Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bar Cocoa at the Ritz-Carlton - Charlotte

New Eclair Selection. From L to R: classic (vanilla custard) with Ritz chocolate topper, S'mores with chocolate custard, pistachio strawberry, raspberry rose and caramel.

I was very excited to be invited to a special dessert tasting featuring the delicious sweets offered at Bar Cocoa at the Ritz-Carlton in uptown Charlotte. Bar Cocoa is the only one of its kind in the world and its corner location (Trade and College) allows both hotel guests and uptown Charlotte pedestrians to partake of pastries, gelato, coffee, chocolates and other goodies. Cooking classes, catering and custom cakes are also offered and there is even a champagne and chocolate all dessert dinner option on the weekends!

The French macaron selection is truly impressive. New flavor blueberry lavender has a subtle lavender aftertaste with strong blueberry notes. Other favorites include coconut, red velvet, honey, dulce de leche, and caramel but there are at least 10 macaroon options to try on a daily basis. 

The new eclairs are incredible - my favorite item we tried. The outside of the eclair is crisp and a little crunchy, giving way to smooth fillings - nothing at all like the soggy eclairs typically found in grocery stores. My favorite flavors were the classic and the caramel but all of them were truly excellent.

Tasty Macarons.

Gelato: Peach Mango and Honey Pecan. The new peach mango gelato is terrific for summer - flavorful, creamy and refreshing all at the same time. On Friday and Saturday afternoons you can sample the gelatos in tiny cones in the Ritz's lobby - this will cause you to dash back to Bar Cocoa for a larger serving!

The Ritz-Carlton cake - dark chocolate, candied orange and Grand Marnier. This rich, chocolatey cake is available at every Ritz all over the world. But remember, no other Ritz has a Bar Cocoa!

Lovely table decoration made from many flavors of macaron.

Milkshakes - we tried mini versions but these are sold in standard larger sizes - from L to R - chocolate hazelnut, banana caramel and cookies and cream. My favorite = cookies and cream!

Norman Love Easter Collection selections. These are peanut butter and lemon - delicious and beautiful. See the entire Easter collection here. The chocolates are the only item that is not made in-house at Bar Cocoa.

If you have not yet tried Bar Cocoa, I recommend it for a sweet treat anytime! Since it is located in the Ritz-Carlton, it is even open until midnight on Friday and Saturday - sweet!
Bar Cocoa on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The desserts described in this review were complimentary.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Chuy's at South Park - Charlotte, NC

 Chile Rellenos stuffed with Shrimp and Cheese.

Chuy's is a Tex Mex chain with a huge following with its first store in Austin, Texas circa 1982. The Charlotte outlet opened summer 2013 and I recently had the chance to try it out. I had never been to another Chuy's before and I really enjoyed my first experience. Much of what makes Chuy's fun and unique is the atmosphere, including several kitschy / themed rooms like the palm tree room and the hub cap room. We ended up sitting outside which was a great choice since my son was with us. He was able to run around and play near the fountain, which is just outside the patio seating area. The inside is great for kids as well - in addition to the interesting decor, there is a tortilla making area where kids can watch and make their own.

Previously, Charlotte lacked a Tex-Mex presence so it is great to see Chuy's filling this niche. The menu is huge and includes several specialties that you don't see often - like Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken. We tasted all the sauces - and there are LOTS - see photo below. My favorite was the hatch chile sauce - delicious and you would be remiss not to try the boom-boom sauce on something! The appetizer platter was a crowd pleaser as well, especially the loaded nachos and the chicken flautas. I liked the thin chips and salsa - allowed me to eat more of them and taste all the sauces! My other favorites from the meal include the chile rellenos - we tried the one stuffed with shrimp and cheese but there are several options and the sinfully rich and delicious tres leches cake - one of my favorites anyway - this version really took the cake!! There is a full drink menu available including specialty margaritas which my adult dining companions thoroughly enjoyed. If you have not yet tried Chuy's I encourage you to check it out - it is located at the corner of Sharon and Morrison, convenient to all your South Park shopping needs.

Credit for almost all the photos goes to my awesome cousin, Benjamin Leder.

The outdoor seating area is perfect for families - it is right next to a giant fountain that turns on and off, a fun distraction for the toddler :)

We enjoyed the thin, crispy chips along with the salsa and other sauces (see below!)

Appetizer platter - loved this!

Sauce tour.

Steak fajitas with all the fixins!

Taco platter - fish and chicken. 


The Hubcap Room.

Tres Leches - one of the best I've ever had. 

Flan - also good!

Chuy's on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.