The Liberty-Charlotte NC
We had to try out Tom Condrons new venture last night. I had been in before it opened and was impressed,as I easily am, with the beer decor all over the place. This includes empty kegs being used for vertical supports,and what looked to be old pallets as walls and ceiling. The dividing wall in the dining room has the appearance of beer with a foamy head. Lots of barleycorn images as that is, I believe, their logo. The kegs,many of which appeared to be Coors, are separated by light "rings". I believe that using these kegs for structural integrity a much better use than transporting swill. But I digress. A very nice beer list with perhaps 20 selections on tap and 50 or so bottled beers available. That was good for me,but SO insisted that we eat too. First thing was to try chicharones, though organic fried pork skins is what they call them. I think that this was the first time I had eaten them warm and seasoned with light salt and enough pepper to wake up the taste buds, they just kind of melted in my mouth. French onion was the soup and it was delicious. We also shared a plate of fat Angry mussels that were again really well flavored with a touch of hot spice. With just enough room left for salads, The Liberty with roasted pears and pumpkin seeds for me and an Iceberg with really sweet bacon for SO, we were sated. Rats, no room for dessert! The entrees all looked appealing and will require a return. The menu includes sections of pub fare, appetizers,entrees, and sides.
The dining room is very comfortable and conducive to conversation. I was really kind of surprised that we could carry on a conversation at normal voice levels with the "hardness" of the decor.
Service was very good and the food arrived in a very timely manner since we were deciding what came next as we ate.
I happen to know that there is a private room and bar downstairs and though I have no idea what their plans for its use might be, I can see in the future, a really good spot for a private function.
The Liberty is in the old McIntosh location on South Blvd.
Great report, Sam. Sounds like a warm, fun place. Of course, Tom is known for dishing up good fare so I look forward to trying it soon. That salad sounds interesting.
I still miss McIntosh's... the room downstairs was great for private functions.
After reading Sam's review I could not wait to try this place - so I did! The decor is absolutely amazing, so much so that I asked the staff if it would be OK if I came back as soon as they opened for dinner some day so I could take pictures with my real camera (all I had with me was the camera on my cell). The golden hues really are quite warm and the decor in general is a lot of fun, I'd call it kid friendly if for no reason other than the decor.
On to the food - we wanted to try almost everything on the menu so we settled for tapas style so we could get some variety. I will most definitely go back to try the bison meatloaf with a veal jus one of these days. To start we tried the french onion soup. French onion soup is one of those things that I think of as a good barometer, unfortunately this was not very awesome. Whatever cheese they used was bland, the bread wasn't crusted enough and so became very soggy and the soup itself was very much under salted. Presentation was beautiful, but I regretted ordering it. This start, however, proved my barometer rule very wrong.
For our next course we got the house cut potato chips with blue cheese fondue, calamari with curry slaw and red peppers and garlicky green beans. The garlicky green beans were perfectly cooked, a pretty vibrant green, warm but still with a nice snap to them when you bit into them. The garlic wasn't overdone and it wasn't too little - this was an excellent side. The calamari Mrs. friek and I disagreed on. I thought it was wonderfully light, the batter was light and crisp, not too greasy, the calamari itself was tender and not chewy and the slaw was with no mayo which made the curry flavor stand out. The combination of the curry slaw and slivers of fresh red pepper I thought was awesome, the wife thought it was under spiced and again - under salted. The potato chips in blue cheese - oh my lawd! This was one of the best things I've ever consumed. Mrs. friek even said at one point "I could eat this every day of my life and never be unhappy". You have to try them!
An oddity for us was I had room left over for desert so we opted for the apple/walnut cobbler topped with butterscotch ice cream. I about lost my head over this. In an effort of full disclosure, I'm allergic to fresh walnuts and fresh apples so I rarely get to have those flavors. The dessert was so good I might well be spotted sneaking in while the wife is away just to order it again.
Beer selection was good, some of it over priced, some of them under priced ($4 Left Hand Sawtooth pints!). If anything I think the menu pricing was fair, if not below what I would have expected for the quality. The wait staff was good, not phenomenal, but I kind of expected I'd be dealing with the scrubs since we went on a Monday night.
I'll probably blog about this experience later today and will post some of the pics I took with my crappy camera. I also took pics of the entire menu so it won't take me half an hour to figure out what to order next time.