Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Salad that I can taste just reading the intro!!!

If you love salads and pizza, this is for you.  We grill pizzas at home quite often and really enjoy the taste.  Good luck standing in front of a grill on a 98 degree day, with it pumping out 500-600 degrees of cooking heat.  That's just asking too much for me.  I found this recipe and it helps create a margherita pizza flavor without the heat.  For a bread on the side, you can panini (or George Foreman) some dough with italian spices and avoid a hot kitchen as well.  Read the article and recipe below (sorry no picture):

Why didn't we think of this a long time ago? Chopped Margherita Salad is a cross between a margherita pizza and a buffalo-mozzarella salad - with a little romaine thrown in for summer crunch.


It's a light yet satisfying salad that's perfect for a sweltering summer evening. Of course, if you're a committed carnivore, feel free to include some grilled chicken chunks, a flaky whitefish fillet or seared salmon, or even a few sautéed shrimp or scallops.


If you are traveling to a friend's house and have volunteered to bring the salad, this is a showstopper. Be sure to dress the salad just before serving.


Serve it with hearty sourdough bread and a glass of crisp, chilled white wine, and you've got summer dining - at home or away - covered. For another hearty dinner salad, visit our website at www.KitchenScoop.com. Check out our updated twist on a classic Cobb Salad.

Chopped Margherita Salad

1 cup romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes
2 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette

COMBINE the lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and basil in a medium bowl. Turn the ingredients onto a large chopping board and, using a sharp chef’s knife, chop the salad well. Return to the bowl, drizzle the dressing over the salad, and toss well. Serve immediately.

Note: Salad can easily be doubled, tripled or more. If you are serving several people, it’s easier to chop the individual ingredients and place into a bowl than to chop the entire salad on a cutting board.

Yield: 1 serving
Per serving: calories, 191; fat, 15 grams (70% of calories), carbohydrates, 9 grams; cholesterol, 23 milligrams; fiber, 2 grams; protein, 6 grams; sodium, 324 milligrams.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Wine Loft in Mooresville

For everyone (like myself) that wondered what took so long to open initially, it came from a change of ownership at the outset.  Unfortunately the location has not been fruitful like they had hoped.  We have been curious for a while and found out this weekend it was closing.  Here's the note from the management:

"The Wine Loft LKN will close the Mooresville location on July 31. There is really no update beyond that yet. We are looking at other potential locations, but it's very preliminary. We will NOT be open in August, and probably not September, regardless. Business is just too slow during the summer months."

 The Wine Loft is a franchise, so if you love it, there are others - Charlotte being the next closest.  After looking at it every time we went to Harris Teeter, we did stop tonight to see what we will be missing.  Unfortunately we loved it.  Now we get to wait anxiously for the next home to be selected.  We believe it may be coming sooner than they hint at, so let's just hope for good news.  To keep tabs, check their website regularly at:
http://www.wineloftlkn.com

The appetizers were exceptional, the wine selection was massive.  I was even impressed with the craft beers - real high end beers that I drive all over trying to find - all in one place.  The location might not be working, but the leadership and staff certainly have the rest of it right.  Really right.

We are going to follow this and let you know when we hear more.  In the meanwhile, you can get your wine fix at Daveste in Troutman Wednesday through Sunday.  They don't have the menu, but they do a great job on their wines.  The staff are wonderful there as well. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Zoe's Kitchen - All over Charlotte and now in Huntersville


We found ourselves in the new development called Metropolitan in Charlotte again this weekend.  It's a little outside of uptown and designed by the same folks that did Birkdale.  Being Charlotte, it's got a more contemporary urban appeal - more architectural metal and concrete vs Birkdale's white southern colonial feel.

At first glance, it can be a little confusing.  Take time to park and look around and gems like Zoe's and Trader Joe's are right there for your enjoyment.  Dresslers (also at Birkdale) have come to join the party as well. 

We had an appointment for our daughter at 11:15 close to Zoe's and were looking for lunch afterward.  Several people at the event came in with the cups and take out bags so they made the choice for us.  I found the menu on my phone and was quite surprised at how inexpensive it was - especially considering the locale.

Walking in, under the massive menu are several very helpful staff members.  In a take-out fashion - you order then get your number and take a seat.  The food is delivered promptly.

My wife and I both ordered different version of chicken pitas, and my daughter got the chicken quesadilla.  They definitely like the healthy foods, offering salads, wraps, fruits and pitas, as well as pita chips and wholesome sides.  All of their take out containers/cups are either recyclable or compostable.  That is very cool. 

The themed flavor of their chicken is Greek and it goes very well in the pita.  The Greek dressing on the table is extremely tasty and ensures that your never left wishing for more.  The pasta salad and cole slaw are made without mayo, adding feta cheese among other wonderful ingredients.  The chicken portion in the pita had the sides splitting, making it even more fun/messy to eat with the dressing I added.  That may have worked against me, but there were plenty of napkins.  It turned out fine.  Not one of us was still hungry at the end.

With the prices being in the $6-8 range, it is easy to see why the place was packed.  The service was prompt, the food was fresh and delicious.  I would not have expected it to be this good for several reasons.  First, newly opened restaurants have staff issues for months to overcome - not here.  Second, busy days breed shortcuts and lack-luster food.  Again, not here.  And as busy as they were, the cleanliness was top shelf.  A fun, bright, clean location with great food.  I can't wait to try the one just opened in Huntersville.  I fully expect the same results!

Zoë's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Prickly Pear visit as promised!

So many people know of the Prickly Pear and have still not gone.  As promised, as part of the Restaurant Week promotion, we went to do the 4 course meal.  Our reservation was for 8pm, we arrived early and were seated just a few minutes later.  Nice start.  It gave us a chance to check out the cool decor in this old church.  The leather chairs have custom logos cut out of the metal backs.  These things are really cool.  Considering what it was, they did a good job using the space and making it more welcoming than a big room with a vaulted ceiling.

Our server arrived fairly quick, answered a couple quick questions and asked if we wanted the guacamole.  Hmm?  It's not part of the promotion appetizers.  Why ask?  Well, sure enough, it's done table side and really was fun.  At $7, it was well worth it.  4 of us eating it, with a side of wonderfully made salsa, and we could see why it should be offered to everyone.

Appetizer choices of calamari steaks or a personal tostada, we did two and two.  The calamari had a nice sweet dipping sauce.  It was a few large pieces of the mid-section of the squid lightly breaded and fried with a little spice.  It was fantastic.  The little tostadas were like a poor mans nacho chip - yes chip.  One small tostada chip with "I don't care" on top.  After seeing the calamari, I thought this tostada thing was a joke.

Salads come and they are decent.  Dressings were run of the mill, nothing with a ethnic flair what-so-ever.  I expected a chipotle something, maybe a cilantro vinaigrette, anything to stand out.  Not so much.  This was the turning point in the night.

From here on, timing was a mess.  We got our bread right before the meal, not upon arrival or with the salad.  They make a prickly pear butter - nothing more than a syrup they buy added to the butter they buy.  No wow in that item.  The meals show up after a longer than expected delay, and the two ladies ordered the beef.  It's a filet with shrimp.  Neither were to the temps requested, they actually swapped meat to get something closer to what they asked for.  The two shrimp were a good size and flavor, the filet portions were not.  One was about a 3 oz, the other around 5 oz.  That's just not right at the same table.  There was not crust, no flavor or spice.  I just don't understand the lack of effort on the beef.

Us guys got less run of the mill.  I ordered the pork chop in mole sauce, with a potato side.  The other gent got the snapper (that I wanted) with a rice and special slaw.  The snapper was the best dinner item on the table.  The rice was tasty as well.  We did not see the slaw until he was almost done.  It was under the fish, in with one of the tostada chips and on the rice.  It should have been on top of the fish, or laying up next to it.  It was lost and soggy by the time it was noticed.

The pork chop was ordered medium at the waiters suggestion.  I was great with that.  The kitchen did not agree I guess - it was overcooked and not hot when it arrived.  Something went wrong on the timing of the entrees and mine suffered for sure.  This thick chop was tough, dry and the mole was only moisture in the dish.  The potatoes were better than anything else on this plate.  That's not a good thing.

Dessert took at least 15 minutes to come after our table was cleared from the meal.  No coffee offered to go with the creme brulee, mango cheesecake or tres leche cake.  The creme brulee was warm and runny.  It is intended to be cold and firm inside with the crunch of the sugar crust as a treat.  Unfortunately even it got soggy by the warm custard.  The warming actually made the custard grainy, as if the yolks were not creamed properly.

The tres leche cake lacked everything.  A tall slice on a plate falling over, with no flavor or flare of any kind.  The cheesecake was some pre-made cheesecake that was stiff and tasteless with a mango drizzle (also pre-made).  It was horrible.  I mean HORRIBLE.  I made better cheesecake in middle school.  Anyone that pays extra for dessert would be sending this one back.

I wanted to love it, and Fridays can be a tough night for a restaurant that is not sharp on all levels.  To start strong and fail midway though, that's a bummer.  A slow start with a great entree and dessert is forgivable, this was not.  They were busy when we arrived, but by the time we were finishing entrees, the place was half empty.  The entree and dessert delays were not due to volume.  Sadly, we watched people that came in later eat sooner and leave before us.

Timing is EVERYTHING in this business.  An expediter or a clock might help in this kitchen.

Prickly Pear on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 23, 2010

You have to be kidding me - Soiree closed now too!

Sure enough, the quiet dining room on a Friday night combined with the restaurant.com "last ditch effort" have really added up for me now... and Soiree closing last night for good.  We had plans to go tonight - as well as FOUR restaurant.com certificates I bought 3 weeks ago.  That's all a bust.

The newspaper says that it's over a lease issue, but it all goes back to the economy in downtown Mooresville and lack of traffic at the restaurant.  Rent becomes a real issue when you are looking for help to survive.  I had the hunch when we were there last but hoped it would survive.

I had met the owner on a couple occassions and he was a first class operator.  We were always thrilled with the food and service.  This news does not sit well with us.  Sure, I blogged about the last visit not being quite what I was expected, but that was just one night.  This is one more crushing blow to the local diners that enjoyed downtown Mooresville.

Sandwiches in a can: Can-do or can-don’t?

To win consumers’ hearts, Candwich inventor knows it will all come down to taste
by Laura T. Coffey

TODAYshow.com contributor


Mark Kirkland is used to skeptics. He’s comfortable with critics. He’s unfazed by the reaction he typically gets the first time people hear about his invention: “Ewwwwwwww.”
Kirkland, 50, of Salt Lake City, Utah, has dedicated more than a decade of his life to a single concept: The sandwich in a can.
Or, actually, make that a few concepts: Sandwiches in a can. Pizza in a can. French toast in a can. Cinnamon rolls in a can.
Why a can? Because, when combined with techniques similar to those used to preserve Meals Ready-to-Eat for soldiers, an aluminum can keeps food fresh for a full year or even longer. Yes, that’s right: A fresh, year-old sandwich.
And cans have an added benefit, Kirkland noted: They fit perfectly inside all the soda vending machines that exist, well, everywhere. That means his “Candwich” products could be sold in both stores and vending machines.
“So think about it,” Kirkland explained. “You’re a mom running your kids between school, piano lessons, soccer. Stopping at a fast-food restaurant takes time. This is something that literally could roll around the car for a few months. ... I kind of compare it to bottled water when it first came out. At the time I thought, ‘Why would I pay a dollar for a bottle of water when I can just go to the water fountain?’ Now I drink bottled water every day. It’s convenient.”
But how does it taste?

Thus far, Kirkland’s assurances haven’t done much to stem the snickering and giggling. On his late-night Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report,” Stephen Colbert joked about preserving sandwiches with the same technology used to store motor oil. Colbert said of the “BBQ Chicken Candwich”: “I am confident only one of those B’s stands for botulism.”

Kirkland knows his products won’t be a hit with busy moms, kids or anybody else if they don’t taste good. To demonstrate the virtues of “shelf-stable bread” and sandwich fixings that have a long shelf life, he sent two peanut-butter-and-jelly Candwich samples to TODAYshow.com. This writer tried them, and you know what? They weren’t bad at all. In fact, they tasted just like standard peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches made with hot-dog buns — a perennial kid-lunch staple.
In the interest of full disclosure, Kirkland did not send the sample sandwiches in a fully canned state. (The cans are in the process of being mass-produced for his PB&J Candwich product launch in August.) When canned, his food products will undergo the rigors of “hurdle technology” — that is, hurdles to prevent the growth of any pathogens or unwanted organisms in the food. By controlling the amount of oxygen, acidity and water inside the packaging and the sandwich itself, pathogens can be stopped in their tracks, Kirkland said.
The sandwich samples Kirkland shared with TODAYshow.com included the ingredients that would have gone inside a can: A hot-dog bun wrapped in cellophane; a squeezable packet of peanut butter; a squeezable packet of jelly; and a small piece of taffy for dessert. You just build your own sandwich and nosh. The shelf-stable bread Kirkland uses for the hot-dog buns wound up sitting in a FedEx package for five days, but it still tasted, smelled and felt just fine.
But what about pre-built sandwiches and pizza pockets that have meat baked into them? How do those hold up after months and months inside a can?
Jeff Pierson, 46, a nature and wildlife photographer based in Salt Lake City, loves the BBQ Chicken Candwich so much that he’s devoured dozens of them. A few years back, he tried his first canned sandwich courtesy of one of his buddies, a longtime friend of Kirkland’s.
“When it was just peanut butter and jelly, I was pretty excited about it, but when I was handed my first meat sandwich I was a little hesitant,” Pierson recalled. “I thought, ‘How safe could this be?’ But I’ve eaten them after a full year, and they were still good — and I’m still here.”
Pierson said the sandwiches are convenient when he spends multiple days outside — nowhere near a store or refrigerator — taking photos of grizzly bears and other wildlife. When closer to home, he’s also devised a method for enjoying hot chicken sandwiches.
“I keep ’em in my car,” he said. “I put ’em in a heavy plastic sack and leave them on the dashboard, and I have a hot sandwich for lunch. ... I’ve never been sick and I’ve had a lot of them that have been kicking around in the car for a spring and a winter, a few seasons, and it’s always been OK.”
No need for refrigeration

Because of their staying power, inventor Kirkland also sees a place for Candwiches in emergency-preparedness kits and at times when natural disasters strike.
“I wish I would have had about 100 million of these when the earthquake hit Haiti,” Kirkland said. “Or any time there’s a hurricane or the power goes out. ... I think of it as more of a convenience item than an emergency item, but I do think it’s perfect for emergencies.”
In August, peanut-butter-and-jelly Candwiches will go on the market for the first time in limited areas of the United States. That will be followed by a nationwide product launch. Next will be the Pepperoni Pizza Pocket Candwich, which has the pepperoni, sauce and cheese baked into the bread.
Next up: The BBQ Chicken Candwich, the BBQ Beef Candwich, French toast that contains a maple filling, and cinnamon rolls that come with a spreadable chocolate sauce. Kirkland also has plans to unveil canned calzones and canned wrapped sandwiches in the future.
‘A long, hard road’

Kirkland is almost giddy that the Candwich — which is being marketed by his company, Mark One Foods — is finally about to be sold to the general public. His lengthy canned-sandwich journey began when he had an epiphany back in the 1990s.
“I was eating a cookie and drinking a soda, and it occurred to me if I put cookies into a soda can I could sell it through a soft-drink vending machine,” Kirkland said. “I had a cookie in one hand and a drink in the other, I thought, ‘Hey! Bring your hands together!’ That’s where it all started.”
He patented the concept of putting a non-beverage item inside a soda container in 1999. He found an investor named Travis L. Wright who wanted to back the Candwich and help bring it to the market — but as time passed, everything went awry.
It turns out that Wright allegedly used money raised from about 175 other investors to support Candwich development and other business ideas. But those other investors had given Wright $145 million to invest in commercial real estate. A lawsuit filed this month by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission maintains that Wright committed fraud by misleading his investors and using their money to fund a “lavish lifestyle.”
“He had me in limbo for years, and then he left me in the lurch,” Kirkland said. “When the real estate market crashed, his business crashed, and now he’s being charged with fraud. It’s nothing that we did wrong; it’s just that he turned out to be a bad investor.”
Kirkland said he’s struggled to get the Candwiches to the product-launch point without Wright’s full, promised backing. It took a while to pull that off in this economy.
“It’s been a long, hard road,” he said. “It’s been a tough five years. If I didn’t really believe in the product and I didn’t have a good wife, I’d probably be dead now.”
© 2010 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Need energy during the day?

Then don't skip breakfast!  Tired of cereal (or just don't like it)?  Eggs are a lot better for you than most people think.  Yes, egg whites are lower in calories, but lower in taste as well.  They can be substituted in this recipe if you like.  The fatty acids and proteins from a whole egg far outweigh the added calories.  Maybe try both and see what you think.  Here's the recipe from IncredibleEgg.com

3-Step Egg & Cheese Breakfast Burrito


From the American Egg Board Culinary Library
published: 04/19/2010

Only a cereal bowl is needed to prepare and serve this zesty breakfast dish, making your morning clean-up a breeze.
Prep Time: 2 minutes; Cook Time: 45 to 60 seconds; Makes: 1 serving
1 flour tortilla (6-inch)
1 egg
1 Tbsp. shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 Tbsp. salsa

1. Line 2-cup microwave-safe cereal bowl with microwave-safe paper towel. Press tortilla into bowl. Break egg into center of tortilla. Beat egg gently with a fork until blended, being careful not to tear tortilla.

2. Microwave on High 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until egg is almost set, 15 to 30 seconds longer. *Microwave ovens vary. Cooking times may need to be adjusted.

3. Remove tortilla with paper towel liner from bowl to flat surface. Top egg with cheese and salsa. Fold bottom of tortilla over egg, then fold in sides.

Nutrition information per serving: 197 calories; 10 g total fat; 4 g saturated fat; 1 g polyunsaturated fat; 3 g monounsaturated fat; 218 mg cholesterol; 407 mg sodium; 17 g carbohydrate; 1 g dietary fiber; 11 g protein; 365.2 IU Vitamin A; 17.5 IU Vitamin D; 55.3 mcg folate; 119.5 mg calcium; 2.0 mg iron; 129.8 mg choline.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Krystal Burgers vs the state of North Carolina

Dear Krystal Burger,

Can anyone tell me why this tasty little burgers have disappeared from the Charlotte-area landscape?  More so, they are not even in the state any longer.  Traveling into Tennessee or South Carolina, and they are waiting to greet you.
They used to be very inexpensive.  Not so much anymore, but still not as much as McDonalds or Burger King.  At the same time, they are not as large so it's not apples to apples anyway.  A 12 pack cost $9 with tax.  I am happy to pay around 75 cents each for the joy of eating, but the value conscious person I am knows that another 10 cents gets me a much larger burger elsewhere.

Now, for all of the recent transplants from up north that have not seen a Krystal burger before, it looks familiar huh?  Sure.  It looks a lot like a White Castle, so much so that you could probably fool many.  The onion is fresh sliced versus the reconstituted type.  That is the only real glaring difference.

This weekend coming back through Gaffney SC I knew I had to stop and get some.  My travel buddy had never had any (he was from out west) and was pleasantly surprised.  I came to work on Monday and one of my co-workers had hit the one in TN on his way back this weekend.  Obviously, we could certainly use some back in the great state of North Carolina. 

Krystal - I await your reply.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ever feel iffy after Mexican food. Read on...

Uh oh, salsa and guacamole lovers. Sure these two condiments are zesty and chunky – but be forewarned, they could be the culprits behind foodborne illnesses.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that 3.9 percent of foodborne outbreaks from 1998 to 2008 in restaurants were confirmed or suspected to be from salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo.

These 136 reported outbreaks included 12 pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, shigella, hepatitis A and norovirus. Researchers found three deaths associated with the outbreaks.
The analysis did not explore specific reasons how salsa and guacamole became contaminated, but Dr. Rajal Mody, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC in the division that researches foodborne and environmental diseases, said the existing scientific literature provides some clues.

“Salsa and guacamole are made in large batches,” he said. “Small amounts of contamination can affect lots of servings. There is the potential that salsa and guacamole are not properly refrigerated. And we know salsa and guacamole are often made from diced fresh produce items- tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, which we know have been implicated as sources in past outbreaks.”

Improper storage times and temperatures were reported in about 30 percent of these restaurants, according to the research. In 20 percent of these salsa-and-guacamole-related incidents, the food workers were reported as the source of contamination.

Consumers who want to minimize risks should see whether the restaurant posts their environmental inspection score, Mody suggested.

“Ideally, our work here generates some interest in safe handling of salsa and guacamole,” he said. “Just like in a restaurant kitchen, people making salsa at home should follow good safety practices. It’s pretty basic. Clean your food, separate it as you prepare it, cook it and chill.”

The CDC presented these findings Monday at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh Pineville - we miss Joe's Crab Shack!

So an impromptu trip to Myrtle Beach Sunday (the 4th) created a fun opportunity... Eat at Joe's.  Just like the signs all over town say.  In our Charlotte days, we would see Joe's down by the mall and Home Depot in Pineville.  We never ate there.  Either Joe's was ahead of it's time or we simply missed out.  I can tell you now we did miss out.

Here's a funny thing in hindsight: we blew by another Joe's in Nashville back in April.  You can scroll back and see that we chose Wildhorse Saloon for lunch that day.  Why Joe's now?  You can't go 3 feet in Myrtle Beach without tripping over a crab/calabash restaurant.  Pancake houses serve calabash.  I think even gas stations sell crab and calabash.  Maybe not, but they might.

So my wife has recently been eating more seafood thanks to sushi.  Of all things SUSHI!  Nothing like some beginner seafood in the form of fish sticks or shrimp scampi... Nope.  Roll it up and eat it SUSHI.  Well I am happier for it - that's for sure.

We went to Alligator Adventure (viewing not eating) and my wife says we should get some seafood while we are there.  Sure enough, we park to see some gators and saw the Joe's sign.  There are several great names there like House of Blue, Wild Wings, etc... even Rossi's and Chucks down the road.  I was not going to pass up the chance to eat seafood this day.  No sir!  After the gator adventures, we stroll out and can't find Joe's.  The signs all pointed to those other places.  I was not ashamed to ask directions (my daughter was soooo proud).  The problem is he did not know where it was either and he worked at Wild Wings.  This tourist trap is so large it has a map.  Ah...Joe's was just over their inland lake that the Broadway at the Beach has made.  They had a nice plank walkway across the middle.  It was a great walk on a gorgeous day.

We arrive at Joe's and initially want to sit outside.  Us and oh, about 400 other visitors on a busy Sunday.  Hmmm.  Inside works.  Apparently their AC does too - it was a little chilly in there.  We are told the wait inside is 10-15 minutes so we hit the restrooms.  3 minutes later we are seated.  I like their clock!

Now this place is mobbed.  Slam packed and wall to wall.  Servers are all over and moving quickly.  Ours shows up on que and gets our drink orders.  The menu is a lot to get through so we hold off on an appetizer order right away.  He makes a recommendation, but we hold.

Our daughters first solid food many moons ago was calamari at Frankie's in Charlotte (R.I.P.) and she has been all into it ever since.  We order that and a salad for her (we helped a little with the squid).  My wife ordered the popcorn shrimp and I ordered the Sunset Fire Steam pot.  It has a smokey bay seasoning on the shrimp, dungeoness and snow crab, corn, potatoes and sausage.  I was a little set back by the $26 price tag, but there was enough to share.

Unfortunately the calamari was breaded to heavily; as if it were a chicken strip.  It was cooked a little too long.  When the tentacles are really crunchy - you just know.  The popcorn shrimp had the same coating but it made more sense on there.  The crab pot was a big ol' pile of yummy goodness.  Those type seasonings are always a little on the salty side, so that was expected.  The paper towel roll and scrap bucket got some heavy use.

To crack the crab at Joe's, you have to master this little yellow tool that simply says - STOLEN FROM JOE'S.  The waiter explained that it has to be worked through the shell and then split the shell open to access the meat.  I have never used one before and it seemed to corny.  Well, a couple legs in and we have ourselves a fun little task really.  It's like an old hand can opener that you just run the side, pulling up and pushing down.  It really worked.  He claimed that he "would see" if he could find some of the metal crackers for me to use when I ordered, and sure enough he showed up with them for me and the table next door.  I sent him packing with a cleaned out snow crab leg.  We got this!

Through all of the people traffic inside, our waiter was really on his game.  All of the staff dance on command, they were checking tables like seasoned pros - crab seasoned pros to be exact.  Good service, good food, fun atmosphere in a great location.  This was a great stop - thanks Honey.

Joe's Crab Shack on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Soiree - Main Street Mooresville on a Friday Night

The trip to Soiree starts with finding them on Restaurant.com for a certificate.  This is a big win for us, since we have never seen them on there before.  Typically that site gets newer restaurants trying to get their name out.  Why then Soiree?  We were going to do some checking - and it came on Date Night Friday for us.

We walk in around 7pm and there are only a few tables occupied in the dining room and a couple people at the bar.  This would seem normal since it is a holiday weekend if JJ Wasabis weren't packed just a block away.

We see the sign on the door that they are closing for a few days through the holiday - including Saturday - so they were loaded with specials to clear out the cupboards.  The ever changing menu was a lot different to us.  It took some looking to actually decide on what we wanted to eat.

We ordered the fried squash appetizer special which was deep fried half moons of summer squash with two sauces.  One was a creamy goat cheese sauce and the other was like a red pepper aioli.  It was pretty good - highlighted really by the sauces.  Our entrees were Pasta Paloma and Southern Fusion Chicken.  The Paloma had chunks of chicken breast sauteed with prosciutto and tossed with ziti in a creamy Parmesan sauce.  It was okay - too salty really, but it was okay.  The Fusion chicken was certainly a better dish.  A chicken quarter is grilled, the wing is frenched so you have a bone sticking up.  It looks cooler than it sounds.  It is served on top of smoked leg meat.  The smoking was done very well.  Presentation of a portion of chicken on pieces of chicken did not really work, but the grilled squash on the mashed potatoes looked great.  Overall, this dish had all the flavors right on the money.

My wife is the Creme Brulee Queen, so she had to have one.  This is always a consistent winner here and she was very pleased.  The crunch of the caramelized sugar was great, and the custard was ice cold still.  That is a huge thing for me.  The strawberry they sliced on top was sour.  That was the only let down in the dessert.

We used to go to Soiree often, I mean often.  They had the best Sunday brunch I have ever enjoyed!  It changed and then got cancelled.  We would go for lunch - great prices and great food.  That is gone now too.  Now, a quiet Friday and coupons???  I hope this is not the beginning of the end.  It's not Soiree of old, but it's a solid dinner choice none-the-less.  We even bought 4 more certificates so we can enjoy the changing seasonal menus for the next year (they don't expire :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Restaurant Week Part 3 - Prickly Pear in Mooresville

The 10-day 'Queen's Feast' restaurant celebration is planned for July 16-25. Each participating restaurant will offer a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for $30 per person.  I am highlighting 3 in our area that I will be tasting this year.

From their website:
Restaurant critics, neighborhood regulars, and first-time visitors always agree about Prickly Pear: the atmosphere is great, the food is superb, and the service is outstanding. The restaurant offers a casual atmosphere that is perfect for dining with friends, co-workers, and family members. The creative menu features a wide array of great selections, always made from the highest quality ingredients. Be sure to ask your server about daily specials and other notable menu selections. The staff at Prickly Pear are friendly and professional and will ensure that your dining experience is a pleasant one. Please stop in soon!
First course (choice of one)
Entrée (choice of one)
Dessert Course

Restaurant Week Part 2 - Dressler's in Huntersville at Birkdale

The 10-day 'Queen's Feast' restaurant celebration is planned for July 16-25. Each participating restaurant will offer a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for $30 per person.  I am highlighting 3 in our area that I will be tasting this year.

From their website:
Eat well, laugh often, live long . . . Dressler's is an upscale contemporary restaurant with patio dining, featuring a menu of steak, imaginative seafood, and creative appetizers paired with an extensive wine list and full service bar specializing in martinis, ports, and single malt scotches. Dressler's has a close-knit group of managers who have worked together for many years; the camaraderie and warmth are obvious from the moment you walk through the doors. An accommodating staff will ensure that your experience is memorable. The 130-seat, 5190-square-foot Dressler's is a people place located in that new urbanism, people-driven shopping outpost of Birkdale Village. The interior is subdued and relaxed, yet polished. Private party area for up to 45. Half-price bottled wine on Sundays (under $75).
Appetizer (choice of one)
Entrée (choice of one)
Dessert (choice of one)

Restaurant Week Part 1 - 131 Main in Cornelius

The 10-day 'Queen's Feast' restaurant celebration is planned for July 16-25. Each participating restaurant will offer a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for $30 per person.  I am highlighting 3 in our area that I will be tasting this year.

From their website:
131 Main is an upscale casual dining restaurant serving updated American classics with an emphasis on fresh food. Its relaxed ambience, reasonably priced menu, and extensive award-winning wine list have made 131 Main the ideal place for a business lunch, a quiet evening out, drinks with friends, or dinner with the family. 131 Main has four locations - Cornelius (Lake Norman), Charlotte (Blakeney and Dilworth) and Asheville.
Appetizer (choice of one)
Salad (choice of one)
Entrée (choice of one)
Dessert (choice of one)