Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jeffrey's LKN - Queens Feast

So on a night where we didn't want to cook, we land at Jeffrey's for the first night of Charlotte Restaurant Week/Queens Feast.  Any normal Friday night will certainly be fairly busy there.  Add a 3 course $30 deal, mob scene comes to mind.  We were greeted fairly quick considering we were the 3rd party that walked in the door at the same time.  They had our table ready and we were sat within about 2 minutes of walking in.  GREAT START!

Our waitress (Courtney) was enthusiastic from the start.  This was great to see.  We have been to Jeffrey's a bunch and will typically sit in the bar area for the stellar service.  She knew a thing or two (or more) about wine and went above and beyond.  One selection I made was not nearly what I hoped for.  She didn't hesitate to change it for me.  I can see where that might be frowned on.  Not here.  Guest satisfaction was definitely the focus.

The first course selections were the Crispy Goat Cheese salad for her and Scallops with pork belly for me.  The salad came with a thick slice of goat cheese that is breaded and deep fried, placed on a nice spring mix salad.  The scallops were a few thin slices sauteed with vidalia onion (caramelized) and a couple chunks of pork belly.  Both were very well prepared.  The salad with goat cheese was a fair portion, where the scallop dish was a little too delicate and petite for a hungry man.  Taste was great though.

We both ordered the same for the second course of Filet Mignon with Lobster Tail.  Now who on earth serves those two together for anything less than $30 as an entree, let along include it in a $30 three course offering?  That's nuts.  The filet was ordered medium-rare, and on a 6oz cut, that can be easily overcooked (hello Bonefish!).  This was right on the money.  Not closer to medium, I mean perfect, exact, awesome, well executed.  How's that?  The 6oz lobster tail was de-shelled and battered/fried.  There was a light sweetness to the batter, but came across buttery.  Really great and a surprise.  I used to broiled or boiled.  I liked this.  The only flaw was using a thick skewer to keep it straight and not telling the servers.  The first cut through made me worry there was a shell on it.  Once I saw the skewer, we were all good.  *Mashed potatoes were the veg on the plate.

My wife had the Peach Kutchen for dessert and I ordered the chocolate cake.  The peach kutchen was tart-like with lots of fresh peach slices, served with ice cream.  A great summer dessert without being overly sweet.  The chocolate cake I ordered was what you would expect for a nice multi-layered cake.  Enough frosting for the sweet tooth in all of us.

So if this is how good a meal can be on a slammed night, you are in for a treat on a regular night.  Queens Feast has several days left - get there!  Worth the $30 and then some. 

Jeffrey's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bonefish Grill Birkdale

So you must have known it was going to happen.  Bonefish opens in the Lake Norman area - and I would have to wander my way in sooner or later.  It was in fact last night.

Sat nights anywhere can be busy, but coming off a holiday week with a lot of travelers, I gambled on "how" busy.  Considering the wait for an inside table was 80-90 minutes, it was a bad bet.  It was about 95 degrees outside and that wait was only 20-30 minutes.  Since I don't melt like ice, outside it would be.

The outside area had been just 7 tables at one time.  The fastest way to handle a busy restaurant is add more tables (outside in this case).  It was a little crowded but not terrible.  I really wanted the food and service anyway.  If I agreed to sit in the warm outdoors, I was not after the posh and convenience of inside.

Our server (Jeremiah) was extremely exuberant.  He asked if we had been there before.  With the answer being NO, he was exceptionally informative about the menu - from beverages through entrees, fish and sauces.  I am a pro at that menu now myself I think.  There was no lack of training given to this staff.  They really seemed to know their stuff.  The exception initially came in the beverage department.  My wife ordered an Angry Orchard cider.  It's really gaining popularity and has a nice apple taste with enough sweetness.  Another server came out with a Crispin.  Higher end product by drier taste.  The bartender didn't ask, just sent already opened as if he knew it would be okay.  We noticed, as did out server, and it would be okay enough - just surprising. 

We ordered a couple salads.  We typically opt for a vinaigrette if I don't see something that's extremely unique.  Sure enough, their vinaigrette is unique.  It's a citrus-based (rather than vinegar) and it's really great.  A typical bread with olive oil comes out to go along.  They replace the overdone tradition of some spices with their own version of a pesto in the center.  Again, like the dressing, a slight twist on something good to make it something better.

I have never had the fish Dory before, but Gordon Ramsey has made it famous on Hell's Kitchen.  You saw "famous" and thought Nemo's friend Dory huh?  Sorry, that's a Regal Tang fish with the name Dory.  Back to the food okay?  Good.  I ordered it with the herbed jasmine rice as the side, and each entree comes with a succotash as well.  My wife is the eternal beef lover and ordered the Filet as she should.  Medium rare of course.

The food arrives, looks great, portions on the smaller side for the money, but I am okay.  My fish looks well grilled, topped nicely, rice was fluffy, succotash was bright and colorful.  My wife's plate also looked good.  Garlic mashed instead of rice (beef and potatoes of course).  She cut in and mid-rare was medium at best.  Half was closer to mid-well.  Jeremiah was all over it.  He offered to bring it back and get replaced.  She said no.  He said if she wanted to start on the sides, he would have another brought out.  We again said no.  Unless you really blow it, we prefer to enjoy our meal at the same time.  Off-temp isn't as bad as having one eat and one not.  Since I wouldn't eat without her, I would have just let me food get cold waiting.  It's always awkward.

His manager came out to check on us.  Very nice guy and he saw the cook on the meat.  He said he would take it off the bill.  I had no issue paying but I am okay with the gesture.  A crazy busy, hot night, things happen.  With the attention to detail and enthusiasm of the server team, he was a little dry.  Not a big deal - but noticeable with a team like that around him.
The dessert menu was a cast of regulars so we declined.  All in all it was an okay visit.  I don't think they set out to be just okay though.

** Since posting this, I have been inundated with the same question - Would I go back?  The answer is possibly.  I don't think I would order entrees though.  A lounge visit with appetizers seems more likely.

Bonefish Grill  on Urbanspoon