Q. What happened to the owners of Monsoon Garden on East Independence after it closed? It was my favorite Thai restaurant and I'd love to find out if they opened a new spot.
Actually, the defunct Thai place on East Independence was Thai Cuisine Garden, which Tony and Mimi Pornchinda opened after having Thai Cuisine on Central Avenue. (Monsoon, another crowd favorite, is on South Boulevard, and is still open.) The Pornchindas are now at the Cotswold branch of the chain Mama Fu's (110 S. Sharon Amity Road).
Q. We live in Myers Park (and) just took the light rail and ... loved it! Now we want to go downtown for dinner to eat Italian. We are not looking for the most outlandishly expensive place ... just a little authentic Italian place with nice tablecloths and bistro-type atmosphere. Any suggestions?
I'm hoping the light rail will encourage lots of diners to try new venues, since it can eliminate some pesky parking or driving-when-one-shouldn't scenarios. Try Coco Osteria in the Hearst Plaza; that's the closest I can get to what you're after. It's fairly casual (though handsome) and has a regional Italian lineup (check it at http://cocoosteria.com/dinner.htm). It's not a quiet Italian-American nook (in case by “bistro” you mean that); it ranges from cured meats to gnocchi and has a more sociable vibe.
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Q. Have restaurant inspection scores been dropped from CLT permanently?
No! Robin Hall Domeier was just on vacation.
Interestingly, a few people have mentioned they don't think these are as useful as, say, noting whether an individual restaurant is nonsmoking. What do you think? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.