First Bite is a look at, not a full review of, a new Charlotte-area restaurant.
The Food: Prime steaks are the gig at Fleming's, from OSI Restaurant Partners (which also runs Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's and Bonefish Grill). A bone-in ribeye fared well, simple and clean-flavored, while three double-thick lamb chops were beautiful, marred only by a musty champagne-mint sauce. Entrees are served a la carte, which puts pressure on sides, since a party of two is likely to only order one or two. Fortunately, a half-and-half of shoestring fries and fat onion rings showed good frying; unfortunately, goopy creamed spinach was more cream and cheese than spinach. Crabcakes boasted lots of crab, and the complimentary opener of cheese spreads is a nice touch, as is the by-the-glass wine list that moves from light to intense. Skip gummy lava cake.
The Look: The only real variations from iconic upscale steakhouse décor are lighting – huge, orange-y pendant fixtures, with bright spotlights with which to read the menu (so don't look up) – and generic, adlike photos of wine bottles and glasses.
The Servers: Ours proved amiable, knowledgeable, enthusiastic … and completely undermined in his attempt to be unobtrusive by attendants who refilled our water glasses every (roughly) 2.6 minutes.
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Details: At the EpiCentre, 210 E. Trade St., with valet parking offered. Dinner nightly; 704-333-4266.