Don’t take anything seriously, except food!

Recently, I got to try a new Mexican restaurant in the Southpark area.  And when I say new, I mean new to me as the restaurant opened in April 2013.

Hidden behind Crate & Barrel @ Southpark, a few feet down from CowFish, is a great Mexican restaurant worth trying…Chuy’s!  While the location has been home to a few restaurants, I remember it last as M5.  A cool little place where the Who’s Who of Charlotte could be seen.

The décor is fantastic!  From the moment you walk in, (make sure to look up at the celling as you’ll see antique cameras on display) you’re transformed into their Tex Mex & eclectic environment.  The bar, with its own “car trunk” buffet area for the Happy Hour Nacho Bar special, to the Wall of Dogs, to the main dining area with palm trees, & Elvis décor, the place certainly makes an impression on you instantly.  The large patio out back would be great during the spring & summer months too. 

And the food packs a punch!  Make sure to try some of the Big as Yo’ Face Burritos or the loaded nachos…yum!  And as the name says, be ready to eat lots!  I ordered the beans & cheese Big as Yo’ Face Burrito and could barely get ½ of it down.  You could taste the freshness of the 12-inch tortilla, made in house.  In fact, Chuy’s Food Fullosophy touts authentic food all made in house.

When you are seated, you’re brought the normal platter of chips with two dips:  salsa (Fresca with a little heat) & a buttermilk jalapeno ranch with a tang.  The salsa tastes authentic & fresh with just a little heat but for the burrito, I asked for the full hot/spicy experience….got it!  And for those of you not sure how hot to order it, check out their spice meter.  They offer 7 signature sauces made in house from mild to hot!  & of course, I asked for the Hot!  

The Nachos looked & tasted great too…with handmade fresh chips topped with just enough sauce, beans, & cheese to give you that Tex Mex flavor.  Definitely trying those next time! 

And the prices match the food…which at times in the Southpark area doesn’t happen 🙂

Can’t wait for my next visit!

 

 

 

Chuy's on Urbanspoon

Mirko- Benvenuti a casa

ImageImage

Decided to try a new Italian place with my sis recently with a new twist.  It’s a pasta place that allows you to create your own dish.  Kinda cool so off we went especially after the not so fun experience earlier.

 Mirko is located in a shopping center but don’t let that deter you.  It may look small from the outside but the dining area is quite large.  A small patio area is also available. 

We went on a Tuesday nite so the crowd consisted of families, couples, to college kids.  Attire is casual & the décor is quite nice though I could’ve done without the woven baskets on the walls.  Tuesday was also Ladies Nite with specials on drinks and a free dessert, said the sign outside.  Sadly, it was misleading as you needed to order 4 dinner entrees for the free dessert.

We were escorted quickly to a booth & our waiter, Nick, also arrived quickly.  Being our first time, Nick was happy to share the menu & concept with us.  An added bonus, he shared his favorite dishes too.  Check out his pic!

While waiting for our meals, we were treated to rolls and bean dip (white bean dip with celery and garlic).  Definitely a pass, bean dip was blah & very thick.  I would’ve been happy with butter for my rolls, they were good!

Being a cheese lover, of course I went for the 4 cheese ravioli with a pomodoro sauce (classic Italian tomato and basil sauce) and pesto sauce.  Sis tried the spinach ravioli & funghi sauce (Funghi wild mushrooms, cream and parmesan).  The ravioli dish arrived with 4 large raviolis with the pesto on the side.  At first bite, I got a cold and not quite finished piece of ravioli.  In trying the others though, they were much warmer though the edges felt like they weren’t cooked all the way.  By the way, the pastas are all made fresh every day at Mirko’s.   Once Nick arrived with extra cheese on top, the dish was even better.  If you are a mushroom lover, then definitely try the funghi sauce because it’s loaded with mushrooms.  Definitely a fulfilling dish. 

As the drinks go, be aware they serve beer and wine which was enough for me.  I tried the Labrochuse that was a special that nite.  In essence, a red wine with fizz.  Not bad. 

A place I’d definitely try again soon & maybe this time I’ll have enough room for dessert.

Go try it out soon & ask for Nick….he was awesome!  Then again, the customer service was phenomenal. 

 

 

 

Pizza….ummm not today

si_Uw280h280_Pic10Feeling a little blah today so decided to head out & eat badly. So the car headed to California Pizza at the Mall. Since it was a nice/sunny day out, I decided to dine outside. And did I mention I needed some me time….

Arriving at the ideal lunch time, the hostess stand was empty. A few people were also ahead of me waiting. Not a good sign during your busiest time….Perhaps there should be 2 hostesses? I did finally get seated outside. With a great view of the fountain & the little kids playing around, I was set.

A waiter quickly came to get my drink order & returned promptly but without the normal bread & oil. It was provided when asked & a very small portion at that. Guess they thought one person deserved very little oh but they haven’t met me!
Rather than a pizza, I decided on a pasta…my other vice. So four cheese ravioli in a pomodoro sauce was ordered. Now I must warn you, if you like sauce order extra on this dish as it came with very little. In addition, it wasn’t a true pomodoro sauce. This sauce is different than its cousin marinara by being a thicker & chopped tomatoes sauce. With that, it’s usually a darker sauce as well. However, this is a light, thin colored sauce with a little parsley served on top. My plate arrived a little warm rather than hot but I still decided to go for it.

Now if you know me or have even read my blog, you know I love cheese! When I’m stressed or feeling blah, I load up on cheese. But so not the case with this dish. It had little cheese, little sauce and no heat. A shame cause of the price. For $2 more at Maggigano’s I would get more cheese + another take home pasta dish. But it was worth a try.

I’ll stick to the pizza next time here! Oh & make sure to download the app on your phones for great discounts!

Finally a great Calzone!

Image When I’m stressed, I eat, as many of us do.  But on really stressful days all I want is cheese & so I turned to my fav cheese calzone!

Portofino’s, on Park Road in Charlotte, NC, has the best calzone I’ve had in a very long time!  And it definitely hit the spot.  I’ve visited other Portofino’s in the past so I know their food & service is top notch.  However, I may have dined on one of their bad days L

The hostess, a young college girl, seemed very confused when I asked for a large table, though I was dining alone.  In fact, she left me to take care of the other customers.  Hmmm….not a good impression and I could tell from there it maybe an off day.

I was finally seated in the large back dining area at a large table…yay!  I’m a woman and I just need my space J  There were a few customers in the area so there was an abundance of waiters/waitresses in around however, not one of them showed up to serve me.  I tried the make eye contact strategy to get their attention but nothing.  Finally, I caught up to one of the waiters and he apologized for not being waited on.  The food came out pretty fast, served by another waiter.  Apparently 3 different staff members were servicing the entire area so one would think I’d have someone check on me periodically…nope! 

Now the food was great.  Love me some cheese calzones and it’s been ages since I found a great place for them.  But there’s plenty more they offer like authentic Italian pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches.  On another occasion I dined, my lunch friend ordered cheese ravioli…yum!  While it was a small plate it still looked good!  And the customer service was much better!  Guess if you’re a loner you Do get treated differently :0

The meals are moderately priced at about $8-10 per dish except salads. 

Definitely worth a try if you’re into Italian food….I plan on visiting it again!

 

 

 

You had me at Pizza…..Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar

Goat Cheese Pizza

Goat Cheese Pizza

pizza

 I’m a foodie…I enjoy no love food!  And there are some foods that I can’t get enough of….Pizza being at the top of that list.  So when I was invited out for GNO to Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar, it was a no brainer Yes!

Located in Phillips Place near the Palm Restaurant, it’s a great eclectic restaurant.  Parking in the area is not great so get there early to find a spot.  The restaurant is nice & large with the bar located up front with limited seating around it & the main dining room is located behind the bar.

The service is good but we didn’t see our waitress too often once the restaurant started to fill up.  We met up at 5:30 and by the time we left, a few hours later, the restaurant was booming.  The golf after hours event across the street helped bring in the people too.

The drinks were great and the waitress was very knowledgeable in helping us decide what we wanted, with the help with the floor manager.  My choice is always vodka so I tried the Razz Ale (vodka, raspberry liquer, fresh raspberries, & ginger ale).  It was yum!  The waitress got it right!  There were other great drinks ordered by the table like The Back 9 and Prosecco cocktail.  And all were nicely priced…which always a plus too!

Appetizers followed next like roasted cauliflower and white beans & kale.   The roasted cauliflower was very good with bread crumbs and pepperoncini.  I enjoyed seconds too!  I didn’t care for the kale and white beans as the kale seemed bitter.  Normally known to be bitter, either you have to acquire a taste for it or have it cooked where the bitterness goes away.  Some good spices like tumerin, red pepper, and some haldi would help in that.  But I enjoyed the experience of trying something different.  After all, you don’t know what you like unless you try it!

Of course, with it being a pizza bar I had to have a pizza.  Wolfgang Puck has an eclectic menu of pizzas like potato & egg, roasted eggplant, clam & garlic to name a few.  I gave the goat cheese a try with marina sauce (traditionally served with pesto but as usual I have to change it up).  All the pizzas were thin sliced and nice & large, 6 slices with a great toasty crust.  I tried a slice of margherita pizza too and yet another delish pie.  The basil brought out the taste of the cheese and san marzano tomato sauce.  After consuming so much food, there was no space for dessert, that will be next time!

If you’re in the Southpark area, make sure to stop by this great restaurant!

 

 

 

Crú…. “BEER IS MADE BY MEN, WINE BY GOD!” – MARTIN LUTHER

wineflights

 While in Dallas TX recently, I visited a great wine bar called Crú Wine Bar.  Having been to one of these before in NC, I knew it would be a good experience. 

Most Crú’s are designed with the same concept in mind, Wine Wine Wine!  Usually a small wine bar/restaurant offering wines by the glass, bottle, or flights with a limited menu of cheese and small plates.  And this place was no different.

 The ambience is wonderful in a wine bar with all the servers, bartenders being well versed in their knowledge of wines.  On this night, we were quickly seated and served which is another staple of the bar.  A little loud this particular night due to a small business party but the wine and cheese and company more than made up for that.

Flights were quickly ordered and delivered with everyone trying a different series. And with great presentation, a little flight tool (Now I’d like that for my house) that housed our glasses perfectly.  Back to the wines, I tried the Malbec Medley, becoming a recent fan of Malbec’s.  These Malbec’s were all Argentina wines and had the smell & taste of full body berries.  All very good though the Mendoza wine, with a touch of lavender & dark berry fruits, was a little too sweet for my tastes.  I like my red’s velvety smooth yet bold.

As we were headed off to dinner soon after, we ordered cheese plates to compliment the wine.  While a great platter of bold blue cheese, parmesan, and few other great cheeses was ordered, I took the waitress’s advise as I was looking for a spicy cheese (is there such a thing?).  Unfortunately, that cheese platter was a bust with a mild blue cheese that tasted like it had gone bad and the spicy cheese was full of mustard seeds and just tasted awful.  And the others at the table agreed.  But needless to say we finished off all the other cheeses along with bread and great peppery cracker bread.  Oh & not to mention the wine and headed to dinner!

Crú is great no matter where you try it!  And it is worth trying, wine lover or not! 

Cheers!

Eat and be merry

Eat and be merry

I’ve been craving Italian for a few days so I made sure today’s lunch meeting was at Maggiano’s at Southpark.  But of course, as usual, I was running late.  Nothing new since I’m Indian but I try to be on time without fail!  So, as I’m running late I figured let’s just Valet it.  I was outta the car fast & ready to throw my keys at the Valet except he was waiting on a woman who thought the world must wait for her.  She’s carrying on a full blown conversation in her car while she’s paid the Valet & handed over the keys but outta the car she will not come.  I had finally just had to interrupt & hand my keys and dash.  What a rude woman!

When I walked in, I was greeted by friendly staff….a few too many staff members (that should’ve been my first hint).  I was there at peak time for lunch and all these staff members were just waiting around to greet moi…..hmmm.  I was quickly taken to my table, through a very empty dining room.

The waitress was very quick to get order and was very pleasant.  We gave our orders & quickly came the appetizers & lunch.  But the poor girl had put in one of the wrong orders.  The right dish was quickly brought, literally in less than 5 minutes.  And three people must’ve come by to apologize for the mistake.  Apparently the waitress was 1 week new & entered the wrong dish…. A mistake anyone could’ve made & no one complained about it at the table.  But not only did so many staff come to apologize, they even brought us dessert on the house.  All this was not needed but we were very impressed by the customer service.  I never recall this kinda service before.

Now onto the Food!  The normal bread/oil was fine.  Bread was a little cold but of course I got there late too.  The appetizer, fried zucchini, was good as I remember it!  If you’ve never had it, must try.  Fried with a little seasoning and Japan bread crumbs makes this normal vegetable delish.  The creamy sauce wasn’t the same as I remembered but good enough.  Of course, it took everything in me Not to ask for the hot sauceJ

The entrees were great!  From the four cheese ravioli, to the baked ziti, and rigatoni D.  The sauces and pasta tasted authentic, not store bought.  And of course, I always like to add a little twist when ordering to see just how good the restaurant/chef are….so I asked for the baked ziti, that normally comes with Italian sausage, to be made without any meat.  The waitress didn’t flinch and went to speak to the kitchen and quickly brought the dish back the way I asked.  Now that tells me the food is fresh.  Many times when I change up the dish, I’m told “sorry can’t, it’s pre made like that”  I don’t want premade when I come a restaurant….I want fresh.

Ahhh & the dessert….no meal is complete without dessert!   First time I tried chocolate zuccotta cake.  And as the menu touts, its served with mousse, frosting, and cocoa powder & yum it was!  Only one thing would’ve made it perfect, a nice glass of Merlot.

Pricing is average but can be a little high based on your entrée.  Some desserts can be $8-10.  There is a new light menu that’s great for those watching their calories….certainly not me;)

 

One thing though I was surprised about was the lack of guests.  The restaurant, from the time we entered & left, was empty with only a handful of diners.  Very surprising for a restaurant that was always thriving when I’ve been here in the past.  Often, I’ve had to wait 10-20 minutes to be seated at lunch and even longer at dinner.  Guess the economy has hit them too!