The menu of cookies, cakes (ready-made and custom orders), pies, pastries and artisanal breads will change on a seasonal basis.

Consider these new fall menu creations: hazelnut chocolate layer cake with vanilla crumb topping; pumpkin whoopie pie with white chocolate cream cheese filling, pumpkin roulade glazed in chocolate ganache; chocolate stout cake with caramel pretzel frosting; pumpkin spice torte – chocolate fudge cake with a layer of pumpkin cheesecake and a layer of white chocolate spiced mousse; pumpkin pecan muffins; cinnamon scone with a special spread (a gingerbread cookie spread); and Elvis Cake – banana cake with layers of peanut butter buttercream and frosted in chocolate (sound delish’). The offerings can be found at www.sweetlorrainesbakery.com.

New to the neighborhood

Dickeys BBQ – Get ready barbecue fans, the famous Texas-grown restaurant chain, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, has opened its doors in the Ballantyne Commons East shopping plaza, right next to Libretto’s Pizzeria and McAlister’s Deli. “Growing up in Dallas, Texas, it was ingrained in my family’s routine to eat at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit,” owner Stacey Hart said. “We ate at the original store every Wednesday until we moved to Charlotte a few years ago.

When my kids grew up and finally had a chance to try Dickey’s, it was clear that they had Texas blood. My husband and I saw how much they loved that juicy barbecue; we knew opening a store in Charlotte was the way to go.”

Since 1941, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has been a staple in the Dallas community and more than 300 stores have opened nationwide.  Charlotteans can expect that same big Texas flavor with a menu full of eight hot and juicy meats, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs and big barbecue sandwiches. Dickey’s Barbecue Charlotte will provide a great family atmosphere and will even offer free ice cream every day. Check out the menu at www.dickeys.com.

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

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