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Corey and Katie’s picks for Charlotte Restaurant Week, which starts Friday

The Zucchini Flower is a speciality at Passion8 in the Elizabeth area of Charlotte on Thursday, July 2, 2015. Passion8 Executive Chef and Co-owner Luca Annunziata and Co-owner Jessica Annunziata,  share a passion for good, rustic-with-a-twist Italian food. and for Italy, where they lived together before moving to Charlotte to open their restaurant.
The Zucchini Flower is a speciality at Passion8 in the Elizabeth area of Charlotte on Thursday, July 2, 2015. Passion8 Executive Chef and Co-owner Luca Annunziata and Co-owner Jessica Annunziata, share a passion for good, rustic-with-a-twist Italian food. and for Italy, where they lived together before moving to Charlotte to open their restaurant. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Happy Queen’s Feast! Charlotte Restaurant Week starts Friday, July 17 and goes through Sunday, July 26. Here’s your chance to get a taste of more than 120 participating restaurants that offer three courses for $30 or $35 (tax and tip not included).

The list ranges from Lumiere French Kitchen, to The Prickly Pear, to Lure Oyster Bar.

Time to make a plan, people.

First, our rules.

– The first rule of Charlotte Restaurant Week is: Do not go somewhere you have gone before.

– The second rule of Charlotte Restaurant Week is: Do not order a dish you could make at home.

Now for our picks.

Katie

My game plan for Charlotte Restaurant Week 2014 was weak. I didn’t do my research and ended up at two really nice restaurants — but eating really boring food. Restaurant #1: soba noodles with soy sauce. Restaurant #2: tagliatelle noodles with tomato sauce. My fault for not seeking out more vegetarian-loving options.

So here is my research-based wish list for this year’s feasting festivities:

(1) BAKU: $35 per person.

First course: Baku Salad. Cabbage, spring mix, candied pecans, chives and umeboshi dressing. (I looked up umeboshi, and it appears to be pickled plums with “dramatic flavor” and “remarkable medicinal qualities”).

Second course: Duo Of Dumplings. Pork with cabbage, and mushroom with eggplant and black rice, served with dipping sauces. (I shall beg them to give me two of the mushroom dumplings.)

Third course: Tiger Prawn and Vegetable Tempura. With tentsuyu dipping sauce. (I shall beg them to give me all vegetable tempura. It will be fine.)

Dessert course ($5 supplement): Orange Ginger Crème Brulée. (Just… yes.)

Backup, in case I need to order off of the regular menu: Tofu Robata Skewer. Features mugi miso, honey and ginger. (Robata is a grilling technique involving charcoal. Mugi miso is made from soybeans and barley.)

Mmm…Orange Ginger Creme Brûlée #bakucharlotte #bakurestaurant #southpark #cremebrulee #orange #ginger #cltfood #clteats

A photo posted by BAKU – Restaurant (@bakurestaurant) on Jun 17, 2015 at 3:49pm PDT

(2) Passion8: $35 per person.

Starter: Burton Farm Heirloom Tomato. Regional market summer vegetable giardiniera, ricotta salata, EVOO, balsamic foam. (Giardiniera is an Italian relish. EVOO is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I’m embarrassed that I had to look this up.)

Entree: (NY Strip with) summer succotash, blue cheese potato croquette, vincotto, rose Borderlaise. (The restaurant is not quite ready to reveal its vegetarian option, so for now I plan to ask for everything except the meat. Update to come.)

Dessert: Amarena Cherry Panna Cotta. With crumbled Graham cracker. (Panna Cotta is a molded, chilled, cream-based dessert.)

Backup, in case I need to order off of the regular menu: Composed Market Vegetable Plate.  Mushrooms and lentil salad, roasted shallot vinaigrette, crispy mushrooms. (Plus one glass of the Bodega Altocedro “Ano Cero” Malbec. Thanks.)

Burton Family Farm Tomatoes!!!!!!!! yay summer #supportlocalfarms #supportlocalfood A photo posted by Passion8 (@passion8clt) on Jun 13, 2015 at 2:55pm PDTPhoto by David Foster / The Charlotte Observer

Corey

Keep in mind that I’m writing this while eating lunch at my desk, so every restaurant on the list looks amazing.

I approached this with two criteria: (1) It must be a place that I don’t regularly go to — a special occasion restaurant, if you will, and (2) It must be a place that I haven’t eaten at during a previous restaurant week. Bonus points if I don’t understand half of the words on the menu.

Here we go:

(1) Upstream: $35 per person. 

Starter: So many options. But I’m going with Wood Oven-Roasted Octopus (arugula, frisee, crispy potatoes, sriracha aioli) because I like to live dangerously … and I like saying the word “sriracha.”

Main course: Lobster intimidates me, so I’m going with the North Carolina Mahi Mahi — sweet corn nage, spring succotash, blue crab fritters and togarashi butter.

Dessert: I’m not a big fan of chocolate, so: Caramel Crème Brûlée with local berries.

(2) Dogwood Southern Table & Bar: $35 per person. 

First course: Baked Pimento Cheese with tomato jam and crispy country ham. I will eat pimiento cheese anything.

Second course: Seared Heritage Farms Pork Loin with stone ground grits, greens and chow chow. If you’ve never had chow chow, do it. It is not dog.

Third course: Toasted Pound Cake. Keeping it simple, I like it.

Don’t be limited by this four-restaurant list. There are options aplenty, so go explore. Happy eating!


charlotte5
MARK HAMES mhames@charlotteobserver.com
Corey Katie
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