Sunday, June 5, 2011

Foothills Brewing - Good food for great beer

It's a common expectation that there will be a good menu with a micro-brewery.  No so in NC.  In fact, several don't offer a restaurant at all.  What's worse, many don't offer any food that you can't get in your own neighborhood.  Why then drive to Winston?  Foothills - that's why.

We wanted a Sunday lunch that had some spirit (okay, beer, but you get the idea).  We checked Charlotte, Mooresville, Hickory - nothing that made me want to get in the car.  I had the word Foothills on my brain and could not figure out why so I Googled Foothills Brewery and viola!  Solid menu with some cool beers.  35 minutes later, I was enjoying it.

The building is rustic, just like a manufacturing company would have used a hundred years ago.  Lots of brick, old wood and huge windows.  A little feel of downtown Mooresville, just larger open spaces.  Parking was easy - a huge plus over going to Charlotte.  You can see the brewing area in the back of the restaurant, which is really cool.  It's not just polished vats for show, but a working brewery for your enjoyment.

For the beer lovers out there, they have daily specials and this one was $3 pints.  Real pints no less.  There are some high gravity (ie: alcohol) beers that don't qualify, but most do and they are great.  I chose the People Porter and it was exactly as the tasting notes stated - slight bitter with coffee notes.  Very smooth for a very dark beer.  Their sampler of course was the real deal ($7.99).  Several 6 oz tasting glasses of whatever they have brewed for your pleasure.  There is no way you can lose on that one.

For food, we went two opposite directions.  I chose the Cuban ($8.99), which use a house-made whole grain mustard (WOW) made with a little of their beer.  Had I know it was that good, I might have ordered the pretzels as an app and spent an extra hour or so there enjoying it.  This sandwich has sliced pork, ham, mustard, pickles and cheese - did I mention the mustard?  Exactly what you want - with the extra punch of that wonderful mustard.  It came with fries and that means ketchup.  We were offered both he typical store bought stuff, or yes, house-made ketchup.  And it's made with beer too.  Of course, we were warned it's a little sweeter - creating a love it or hate it experience.  Love it is an understatement.  We bought some for home.  It was outstanding. 

My wife ordered the Pear Salad, which has the fruit compliment to nuts, cheese and spring mix.  Nice read on the menu.  Add chicken for $5 - that's too high for the small piece.  The small salad did not excite me either.  In fact, we were very disappointed in the salad.  $14 by the time we add chicken, and it was a side salad-sized at best.  Add 25 cents for additional dressing.  If they put the portion up 50% and the chicken as $3 or $4, we might have something, but I truly felt robbed for that salad.  Needless to say I was donating fries to my better half.

Service was great.  Servers really know their beers (as they should).  We were shocked that a couple came in and sat near us ordering Bud Light.  Listen, I know that is the redneck beer of choice, but do me a favor "Larry the Cable Guy" types - eat at Golden Corral.  Don't go to a local brew pub and order carbonated water.  They make great beer, why not try it?  There is a mild pilsner-type for the weak at heart.

If I were grading, which I am, I would give the beer an A-
The food is a mixed bag.  With that said, overall it's a C+
I would certainly eat there again, I would just stick to sandwiches or appetizers.

Foothills Brewing on Urbanspoon

Farewell to MJ's in Mooresville

I have to admit, I took some heat for my review on MJ's several months ago.  It came from a handful of local fans/friends of the restaurant and that showed there was some spirit.  Jill (owner) and I exchanged a few emails and I was actually kind of rooting for them to launch the new menu and make something cool out of it.  In fact, we went for Mother's Day brunch and had a very good visit.  It wasn't but another few weeks and we saw the patio furniture gone.  Their website then confirmed the fact they have closed the business.

I do love to root for the underdog, the local owner, the unconventional.  They had two of the three and I applaud their effort.  Unfortunately, you either need the best location money can buy or a niche that people must have.  We eat out a lot less than 2 or 3 years ago, as with many people now too, so it has to be something we deem as a "must try" experience.  All I can say is if you live local, please eat local.  Leave the chains to the travelers and tourists.

Thank you MJ's for a valiant effort.

MJ's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon