Charlotte NC Chefs head to James Beard House in NYC

james-beard-dinnersCharlotte, North Carolina chefs continue to take the James Beard house in NYC by storm and 2017 kicks off with several big dinners featuring Queen City-based culinary talent. Last night it was my pleasure to be a guest at a practice run of a collaboration dinner between 2 of Charlotte’s finest, Chefs Luca Annunziata of Passion 8 on Elizabeth Avenue and Chef Sylvain Rivet of Renaissance Patisserie on South Blvd.

While I love seeing and tasting what chefs do in their restaurants on a regular basis, it is always nice to take advantage and attend special dinners like this to see what happens when chefs think outside the box. I particularly enjoy collaborative dinners  – there are lots on the calendar in Charlotte. I suggest you take advantage and make reservations as you see them pop up!  It is always a fun and unique experience every time.  No matter the chefs involved, their culinary talents challenge each other and play off of one another to truly bring it to the table.

 

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From left, The Butcher, chef Marc Pauvert; The Baker, chef Sylvain Rivet; and The Chef, chef Luca Annunziata

The Charlotte chef and the pastry chef were joined in the kitchen last evening as they will be next week in NYC by Baltimore based Master Butcher, chef Marc Pauvert of the Four Seasons Hotel.

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Chef Philippe Haddad

Rounding out the culinary team in New York will also be Atlanta-based chef Philippe Haddad of the Cape Dutch Restaurant in Atlanta. Haddad was unable to attend the dinner in Charlotte last night, but his contributions will only add to the excitement in New York. Also lending a helping hand at the New York event ,the Carolina’s own chef Joe Bonaparte of the Myrtle Beach Culinary Arts Institute.

 So, a butcher, a baker, and a chef  (or two) walk into the Beard House kitchen—but as was experienced by a supportive and happy crowd last night, this dinner is no joke.  In New York, these culinary compatriots will demonstrate the exceptional art of whole-animal butchery in a collaborative French–Italian feast celebrating their combined heritages and crafts.

The  trial run, if you will, evening in Charlotte started with a round of passed hors d’oeuvres – creamy chicken liver pate profiteroles with berry coulis, savory beef short ribs, skewered a la plancha, spherical chicken croquettes in bamboo boats and crispy dirty rice arancini with tomato jam.

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And for me, a “HoneyBunny” and orange/vodka/honey infused craft cocktail from the Passion 8 bar.

An assortment of fresh baked rolls hit as soon as we  were seated – nothing better to me than a course of delicious bread and butter and I was glad it arrived first with time to enjoy.

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Dinner  officially started with a beautiful plate of dinner co-sponsor Springer Mountain Farms Chicken in a duo of savory bites: a tender and delicious chicken porchetta with fennel salad, extra virgin olive oil powder, and  a drizzle of vincotto; paired with a melt-in-your-mouth braised chicken scarpariello topped with shishito peppers and  house-made pork sausage – things were off to a fabulous start….

 

img_8386Next course, a charcuterie platter of sorts – duck three ways or in French, Canard Trois Facons.  On the plate, a “Yes, please I believe I will”  foie gras torchon with onion jam;  a scrumptious duck confit with apple–frisée salad; and sliced duck prosciutto with a small round of made-in-house burrata and a crisp toasted slice of fresh baked pan de mie.

 

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With such a wonderful Italian chef on the team it stood to reason there would be a pasta course. This night the small plate of tiny but tender gnocchetti verdi  ( small green gnocchi) were tossed into a tomato-y rich lamb ragù. The crunch of fried Rappahannock oysters, added texture and a thin slice of Parmigiano-Reggiano served as the perfect slightly salty finish.

 

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All of this led to the beef course where the French butcher showed his chops. So tender and perfectly grilled grass fed beef tournedos, cut from the tenderloin of beef served atop a celery root puree, garnished with  with brussels sprout leaves, and finished with a grilled half of Charlotte’s own Urban Gourmet Farms king trumpet mushrooms, and au jus – perfect!

And then there was dessert – two courses of dessert, in fact, and a take home box as well – gotta love having a French pastry chef on the team!

img_8396For me the blood orange crème brûlée echoed the cocktail I had enjoyed at the start of the evening. It was sweet but not too sweet and creamy enough to provide the perfect finish after the course of rich savory beef. The surprise here was the accompanying tuille – made  with crispy almonds and believe it or not, bacon fat..,

 

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img_8406Then, for the table (and as this photo shows, the chefs to share) a  secondary dessert course of  three types of wonderful petits fours:  miniature chocolate brownie bomb; popcorn macaroons; and petit Grand Marnier–vanilla puffs – Yes!  And as a take-home for  the-day-after-dinner breakfast ( or to eat in the car on the drive back home) a chocolate truffle and two sweet bite-sized cakes. what a fabulous finish!

 

And then this happened….Big News from Passion 8

jessicaandlucaTalk last night after dinner was not just about the Beard House ,but of some big changes to come to Passion 8 as well. In February, look for the husband and wife team of Luca and Jessica Annunziata to take their passion for all things Italian to a whole new level. Passion 8 will be changing names and styles and while Jessica and Luca will remain at the helm and the Elizabeth Avenue location will remain the same, the new restaurant name and concept will be LUCA, Modern Italian Kitchen. This talented couple will still offer a menu that is locally inspired with a focus on Farm-to-fork product, but recipes and menu features will all hail from Chef Luca’s Italian heritage.  I am proud to say I was the first food writer to ever write about Passion 8, when the restaurant was located on HWY 51 in Ft Mill and I’ve kept you up to date on everything this talented couple has done since – stay tuned… I can’t wait to tell you about it all as the new menu is revealed and name changes occurs, so that you can make your reservations at LUCA soon and, in the process, #TellThemHeidiSentYou

Want to go to the Beard House or at least see it for yourself?

img_8414The  dinner last night, billed as practice round, gave the guests an opportunity to give feed back, so that the team of chefs can tweak as needed before the big dance in New York.  Its no small production – Luca will load up all the local product and drive to Baltimore two days before the dinner. He and Marc will prep in Baltimore the day before then drive to New York for a day of cooking in the infamous Beard House kitchen the day of the dinner. Thanks to the magic of digital technology, you can follow each of the chefs involved on their individual social media streams and the night of the dinner, Friday January 27, you can stream the action from the kitchen live via the James Beard Kitchen Cam – check it out on the Beard House website 

If you’ve a mind to go, see, taste and enjoy it all in person, tickets for the Butcher, Baker & Chef dinner in NYC are still available – make your reservations here.  

charles-grill-678x1024Mark your calendars as more Charlotte-based chefs participate in upcoming Beard House dinners as well.  Chef Charles Semail of Chef Charles Catering in Charlotte will also cook at the James Beard House the end of this week, in fact,  at a separate dinner with a team of five other chefs. Chef Charles dinner will focus on The Art of Charcuterie. The dinner in New York is on Jan 20. If you can’t get to NYC for the dinner Chef Charles is participating in, then head to the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market on Saturday to buy and for a taste what Chef Charles Catering does so well.

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Then, save the date in February as Chef Jamie Lynch of 5 Church in Charlotte, Charleston and Atlanta (and Top Chef fame) present a “Take Me To Church” dinner on Feb 5, 2017.  

 

 

heidi head shot 1 -Heidi Cooks | Heidi Writes | Heidi Teaches

If this post about some of our fabulous Charlotte-based chefs inspired you – I want to know where you are eating and what you are cooking. Remember  Charlotte, Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week  kicks off on Friday Jan 20 – where are you going to eat?

Post  your photos and then tag me on your social media posts – @HeidiBillotto and @HeidiBillottoCooks on Facebook; @HeidiCooks on Twitter and @HeidiBillotto on Instagram   Food is always so much better when you share it with friends!

Consider me your go-to-gal for info on chefs, restaurants, recipes, cooking tips, trends and food-centric travel.

I invite you to join me in all my culinary adventures, by signing up to follow this blog. You’ll get my recipes, reviews and articles as soon as they  post, directly to your in-box.

Almost here, Stay Tuned…my list of Jan, Feb and March 2017 hands-on cooking classes posts on Monday January 22, 2017 – can’t  wait!

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOOD
 “Maybe it’s much too early in the game; Aah, but I thought I’d ask you just the same; What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?
“Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight; When it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night; Welcoming in the New Year, New Year’s Eve”

 

NYE bottleNow that I have you in the mood, humming along, no doubt; here’s the scoop on ten Charlotte area restaurants and what they are serving for New Years Eve 2015 – Take a read, make a reservation and then Eat, Drink & Celebrate  as we welcome in 2016! Cheers!

300 East –

300East_front_5_13300 East. located as the name suggests at 300 East Blvd., is locally owned and  has been a mainstay in the Charlotte restaurant scene since 1986 capping off Charlotte’s ever developing East Blvd. restaurant row in Charlotte’s Dilworth neighborhood.   If you are not up for a dinner out on New Years’ Eve – you might want to enjoy lunch instead and I’m happy to say that 300 East will be serving a midday meal on Thursday December 31 from 11-3:30.  Dinner  service on the 31st is  from 5-10PM. The full dinner menu will be available, as well as an optional 3-course package for $40. Reservations are highly recommended by calling 704-332-6507 or visit 300east.net   300 East Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A big supporter of local farms, the 2015 New Years Eve 300 East menu features product from some of my favorite places to shop local as well  – Cheers to Boy & Girl Farm, Small City Farm, Bosky Acres, Clover Mushroom Farm, High Rock Farm, A Way of Life Farm, Windcrest Farm for making the dinner at 300 East even better… and here is what the talented staff of 300 East, headed by the dynamic duo of chefs Kristine Schmidt and Ashley Boyd, is serving as we welcome in 2016!

Diners may select one choice from each category for the  $40 prix fixe pricing , or you may order a la carte – the Full Dinner Menu will  also available!

Starters:  Sunchoke & Potato Soup, Roasted Lobster

Salad of Bibb Lettuces & Roasted Beets, Almond Crusted Goat Cheese, Clementines, Champagne-Mustard Vinaigrette

Mains:  Border Springs Lamb Osso Bucco, Rosemary Mint Gremolata, Gigante Bean-Taleggio Puree, Sauteed Rapini

Persian Spiced Brick Grilled Poussin, Tahini Yogurt, Freekah with Apricots, Walnut Green Beans

Seared Hawaiian Ono, Shiitake, Maitake & Oyster Mushrooms, Rice Noodles, Asian Greens, Ginger Dashi

Dessert:  Carrot Cake, Black Walnuts, Fromage Blanc Ice Cream, New Ginger Marmalade

French Broad Chocolate Cremeux, Chestnut Sponge Cake, Popped Sorghum, Caramel

 

The Asbury at The Dunhill Hotel

Asbury LogoAs only the team of Chefs Chris Coleman, Matthew Krenz and Jossie Perlemutter can do it, New Years Eve guests are in for a treat at The Asbury with a special five-course tasting menu on tap for the evening. (The tasting menu is also quite nicely offered in a vegetarian version) Cost $75 per person with an additional $40 for wine pairings (plus tax and gratuity).  To whet your palate while you read on  The Asbury’s menu’s follow… the evening starts with Amuse, or a little bite to get your palate in the mood; gives you a pause to refresh with an Intermezzo  or midway and ends with “Mignardise”  small sweet tidbits to finish the evening. The Asbury is located adjacent to the Dunhill Hotel in Uptown Charlotte at 235 N Tryon Street. Parking in the deck directly behind the Dunhill and the restaurant will validate. For more info visit TheAsbury.com
Reservations are a must: http://bit.ly/SaveMySeatAtTheAsbury  or call 704.342.1193The Asbury Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Asbury NYE Tasting Menu:
First Course: Salad of Bitter Greens | egg, mushroom, pepper gel, charred walnut miso, carrot
Second Course: Smoked Scallop Custard | juniper + thyme shortbread, citrus, mustard, chili, kale
Third Course: Bacon-Wrapped Duck Confit | beet tartar, arugula, pickled apple relish, cranberry, spiced pecan
Fourth Course: Thyme + Smoked Peanut-Crusted Lamb Chops | cranberry chutney, whipped sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli, coffee + cocoa demi
Fifth Course: Tasting of Chocolate

The Asbury NYE Vegetarian Menu:
First Course: Salad of Bitter Greens | egg, mushroom, pepper gel, charred walnut miso, carrot
Second Course: BBQ Shiitake + Ricotta Raviolo | butternut squash bisque, arugula, pecan gremolata
Third Course: Roasted Broccoli | tofu, pickled wheatberries, cranberries, goat cheese, cashews, pear
Fourth Course: Winter Vegetables | crispy oyster mushrooms, harissa spiced root vegetables, Carolina Gold rice, charred corn + bay broth
Fifth Course: Tasting of Chocolate

Fahrenheit Charlotte –

fahrenheitNothing like watching the New Year’s Eve roll in on one of Charlotte’s most popular rooftops as the clock stokes midnight, you’ll have a birds eye view of the city and can step outside to raise your glasses high. Special menu with lots of mouthwatering choices – Chefs Rocco Whalen, David Feimster and the Fahrenheit Charlotte team and working their magic to make it a spectacular evening with a four course menu to beat the band. Selections include Dutch Harbor King Red Crab Bisque with winter truffles, Vietnamese Chicken Springrolls, Garlic Black Pepper Lobster, Kobe beef short ribs, Beef tenderloin and Moroccan Lamb loin, just to name a few. Wind it all up with bread pudding, cobbler, creme brulee or my personal fave: Dark Chocolate Jolt Cake served with Fruity Pebble Cremeux and Marshmallow Cotton Candy! Fruity Pebbles – you just gotta love it! Fahrenheit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Complete Fahrenheit New Year’s Even menu with all the selections is up online at http://www.chefroccowhalen.com/fahrenheit-charlotte/events/

Reservations are required and must be confirmed with a credit card, Cost is $99 per person or $240 per couple. Pricing includes a bottle of Moet & Chandon White Star Champagne. Call for reservations 980-237-6718.  Located in uptown Charlotte atop SKYE Condominiums at 222 S Caldwell Street. Valet parking and adjacent lot make for easy access. For more info visit ChefRoccoWhalen.com

Fork!

forkWant to make it a farm to fork New Year’s Eve? Lots of these restaurants featured here use local product, But Chef Tim Groody, now of Fork! in Cornelius is credited with making the movement real in Charlotte when he was the first chef to ever put a famer’s name on a menu in the Queen City. You can read all about it in my culinary section of the winter issue of Charlotte Living Magazine! But first, if you live north of the city, consider New Year’s Eve dinner at Fork!

Lots of local on the menu which is prix fixe at $65 Per Person and features  your choice of two Bites, one main, & one dessert. There are sides two – for all the details visit http://www.forkdining.com/resources/NYE16.pdf  Be sure to as about gluten free options! For reservations call 704-655-7465 or visit Forkdining,comFork! Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bites

Fried NC Oysters- spicy cornmeal crusted, marcona almond sauce

Foie Gras Torchon & Smoked Duck Gyoza – persimmon, apple salad House Made Whipped Ricotta & Oyster Mushrooms – shaved burgundy truffle, pickled beet oil

Brussel Sprout & Charred Vegetable Salad – carrots, turnips acorn squash, pomegranate preserved lemon vinaigrette Kale & Baby Lettuce Salad – granny smith apple vinaigrette, spicy pecans

Low Country Shrimp Cocktail – spicy tomato granite, broccoli okra slaw, carolina rice

Turkey Neck Rillets – raw vegetables, sea salt crackers

Sweet & Sour Fresh Bacon & Scallop – preserved damson plums

Mains

½ Ashley Farm Guinea Hen

Roasted Mills Family Farm Strip Loin

Carolina Bison Hanger Steak

Pan Seared NC Seafood

Pan Roasted Dry Pack Sea Scallops

and for Dessert –  Chocolate Mousse Cake, Dark Rum Sauce Cream Cheese Glazed Carrot Cake, Candied Bacon, Apple Pecan Nougatine Spiced Pumpkin Pot de Crème, ginger bread crumble, pomegranate                                   Chapel Hill Creamery Raw Milk Asiago sea salt crackers, rosemary honey, evoo

Heirloom Restaurant – 

heirloomTucked away in Charlotte’s Bellhaven neighborhood, near Moutain Island Lake,  Heirloom is an easy drive from Uptown, South or North Charlotte, there is plenty of parking and is a Charlotte hot spot you simply do not want to miss. Chef and owner Clark Barlow is making big waves, sourcing from local North Carolina farms and producers and won’t serve anything that wasn’t “Grown. Raised. Caught. Made.” in North Carolina. He and his incredibly talented staff celebrate each season and then can, jar and preserve the harvest for use all year round.  Clark has made appearances on The Food Network’s Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay.  Before opening Heirloom, Clark worked and trained at The French Laundry in California and at El Bulli in Spain, just to mention a few of his creds,  and now he’s taking that same small plate philosophy and doing doing it in spades with all North Carolina local product. Heirloom offers a regular 12 plate tasting menu, but for the end of this year and the beginning of the next, he’s raising the bar.   Celebrate New Year’s Eve in 16 Small Local Delicious Bites to ring in 2016.

$100 per 16 course menu, savor each bite, celebrate all that is local and start your new year at Heirloom.  New Year’s Eve service from 5-10 pm.  The complete 16 course menu will be up on the Heirloom Website on Tuesday Dec 29 by 5 pm.

Always happy to try to accommodate the customer,  Clark asks that for this specially prepared holiday meal, any one with any sort of dietary restrictions needs to call before making reservations. This would include those interested in vegan and vegetarian options as well.  Reservations Are A Must, by calling 704.595.7710 or with a visit to HeirloomRestaurantNC.com. Heirloom is located at 8470 Bellhaven Blvd. Heirloom Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lumiere Restaurant –

lumiereLumiere French Kitchen is located in the heart of Myers Park in Charlotte at 1039 Providence Road. Owned an operated by Chef Tom Condron and Matthew Pera, Lumiere brings modern French cuisine to the Queen City. To read more about chef Tom Condron’s philosophy and all he brings to the table  (Pun intended) at Lumiere in the feature article I wrote in the culinary section of the new Winter issue of Charlotte Living. Then book a reservation for New Year’s Eve when Condron and staff will be offering a four course Four Course Tasting Menu with Lobster, Shrimp, Wild Boar to Dry Aged Prime Beef . For more info call 704.372.3335 or visit lumiereMyersPark.com Lumiere Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

modPALEO –

mod paleo logoHere ‘s an option for after the clock strikes midnight and you make that New Year’s resolution to take better care of yourself in 2016. Just when you thought you were going to have to go it all alone, Charlotte’s modPALEO comes to the rescue! Chef Kris Reid and the talented team are here to help and have already come up with a plan of meals prepared with local and sustainable ingredients. All you have to do right now is register for the program  Dec 26-30. modPALEO is a Carolinas-based, pre-packaged meal service that offers a modern approach to healthy eating, based on the Paleo lifestyle. They believe in maintaining balance and wellness through the power of real food, well-sourced ingredients and sustainability

Commit to Eating Clean and feeling great  with this limited time offer. The “Keepin’ it Clean in 2016” package includes 4 weeks of modPALEO meals purchased in advance for the month of January. You choose how many meals and modPALEO will deliver 4 orders throughout the month (deliveries on January 6, 13, 20 and 27). Shipping and tax are included in pricing. Save between 5 and 25% by paying up front (depending on meal plan). Everything you need to make it happen is at https://store.modpaleo.com/news/Clean2016/  JustDoIt!

Passion 8 – 

passion 8 logoMy friends Jessica and Luca Annunziata and their talented team at Passion 8 are making a night of it with a New Year’s Eve Masquerade party. Two seatings at the popular Elizabeth Avenue restaurant.  First at 6pm featuring  4 fabulous Courses for $85 ; and then the Second Seating at  9pm with  5 Fabulous Courses for $125 with Champagne. An hour before the stroke of midnight the photo booth opens up so you can capture the moment and there will be dancing and a live DJ. Complimentary Hors D’oeuvres & Champagne Toast at Midnight. its all happening at 1523 Elizabeth Ave. Complimentary Parking in adjacent lots.   Wondering what those four or five courses will be? Here you go…. and then Call for Reservations 704.910.3161 or visit http://thepassion8.com/12-31-15/  Passion8 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

To Start: Foie Steak, Peanut Butter Foam, Butter Squash, Walnuts Brittle, Apple Butter

Butter Poached Lobster,Snow Peas, Chanterelle, Lobster Consommé, Crispy Ramen

Beef Tartare, Potato Gaufrette, Quail Egg, Horseradish Crema, Winter Pickled Vegetables

-Salad / Soup-  Mushrooms Consommé,Pickled Vegetables, Truffle Bone Marrow Butter

Winter Green Salad,Goat Cheese Fritter, Sliced Apple, Candy Beets, Pecans,Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

Crudo – Apple Fennel Salad, Yuzu Caviar, Shaved Radish, Micros Herbs, Wasabi Aioli

Mid Course-  Squid Ink Pasta,Snow Peas, Capers, Grilled Calamari, Fennel Broth

Exotic Mushrooms and Truffle Champagne Risotto, Shaved Ricotta Salata

Scallop,Parsnip Puree, Foie Gras Caramel Butter Sauce, Spaghetti Squash, Crispy Prosciutto

Entrees-  Poussin, Stuffed with Sausage & Truffle Bread Pudding, Jamon Iberico,

Butternut Squash Battonet, Spinach, Sage Pan Sauce

Branzino, Brussels Sprout Petals, Trumpet Mushroom, Black Rice, Fish Brodetto

Surf & Turf,Filet, Butter Poached Lobster, Pea & Macaroni Cake, Warmed Zabaione, Collard Greens, Apple Micro Salad

Elk Loin, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Peperonata, Crispy Kale, Coffee Bourbon Reduction

Dessert-  Chef’s Duet

Village Tavern

Village tavernThe annual New Year’s Eve Party at Village Tavern on 4201 Congress Street in the SouthPark area takes place from 9pm to 1am!    Enjoy another masquerade themed evening with the sounds of DJ Chase Morgan, drink specials, delicious appetizers and party favors for all!  $20 cover charge per person, alcohol and gratuity under separate cover. Safe transportation will be available. For more information and reservations, please call 704-552-9983 or visit http://www.villagetavern.com/locations.cfm/8/charlotte-nc/ Village Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Vivace Charlotte

vivaceFinally, perhaps a taste of Italian is what you’ll want to ring in the new year. Lots of great Italian options in town for sure, but one of my recent favorites is Vivace, located in the Metropolitan shopping area between Uptown and Southend at 1100 Metropolitan Ave.

Enjoy fine food and a beautiful view of the Charlotte Skyline from the outdoor patio or the upstairs dining area. Chef Mike Suppa is doing big things there – you won’t leave disappointed and that’s for sure. also impressed that there are regularly vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options on the menu.  For New Years’ Eve its a prix fixe menu with lots of choices, among them, lobster bisque with sage gnocchi and  chestnut crema; tuscan kale salad with pomegranate, caramelized winter squash, toasted pumpkin seeds, shaved caprino and  white balsamic dressing; several pastas; rabbit lasagna with mataki mushrooms, rosemary ricotta, fontina and caramelized onions; lamb porterhouse with oregano potatoes, black olive crema, braised escarole and golden raisins; and for dessert – a host of the chefs sorbets and gelatos as well as peppermint tiramisu, flourless chocolate cake or banana budino. For the complete menu visit http://www.vivacecharlotte.com/menu/new-years-eve

Cost is $55 per person | $75 with wine pairings for each course. Dinner service begins at 5 pm.    For reservations  call 704-370-7755  or visit VivaceCharlotte.com Vivace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NYE bottle

 

 

The problem with any sort of list is that eventually it has to end –  Know that with every list I write and every televised restaurant segment I do there are always lots more of great restaurants and chefs in Charlotte to try as well. All  doing fabulous things for New Years Eve and all year long. Make it a point in 2016 to eat local and support  our incredible local culinary community – Cheers to them all.