Cafe Nirvana! Under new management – Grand Opening May 3

ImageCafé Nirvana – 521 Lancaster Hwy Pineville, NC

I remember when this “Indian Fusion” restaurant opened up close to Ballantyne.  In fact, it prompted many new Indian restaurants in the area but they were the first.

Always a good atmosphere, good service, & good food.  Unfortunately, as the economy tanked, so did this place.  Revolving door with staff & the food/service suffered.  Bar…what bar…all they had available near the end was beer/wine…if you were lucky enough to go there when they had any.  And then vacant for months.

It’s been ages since I’ve been back but just couldn’t resist when I drove by recently & saw the Open sign.  I was surprised to see it empty but it was a little early for dinner, close to 6.    But the service was great as I remember it.  And the food was just the way I like it, Hot Hot Hot!    Paneer 65 was definitely a good dish, with just enough sauce and heat to set your tongue on fire.  And gone are the days when you looked at your plate & went “where’s the food?”  This dish was more than enough for two to share.  Dosa is my weakness…and Mysore dosas are the best so of course I got that.  Nicely served to a crisp brown color, stuff with spicy masala.  More than enough to feed me.  The samabar a little different than my usual taste but flavorful.  Just needs a little thinning out. 

Clearly, the new management has made the difference in this place.  It helps that the new owner already has a successful restaurant at Myrtle Beach & the new manager is ready to bring the “spice” back in the place…in food and fun.  While Café Nirvana is going through lots of changes, they are all good.  The bar is gonna be back up soon and the “fusion” in the name restaurant will be reflected in a new menu.  And a few fun activities will draw the crowds in.  The Grand Opening is May 3 so make sure to stop by and try it out.  You will not be disappointed!

 

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Rooster time!

basilRoosters on the Run on Morrison Blvd in Southpark, NC is the latest place I tried. Hidden in a little shopping center, the restaurant itself is quite large.  As it says in the name, it’s a Roosters a restaurant….literally. 

Roosters décor adorn the restaurant entrance & walls.  In fact, one part of the wall is full of stuff roosters….a little scary if you visited one evening and had a few cocktails!

The menu was very nice.  Since we visited on a dreary, rainy day soup was in order.  Three tomato basil soups came out very quickly, unfortunately barely warm.  But that was rectified immediately when the floor manager & waiter came by to collect and warm up the soups.  And this time they were piping hot & yummy.  So smooth and flavorful, black pepper wasn’t even needed.  We all finished up our dish…so clearly we didn’t like it J   Not served with crackers or croutons but rather bread with Italian oil…eat it however you want.  The entrees were good too.  I had the grilled pimento cheese on white bread toasted.  Oh my, it’s been a while since I’ve had good pimento cheese, homemade.  The sandwich was so full of tomatoes, cheese (of course), and peppers I could barely eat it all.  Very fulfilling & tasty.  The side, macaroni & cheese, wasn’t all that great.  While the pasta tasted fresh, there was very little cheese on it though I was impressed that it was real cheese & that packet made cheese.  Unfortunately, it missed the mark and didn’t recover with the hot sauce.   The salad’s looked delicious and plentiful as did the other sandwiches.  In fact, if you order anything off the menu, be ready to eat lots or share.  And then dessert was magnificent.  We ordered the plate of truffles for the table & devoured them quickly.  Three truffles served on a plate of caramelized sugar brittle were presented, two chocolate & one other something.  The dark chocolate was great and the milk chocolate was mixed with a little bourbon, which couldn’t taste but were told out.  Now the third was something else like strawberry cheesecake.  None of us cared for it because it was bland and boring. 

The service at this place is phenomenal.  From the waiter that told us all about the menu items to the floor manager that was quickly able to resolve our cold soup issue to the staff that cleared our table just as we finished our meal.  Anything can be forgiven with excellent service! 

It’s averagely priced considering you’re eating in the Southpark area.  All in all, wonderful place.

Ahla w sahla! (Welcome) to Al Amir – Columbia, SC

Sorry it's just a regular wood fried pizza...nothing Middle Eastern about it but it was good

Sorry it’s just a regular wood fried pizza…nothing Middle Eastern about it but it was good

ImageOne thing I enjoy is trying international food.  Now, nothing too off the beaten path like Chinese cat or other animal J

I was turned on to al Amir by a friend who had the same taste in food I do.  Breads, spice, and curries are my thing…and thankfully hers too! 

Al Amir is a Middle Eastern restaurant hidden on Main Street in a small little strip of other food places. 

Now I’ll warn you, parking sucks!  And be careful when driving around cause you’ll have college kids coming out from everywhere.  Guess that’s why they picked that location, definitely gets a lot of traction. 

The décor is totally Middle Eastern at the entrance only.  Would be nice if they carried it throughout the restaurant.  From the hookahs to the gold framed doors to the pictures and other nick nacks…it is nice.  Apparently the owner actually brought these pieces from overseas so they are authentic.

The cooks are authentic and it surely tells in the food.  The hummus is delish and has just enough heat for me.  Ask them to make it even spicer & they are happy to accommodate.  The Damascus bread is the best…and a large portion so be ready to share.  You could have the hummus and bread as your entrée.  The falafel is ok but I’ve had better.  Unfortunately, the falafel I had looked & tasted like it was over done.  And no pita pockets…..just on pita bread.  The cucumber & yogurt sauce could use some heat too.  The pizzas are nice.  I had the Al Amir cheese wood fried pizza.  A little surprised to see pizza on the menu though.  Thinking this Al Amir pizza would have some spices or sauces from the Middle East is a mistake.  It’s just a regular pizza.  If you want Middle Eastern pizza, order the Lebanese one.

Good non alcoholic beverages though I wish they had the mango drink that was featured on their menu board for the day. 

Good atmosphere and definitely a Gamecock hangout.  The place is full of students and professors of all ethnicities.  Staff is friendly and quick.

Not a bad place to try!

 

 

 

Cola’s Rocks!

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Oh my gosh...this can feed a few people!

Oh my gosh…this can feed a few people!

Martini dessert

Martini dessert

Wow...jalepeno martini don't try unless you can handle lot's of spicy & stiff drink

Wow…jalepeno martini don’t try unless you can handle lot’s of spicy & stiff drink

Today, I’m sharing about a great restaurant in Columbia, SC. A wonderful new restaurant on Assembly Street, Cola’s is fantastic!
Located in what looks like an old, rustic building, it’s actually an old warehouse. The glass garage door is open letting in the spring weather. And of course, we made sure to have the best seat in the house….right at the garage door!
The bar is full of every alcohol you can imagine including Cola’s own infused vodkas, citrus and jalapeño. And I, along with another friend, dared to try the jalapeño martini! And wow…what a kick. After a few sips, I had to go to my go to drink, Cosmo with the citrus infused vodka. Wonderful! The Lemon Drop martini was great too along with the strawberry mojito…bartenders definitely know how to mix a drink & were very liberal with the alcohol 
Appetizers were plentiful and nothing we ordered was wrong. From the spicy asparagus, egg rolls, and hummus….every plate was finished. And I especially liked the asparagus with sesame seeds and Asian sauce.

And I must say, the salads were outta this world. And that’s huge because I’m anti green…especially when it comes to salads. Check out the Hearts of Romaine lettuce!

The entrees were nice & fresh though I wasn’t too thrilled with mine. Ordered spicy rub chicken, without the bone, and they were very accommodating. However, the chicken looked like it was burned though it didn’t have that taste, believe the rub was just too dark. And it was very dry. I like my meat juicy and this was not. The sides were great…roasted garlic potatoes and mac & cheese. Oh my, the mac & cheese was fresh and loaded with cheese. And if the chicken was eaten with mac & cheese bite, wasn’t too bad.

Ahhhh…and that brings me to the best part of the meal….dessert! As a group of 7, we ordered a few and shared them. The coconut cake, with toasted coconut, was good but I’m a chocolate lover. And we had plenty of chocolate to go around. The layers of chocolate brownie and mouse served in a martin glass was good. But the crème de la crème was the dark and light chocolate cakes served with coffee bean ice cream. I couldn’t stop eating it especially since I had Remy Martin with it! The bread pudding is ok but again not my cup of tea.

The service is phenomenal! A sommelier to help us select our wine, a well educated waitress who knew every dish & drink like the back of her hand, and the manager who is always checking on us to ensure we had everything needed. And let me add, the wines were great…thanks to our own personal sommelier in our group.

The atmosphere is wonderful…the restaurant and bar was full starting 5:30 pm. Though a little pricey, it’s a wonderful restaurant that I will definitely visit again when in Columbia!

Pizza….Pizza

 

Well it’s been a few days since I’ve shared about a restaurant but gotten a little bogged down.

So, let’s chat about Luisa’s Pizzeria at Abbey Place near Park Road in the Southpark area NC.  Taken to lunch by a friend, who knows how much I enjoy Pizza, and I wasn’t disappointed.

When you walk in, you can feel the homely vibe.  Everyone seems to know each other in this hidden gem.  You walk up to this restaurant thinking, geez what a long walk & too many stairs…but the smell of freshly made pizza makes it worthwhile.

Walk in and you’ll see the large wood fried oven, where every pizza is made.  Now this restaurant is known for its buffet at lunch for only $8 including drink .  In fact, I don’t recall seeing anyone ordering off the menu the day we visited.  Pies are made fresh, along with salad, and a pasta salad.  Now this is no CiCi’s but still very good.  Don’t see your pie on the buffet line, request it and less than 5 minutes, it’s out there.  I would recommend the pesto and cheese pizza….delish. Not my usual but  I’ve found my new favorite!  And pesto with onions is just as good.  Not too much pesto but enough to give you that zesty taste.  And let me warn you, it’s thin crust only but if you have this crust, you won’t want any other crust.

Service is fast and friendly and they are constantly checking on you to see what you may need.  A few TVs around in the restaurant so you can keep with the news or games, whatever your poison.  Only pitfall is parking since it’s located in shopping center.

Definitely worth visiting again!