Looking for the growing edge in Charlotte dining? Take a look at these spots pushing (or getting ready to push) the “local” envelope in assorted ways:
Its lunchtime menu is “sort of Dean and DeLuca meets a Brooklyn food truck,” explains Bonnie Warford. (She and sister Tricia Maddrey run the handsome stalwart Carpe Diem, too.) That means eclectic, ethnically influenced fare such as grilled cheese (hoop cheddar with pickled peaches and arugula on sourdough with preserved lemon butter) and a Dog of the Day (maybe merguez sausage on brioche bun with green tomato chow-chow and toasted cumin mustard) from chef Marc Jacksina. Add a plethora of prepared foods for takeout, artisan condiments and such serve-yourself opportunities as a coffee bar, pickle bar and soft-serve Greek yogurt (care for some chipotle-infused maple syrup with pepito granola on that?), and you’ve got – well, sort of Dean and DeLuca meets a Brooklyn food truck. 1609 Elizabeth Ave.; 704-333-2757; www.earlsgrocery.com.
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Think “locally driven” breakfast/brunch/lunch daily from this new Myers Park spot, with chef Miles Payne heading up the kitchen. Look for lunch fare such as smoky lamb meatball with tomato sauce, feta and mint oil; short rib and kale on baguette with green chile aioli; burger with jalapeno mornay sauce, pickled onion and watermelon. Breakfast might be runny egg with bacon and white cheddar in a boule; brioche cinnamon toast or housemade granola with cold milk and peaches. 2820 Selwyn Ave.; 704-496-9008.
Dogwood Southern Table & Bar
Jon and Kim Dressler have two restaurants with their name on them already (at Birkdale in Huntersville and in the Metropolitan in midtown; another in Ballantyne in 2016?). This, scheduled for November at Ashley Square near SouthPark, will be something of a departure: It will aim to, as Jon puts it, “keep your state on your plate.” States, that is: Chef Scott Hollingsworth and bar manager Brian Lorusso intend to use N.C. and S.C. products, from partner farms and regional breweries. The in-progress menu showed a lineup of classics with a twist or two: roasted tomato and goat cheese fondue; sauteed N.C. flounder with Anson Mills farro; Charleston-style shrimp and grits; smoked prime rib, with appetizers going for about $5-$14 and entrees $15-$25 or so. “House Hooch” (the place itself was almost called “Hominy & Hooch”) will range from barrel-aged Negronis to Hot Yam! (Covington’s sweet potato vodka and house-smoked jalapeno). Look for reclaimed brick and wood, a chef’s table in the open kitchen, a farmhouse table built by general manager Tim Buchanan and a rustic color scheme – plus a patio seating 30 to 35.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
The successful maker of the popular OMB Copper, an Altbier-style brew, moved into a new site four times the size of the old one and the brauhaus (plus an outdoor biergarten) took on a little more heft. Rather than just warm pretzels and a handful of sausage stuffs to go with the main-event brews, it offers a wider range of appetizers, plus pizza, burgers and salad entrees. 4150 Yancey Road, www.facebook.com/OldeMeckBrewery.
Chef-owner Clark Barlowe is betting that diners committed to local and interested in technique will trek northeast of the city for seven-course tasting menus and artisan dinners pairing N.C. beers and wines with N.C. foodstuffs. A rustic setting belies the sophistication of the food (Barlowe has cooked, among other places, at the French Laundry) and prices are still unbelievable as of this writing. 8470 Bellhaven Blvd.; 704-595-7710; www.heirloomrestaurantnc.com.
The Summit Room/The MayoBird
This double dip of a concept uses one side of its building for a fine dining spot specializing in “Southern-inspired” fare from chef Brent Martin (BBQ pork belly, chorizo collards, corn-dusted N.C. trout) and serving dinner only. The other is a cute lunch-time place that’s a spinoff of the owner’s chicken-salad food truck. What? Yes. More than a dozen versions, plus other simple offerings. 1531 East Blvd.; 980-237-2543; www.thesummitrm.com and www.themayobird.com.
The historic Dunhill hotel has a restaurant named for its architect, and chef Chris Coleman pitching a menu “honoring the past, celebrating the season, looking forward.” At its best, this means things like the summertime “Heirloom Tomato ‘Sandwich’ ” that put ripe tomatoes on sourdough with basil ice cream and ricotta from Charlotte’s Uno Alla Votta, or fried catfish with a catfish and mushroom mousseline, with a pot likker vinaigrette. 237 N. Tryon St.; 704-332-414; www.theasbury.com/.
Chef-owner Paul Verica serves up a lot more creative stuff here than his country-club chef gig ever let him, and this tiny Waxhaw spot keeps decor simple and straightforward as well. Figure on farm-to-table fare “with Southern undertones,” as he puts it, such as a deviled egg of the day (all kinds!) or pork chop with chard and peach gastrique – or maybe rabbit fritters with chocolate sauce. 201 W. South Main St., Waxhaw; 704-843-5236; www.heritagefoodanddrink.com
Longtime Charlotte chef Tim Groody did local when few others were; now, in his own place, he’s doing wonders with the vegetables he’s always highlighted, and playing with an array of influences, Asian to Italian and more. 20517 N. Main St., Cornelius; 704-655-7465; www.forkrestaurantcornelius.com