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First Bites

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Beer here – and here, too – as Charlotte scene continues to grow

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/21/17/15/o2cXy.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    Copper and the Southside Weiss on a pretty night at OMB, with a musician in the back singing “If I Could Have a Beer with Jesus.”
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/21/13/12/1gGusV.Em.138.jpeg|421
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    Avocado salsa at Draught Charlotte.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/21/13/12/1dxRst.Em.138.jpeg|421
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    The smoked duck French dip at Draught Charlotte.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/21/13/12/lVbca.Em.138.jpeg|421
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    Lemon-pepper-rubbed wings at OMB: Noteworthily good.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/21/13/12/E8HjQ.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    Bratkartoffeln (pan-fried potatoes), Gyulai (spicy sausage) and a brotchen at OMB.

Let’s peek in at the new Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and the new (but-not-brewery) Draught Charlotte.

Draught Charlotte

The food: This place includes a pronunciation guide (“/dra:ft/”) on both its outside wall and its menus, so clearly, the folks here are aware not everyone’s coming just for beer. The menu supports that, with a more ambitious lineup than you’d think, from pimento cheese fritters and fried green tomatoes as starters, and a French dip made with pulled smoked duck, to entrees such as lettuce wraps with Korean bulgogi-style beef and a tequila lime shrimp and rice bowl.

We tried the avocado salsa (think a coarse guac) with crunchy housemade potato chips (fine) and that French dip (a winner: rich, meaty, with Gruyere and caramelized onions on a good roll). The bulgogi is a good idea but the flank steak’s cut too big to not drip and fall out of a lettuce leaf, while the house plum barbecue sauce is a sweet, spineless mess. But with warm kale salad, steak frites and pub burger, there’s plenty to try next time. Oh, yeah: The beer. The draft list sports 34, nine of them marked as local – though that extended as far afield as Raleigh’s Big Boss.

The look: Big and open, this went into the former Hartigan’s space on Cedar.

The service: We heard a server describe the bulgogi as vegetarian, had a server with no idea about several things on the menu, and listened as another misidentified beers. Some work to do here, though there’s friendliness aplenty.

Details: Lunch $9-$14; dinner $10-$15; 601 S. Cedar St.; 704-375-7563; www.draughtcharlotte.com.

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

The food: It’s a nice surprise that OMB delved into some more German fare for its Brauhaus, along with adding a slate of regular bar food, from burgers and pizzas to wings and wraps. The menu runs four pages (if it’s online, I can’t find it) and includes six wursts (brats, the littler Nuremburgers, spicier Gyulai, kielbasa, knockwurst and a German frank), all served either German-style (with a brotchen, a dense and delicious little roll, mustard and one side) or American-style (in a bun with mustard and one more topping, and a side).

Or you can order any two, with two sides and a brotchen (say broo-chin and you’re close enough). There’s also sandwiches of house-roasted beef with grilled onions and horseradish, Margherita pizzas and the best chicken wings I’ve had in some time. Who knew?

Several beers were offered on our visit: The famous Copper (an amber ale), Captain Jack (a pilsner), Southside Weiss (which I love, and would love even more if they spelled it Vice, which, yes, is how it’s pronounced), a Dunkel lager and more. Share and compare.

The look: It’s almost a campus feel here, with the Brauhaus opening into a dining room, which flows onto a patio, which opens onto a graveled seating area, which abuts grassy space on which we watched kids playing a little ball. On our visit, servers handled everyone up to the graveled area; there, folks ordered and fetched their own stuff from inside. The Brauhaus is lovely, a wall of glasses and taps and bar, with dark woods and golden walls.

The service: Ours were rushed on a night when a big event in the private area took most of the kitchen’s time, but handled it pretty well. Explanations of each beer would help, but I suspect that will come when the opening rush abates a little.

Details: About $6-$13; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, to 11 Friday-Saturday (tours Friday-Sunday); 4150 Yancey Road; 704-525-5644; www.oldemeckbrew.com.

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