Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Not-So-Short List of Great Places to go out to Eat in Charlotte a great-on-the-grill recipe if you'd rather do-it-yourself

Hey there - Looking for some place to go out to eat in Charlotte? The Queen City has no shortage of wonderful places from fine dining to casual dinners - here is my short list for Sunday September 27...

First two great wine dinners tonight and two of our favorite little places, both in the Dilworth/South End area -
The Pewter Rose Bistro is featuring the wines of Pietro and Vertex (the wine maker also makes her own sea salts and olive oils!) The dinner begins at 6 pm; cost is $45 per person. For menu specifics, more info and to make reservations call 704-332-8149.

Dolce Ristorante a fun Italian wine dinner featuring some of the newest pours on Dolce's wine list. Dinner begins at 6 pm; cost is $35 per person. Call 704-332-7525 for reservations and details.

Then, check out my two restaurant features in the newest issue of Charlotte Living Magazine - I've spotlighted Terra, a charming little French Bistro in the heart of Charlotte Eastover neighborhood and Passion 8 Bistro, with an eclectic Italian/Mediterranean based menu feature locally grown and produced produce and product. Passion 8 is on Highway 51 just over the state line in Fort Mill, SC.

If you are looking to go Uptown don't miss some spectacular finds, all chef driven, with a great range of flavor on the menu. Lots of these places offer specials during the week and on weekends, too - so don't stay away cause you think it will be too pricey!
One of Charlotte's front runners on the local fare scene will always remain one of my favorites - Sonoma, located in the Bank of America Corporate Center is always fabulous place for beautifully prepared American cuisine. Also fun and tasty, too is Sonoma's sister restaurant, Pie Town , down on Trade Street across from Johnson & Wales, offering more casual menu items in the guise of a creative assortment of hand tossed pizza.

For more fine American cuisine with a french bistro/brasserie sort of feel there is Ratcliffe on the Green owned by Chef Mark Hibbs and don't forget about Mimosa Grill and Zink - two of the Harper's Group that also includes Upstream at Phillips Place near Southpark. Upstream, along with the Pewter Rose, is one of my favorite places for Sunday brunching.

For Italian fare in the Uptown area you can't miss ith Luce and her sister restaurant Coco Osteria, both located in the Hearst Tower Courtyard and both featured in my Very Culinary section of the July/August issue of Charlotte Living in an article on owner Augusto Conte.

Wanting to "Thai" one on with a little Asian flavor? - The food and atmosphere at one of Uptown's newest places, Thai Basil will blow you away. There orginal restaurant is in Charleston and everyone who has been to both places loves having this great new spot in Charlotte, too. Also great choices for Thai food here are the new Deejai on Providence Road next to the Manor Theatre and another old favorite Thai Orchid at the corner of Providence and Sardis roads in the Strawberry Hills shopping center.

Getting back to Uptown dining spots, just for fun, you could take the train and get off at the Epicenter. Here you will find a myriad of dining spots that include the much touted Mez. If you are wanting to do "dinner and a show" you can even eat while you watch a movie as Mez is connected to the Epicenter theatres.In this open air shopping and dining pavillion you will also find the new Enso Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar.

Speaking of the theatre, Providence Cafe, located on Perrin Place in Myers Park, is running a great theatre special right now - as I am sure many other places plan to do in conjunction with the Blumenthal performance of A Chorus Line. At Providence Cafe they are offering a theater dinner menu for two priced at just $39.95!

Other Charlotte favorites to remember and eat at often include a visit to Charlotte's original restaurant row on Montford Drive right off Park Road. The resurgance here includes Andrew Blair's ( now featuring the talent of Charlotte Chef Blake Hartwick); Brazwells Gastro Pub ( in the old Press Box location but with all new redone interiors) and Good Food, a fabulous new tapas-style restaurant from owner/chef Kerry Moffitt, brother to chef Bruce Moffitt, owner/chef of Barrington's on Fairveiw Road. Barrington's is another Charlotte classic go-to on my list of dining- out faves.

In that same vein, take any dining-out opportunity you can to eat at Lulu's in Plaza Midwood and across town same goes for Bonterra in SouthEnd is another don't miss dining out option for fine American cuisine as is its sister restaurant Las Ramblas ( Spanish and tapas) on Park Road in Dilworth.

In the Elizaeth neighborhood, don't forget about Customshop and Carpe Diem, both on the newly redone and NOW OPEN Elizabeth Avenue. After almost a year of construction, Elizabeth Ave - between "Presby" Hospital and CPCC is now open and parking for both of these places and all the other establishments along the way ( including NoFo on Liz, 1900 Mexican Grill and the Visulite Theatre) is a breeze!

Now after all of that, if you'd rather just stay home and cook dinner yourself - here is a great fall recipe for dinner on the grill, featuring a fine steak (try locaaly raised Proffit Family Farms or Baucoms Beef - both available at local Satruday morning farmers markets) or side of wild salmon (yum!)

Bistecca or Salmon alla Fiorentina

4 sprigs fresh rosemary, stripped and minced
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, stripped and minced
1 (2 1/2 pound) choice or prime porterhouse steak or wild salmon filet
3 Tbsp. Tuscan olive oil
Moist, grey sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
6 lemon wedges or lemon juice

Press chopped rosemary onto both sides of porterhouse steak and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Rub rosemary and olive oil into the meat; allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Start an outdoor grill using hardwood charcoal, such as hickory. When coals are white and glowing, arrange for high heat.
Season steak to taste with sea salt and pepper.
Place steak onto grill, and cook until a dark, golden brown (not burnt) crust forms, 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness of meat. Turn over, and continue cooking until golden on the other side, 5 to 10 minutes more.
The salmon will cook in approximately half the time of the beef – use the 10 minute rule for perfectly moist but cooked salmon,
Bistecca is generally served rare to medium rare. If you would like your steak more well done, just cook it a few minutes more. When finished, place steak onto a platter, squeeze lemon juice over all. Rest for 6-8 minutes, then slice and serve.

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