State of the Art

Charlotte’s best lunch bargain may be the hardest to get

A typical (and rarely obtainable) lunch at CPCC’s Greenway Restaurant.
A typical (and rarely obtainable) lunch at CPCC’s Greenway Restaurant. Courtesy of Central Piedmont Community College

If there’s a more delightful $12 lunch to be had in Charlotte than the one served at the Greenway Restaurant, I haven’t found it in 35 years.

The setting’s elegant: white tablecloths, cloth napkins, careful presentation of entrees and vegetables on the plate. Servers are attentive, polite and unobtrusive. Mine, a young woman named Adiesty (if I remember the spelling rightly), already seemed ready for the Ritz-Carlton.

Croissants and herbed breadsticks arrive soon after you sit. The three-course meal starts with soup (she-crab, when I ate there), goes on to one of six entrees – beef, chicken, pork, seafood, shellfish – and concludes with fresh-baked pastries. Tea comes throughout; coffee accompanies dessert. The chef will accommodate a vegetarian by subbing veggies for an entree.

Though you’re expected to leave within 90 minutes, nothing feels rushed. Even the walk to Philip L. Van Every Culinary Arts Center puts you in a peaceful mind. You park free across the street and amble under Kings Drive to the entrance near Kings and Seventh Street, unless you want to be dropped off at the door.

But here’s the rub: Lunch typically gets served once per academic quarter, with two seatings over four days. You have to check the website to find the day – or perhaps I should say “the brief window” – when reservations will be accepted.

Bookings for the summer seatings began at 8 a.m. June 8; I am told they were all gone almost immediately. I hear the Greenway may move to an Open Table reservation process, but even those slots will vanish quickly. (Go to www.cpcc.edu/restaurants/greenway to check.)

A friend at CPCC who has a standing table for four kindly let me use it June 30. All of us came away smiling, full (though not overfull) and appreciative of CPCC’s training program. As you might guess, these meals show the talents of students working in the culinary arts program, folks near graduation who are ready to look for jobs in their fields.

By the way, tipping’s optional. Not in any moral sense; it’s obligatory if you have a conscience, and the proceeds go to a student scholarship fund. But nobody will stare if you walk away from the table and leave nothing behind. That’s a rare finale to a rare kind of meal.

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