charleston getaway

While only in our second year tradition of vacationing in Charleston over the weekend for my boyfriends birthday in late November, I am always very excited to begin the trip. The days before are always hectic trying to predict the weather and pack for all the activities we plan to do like walking around downtown, strolling the beach and staying out late. A girl needs big luggage for all these occasions smashed into one weekend!

Spotted Salamander
Deviled Eggs | smoked salmon + capers
Hot Turkey | pulled turkey, gravy, cranberry, sage mayo, swiss cheese + broccoli salad

We began the trip from home in Waxhaw and decided to take slight detour to Columbia and visit a little lunch spot recommended by some friends called Spotted Salamander. This place is decorated with lovely accents. Every table has it’s own unique set of salt and pepper shakers, a chalkboard display of menu that changes daily. They used to strictly be a catering operation but is now a lunch destination during weekdays from 11:00am to 2:30pm. Next time I am in Columbia this will be my lunch spot.

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Revelry Brewing
Breakfast & Brunettes | Belgian Dubbel + Coffee
Lazy Lover | Belgian Blonde

After checking in to the hotel and regrouping from the car trip, we order a ride and set out for the evening, with somewhat of an agenda. We have made Revelry Brewing’s rooftop a priority both years now so it was obvious that was the very first stop on the list. It is a great rooftop complete with a full bar and space heaters. The perfect place to see the sunset and celebrate our first night in Charleston, cheers’ing the weekend off in style.

Spero
Scottish Egg | szechuan peppercorn sausage, runny egg
Fettucine + Pork | roasted pork, escarole, pickled fennel, sharp provolone
Bread + Butter Flight | cornbread + burnt miso honey butter, sourdough pretzel bun + ham & mustard butter, schmaltz biscuit + malted maple butter

Spero is tucked away on a side street under the bridge. You would never know this quaint little restaurant had such amazing home-made food by judging from the outward appearance alone. This dinner was by far our favorite experience of the entire trip (food-wise). Have you ever had a Bread and Butter flight? I know I haven’t and we both knew immediately it was the first thing we were going to order. The breads were absolutely stellar and the butters were so rich in flavor there was no mistaking everything was made with care and great attention to detail.

Fresh made pasta is one thing difficult to duplicate at home. I have yet to make fresh pasta but it is definitely a goal in the near future. This pasta dish had bits of roasted pork and sharp provolone and was divine. Every bite was a perfect marriage of the different flavors. We savored this dish the rest of the trip.

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SOL Southwest Kitchen
Smoked Tequila Flight | Creyente Mezcal, Montelobos Mezcal, Maestro Dobel Humito Tequila + el vocho, lime, lemon, salt

The hotel in Mount Pleasant where we were staying happened to be right across the street from a fun Southwestern Grill. When we arrived earlier that evening to the hotel there were cars parked on all the medians so we made note to stop before we hit the bed. Their list of cocktails were really all we waned since this was the end of a long night of hanging out in Downtown Charleston, and easy to just walk back across the street after.

Charles Pinckney Historic Site
Charles Pinckney was a major contributor and a signer of the U.S. Constitution. This plot of land is the remains of the plantation and on the National Historical Parks list.

Walking around was our goal for Saturday. Not too far from our hotel was the Charles Pinckney Historical Site. We strolled the grounds of the old rice patties and through the wooded trail around the plantation making our way back to the house. Stopping during a busy trip to appreciate our history and the value behind our ancestors is always important to keep perspective on your life and future goals.

Sullivan’s Island
Poe’s Tavern Black Cat | grilled onions, drunken chili, applewood bacon, pimento cheese
The 450 Pizza Joint Strawberry Icecream | fresh, homemade

My favorite part of trips to Charleston is visiting Sullivan’s Island. I simply cannot go through a trip without it, even if it is to just walk on the beach for ten minutes. Eating at Poe’s Tavern is usually part of my wish list too when I’m on the island. Their burgers are so unique that I have a hard time deciding which new one to try. The best I have eaten so far is a special with fried pickles on top and The Sleeper, which comes with garlic bleu cheese and buffalo fried shrimp. The one here is Black Cat, also a really good choice with chili and pimento cheese.

Charlestowne Fermentory | Pelican Splash, Pineapple IPA
Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co | Something Cold, Blonde Ale

For someone like me who is a big fan of IPA’s, you must stop by the Charlestowne Fermentory. Every beer on their menu was right up my alley and I would have been fine to hang out here all night in their space. We had other stops to make, like the new Edmund’s Oast Brewery location, which was very big and welcoming. Sitting at the bar gave you a full view of the restaurant space and bar taps. Got some growlers to go too!

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Charleston Distilling
Jaspers Gin + Bourbon Whiskey

I have always liked gin, usually mixed in a cocktail. My love for drinking gin neat was introduced to me by way of Jasper’s Gin, from Charleston Distilling. This trip I decided to make a bold move and go for the Jasper’s Bourbon Barrel Gin.

We met one of the distillers the night before sitting at the bar in Edmund’s Oast Brewery. He recommended we check out the special release of their Bourbon Whiskey. It was not a hard sell to Eric so once we arrived to make our purchases there was no thought involved, it was a done deal. Not pictured however, is the Bourbon Maple Syrup I simply just had to have. Per the label it is to be used in cocktails or on chicken & waffles, yes to both!

Craftsmen Kitchen The Cheezer| mozzarella, pecorino, chevre, garlic oil, + added pepperoni
House of Brews | Freehouse, Ashley Farmhouse Ale

When in Charleston, have pizza. That’s a saying right? No, but the pizza at Craftsmen Kitchen was really delicious. Sitting outdoors though with space heaters and string lighting surrounded by high exposed brick walls I sort of felt like I was in New York.

Stopping by what seemed like a secret society hangout known as House of Brews was the last on the agenda for the evening. There is no sign and it is a place like Isla de Muerta in Pirates of the Caribbean “It can only be found by those who already know where it is.” type feel to it. House of Brews is literally someones home converted into a small bar, bottle shop and hang out. The back patio is something I will look forward to in the warmer months, it is huge!

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Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts
Raspberry, Strawberries + Champaign, Regular Glazed, Butternut Squash + Sage

During the last few minutes of our walk after dinner downtown we stopped in Market Street Sweets to get gifts for our family and made another quick stop into Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts for my sugar fix. Such unique flavors of donuts and I was more than happy to buy a box full of them. My only regret is that I did not buy more!

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Sea Biscuit Cafe ~ Isle of Palms
Shrimp & Gravy | scrambled eggs, grits with cheese, shrimp and homemade gravy with V8 juice, green peppers and onions

Breakfast out is always something I enjoy on vacation. Being at the beach also means that I should eat seafood any chance I can. Ordering the Shrimp & Gravy was a new option for me, and it turned out to be delicious and hearty. That biscuit though :D Oh, and it is cash only so if you plan to visit, be prepared!

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The Craft Stand + 521 BBQ
Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange Pale Ale + regular bbq sandwich, spicy bbq sauce, mac

On the way home we wanted to make just one more food stop before heading to the house, back to reality of work and responsibilities. Frequenting The Craft Stand in Lancaster, SC is not something out of the ordinary for us so it made sense to stop in and say Hi, plus it was lunchtime and what better way to welcome ourselves back than with bbq. Order it across the street and bring it over to pair with a cold glass of craft beer.

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Heist Brewery
Cheers Charlotte | 200th Episode Bottle Share

We never sell ourselves short do we? Ok, so we attended one last event before finally closing out the weekend. Cheers Charlotte, radio podcast for all things beer, home-brewing, and good food, aired their 200th episode at Heist Brewery with an awesome bottle share party.

If you have never been to a bottle share, like me, there are a few tips I have for your first time. Bring, at least, two bottles of rare(ish) beers to share, a tasting glass, a water bottle for rinsing the glass, snacks and a fully charged battery for photos of course. You will without a doubt forget all of the beers you tasted and if you want to remember anything, take a quick photo of the label because you will have a lot of favorites by the end. Our last meal of the day was a huge slice of pizza from Benny’s next door. Bottle shares typically happen mid-afternoon and you will feel spent come 7pm and in definite need of food, so have a food plan before you leave the party.

I hope you enjoyed my story of our weekend trip. They are rare occasions and always packed full of adventure. We are back to our normal daily routine and looking forward to the next trip already.

Cheers Y’all <3


create your own charcuterie

I am pretty sure there are people out there just like me who think that charcuterie is something super fancy you can only eat out at restaurants where you must also be sipping on a glass of wine. On any given day I am more interested in an IPA or wild ale over glass of wine.

While restaurants typically have a decent selection of meats and cheeses on their charcuterie menu it is always a great feeling when you can create meals just as worthy of a fancy restaurant but in the comfort of your own home. Choosing your own meats, cheeses and pickled items is highly satisfying since everything on your charcuterie board will be things you love! There will be no guilt about any uneaten pate, pickled onions or the other weird meat or cheese leftover on your board.

I partnered with Dietz & Watson to give you a walk-through on how you can create your own charcuterie board, complete with accoutrements and beer pairings. These items are all curated to my personal taste and to show you that you can create something just as beautiful and exciting as what I have made. Chef Luca at Luca Modern Italian Kitchen in Uptown Charlotte has also partnered up with Dietz & Watson to prepare a memorable meal for you and a guest for their #choosethetable series sweepstakes.

Enter the Dietz & Watson #choosethetableCLT contest for your chance to win a dinner for two on Nov 11th at 6:30 using this link. You have just 12 hours left, good luck!

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Meats

Dietz & Watson are known for their meats so I was excited about the opportunity to try something new. Pictured here is their genoa salami and summer sausage. I then added another Italian charcuterie favorite, prosciutto.

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Cheese

It is best to choose multiple styles of cheese. An herbed one, soft, hard, and medium textures. Here I have herbed goat cheese, blue cheese, smoked gouda and Dietz & Watson provolone. You could also pair a pimento or beer cheese in the mix.

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Nuts, Fruit + Spreads

You can choose just about any fruits and nuts you like. It is all based on your preferences. I would also choose different types of mustards, spicy or stone ground. Then pick your favorite fruit spreads or even flavored honey’s.

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Pickled Vegetables

I have recently stumbled upon spicy pickled brussel sprouts, which were my favorite to snack on in between bites of meat and cheese. In the cabinet at home I had pickled ramps and pickled okra, both are a great pairing.

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Breads

You want your bread and crackers to be relatively plain with no herbs or garlic oils. They are meant to be a base for your specialty meats and cheeses, not overpower them. Choosing different shapes and sizes is the best way to make your board stand out from the rest.

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Beer

Just like wine pairing you need acid to cut through the fats in meat and cheese. The right beer can accomplish the same goal. I chose three styles that I personally like that seemed to do the trick. A sour red ale, a golden saison and a chocolate-coffee porter.

Final Spread, Time to Enjoy!

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Photos by Eric Gaddy | Casting Shadows Photography


McNinch House Restaurant

This historical home in Fourth Ward opened up it’s doors during off hours to some of us food bloggers to offer a preview of a few new menu creations you’ll find on their Fall Menu.

A highly sought after dining destination for over 20 years, there is much more than a kitchen and dining room living in this home-turned-restaurant. This home was built in 1891 and stands on the National Historical Record in what is seen as one of the most accurate representations of the Queen Anne/Shingle style homes in North Carolina. Rich in architectural history, the residents who preserved this gorgeous home over the years have an interesting history as well, you can read more about them here.

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Feeling like it was my lucky day when I received an invite to attend a Fall Menu Preview through my Charlotte Food Bloggers group. I have always wanted to dine here and it was finally my chance. Walking down the city street to the restaurant with leaves falling from trees around me onto the sidewalk, I felt this was a perfect start to a great Fall evening. The stairs to the front door creaked as I expected them to, welcome mat, hanging flowers and heavy, dark front door were all signs of a warm and welcoming home. I couldn’t wait to see inside.

I was greeted by familiar faces and a glass of wine within just a few minutes of walking past the stairs to the second floor into the foyer. Presented with little plates of their otherwise larger dinner portions, I was excited to taste everything very slowly to savor each small bite.

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Salad + Brussel Sprouts + Poppyseed Vinaigrette
Apple Cider Braised Pork Belly
Crusted Lamb Chop + Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin Soup + Balsamic Glaze + Pepitas
Pork Loin + Crispy Kale Chips

Brussel Sprouts rarely find their way onto my regular salad rotation, I think that might change now. I am a big fan of just about any type of vinaigrette and to have poppyseeds also in there just made my taste buds do a little hop. In addition to vinaigrettes going well with just about anything, there are so many ways to enjoy a Balsamic Glaze too, especially on grilled salmon. This pumpkin soup was no exception, and with the toasted pumpkin seeds, it was a great follow up to the vibrant salad.

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Hands down my favorite of the evening was the Pork Belly, braised for over 24 hours in apple cider. The least fatty and tender piece of pork belly I have ever eaten. Simply put, I wanted to drink the leftover juices in that little saucer! As for the other meat in this meal, the Lamb Chop, it was a bit rare for my taste. It had flaky and tasteful crumbs around the outside that gave it a nice crunch when dipped in the puree.

The last menu item, the Pork Loin, did not stand a chance to be photographed. I was extremely hungry, the crispy kale chip and pumpkin puree underneath took me by surprise and I ate it out of turn, before the salad. I can assure you it was delicious and as tender as any pork loin should be, perfectly prepared.

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During the menu tasting we were given a sample of the wines likely to be paired with that dish at an evening dinner. The in-house sommelier is outstanding and opened my ideas about wine a little wider than they had been before I walked in. Each wine was well paired with each small plate. What I remember most was the go-to favorite of the restaurant for less frequent wine drinkers like myself, the Conundrum California Red Wine.

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Closing out the evening with a tour of the dining rooms, kitchen and Chef’s Table and then two amazing desserts by chef Matthew Shepard, who was really eager for us to taste his Homemade Smoked Vanilla Ice-cream. Equally as enthusiast about the Flourless Chocolate topped with Chocolate Pot de Creme and Frangelico Mousse. I was equally as pumped to eat them as he was to explain the desserts to me. Superb finish.

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A very big thank you to Wendy at Asterisk Creative, Chef Shepard, the kitchen staff, and Anthony the “wine guy” for a fabulous evening at your fine establishment. It was a memorable evening.


bad daddy’s burger bar

Established in 2007, Bad Daddy’s Burger bar has remained a favorite among us burger lovers here in Charlotte. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic cheeseburger, a unique burger like the Pittsburger or if you want to create your own there is something for everyone.

Bad Daddy’s also offers a full gluten-free menu as well as locally inspired ingredients for each city. While we are not in Pittsburgh, I’m quite pleased to see a burger with fries on top. I never lived in Pittsburgh but I visited Erie, PA often. When I first learned it was standard to put french fries on basically anything you wanted I thought it was strange, until I tried it. Now I find myself wanting them on salads, and now, this burger. It was amazing.

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Drinks

They have a few local beers on tap from Birdsong, OMB, Triple C and NoDa brewing. If you feel like beer would be too much alongside this massive burger they have wine cocktails. If you have eaten wisely perhaps you can go for one of their milkshakes. I will certainly be trying the PB&J shake next time.

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Image courtesy of Bad Daddy’s

Since opening ten years ago, they now have a successful twenty restaurants under their bulging belts in North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado and Oklahoma in late August. Stop in and say hi, and get that Pittsburger!!!

Connect with Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar on Social Media
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queen park social

Unplug and Be Social at SouthEnd’s Newest Hotspot

Queen Park Social’s mission is to encourage you with unlimited ways to have fun and “Be Social” that you’ll forget to check your phone. Disconnect to Reconnect.

A New York City inspired boutique entertainment house has opened its doors on Yancey Road in lower SouthEnd. Neighbors to Olde Mecklenburg Brewing, The Broken Spoke, Good Road Cider Works, Great Wagon Road Distillery and Sugar Creek Brewing makes this area a true destination for young professionals.

Georgia born owner Joe Lariscy has, with partners Reid and Daniel, crafted a social gathering place with multiple activities to enjoy under one roof. After living in NYC for over seven years working in finance, Joe finally had the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. His inspiration for Queen Park Social started back in New York when he visited the Brooklyn Bowl on a regular basis, which was located across the street from Brooklyn Brewing.

“We feel will are a great complement on Yancey to the entire neighborhood which continues to bring more and more entertainment in the Historic SouthEnd.” – Joe

Everyone is welcome! Bring your friends, colleagues, kids, or your entire family. Queen Park Social is a laid back party atmosphere meant to lift your spirits and enjoy life in the QC.

Location Location Location

It all starts by picking where you want to hang out. A spacious front patio with a few mounted TV’s, succulent plant bowls on large tables, comfortable chairs and tables gathered together and a bar stool table overlooking the lawn of OMB. For outdoor activities besides lounging, head out to their large grassy back yard, fenced in underneath the Queen Park cinema sign. Moving around to the different spaces is encouraged! The list of games include darts, skeeball, basketball hoop, foosball, corn hole, bowling, floor and table shuffleboard.

“We are matching fun, trendy restaurant bar with some upscale boutique elements you will see more in places like NYC or LA.” – Joe

Designed with you in mind whether you want to come with friends for drinks, having a birthday party or corporate event in their private room, each area has its own appeal to match your plans. Enjoy cocktails on the plush leather couches in the game room or sit at the indoor bar in any one of their teal leather rivet bar stools or high tables.

Food, Drink and Live Music

Joe teamed up with Carlos and Terrell to build a Gastro-Pub / Tex-Mex menu, offering about 40 items ranging from brussel sprouts and tacos to burgers and desserts. You might think with such an emphasis on fun and games that the menu would be overshadowed but that’s not the case here. Sauces, fries and waffle cones are made fresh daily. Specialty cocktails and draft list keep you coming back for more. There’s something for everyone.

If the fun, games, food and artwork wasn’t enough to get you here, their upcoming live music events are set to start this summer. They will soon be a hotspot for you music lovers.

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Artwork

No matter where you are in the 18,000 square foot space you’ll see homage paid to the 1960’s industrial warehouse by keeping the structure intact and its original elements. Decorated with newspaper style movie advertisements for 90’s favorites like E.T., Sixteen Candles, Clueless, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Fletch and more.

“Today everyone is on their cell phone constantly.  We are “throwing it back” to a simpler time where social interaction literally happens in person, over great food and drink with fun activities.” – Joe

Many of you have seen artwork around Charlotte by our talented local artists Matt Moore and Matt Hooker. It’s no surprise that they partnered up with a few other artists to create a massive mural taking up the entire sidewall of the bowling alley, appropriately worded “Be Social”. With a comic book style theme created with spray paint and acrylic, it begins at one end with a plug that’s been disconnected from an outlet showing electricity sparking outwards onto and throughout the words, lighting up the entire phrase. This incredible video by Reel Talk CLT captures the mural coming to life.

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Insider Fun Facts about Joe

Favorite thing about the city: So many great breweries, the White Water Center, Joel Bunkley the Band of One
Favorite late-night snack: Dominos
Biggest lesson learned so far during the opening process:  Some classic clichés that ring especially true, trust your gut, enjoy the process.  Oh and try to “unplug” once in a while!
Describe QPS in no more than three words:  Boutique entertainment house.
Is there one element about QPS that is more of a passion than another:  Personally, I have a particular obsession with ping pong and skeeball (much better at the former).

Connect with Queen Park Social on Social Media
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a day in the life

I am fortunate to have an established career with global corporation that allows me the freedom of a flexible schedule. Being able to extend my days off into more than just two days has given me the opportunity to create a life in the food community here in Charlotte.

Over the past two years,  I created a food blog at the advice of a friend and became the girlfriend of a beer and food photographer. Without knowing exactly what was missing, these two things were the answer. They launched me into the person I have wanted to be for so long. Supporting local restaurants, brands and leaders has always been important to me. I am honored to be considered an influencer in this great city.

Taking advantage of my three days off takes some planning. I typically map out a plan to go uptown for some photos, eat at a new place for breakfast and lunch, go for a run on the greenway, stop in Trader Joe’s and then try to make it home before rush hour. Eating at a new place on my days off is sometimes challenging. I have favorite spots I like to visit, it’s nice to keep to what’s familiar when you’re rushing around.

I need to wear comfortable clothes, stay hydrated, and have all the necessary things for me to have a successful day of hopping around town. My Apple Watch is my only real accessory and at times I forget what it’s like to have a “regular” watch. Please tell me you’ve had those “ghost vibrates” on your wrist when you aren’t wearing it, right? It’s strange and a clear realization that maybe I should give my wrist a break from the constant updates. Here enteres my new addition, a sleek and super cool wooden watch, by JORD.

A Walk Uptown & Lunch

Sushi is one the most fun things to eat, probably because of the chopsticks and dipping everything in sriracha. Both sriracha and chopsticks are not technically in the “proper” rules of eating sushi. I know that we are not in Japan, but I would like to pretend sometimes. My top three sushi restaurants in Charlotte are Pisces, CO and RuSan’s.

For a breakdown of the said rules of eating sushi, check out this great article. What I learned most from reading Lisa’s piece was that it is considered rude to rub your chopsticks together after breaking them apart. I simply do this to avoid splinters, apparently it comes across as you thinking the utensils are under quality. I will still rub them together, mainly because I don’t want a splinter and because the restaurants here don’t whittling their own chopsticks. As much as I eat sushi, I should invest in my own pair and carry them around in my purse.

Greenway Run & Craft Beer

My two favorite things about Charlotte are the Little Sugar Creek Greenway and all the breweries we have. The greenway is a great way to get exercise in nature without having to leave the city. Once finished it will be over nineteen miles.

Wooden Robot is one of the best in my opinion. Offering a fantastic selection of IPAs, sours, ales and a food vendor that makes every item on their menu with one of their beers. To top off the experience, you have a great view of uptown Charlotte. A couple of my other favorite Charlotte breweries are Birdsong and Sycamore.

Unique Style of JORD Watches

If you’ve enjoyed my “day in the life of a food blogger” little story and want to know more about my new cool watch, here’s a close up photo and a link to see other men’s and women’s styles. The watch I’m wearing in these photos is from the Frankie 35 series, “Dark Sandalwood and Mint”.

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All photos by Eric Gaddy Casting Shadows Photography


metro diner

Charlotte is no stranger to being on national television. The Queen City has had several of it’s local spots featured on “Diners, Dive-In’s and Dives”. The Improper Pig, Bang Bang Burgers, and the Landmark Diner to name a few.

We have another one to add to the list, Metro Diner. A hometown family restaurant from Jacksonville, FL serving up comfort, smiles, flare and warm welcomes since 1938. They are not new to North Carolina with three other restaurants in Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Pineville. They just opened a new restaurant in Matthews and there is one coming soon to Huntersville. You can also find them in eight other states if you’re on any road trips:  Alabama, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, Georgia and Indiana and of course their home state of Florida.

Their dishes might seem familiar in name but Metro Diner puts a couple new tricks in there to make it their own. Having lived in PA for a couple years I immediately recognized the Steak Salad as a Northern dish. They enjoy cooking and creating their own ideas that stem from local favorites. Take their Shrimp ‘n’ Grits dish for example, it’s made with a shrimp gravy sauce rather than a traditional tomato base or their San Francisco Benedict with avocado and tomato.

Metro Diner offers familiar yet unique menu options that make it a bit more fun that just eating bacon and eggs, which is still a staple order of course. It’s good to try something new from time to time and this is the right place to do it.

A few dishes I know very well were put to the test at Metro Diner’s newest location in Matthews, and I was pleasantly surprised at their vision for each. True to the original ingredients with only a small twist.

Huevos Rancheros | eggs, fried tortilla shells, chorizo, black beans, onions, peppers, melted cheese, salsa, sour cream, jalapeños, green onions


Charleston Shrimp ‘n’ Grits | two fried cheese grit cakes, roasted red peppers, andouille sausage, shrimp, onion, peppers, shrimp gravy sauce, bacon and green onions


Pittsburgh Steak Salad | garden salad, NY strip steak, French fries, blue cheese


Fried Chicken and Waffle | half a fried chicken, Belgian waffle, powdered sugar, strawberry butter, sweet and spicy honey sauce

My favorite was the Chicken and Waflfes, mainly due to the sweet strawberry butter. I have never had fruit butter before. I didn’t even know it was a thing until now. Secondly was the Shrimp ‘n’ Grits because of the cheesy grit cakes. Yum.

I’ll be ordering a few more dishes next time to try out… Pound Cake French Toast, Chicken Pot Pie, and Yo Hala on the Square which is two slices of challah bread stuffed with bananas, brown sugar, cream cheese and hazelnut syrup topped with a blueberry strawberry compote and powdered sugar…wow. I will probably need several cups of coffee to wash that down!

Connect with Metro Diner on Social Media – FB | Insta | Web | Twitter


dilworth tasting room

Meet the new face of an old Dilworth neighborhood favorite.

Keeping true to the original structure and character of the longtime neighborhood pub of 35 years, Dilworth Billiards, you can tell the moment you walk through the front door that it has been upgraded into a beautiful and spacious new gathering place.

Owner Jaffer Kovic, and his father Hase, remodeled almost every inch of the interior. What you will notice first is the two large red leather couches facing one another, a long mustard yellow leather bench wrapping the street facing wall of tables and another huge black couch along the side wall. Secondly, you’ll see a gorgeous bar lining the back wall that is back-lit with vertical rows upon rows of wine bottles.

Kovic has extensive knowledge in the wine industry as an advanced sommelier. He also understands exactly what it means when a new venture just feels right. By chance, he and his family drove by a “For Lease” sign posted in front of Dilworth Billiards. Owner of the building, Eric Sprouse, was pleased to enter a leasing agreement with Kovic and is excited about what he has done with the space, keeping it as open and welcoming as it was before.

 

The Decor | The bar is custom made by Kovich’s father Hase, mahogany wood with handcrafted copper accents as well as the columns and wine racks. An exposed brick wall is adorned with empty square picture frames. Soft round light fixtures hang and fill the 2,800 square foot room. You will also find some artwork created by Kovich’s young daughter. A warm and comfortable atmosphere with a knowledgeable staff creates for a great night of learning and indulging.

 

The Food | Created by Ivana Bekavac to compliment the wine and beer menu, simple and elegant, and approachable.Heavy on superior quality meat and cheese, small bites and snacks like mixed nuts and burrata, four styles of bruschetta, three panini options and a plethora of combinations to choose from to create your own charcuterie spread. Keep an eye out for new additions as their supply will change on a regular basis.
My recommendations would be the Roasted Grape Bruchetta and the Burrata with Basil Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes.

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The Drinks | As written on Kovic’s business card “In every empty wine bottle is a story.” the drink menu was designed with you in mind. A craft beer list twenty-nine deep from around the world, fourteen white wines and twenty-four reds, plus a handful of champagne and sparkling wines. The staff is unbelievably knowledgeable and asks the right questions to help you find a wine that suits you when undecided.
I was graciously assisted by our waitress to find my favorite of the evening. She gave me three different wine samples so she could learn my taste. We found that Four Vines “Naked” Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County, CA 2015 was a winner.

 

The Patio | The original koi pond still exists. Lush trees and flowers surround private bistro table nooks with brick walkways leading to each around the pond. String lighting and paper lanterns shine above. This patio is the ultimate date spot.

Swing by Dilworth Tasting Room as soon as possible for a girls night, date night, quick drink and a light snack. You could also make a night of it with your family or coworkers visiting Charlotte, show them something new.

Connect on social media. Facebook | Insta | Web | Twitter


rooney’s market

Have you been to Carolina Beer Temple, Harry’s Grille, Piedmont Social House, Yoga, Beauty Salons, Movie Theatre or any of the other cool spots at Arysley?

Located at 485 and South Tryon, Ayrsley is a small little town center with almost everything you could possibly need to live, eat and have fun. All that’s missing it seems is their own grocery store!

Eat, Play, Stay, Live

Owned and managed by New Forum. This company has created a few little restaurants that have just the right amount of character, quality food and friendly service that make you feel like you’re in a family owned establishment. Piedmont Social House, Rooney’s Market and Harry’s Grille and Tavern.

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Piedmont Social House | daily drink specials, live music, games, events, and some bar menu favorites like bbq chicken pizza, pretzel bites and beer cheese, fried green tomatoes, black and blue burger, pulled chicken sandwich, salads, pasta dishes and more.

Harry’s Grille & Tavern | fine dining, private events, small plates, seafood, steaks, large wine list, lobster mac and cheese, brunch served on Saturday’s and Sunday’s, and a fantastic lunch menu with my favorite salmon tacos in the city… three grilled tortillas with lightly blackened salmon, jicama slaw, pico de gallo, chipotle aioli and shredded lettuce.

Rooney’s Market and Deli | menu changes throughout the day from breakfast, a deli style lunch menu and then to evening tapas, daily drink specials, classic sandwiches like BLT, Roast Beef and new creations like their house signature Wabit (roasted turkey breast, granny smith apples, brie, walnuts, raspberry preserves on sourdough). They also offer catering and have a pretty great local and regional craft beer list.

Ayrsley Town Center also has other familiar restaurants, Wild Wing Cafe and Portofino’s, alongside some new spots like Saffron, Salsa’s, The Corner Bar and Mai Japanese. Be sure to keep in the loop and check out their event Calendar.


beer & cheese pairing

Forget wine and cheese, pass me the beer and cheese!

I’m not much of a wine drinker. The ladies of Charlotte Food Bloggers seem to like beer as much as I do so all of us were pumped to experience a BEER and cheese pairing. Wine and cheese is old news anyway right? We are in the fastest growing craft beer scene in the nation after all.

CFB partnered up with The Unknown Brewing, Orrman’s Cheese Shop and a couple other local restaurants for a 5 course dinner pairing. The ticketed event was held in Unknown’s taproom. Owner, Brad Shell, gave us a tour about halfway through our tastings to mix things up a bit. If you’ve never been on a brewery tour with Brad, please do so as soon as possible. He is quite enjoyable to watch when he gets excited about the brew process. Hops like to make babies, that is all (ha!).

This wasn’t the first pairing event Unknown has been a part of. They hosted a sushi and beer pairing with O-Ku, see my story here.

All of the bites were put on display at the community table in the taproom. Flatbreads from Craft Growler Shop around the corner, boneless chicken wings from Duckworth’s down the street, homemade mango salsa, bacon wrapped dates, chocolate brownies and five different cheeses. My sweet tooth was thankful for the brownies among all of the savory plates!

When you’re with a group of food bloggers this is what you can expect…

Depending on how many of us there are, we can spend up to thirty minutes staging and photographing the food.

It’s a team effort too. Everyone is willing to hold up their iPhone flashlights or ring-light adapters to give just the right amount of light for that perfect photo. We are also patient with each other. Knowing that we are all here for the same reason, to take your turn, and not to worry about the food getting cold. Yes, we care about that too but…

Whether food blogging is your job or a just a hobby, documenting the food and supporting these local companies is what comes first. It’s why we do what we do. Food brings people together.

Beer, Cheese and Accoutrements

Ginger Wheat | Landaff | Mango Salsa
Pre Game Pale Ale | Flory’s Truckle | Flatbreads
Over the Edge IPA | Barren Country Blue | Buffalo Chicken Bites
Dirty Commie Heathen Russian Imperial Stout | Fourme d’Ambert | Brownies
Raisin the Roof Belgian Quad | Toggenberger | Bacon Wrapped Dates

A big thank you to Ashley, LeAndra, Brad, Scott, the other members of Charlotte Food Bloggers and our local vendors for a wonderful evening. Now, I will always suggest beer with my cheese instead of wine. Cheers y’all!

Connect with everyone on social media by clicking the links throughout this post.