I’m Back!! With more details and restaurant suggestions for the remainder of Charlotte Restaurant Week. Also in this post, additional photos and the video segment from my appearance on Charlotte Today last week. In the segment I talk about six spectacular places to try during the 10-day stretch of Charlotte Restaurant Week, that is Queen’s Feast Winter 2019.
Charlotte Restaurant Week enjoyed a solid kick off of its 20th season in this its 11th year on Friday January 18. The 3 for $30 or $35 special menus at each of the participating restaurants run for 10 nights through Sunday Jan 27.
For my annual post I selected three restaurants new to me, all first timers for the annual Queen’s Feast event. To those three, I added three of my old Charlotte faves to make up the list of six. Consider this updated post, part two.
Here are the six spots on my original 2019 Eat Here Now list for the Winter Queen’s Feast. YUME Ramen Sushi & Bar in Charlotte’s Historic Gold District; Zeppelin SouthEnd – also in the Gold District; Estia’s Kouzina in Belmont, NC; Aria Tuscan Grill in Uptown Charlotte; Global Restaurant in Pineville, NC ; and Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte’s Coulwood/Mountain Island Lake neighborhood.
I am pleased to have been asked to share this list on a segment for WCNC’s Charlotte Today. It originally aired on Tuesday, January 15.
ICYMI – Here’s the Charlotte Today video
In case you missed it – here is the video. But first a spoiler alert. Because of the size of the files, sometimes these videos do not show up when my blog posts are emailed out. If you don’t see the video here, don’t panic. Simply go to HeidiBillottoFood.com and click on this post: Charlotte Restaurant Week Update: Heidi’s Winter 2019 Eat Here Now. I promise, you’ll find the video there!
In sharing my restaurant round ups on TV, I try to always bring in sample dishes to showcase; but this time we used a mix. Food from three of the restaurants and photos of food from the others. Fun and funny things always happen in live TV.
Case in point, in this video, you’ll see a quick “backstage grab” as the team was switching out plates. Enjoy the video, then scroll down for more photos and fun from the morning at WCNC.
And, just to clarify a bit of the conversation, I mistakenly mentioned that Zeppelin does not take reservations. Wrong. They do. But, the place is small and they thankfully try not to have standing room at the bar. If you walk in without a reservation, know that they seat the dining room and the bar from a waitlist. So, Charlotte Restaurant Week or not, its always best to call ahead.
So many restaurants, so little time
The 3 for $30/$35 Queen’s Feast offerings run for the 10 night stretch of the Charlotte Restaurant Week promo. Queen’s Feast menus are only offered in the evenings. With 137 restaurants in the mix, there are choices to be made, for sure. But, the eating doesn’t have to end after Charlotte Restaurant Week is over. Keep this post and refer to it when you are wondering where to go eat now, even after this Winter’s “Royal Repast” has come and gone.
And here’s a special promo I want to point out. I mentioned in the original post, that Harper’s, Upstream and Mimosa Grill are among the dozen or so establishments that have been participants in Queen’s Feast since 2008. This season, The Burke Hospitality Group, parent company to these three, is offering a Queen’s Feast “Passport to Great Food” at Mimosa Grill, Upstream and both Harper’s Restaurant locations (Charlotte and Pineville). Simply dine at any of these restaurants 2 or more times over Charlotte Restaurant Week and receive a bonus gift card of $20 or $50. Ask the host or hostess or your server for info and details.
Enjoy your neighborhood eats, or venture out across town
Many people like to patronize the restaurants in their individual neighborhoods. To the end, the powers that be have made it oh so easy with a list of participating restaurants that is listed by neighborhood.
Feeling international? Plan your eating out with friends round some sort of multi-cultural theme. Take in a series of dinners, each one with a different type of cuisine.
Go from TapHaus 49 Gastropub, near Carowinds to British cuisine at Big Ben British Restaurant & Pub in SouthEnd. For more Japanese check out Yama Izakaya in Plaza-Midwood, sister restaurant to Yama at Waverly ( not a part of Queen’s Feast 2019) and Baku. Then try the Indian cuisine at Maharani on King’s Drive, or the traditional Italian at Mezzanotte. Just FYI, Mezzanotte is the sister restaurant to Via Roma, Luce, Malabar and Toscano. All great places to check out as well.
Photos and Fun from my Charlotte Restaurant Week TV segment
A quick recap on my original six restaurant suggestions mentioned in the Charlotte Today video with new photos of some of my favorite dishes.
YUME Ramen Sushi and Bar in the Gold District
Located at 1508 South Mint Street, YUME is located right beside Bardo in Charlotte’s much touted Gold District nestled between the Wilmore neighborhood and Uptown. There is a small lot behind the restaurant or you can find parking on the street. The Charlotte Restaurant Week menu includes sushi and delicious ramen as well as several of the Japanese specialties. YUME’s 3 for $35 menu also includes a choice of coffee, tea or a fun Japanese milk-based soda called, Calpico.
At YUME, the ramen is delicious, the sushi divine. Both are on the Restaurant Week menu. YUME sushi chefs have just updated the regular sushi menu. This is the flower roll with tuna and wasabi caviar. It’s delicate and delicious, but don’t miss the new Risa roll, a marvelously spicy sour blend of ume and eel sauce with white fish and spicy tuna.
I loved that there are lots of vegan and vegetarian offerings mixed in with the meat on both the regular menu and the Queen’s Feast menu as well. Definitely something for everyone at YUME. YUME doesn’t have a website up yet, but you can follow them on Facebook.
Zeppelin has fast become a Charlotte hot spot, and is also located in the Gold District, at 235 West Tremont Ave. As I mentioned earlier, this dining room is small and cozy, so you will want to make a reservation for sure. If you are a walk in, you’ll be seated at the bar or at a table in the order you appear on the waitlist.
Chef Vincent Giancarlo’s menu is about sophisticated American food, with a bend on local ingredients. The atmosphere takes you back to an era gone by. The interior roof line is designed to look like the restaurant’s namesake airship. Zeppelin’s Charlotte Restaurant Week menu is priced at 3 for $35 and is listed here. Take my suggestion and start with a cocktail. I just adored the “Dilworth Dig” pictured here. It’s a local play on a French 75, made with vodka, apple cider and Krupnikas honey spiced liqueur from Durham NC – a great way to drink local! Links for reservations and more info on Zeppelin at the restaurant’s website here.
Heirloom, located at 8470 Bellhaven Blvd. in Charlotte is, to the best of this food writer’s knowledge, the only restaurant in the state to exclusively feature ingredients from North Carolina. The drinks at the bar, every morsel of food in the kitchen and even the soap in the bathrooms – all GotToBeNC! For Queen’s Feast, Chef Clark Barlow decided to open the entire a la carte menu for guests to try.
Simply choose any appetizer, entrée or dessert from the entire menu and its priced at 3 for $35. The only exceptions to this are the 16oz Ribeye Steak and Duck Confit Entrees which would require an additional $10 charge, bringing the total cost of the dinner to $45 with those entrees in particular. I love the way Heirloom unfalteringly supports NC farms, producers, and small businesses and to that end, the menu often changes with availability of local product.
Foraged for Flavor
In the Charlotte Today video, you might remember that I mentioned you should order any mushroom dish on Heirloom’s menu. Chef Clark is a licensed and state certified forager and the mushrooms he serves are for the most part, those he has found and harvested. You’re not going to believe the flavor and texture of these fresh wild mushrooms.
From the Heirloom menu, one of my faves is the Vegetarian Fried “Hen” – Hen of the Woods mushroom served atop a bed of garlic crushed potatoes and braised greens with ramp gravy. The dish is a fun play on Fried Chicken and mashed potatoes. It is delicious, but I don’t have a photo.
So instead, I’ll share another example – this is Clark’s fried Hen of the Woods “Chicken Nugget” made with mushroom “ketchup”. It’s a winner, too! Looks just like chicken, but the taste is something special. You are going to love it!
Follow Chef Clark Barlowe and Heirloom on all of your social media feeds. And take my advice – order the mushrooms!
Global Restaurant in Pineville NC
Located in the heart of downtown Pineville, NC at 314 Main Street, Global is open for dinner only. You’ll find more formal seating upstairs and a slightly more casual bistro atmosphere, surrounding the bar, downstairs. The building, originally the Pineville Savings & Loan, dates dates back to the 1920s. When the bank folded in 1929, the building later housed a drug store downstairs and doctors’ offices upstairs.
Bernard, Shannon and Xavier Brunet have brought the historic building back to life, and have called the space home to Global since 2016. The restaurant opened here after a long year of renovating and remodeling. Happily many of the building’s original fixtures were kept and saved.
Global is the only chef-driven restaurant in Pineville, NC. If you haven’t eaten at Global yet, it should certainly be on your winter Queen’s Feast must-try list. Global’s 3 for $35 menu is accompanied by a special Charlotte Restaurant Week $35 wine list. Follow Global on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Chef Bernard has a way with seafood as is evidenced in the Charlotte Restaurant Week Mahi feature pictured here with spaghetti squash slaw, wild grain pilaf and a grapefruit gastric.
Estia’s Kouzina in Belmont NC
Located at 609 N Main Street in Belmont, NC, Estia’s Kouzina has been open since May 2018. The restaurant is named for Estia, the Greek Goddess of Hospitality. Conveniently located just blocks away from Belmont Abbey College, Estia is owned by longtime Charlotte restauranteurs, Gus and Vicki Georgoulias. Executive chef Harry Madeckas bring the food of their homeland to North Carolina.
Each classic and contemporary dish is extraordinarily well done. On Estia’s 3 for $30 restaurant week menu, look for a delicious Souvlaki Hirino with tender skewered pork, and these scrumptuous lamb chops I talked about on TV. There are also delicious Greek pastries for dessert. The recipes go back to Harry’s grandmother.
We loved Estia’s take on the classic phyllo pastry called Galaktoboureko. Haha – I have to say I found it much easier to eat, than to correctly order! The crispy powder sugar dusted phyllo surrounds a light lemony custard that simply melts in your mouth. Chef Harry tried to help me out with a “cheat sheet” for the televised spot, but I caved and just went with the descriptive. I’ll share it with you here, so that when you go to eat at Estia’s – and you should soon – you’re ordering technique will be spot on!
For more information visit Estia’s online and follow their instagram and Facebook social media feeds.
Aria Tuscan Grill in Uptown Charlotte
Many of the restaurants in Uptown Charlotte are a part of the winter Queen’s Feast – 25 to be exact! Among them an old favorite of ours with a new executive chef, Alex Piatt; and a new menu, fresh made-in-house pasta and a killer list of cocktails – don’t miss Aria Tuscan Grill!
Aria Tuscan Grill is located on the lower level of Founders Hall. Enter from the street side Trade Street entrance, or park in the Bank of America center deck. Take the elevators to the 6th level and take the skywalk across to Founders Hall, shown here. Enter at Aria’s upper bar and walk an easy flight of steps down into the restaurant.
On Aria’s lengthly 3 for $30 Restaurant Week menu, is the longtime favorite Caramelized Gnocchi, served with prosciutto di Parma, shaved pear, Gorgonzola crema and finished truffle oil that Colleen Odegaard spoke of in the Charlotte Today segment. I don’t have a photo of the gnocchi, but just as Colleen said, picture yourself with an order and one of Aria’s offerings from the bar’s new list of martinis and you won’t need anything else! Also, you don’t want to miss the mouthwatering Sicilian Chicken Cacciatore, pictured here.
It’s served in a spectacular tomato sauce with olives, capers and Cremini mushrooms served over maltagliati pasta. And while we are talking pasta dishes; don’t miss the clever House-Made Kale Garganelli noodles topped with duck confit, charred radicchio, and Pecorino, seen in the background here. Yes please! For more info visit Aria online.
For this post, I’m delighted to partner with the team who brought us Charlotte Restaurant Week. You’ll find everything you need on their comprehensive website. A list of all the participating restaurants, all the menus and some great tips to make your Charlotte Restaurant Week experience the very best. Once you get to the site, just click on any individual restaurant name to see each complete Queen’s Feast menu.
Before I close, I’d like to add a few tips of my own to help you make the most of your restaurant week experience or experiences. Remember to #TellThemHeidiSentYou and get set to enjoy!
How to do Charlotte Restaurant Week Like A Pro
Start with a plan. If you want to beat the crowds, plan to try your favorite Charlotte Restaurant Week spots on a weeknight, instead of the weekend. Friday and Saturday nights at all of the participating restaurants are sure to be hopping!
Be a courteous consumer. If you make reservations and then plans change or you and your friends decide to try someplace else, be sure to call and cancel so that someone else can take advantage of the table the restaurant will be holding for you.
Plan for time to park. Lots of Charlotte restaurants now offer valet parking. Others are attached to parking decks, some have small lots for customers and some rely on street parking, so plan your time accordingly. Allow for the time it will take to park so you won’t be late for your reservation.
Ask Questions before you go. Charlotte Restaurant Week menus for each of the participating restaurants are online here. If you, or anyone in your party, has dietary restrictions you might need to consider, call the restaurant first to see if adjustments can be made. Chefs may or may not be able to accommodate changes with the Queens Feast offerings and its better to know that in advance.