The plastic wrap is off the bar chairs, the tables are all in place, and they’ve gotten the OK to bring in food and start testing dishes at the long-awaited new restaurant in Park Road Shopping Center’s Back Lot section.
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1. It will smell amazing. Wilson’s pride and joy (he calls it “the main attraction”) is the elaborate wood-cooking rig right behind the bar, which includes a wide flat-top, a wheel for raising and lowering hooks that will hold ducks and cuts like legs of lamb and pork shoulder, a ridged grill top and a rotisserie that’s still going in. Since they’ll burn wood into coals right there, the aroma of roasting meat, dripping fat and burning coals should be a feast for your nose.
2. You won’t be able to miss the cooking. This takes the open-kitchen format a step further. All the cooking will happen behind the big, u-shaped bar, including the pasta-making, the wood cooking (see above) and the oven for breads and baguettes, (but absolutely not pizza, Wilson says), roasting vegetables and specialties like porchetta.
3. Expect a head-down chef. Wilson is well known for avoiding attention, but he and his sous chefs and line cooks will be right there on display. “I’m thinking about ear buds,” Wilson admits. “That’s going to be hard for me. I’ll have to adjust.” The only things behind the back wall are the prep and cleanup areas and a large walk-in refrigerator.
4. Food and price lowdown. While Wilson is still working on the menu ( “I have a menu – ish,” he says), the inspiration is Italian, with pastas under $20 unless they’re topped with something expensive, like king crab. Expect $8 to $12 for small plates and appetizers and full entrees in the low $20s. On that menu-ish, for sure: Roasted ducks, whole fish (he still uses local purveyor Rock Stone of China Grove), big cuts of pork, and lots of vegetables, many from his large home garden.
5. Come thirsty for wine. While there is a liquor license and he will have a small collection of things to make things like champagne cocktails, he’s really serious about the wines. He’s only got four taps for local/craft beers and a few in bottles. But he’ll have 60 wines, all under $100. “I want it all food-driven alcohol,” he says. Translation: Wine that matches the food. If you want a cocktail, go across the parking lot to Dot Dot Dot.
6. When you can go. He’s saying Feb. 1 officially, although soft openings may begin before that. Keep an eye out for updates.
7. The biggest news. More Flourshops are coming. Wilson plans to get this one up and running for a year. But after that, he wants to add more locations in towns and cities near Charlotte.