Thursday, September 05, 2013

Fruit Bouquets by

Mixed Berry Margarita.

I was recently given the opportunity to sample the fruit bouquets from 1-800-FLOWERS. I received the mixed berry margarita, above, from the Charlotte location. To order in Charlotte, you can call the store directly at (704) 910-1199. Of course you can call or go to their website to have fruit bouquets or flowers or other gifts such as cookies, popcorn and candy delivered anywhere they serve (most states). The berries presented as a beautiful bouquet - very impressive and tasty, although I would love to see a dark chocolate option - these use milk and white chocolate and various toppings including sprinkles, coconut and ground toffee. This is a unique gift in lieu of traditional flowers and can be delivered the same day they are ordered.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Libretto's - New Parktowne Village location

Il Diavolo (back half) and San Gennaro (front). The Il Diavolo was spicy and one of our very favorite menu items!

Soon after moving back to Charlotte in 2012 I visited the Ballantyne location of Libretto's - post here. Now a third Charlotte location at Parktowne Village (corner of Woodlawn and Park Rds.) joins Ballantyne and Epicentre. I recently had two very enjoyable meals at Libretto's - Parktowne and even had the opportunity to speak with owner Mike Libretto about his restaurants and the restaurant business here in Charlotte. 

All of the food was good and the atmosphere at this location is pleasant, nice for couples and families with a bar available for single diners as well. The eggplant parmigiana remains a personal favorite. However, this was my first time trying the pizza and it was also very good - so many delicious specialty pies to choose from. My husband and I both love spicy foods so the Il Diavolo was right up our alley with pepperoni, spicy sausage, jalapenos and roasted garlic - yum! The stuffed mushrooms were also fantastic as an appetizer and we enjoyed the linguini with clam sauce as well. The best news is that this new location delivers to where we live - awesome! I look forward to returning to Libretto's to try more soon, including the wings, Square pizzas, Calzones and Strombolis. 

 Out front.

 Neat bar/outdoor area. When the weather is nice you can sit outside overlooking the fountain!

Full bar. 

Half of a Roasted Beet Salad - kitchen was nice enough to split this for us.

Linguini with White Clam Sauce - garlicky and delicious!

Florentine (right half) and New Yorker (left).

Display of pizzas and garlic knots. Easy to stop in for a quick lunch.

Tasty garlic knots with the wonderful tomato sauce.

Stuffed Mushrooms with sausage in a creamy alfredo sauce - so good!

Eggplant Parmigiana - a beautiful rendition and still one of my top picks.

Eggplant Rollatini - awesome appetizer - would be enough for small appetite meal.

Side of meatballs. Must try. The baby also loved these!

Cannoli we tried was good! Tiramisu, cheesecake and a brownie are also available to satisfy the sweet tooth.

Libertto's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 29, 2013

P.F. Chang's Summer Seasonal Menu

 Grilled Prawns with Chilled Peanut Noodle Salad.

I recently had the opportunity to sample P.F. Chang's summer seasonal menu at the Phillips Place location in Charlotte. This location, along with several others, have been recently remodeled, with the new dining room now lighter and brighter, with a comfortable feel. The large horses inside are gone but there are still terracotta statues around the restaurant. We had a fabulous server for our meal - very upbeat, nice and attentive without being overbearing. The summer menu can be found here and includes several dishes in addition to what we tried such as Korean BBQ Chicken stir fry, Quinoa "fried rice", Smoked Duck spring rolls and sushi selections. 

We tried the heirloom tomato and basil salad to start, which was very tasty and fresh. That, along with the grilled prawns dish (above) were my favorites that we tried. The sauce on the swordfish was also very good - I think they could add a bit more of it to go over the rice. For dessert we tried the mandarin key lime sweet treat, a delicious after-dinner selection that is essentially key lime pie with a twist. I like that P.F. Chang's has these smaller desserts since you are often too full to enjoy anything too substantial after partaking in all of their other tasty dishes. 

Wine pairings and seasonal cocktails are available as well to complement the summer dishes offered. Come try the summer menu before it is too late!

Inside shot - love the remodel!

Heirloom tomato and Thai basil salad with avocado.

Grilled Pineapple-Citrus Swordfish with Summer Rice.

Mandarin Key Lime Sweet Treat.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Urbanspoon
 Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Nom Nom Burger - Charlotte

Kalbi Burger with Garlic Fries

Since I love all Asian foods, especially Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean, I was very excited to try out Nom Nom Burger which opened fairly recently across from Park Road shopping center on Woodlawn Road. We met and talked with one of the founding partners, Tung Ngo, who is very energetic, personable and dedicated to making this creative concept work. We visited on a Tuesday night and it was "kids eat free" night for kids age 10 and under with purchase of an adult meal. Once our little one is old enough to actually eat his own meal (it won't be long!) this will be a great place to go. There were lots of families as well as some couples and groups of friends. The dining room has a neat waterfall that all the kids were fascinated by. 

Finding myself missing Korean food the most since I moved back to Charlotte, I knew we had to try the Kalbi Burger. It includes kimchi, a fried egg, sesame roased nori (seaweed), spicy aioli and roasted garlic. Wow. This was a fantastic burger. Part of the excellence is because of the meat that is used, which is Sterling Silver ground beef, but the flavors in the Kalbi really make it top-notch. The signature Nom Nom burger was also good - it includes Provolone cheese, sauteed Shiitake mushrooms with mirin, caramelized onions with ginger orange marmalade and mayo. It is really a toss-up with the Kalbi but my favorite item we tried is the Ahi burger - a thick piece of Ahi tuna seared and put on a sushi rice "bun" with avocado, spinach and sprouts with both wasabi and citrus soy dipping sauces. Sushi lovers - you must try! We also tried the calamari, which was light, spicy and delicious. The shrimp chips (a Vietnamese item) were really tasty, but regular fries (can be made garlic or jalepeno) as well as sweet potato fries are also options. 

For dessert we wanted to try the Honey Bunz with ice cream but since they were unavailable we had the fried cheesecake "Xango", which was good. There is a Ben & Jerry's right across the patio so that is another option if you have any room after trying the delicious offerings at Nom Nom. Next time I'm trying the Banh Mi Burger (it's actually chicken) - if I can keep myself away from the Ahi! There are also more burger options (including a plain one for the non-adventurous), chicken sandwiches, fish sandwich/tacos, salads, noodles and even a veggie burger on the menu so vegetarians and even vegans should be able to find something. We will see you soon, Nom Nom!


Ahi Burger - for the sushi lover!

 Nom Nom Burger with Shrimp Chips.

Xango - fried cheesecake.

Nom Nom Burger on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Brunch at Block & Grinder

Awesome biscuits. Seriously the best I have ever had with delicious sorghum butter.

While Malika of Atlanta Restaurant Blog was here in town, we also had the opportunity to check out Block & Grinder. I was psyched to try this place since I missed the media event they held prior to opening.  Block & Grinder is unique in that in addition to being a full-service restaurant and bar, there is also a butcher counter where you can purchase meats to cook at home. The restaurant focuses on premium beef as well as natural, organic meats and wild game so carnivores will be in heaven. However, there are options even for vegetarians including an "anti-burger" made from lentils and the house-smoked salmon is sure to please any pescatarian as well.

We had a lovely Sunday brunch here and we were table to try a good portion of the brunch menu. The above biscuits were outstanding and everything else was very good. My favorite dishes (although very hard to choose from the items we tried) were the house smoked salmon - my son's first taste of smoked salmon and he loved it - and the corned beef hash. The coffee (French press) was also wonderful. 

As of July 2013 Sunday brunch is no longer being offered as there is a high demand for cooking classes and private events during that time. However, as noted here, many of the brunch items are available on the lunch and dinner menus. 

House smoked salmon with cornmeal cake.

Sunday sausage.

Shiitake and Gruyere Burger - fantastic flavor and great fries. This is also available for lunch and dinner.

Crawfish & Grits.

Corned beef hash with egg.

Out front.

Cute decoration and the famous butcher counter.

More neat butcher tools on display.

Full bar. I didn't sample any alcohol this visit but the cocktail offerings sound fantastic! I look forward to returning to try the lunch and dinner menus. The pork belly, duck and quail options sounds particularly enticing and I'd wager this would be a great choice if you want a good steak.

Block & Grinder on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dinner at e2 Emeril's Eatery in Charlotte

Crawfish at the Crawfish Boil! Each Friday in May e2 offered a traditional crawfish boil for $5 per person. They served 400 pounds of crawfish the night we were there - let's hope they bring this back soon!

I was recently invited back to e2, this time for dinner with my husband and with fellow blogger Malika Bowling from Atlanta Restaurant Blog. Malika and her husband, Glen, came up from Atlanta to check out some restaurants while they stayed with us for the weekend in Charlotte. Friday night started off with a "Bam" - truly - as we dined in style at e2 with fabulous food and service. 

My favorites included the oyster shooter (not pictured but I blogged about the oyster shooter here previously when I had lunch at e2), the gumbo, the gulf coast drum stew, the special fish dish with stuffed kale and the blue corn brioche bread pudding. We also really enjoyed the cocktails, particularly the famous Grasshopper and the wonderful wine selection. e2 is a really good choice for lunch or dinner. Brunch is also offered with specials for Father's Day, coming up this Sunday.

Special of crispy Duck Wings - different and tasty.

Housemade Boudin + Andouille Sausage.

Special gumbo of the day - delicious!


Emeril's signature BBQ shrimp with rosemary biscuit.


We enjoyed some delicious cocktails and wine!

The famous Grasshopper - everyone really liked this special cocktail.

Special seafood dish with fish and mussel-stuffed kale and fried oysters. The stuffed kale was awesome!

Gulf Coast Drum Portuguese stew - this was really tasty, love the broth and all the seafood.

Trout "Meuniere" - trout is sometimes used in place of the usual founder.

Giant and delicious double cut pork chop - it was after this pork chop that I officially made up the Pork Chop Song / Dance for my son, who at age 7 months, ate some of the leftover pork chop! If you ask me I might sing it for you sometime :D

Desserts: from top left, clockwise, blue corn brioche bread pudding with coconut-pineapple ice cream, banana cream pie, apple crepes with bacon and ice cream, sweet potato cheesecake. The bread pudding was different from any other bread pudding I have ever tried - and SO good! 

E2 Emeril's Eatery on Urbanspoon 
 Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.