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

Pizza Pizza

ImageImageImage/ Happy Holidays!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve wrote but it is the holidays & I’ve stayed very busy with them.  Hope everyone had a great holiday as I did.

So let’s talk about a pizzeria I ate at during the holidays…Wolfman Pizza at Quail Corners on Park Road.  At first look, it looked like a small, empty place as I walked by to do a little shopping.  But when I walked inside, it was actually full; the seating can’t be seen as the booths are further in and tall.

Luckily a booth was empty, even though I was by myself, I need my space 🙂  The place is small but they do make the most of it.  With a few tables up front, several large booths, and even bar style seating with a great view of the pizzas being cooked.

A family friendly place, on this night, you saw a variety of people from elders, to young kids, to the high school/college crowd. 

The menu is unique, printed on a newspaper, with a variety of pizza toppings.  “The Laboratory” section of the menu allows you to create your own unique pie from the sauce, to the crust, to the variety of cheeses.  Want a Black Bean sauce pie with Bleu Cheese & Bean Sprouts…it’s yours here!

Since it was my veggie day, I tried the White Wolf pizza.  The 10 in pizza arrived & was delish!  Garlic butter, New York style crust, with mozzarella/parmesan/Swiss cheeses, topped with Roma tomatoes minus the basil!  The size was just right, though I couldn’t finish it.  One thing I didn’t care for was all the oil…it was everywhere.  A little paper napkin to soak it up & I was good.  The cheese was oozing everywhere…the way I like it 🙂

On tap, local beers which I think is great!  I enjoyed a nice NoDa ale, a little darker than I expected but still good. 

$ is good too…I recommend you try if you’re a pizza lover!

 

 

 

Wolfman Pizza on Urbanspoon

Italian with a new twist….I’ll pass!

If you’re in the Atlanta area and craving something new….please avoid this please!
As you may know now, I’m a foodie & I truly enjoy some good Italian food. So I was intrigued when my cousin suggested we try a new Italian place for dinner, Osteria del Figo. She’d heard great reviews from friends/co-workers so we decided to try it together.

As you may have read about another one of my reviews, Mirko, this restaurant has the same theme. In fact, I’m a little late in posting but this is the first restaurant we visited before heading to Mirko’s that night.

The restaurant, located at 1210 Howell Mill Rd NW, has an odd entrance but never the less, we made our way inside. Now the restaurant is small so if you have a large group, you may want to eat out on the patio. I did enjoy the look of the restaurant with the lights display, as if you were in a garden area.

When you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted at the door with the menus on the walls. There’s also a seasonal or specials menu posted & someone is waiting eagerly to get your order.

Now the twist, you select your meal and how it’s to be prepared! You have a number of pasta, proteins, & sauces to pick from and create your own meal! Sounds pretty cool. Since we had time to kill, we started with drinks only…seasonal drinks of course. We did order a bruschetta appetizer…mistake! The bread was so hard to bite into I thought I lost a tooth!

Now comes the part I didn’t like. While I enjoy sitting on the patio occasionally, the reason I don’t like to eat outside is because of the bugs, flies. Yes, I’m spoiled…if I wanted to eat with nature, I’d go back to India and not be here! So I prefer most of my meals inside as I did this day. However, it certainly didn’t feel like I was inside with the nats and creatures flying around! I’m sure the patio door being left open contributed to this lovely effect but when you look down and your food has a bug sitting on it, I’m turned off. So off we went elsewhere!

I’m a little surprised at the reviews of this place. While it has a cool concept, it’s not put together very well. On a quite night, we should not have to keep asking for plates, napkins, etc. And as we sat at 4 top table, as I like my room , the waiter did not clean off the rest of the table’s silver way or glasses. The manager (I presume) came later to do so when he made his rounds.

Definitely a fail in my book!

Happy eating everyone!

Osteria Del Figo 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. 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Dining Experience – The Blue Taj

DecorSpecial SeatingBubble Bar

Having visited The Blue Taj in the past, I know of its reputation, food, & ambiance so I was happy to revisit.  While it was not the restaurant we intended to dine at, it is where we ended up & I’m so glad.

Hidden in the back, behind Terrace Café, the restaurant is clearly in a great local…Ballantyne Village.  It has a large indoor and outdoor seating area that gets filled quickly, especially the night we dined.

They say the sign of a really good Indian restaurant is to see non Indian diners & that’s exactly the case when we ate there recently. 

With no reservations, we popped in right before the rush hour traffic that starts at 6:30 & were quickly seated.  While we wanted to start with drinks on the patio & then venture in, our host was quick to tell us that the restaurant fills up quickly so in we stayed.

From the minute you walk up to the entrance, you can tell this place has a great vibe & that the decorator painstaking was involved in selecting every detail of the place.  From the entrance door, to the floor to ceiling wine cellar, to the lights, & curtains….you feel you have arrived in India, chic India that is.  From the colorful etchings on the walls that break up the restaurant into two, to the tin looking ceiling and chandeliers…you know that everything was handpicked & certainly not cheap! 

And this carries over to the table ware &  chairs…though I must admit the chairs were a little heavy to moveJ  From red or blue appetizer plates to the colorful chairs, there is an explosion of color…red or mehndi color as we say everywhere.  In addition, certain areas have been adorned with subtle blue lighting peeping in the corners making it look almost clubesqe.

The menu is large but includes everything you may want to feast on…from vegetarian to all types of proteins.   

 We started off with drinks of course 😉  The drink menu has certainly changed since the last time I dined in.  Gone were the regular old plain jane drinks replaced with authentic Indian spiced drinks like Spice Village Chai, Merry Berry, Dizzy Mumbai, Kolkata relapse…just to name a few.  All made with some great smelling & tasting spices.  We sampled the Merry Berry (light & sweet), Dizzy Mumbai (strong whiskey & great tasting cumin), Spice Village Chai (vanilla vodka with all the spices & chai taste), and Mumbai Margarita (little sweet for me but so different than regular margarita).  The rest will have to be sampled at another time….epically the Kolkata relapse…only one of those and you’re done for the night!

The list of appetizers made it hard to pick just one so we went for the platter.  Moments later a hot dish arrived with 8 items to choose from….paneer/chutney fried pakoras, samosas, onion pakoras, raga petis, all served with a sweet tamarind chutney.  Yum…it was fully devoured!

And we had trouble determining entrees too….as there were 3 pages to choose from:  Vegetarian, Seafood/Chicken/Lamb classics, & Tawa/Roasted/Tandoori selections.  But this is where a great host/waiter becomes very important.  True restaurant workers sample the drinks and foods & are very well versed in the ingredients of a dish.  A Great restaurant worker can ask you what types of dishes you like & recommend something based on that & sometimes a dish completely off the menu!  And that’s exactly what happened with us….I wanted chicken but not the usual chicken tikka masala but I do like its gravy.  And a recommendation is made, chicken with a smooth sauce in methi & hot spices…sold!  And what’s your hot level I’m asked from scale of 1 to 5…..4 please!  And keep that water coming:)  My friend liked lamb & coconut….so the recommendation was finely cut lamb in a coconut gravy.    We also learned that our waiter helped create the drinks that ultimately made it onto the menu…bonus!

The food arrived quickly & was just magnificent!  The chicken dish was marvelous….and hot!  I was sweating into my third bite…just the way I like it 😉  The jasmine & cardamom rice were fluffy & tasteful…the aroma itself was delish.  And of course, you can’t eat Indian food without a basket full of Nan.  The proteins were both very tender & prepared carefully and the sauces were a flavorful explosion!  Not one dish was seen going back to the kitchen!   Oh…back to my food.  I really liked my hot chicken sauce a little better than the lamb sauce just because it was so spicy.  In fact, yogurt was needed to put out the fire in my mouth.  And authentic homemade yogurt it was….ahhh!

During the entire time at the restaurant, we had waiters check on us constantly, filling our water glass as soon as it was ½ empty or sooner.  And everything was brought out quickly…even when the restaurant was totally full. 

While we wanted dessert, there was just no space left in us….on the next visit we shall try!  On the way out, we dropped in to visit the Bubble Bar….a nicely displayed bar with its special Bubble Bar seat (see the pic).

Cost is a concern as it can be pricey but if you want everything perfect, it will cost you.  This is not your average Indian place….their food is truly a work of Art!

I can’t say enough good things about this place….wonderful service, great ambience/décor, phenomenal food, & truly a great dining experience worth having!

 Definitely check them out & make reservations if visiting on the weekends!

Address:        14815 Ballantyne Village Way, Charlotte, NC 28277

Phone:           (704) 369-5777

Hours:           Friday hours 11:30 am–2:30 pm, 5:00 pm–10:30 pm