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First Bites

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Two, two, two Charlotte restaurants in one (sort of)

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/08/11/59/wPokH.Em.138.jpeg|316
    HELEN SCHWAB - hschwab@charlotteobserver.com
    From The Mayobird side, clockwise from top left: Pimento cheese; the “Big Bird” (curried chicken salad); sides of redneck caviar, copper pennies and grape salad; and pita chips.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/08/11/59/zMufy.Em.138.jpeg|316
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    The Summit Room’s tomato soup, with creme fraiche.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/08/11/59/1856Ip.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    One view of The Summit Room side.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/08/11/59/eKNdc.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    Duck breast and leg confit at The Summit Room.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/08/11/59/LuCuB.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    Deviled eggs from The Summit Room.

Dilworth folks fretted about the prime East Boulevard space left empty when Caribou Coffee and Bruegger’s departed, and hoped for something interesting. Deedee Mills doubled down on the space and opened two places.

The Mayobird, in what had been the coffee place, serves breakfast and lunch, and while its signature is chicken salad – 15 kinds of chicken salad – there are other things, too. Those include a finer-textured-than-most pimento cheese, a respectable redneck caviar (blackeyed pea salad for the uninitiated), crunchy pita chips and a sweet, sweet, green and red grape salad with pecans. There’s even copper pennies – a sweet, tomatoey marinated carrot salad that’s a nice change-up from the usual lunchtime sides. Breakfast brings all manner of coffee drinks, plus quiches, coffee cake, biscuits, croissants and more.

Mills has the Mayobird offerings as a food truck as well (which came first? the truck), and does catering.

Here, on a recent visit, a “Big Bird” (curried chicken salad) sported apple chunks and good flavor, though the meat was on the drier side (some versions use mayo but several do not, so you’ve got that option, too). Check the menu for “The Choices,” which define how you get your chicken salad: in a sandwich, salad, as sliders, with cheese, with soup, etc. A grilled, buttered New England split roll (think the bread of lobster rolls) is also offered, and would be particularly good with the moister versions.

The Summit Room, meanwhile, aims higher.

Mills brought in chef Brent Martin to emphasize local and regional sustainable foodstuffs, in “Southern-inspired” plates. She summited Mount Kilimanjaro in October 2013, and says she decided to open it the day after she returned to Charlotte. Seven cocktails are named for the “Seven Summits” – the highest mountains on each continent – and take their cues from the respective locations. So the South American one employs the sugar-cane spirit called Cachaca (and is reminiscent of the famous Brazilian caipirinha), while the European one uses Stolichnaya.

My visit here found the kitchen still adjusting.

While a plate of deviled eggs was beautiful and camera-ready, the whites had turned a bit tough, though the pickled jalapeno relish and ghost pepper syrup (no worries: it’s hot but not incendiary) lifted them nicely. Duck, served as a confit leg and sliced breast, had troubles on both sides: the leg was overly salty, while the breast slices were distinctly undercooked. Again, accompaniments fared better, and were interesting: blueberry grits (a love-it-or-hate-it idea), pickled blueberries and simple wilted spinach.

Farro risotto, done with corn cream, sported Marcona almonds and pickled okra, with a sprinkling of boiled peanuts. Had it been not quite as gelatinous, the flavors would have had more pop.

Other options: brie-stuffed hen with braised kale, steamed mussels with OMB Copper and lobster broth, chicken with chimichurri and goat cheese on flatbread, grilled flatiron steak with a farm egg and pickled ramp aioli.

I love the use of pickled things – you’ve noticed the influx all over town, yes? – and the versions I had were very well done.

I’m looking forward to a return after giving the place a little time to settle in.

1531 East Blvd.; 980-237-2543; www.themayobird.com; and 980-237-2227; www.thesummitrm.com.

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