Food & Drink

Popular Block & Grinder chef joins Charlotte restaurant

Chef Ben Philpott ran both locations of Block & Grinder before the restaurants closed last year.
Chef Ben Philpott ran both locations of Block & Grinder before the restaurants closed last year. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

It may seem like a switch from the meat-focused menu at Block & Grinder to contemporary French cuisine, but Ben Philpott and Tom Condron announced Tuesday that Philpott is now the chef at Condron’s restaurant Lumiere at Providence and Queens roads.

Philpott, the first president of the Piedmont Culinary Guild, however, says it’s really a return for him: he’s a graduate of the French Culinary Institute. Lumiere focuses on classic French dishes with a Mediterranean spin.

“It is and it isn’t (a change),” Philpott said Tuesday. “The menu at Block and Grinder was very diverse. I’m excited about this, because my favorite things to do are the fun plates, the experimental, different ways to twist.”

Philpott does expect changes to the menu at Lumiere, which is co-owned by Matt Pera. “After Restaurant Week (Jan. 19-28), we’re going to do an overhaul and it will be my menu. My interpretations on some classically prepared French dishes. French techniques and French influences. It will include my influences, so there will be some Southern hints as well.”

After Block & Grinder closed in April, Philpott has taken time off to spend with his family and did a bit of traveling. But there was never any question about moving.

“We were never going to leave Charlotte. Charlotte is home and that’s that.”

Block & Grinder, owned by Jed Kampe with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and an onsite butcher case, first opened on Providence Road near Sharon Amity Road and then expanded to a much larger location in the Langtree development near Lake Norman. In the closing, Philpott cited the difficulty of finding the balance between prices and the cost of locally sourced food.

To mark Philpott’s arrival at Lumiere, the restaurant, at 1039 Providence Road, will offer a “meet the chef” special Wednesday night for $40, including a glass of champagne and a choice of dishes for three courses. Call 704-372-3335 for reservations.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis

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