Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beer here (Charlotte) ...

On the way: Gastropub Draught Charlotte in the former Hartigan's spot at 601 S. Cedar St. near the stadium, from owner Jason Astephen, who has Prohibition in Charlotte and Craft Tap House in New York. Look for 34 craft beers on tap (about half from Charlotte and nearby N.C.), says the place's Maura Howe, plus "mason jar cocktails" and two bars.
As for the food, exec chef Tony Maiolo and sous Bruce Florio, both Johnson & Wales graduates, plan such items as pimento cheese fritters with crusted red honey; fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and roasted red pepper aioli; beer-braised pork "wings" with sweet chile Cheerwine barbecue sauce; Korean-style bulgogi lettuce wraps; and a smoked duck French dip sandwich, dubbed the Third Ward Sandwich.

Grand opening target date is Aug. 8. The website's in progress; Facebook page is here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tacos/tequila coming into former tacos/beer spot on East Boulevard

Going into the former Longboards tacos and beer spot on East Boulevard is Bakersfield. A tacos/tequila/whiskey chain, it serves Mexican food, is based in Cincinnati (with locations in Columbus and Indianapolis), is named for the California city of Bakersfield, and says on its websites that it's evoking the "Bakersfield Sound" (the music of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, which was a reaction to the Nashville sound of the time).

Target opening is the last week of August, says the company's Lauren Altman, in town Wednesday to help local partner Brian Riggenbach finalize some things. The menu will be "very similar" to other locations, she said. And what will distinguish these tacos from the ones that just vacated the premises? Tortillas made in-house daily, for one thing, she said -- and "the food and service will speak for themselves."

The space has been "completely gutted; we even moved the bar" and Altman dubbed it a neighborhood bar, "with outstanding bar food." 1301 East Blvd.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Young chef competition call: ment'or

Are you, or do you know, a chef 22-27 interested in recognition and some bucks to go with it?

What used to be called the Bocuse d'Or Foundation -- a nonprofit aimed at preserving classic cuisine in America -- became the ment'or BKB Foundation (with board members Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Jérôme Bocuse, son of the more famous Paul), and it's now holding its first "ment'or Young Chef Competition Series."

Chefs apply between now and Sept. 4 to compete in one of four two-hour cooking contests, set for October and November in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Miami and New York (four chefs will compete in each city). Winners and second-place finishers in each city get three- and two-month stagiaires (essentially internships) in what the competition's press release calls "some of the nation's most well respected restaurants."

“We have so many excellent young cooks in this country who are eager to learn, grow, and advance their careers, as well as cook on a national stage,” Boulud says in the release. “This competition is a celebration of the younger generation of aspiring, talented chefs. It doesn’t matter if you’re a self-taught line cook, a culinary school graduate, a second-career cook or came from another country. Let the best chef win!”

Of course, diners are invited to go, watch and eat at the "host venues" (not announced yet).

For applications and more info:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Links for a Thursday

Call me when you start garnishing like this. Anyone. (Zagat's listed eight "over the top" cocktails, here.)

Actual state fair food, or made-up silliness? (I whiffed on the quiz.)

Well played, Eater, especially the "unconventional riff on brussels sprouts" here.

National Tequila Day (although: Isn't every day?): July 24

Vida uptown features Casamigos tequila for the day: Buy a shot or a drink made with it and $1 goes to Second String Santa, and Vida matches the overall donation. Come for a tasting at 7 p.m. for $25, and Vida donates $5 to SSS, which raises money and delivers gifts and school supplies to kids who need them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'Dog days' at BLT Steak; actual dogs at JJ's

BLT Steak offers a "Dog Days of Summer" blackboard menu from chef Ben Miles through July. Among the items: heirloom tomato salad with olive oil croutons and burrata (that's mozzarella cheese, encasing more mozzarella and cream) drizzled with Vincotto vinaigrette; tempura squash blossoms topped with ricotta and tomato-tarragon jam; and New Town Farms baby squash sprinkled with basil and Parmesan. Entree options include diver scallops with chanterelles, corn and smoked bacon, and a double-cut pork chop with Mission figs and pancetta; dessert's Georgia peach tart with almond filling and a scoop of vanilla gelato. The lineup can be ordered individually, or as a $60 fixed-price menu (for wine pairings, add $35). 110 N. College St. in the Ritz-Carlton; 704-972-4380.

Meanwhile, JJ’s Red Hots (with locations in Dilworth and Ballantyne) looked at sales and feedback and social media for the past year and declared its "Top Ten Most Outrageous (and Best Selling) Hot Dog Toppings," all from its "dog of the week" program, in which it lets businesses and others dictate the dog of their dreams. (Some of these people need to adjust whatever they're doing before bedtime.) They are:

  • Mac & cheese (on the "Mac Daddy")
  • Sweet potato hash (on the "Yam I Am")
  • Peanut butter (on the "Weiner the Pooh")
  • Scrambled eggs (on the Breakfast Dog)
  • Smoked jalapeno ketchup (on the "Put That In Your Pipe")
  • Pineapple salsa (on the "Maui Gold")
  • Sage and andouille stuffing (on the "Franksgiving")
  • Smoked amber barbecue sauce (on the "Beer B Q," a collaboration with Triple C Brewing)
  • Jalapeno corn salsa (on the "Maized and Confused")
  • Housemade pimento cheese (on the "Big Cheesy")

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Now open: littleSpoon in Myers Park

The long-delayed Selwyn Avenue spot called littleSpoon opened Monday with what it calls a "locally driven" breakfast/brunch/lunch lineup.

Breakfast ranges from corn tortillas with egg white, kale, red quinoa and salsa to soft-boiled egg with toast sticks and flake salt to quinoa "porridge" with blueberries, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon (prices about $5-$9.50).

For midday, look for heirloom tomato with anchovy-butter croutons, fennel and parsley; lamb pastrami on rye; shrimp and horseradish on a soft roll with lemon, celery and onion (prices about $8-$11).

Chef Miles Payne will make adjustments in the first month or so, said partner Alesha Sin Vinata.

2820 Selwyn Ave.; 704-496-9908; website's not up yet, but the Facebook page is (above photo's from the Twitter feed: @littlespoonCLT). Hours now are 7 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, 9 to 3 Sunday.