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Tupelo Honey offers mixed bag; Heritage presents fun dishes well

Tupelo Honey

The food: This outpost of the popular Asheville original is now one of half a dozen spinoffs, with each location differing a bit in look, but little in menu, a mountain-tinged list of Southern fare. That means biscuits – good biscuits – to start (unless you go instead with a signature Moonswine Mary, a Bloody Mary made with jalapeno-bacon moonshine, of which they were tragically out on my visit) and a homespun lineup to follow. Handsome fried green tomatoes with terrific goat-cheese grits, for example, or a pleasantly thick fillet of trout with fine spinach beurre blanc (but mediocre asparagus, as you’d expect now; shame). A grilled cheese was disappointingly bland, as were lackluster fries. But breakfast is served all day and has more range than most.

The look: Rustic with some flair, though if you’re looking for the idiosyncrasy of past tenant Pewter Rose, you won’t find it. Fitting details, from suspended window sashes to a crown light fixture, spark the space.

The service: Ours, with the exception of one host, was pretty befuddled, and we didn’t go the first week. But everyone stayed friendly and warm, so I’m hopeful that kinks, such as not knowing the menu and seating confusions, are working themselves out.

Details: Sandwiches and entrees about $8 to $28; 1820 South Blvd.; 980-225-9167; www.tupelohoneycafe.com.

Heritage

The food: When former club chef Paul Verica decided to try his own thing, he wanted to stay small to manage the risk. This Waxhaw spot fits the bill, and though he says he hasn’t pushed the boundaries yet, he’s been pleasantly surprised at the popularity of, say, his braised rabbit pasta. (Again, out of pasta on my visit. I’m cursed.) But the more common things are fun, too, from deviled eggs sprinkled with North Carolina sturgeon roe to arugula with chunks of compressed Fuji apples to a “surf and turf” that features fat scallops and a tiny morsel of quail. Portions need some adjusting (a beautiful beet risotto should have been twice its size, though a hunk of grouper was more than generous. But presentation is top-notch for the price.

The look: For its size, you want cozy, and while the appropriately, personally stocked bookshelves and gorgeous photos set the stage, there are too many hard surfaces (that floor squeak!) to pull that off. Still, the subtle coloring and varied seating options (plus: cute bar) are fine.

The service: Uneven but amiable and educated, ours just needed a little more focus to excel.

Details: Entrees about $15 to $25; 201 W. South Main St., Waxhaw; 704-843-5236; www.heritagefoodanddrink.com.

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