Eat All the Local Things

This weekend we celebrated Davey the Hubber’s birthday during a 72-hour event that I’m gleefully dubbing, “Eat All the Local Things.” We tried several new-to-us and just altogether new haunts in the Charlotte area, and I’m increasingly excited about the emerging food scene in town. We always love to scope out what interesting things local, privately owned restaurants are doing, especially since DTH is employed by (in my opinion) one of the best in town. Here’s the damage:

Local Loaf – I put out a call on Facebook asking for people’s favorite local restaurants just in case there were some we weren’t aware of. We’d both heard amazing buzz about Local Loaf, but we rarely eat breakfast out – David just doesn’t eat it, which makes me highly skeptical of his character, and I’d prefer to create something delicious at home. But since Saturday was DaveyFunDay (all one word and best pronounced repeatedly in a high pitched tone and with a quick cadence) and included a trip to Carowind’s, we needed a hearty breakfast to fuel us. We stopped into 7th Street Market (one of the best things to hit Charlotte recently), and while David grabbed a shot of espresso and a vanilla sugar latte from Not Just Coffee (I do not drink coffee because I hate it, which makes David highly skeptical of my character), I scoped out a table and patiently waited for our Local Loaf grub. As I tend to do, I ordered the better dish at this spot. DTH would argue that that never happens, but, it does, and I do. As long as I wield the keyboard, I do. I ordered the Croque Monsieur while he feasted upon the Steak & Eggs. We both opted for the homemade chips on the side and ate our little hearts out. The Croque Monsieur was perfect in every way, and judging by the number of bites that were stolen from my plate, the birthday boy agreed. Not this his was wanting, by any means, mine was just exquisite, and that’s hard to beat.
CroqueMonsieur SteakEggsCarowind’s – While we didn’t eat at Carowind’s, we nearly lost our loaves after back-to-back rides on Nighthawk and the Intimidator. We made a swift exit from the park before we embarrassed ourselves, which at Carowind’s is pretty hard to do since the odds are that you are the most attractive and put together person there at least 99% of the time. All day I had been crowing about how we were “Carowinning,” but while I tilted my seat back and closed my eyes on the ride home, I had to admit and croak out sadly that we were, in fact, “Carolosing,” which confused me since I was in yoga pants, and no one who wears yoga pants feels bad.

Napa on Providence – After we rallied (thank you, triple dose of Pepto Bismol), watched Tennessee not win at Florida, and beautified ourselves, it was time for our progressive dinner about town, in which we pretended we were very fancy and enjoyed each course at different restaurants. I was sad and dismayed when perennial Charlotte favorite Providence Café closed its doors last year, but I was intrigued to grab a seat at its new inhabitant Napa on Providence. Despite the downpour we experienced Saturday night in Charlotte, Napa couldn’t have been any cozier or more inviting. With a few grapevines and a pomegranate tree out front and tasteful and fitting décor and ambience, you truly feel a little vacation from the 704 (do people still ever call their cities by their area codes and look cool? No, I’m seriously asking, because I do, but I’m not a rapper, soooo I don’t know). I was thrilled that Napa didn’t feel too “theme-y” in its approach, but instead was understated, elegant, yet home-y. We were just ordering wine and appetizers for the first stop, but really, we both agreed we could have stayed for more. We’re excited to go back and were thrilled with our selections – bread served with an inventive honey pomegranate butter, a complimentary meat and cheese plate (with some jam and homemade granola on the side – delish, I tell you), grilled oysters on the half shell (gimme that crusty parmesan), and lobster and crab cakes with a sweet + sour slaw and dollop of crème fraiche. The wine list of extensive but not intimidating, and we were both pleased with our glasses – red zin for the Daveykins and shiraz for me.Napa
Bistro La Bon – This little gem in Plaza Midwood wasn’t new to me, as I’d had the opportunity to attend both a hilariously entertaining Restaurant Week meal and an evening sampling bar bites al fresco at the establishment in recent months, but Davey hadn’t yet darkened its doors. We arrived at the height of the Carolina monsoon and were thrilled to have a little table tucked against a window, which leant a little air of romance to a bustling restaurant. It was our entrée stop, and while several of the entrees immediately jumped out to us, we settled on four small plates, of which I have no pictures because we inhaled them. We shared a bottle of Wine Guerrilla red zinfandel and ate our fill of crispy avocado and asparagus, grilled halloumi cheese with port cherries and figs, duck confit (a featured and rockstar dish), and goat cheese-stuffed peppadews (the sweet and spicy little wonder balls that have been dancing through my dreams for weeks on end… mmm… wonder balls).

The original plan had us ducking into Customshop for their famous bread pudding to close out our progressive dinner, but we were both nearly miserably full at that point, so instead we saved that trip for another day (an eagerly anticipated day), called an audible and rounded out the evening with a quick stop by another friend’s birthday festivities at one of our favorite watering holes, VBGB. Even though the rain put a damper on the usual outdoor games and fanfare, the bar wasn’t slowing down.

Not to be outdone, Sunday brought a new competitor to the food scene when we stopped by Oggi in Ballantyne for a birthday dinner hosted by (ahem, paid for by) my parents. Oggi came highly recommended by several commenters on my inquiring Facebook post, and since Davey is a pasta lover in his Maine-rooted heart, I knew it would be the perfect spot for a double date. Once again, I triumphed in the best order category with the veal romano, while my mom came in a close second with the crab meat ravioli. My dad’s veal portabella was also a strong contender, while Davey’s carbonara was deemed a good and solid dish as well. Though their wines-by-the-glass menu is stocked only with a handful of house selections, our chianti was strong and lovely.

Tonight, we’re celebrating his official birthday surrounded by our favorite friends at Alexander Michael’s, a comfortable and intimate well-kept secret in the 4th Ward. Another new-to-Davey spot, I’m excited to toast him well and send him into the 39th year with a full belly and overflowing heart.

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