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NYC c'hounder for dinner in Charlotte

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Manhattan chowhounder in Charlotte for business looking for a top restaurant for a decadent dinner. My guidelines are simple: nothing i can easily find in new york city. So i'd like to go somewhere with excellent seafood and local flavors. So far i've heard of Carpe Diem, Upstream, Bonterra Dining & Wine, and Barrington's. I'll be dining on my own and money is not really an issue but i also don't want to be stuck somewhere stuffy. If one of these restaurant rocks let me know, but if i'm totally off target and should focus on someplace different please tell me!! Thanks!

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  1. I vote for Nobles, if you aren't concerned with budget. Excellent food, top quality, not a chain. I think the web address is www.chefjimnoble.com if you want to see the menu.
    Or if you want some real creativity but not highly priced, I always recommend Las Ramblas (also have a website, do a web search on this one). Their focus is Spain, and tapas style food. Very good. Good atmosphere for people watching, I think.

    1. Ratcliffe on the Green. Highly regarded by our food critics and local foodies alike. Chef Mark Hibbs is known for farm to table Carolina cuisine and supports local farmers and other purveyors. Service is great too.

      http://www.ratcliffeonthegreen.com/Ov...

      Charlotte is known for "excellent seafood". If that's what you're looking for check out GW Fins uptown.

      The places you've listed are all good. I'm a big Carpe Diem fan. I like Bonterra but it doesn't blow me away. Although, there hasn't been much buzz about Upstream in quite a while. I haven't been there in ages so I can't say what it's been like lately.

      Good luck and happy eating!

      1. Charlotte has some very fine restaurants. Several have been mentioned in these posts. The honest answer however is if you are tying to find something here that you cannot find in NYC I believe you will fail. We are good, very good and getting better all the time however NYC one of the top food cities on the planet eclipses us in a culinary sense.

        1. Agreed with everything said here already, especially Godfather's comment about being able to find something you couldn't find in NYC. Ratcliffe's would come to the closest to that requirement since it's locally sourced (it's also probably my favorite restaurant in the city).

          That being said, for dining on one's own, I would actually lean slightly towards Carpe Diem because they have the most beautiful bar area and if I were eating alone, I might go there for that atmosphere. Very short cab ride from Uptown.

          1. I know it's hard to surpass or replicate NYC and that's not what I'm aiming for...i just thought it would be nice to have dinner at a good local restaurant that focuses on local ingredients and flavors. Thanks for the suggestions!!

            1. If you want something you can't find in NYC, head to a local BBQ joint. I don't live in Charlotte (I'm in Raleigh), but hey you Queen City hounds, isn't there a hole-in-the-wall pig joint somewhere in town with really good cue?

              1. All great suggestions...i think i'm leaning towards Ratcliffe b/c the menu looks great or Carpe Diem (good ambience and solid menu). Now i just have to decide between the two. Thanks!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tengo Hambre

                  Carpe diem is very good, Ratcliffe is fantastic and uses a lot of locally grown produce and meat products. Many great meals are available here in Charlotte you may also want to try LuLu on Central Ave. Excellent food and lots of local ingredients and flavors. LuLu might be the best at offering both great food and being unique.

                2. The Fig Tree always carry interesting local fare on it's menum local trout, etc.... It's a beautiful old mission-style house that is especially cozy in winter when they have the fireplace going. More quaint than cold like some of the nicer places in town.

                  http://www.charlottefigtree.com/

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: littlegirltree

                    Great idea. Very fine food and if you ask they will even show you a photo album of before and after picture of this fantastic restored home. There are now homes like this in NYC!!!

                    1. re: littlegirltree

                      The Fig Tree is at the top of my list of places I really want to get to. Foodwise, what are some of your favorite dishes there?

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        If you go for nothing else, get the Beignets. They are to DIE for!!! Cinnamon sugar dusted with creme anglaise and coffee ice cream. YUM!!!...

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          I don't have a favorite, really. I've only ordered the specials, since they're seasonal and precious. I've had everything from a trout from SC to stuffed zucchini flowers. It's pretty exciting to know that you're going to have some new and fleeting delicacy to look forward to every visit, though!

                          1. re: littlegirltree

                            Jesus - zucchini flowers???? I love them! I've never had them out... only made my own, stuffed w/ goat cheese and tempura fried.

                            I know they have foie gras on the menu too. I'm so in love! Or is it lust? Whatever. ;-)

                          2. re: lynnlato

                            Fig tree has always been hit or miss with me. The food is pretty straight forward, not very imaginative, but usually done well. I've had better foie gras, but then again I've had WAY worse. The beignets ARE to die for, though and over the experience has been pretty good, been there 5 or 6 times. My only really bad experience was on Mothers Day, so that doesn't really count, or does it?!

                            1. re: pjay

                              What's the best foie gras you've had in CLT? Just curious. For me, I think it was Table (NEWSFLASH: I just heard today that Table is closing! Could be a rumor but it was a pretty reliable source).

                              Mom's Day? Another Amateur Day at restaurants but I suppose it all counts, right? ;-)

                              1. re: lynnlato

                                I went last night and had a great dinner. Hope you are wrong. Will post about it later along with all the other meals I hope to have during my stay in Charlotte.

                                1. re: lynnlato

                                  I am not surprised to hear this. Every time someone mentions Table to me, they add the point that it's good but not worth what they charge. I think 2008 is going to be a year where a lot of restaurants that don't provide good value will suffer and/or close.

                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                    Best foie I have had here is at Barrington's. Worst I've had is at Sonoma Modern, which also owns Town. When Sonoma first opened in their old location on Trade St., they were very good. In fact, I loved their foie.

                                    The decline of quality in a restaurant is so common. Bonterra was fabulous when they first opened. Now, the food is so-so.

                                    I went to Town for lunch once, and found it highly over rated.

                                    1. re: hazardnc

                                      It's really remarkable and not unique to Charlotte so this post might be removed. There are a handful of good restaurants that have recently opened in Charlotte (last two or three years). I could tell upon my first visits to them which would last and which would decline and/or close. My hunches are based on a perceived attitude, the restaurant's location, prices in relation to quality of food and the age of the diners. I'm not looking forward to seeing how accurate my predictions are. This is why chains are taking over. There's a corporate standard that has to be followed. A lot of the privately owned spots open big and then rest on their laurels. Thankfully Charlotte has a lot of exceptions. Good, privately owned restaursnts that deliver year after year. Not surprisingly, these are not all $$$ spots. Of all of the eating establishments in town, the one that gets the most ink on a national level? Price's Chicken Coop.

                                      1. re: southernitalian

                                        You're right - decline in quality is not unique to Charlotte in the least. I think one of the reasons Barrington's, Ratcliffe and Carpe Diem have continued to impress me is because the chefs/owners don't get overly ambitious and open multiple restaurants. They focus their attention on one kitchen and one quality menu.

                                        1. re: hazardnc

                                          Exactly, Hazard. I'm surprised by the saturation in the Southpark area. It's insane!

                                        2. re: southernitalian

                                          You know what's ridiculous? Some of the chains are as expensive (or more) than the local places. I have been dragged to that miserable Melting Pot restaurant twice and each time it cost me about $70. It's horrible food with horrible prices...yet the only way I can tolerate the place is guzzling down their overpriced libations.

                                          1. re: HungryGrayCat

                                            Ha! That place is still open, huh? Wow... I would've thought it went under long ago. I don't know anyone that's been there in years!

                                            Yeah, what a concept. A little bit of prep work and a pot of hot broth. Let your customers cook their own meal and then charge them and arm and a leg. Brilliant.

                                        3. re: hazardnc

                                          I agree about Barrington's having had the best, most consistent Foie gras in town. I had some wonderful fg @ Nolen Kitchen about a year ago. Since then, Nolen has drastically fallen from my good graces.

                                2. So i think i made my decision and i'm going with Ratcliffe on the Green (unless one of you stops me). Carpe Diem is my back-up plan b/c of the ambience, but the menu at Ratcliffe sounds too good to turn down.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Tengo Hambre

                                    Go TH... you'll love it! Carpe Diem is a great back up. Please report back!

                                    1. re: lynnlato

                                      What are others opinions on Custom Shop these days? Only been one time and loved it, but haven't heard any word on this place since they opened...

                                      1. re: mmuch

                                        Besides Helen Schwab, you're the first person to comment positively on Customshop. How long ago did u go? I haven't been there so I can't comment. I've not been in a rush to get there b/c CH'er reports have been not so great.

                                        I'm off to Trio Terra tomorrow night. I'm so excited!!!

                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                          Looking forward to hearing about Trio Terra from you. The chef there is related to the chef at my favorite Italian restaurant Fiamma. Have you ever eaten at Fiamma? It is sublime!!!!

                                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                            Of course I'll give y'all the scoop! At least, as I see it. ;-)

                                            Nope, haven't been to Fiamma... but I have noticed you are very passionate about that place. I've heard lots of good feedback though. Yet another one on the list. My lists grows faster than I can visit the restaurants. How often do you get out to eat to new places in particular? Not your usual jaunts.

                                            1. re: lynnlato

                                              I must admit it's hard to stray from the places that I really love and Fiamma is very high on my list. I do try to check new places as I hear of them and if they sound like something up my alley. Things will be getting more challenging for me as I am going to be making some changes and start being dedicated to eating healthy. I feel if I make the effort and use my head I can eat well and still eat healthy. I just need to make good choices.

                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                GFL - good for you! This is why I love Thai food so much. Especially at the better Thai restaurants in C'lotte. If you eschew Pad Thai (tough to do I know, but loaded with fat), you can usually make some healthy choices and still eat well. I'll throw it out there that I think Bangkok Ocha in particular is a great place to eat well and still feel good about what you're eating. I think Lang Van (Vietnamese) is another restaurant that delivers maximum flavor and eating enjoyment without making you feel like you need to go to the gym.