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One night in Charlotte -- Halcyon or Harvest Moon Grill?

Going to be staying in the uptown area on Thursday evening and was looking at these two restaurants as my dinner choices. Any recommendations for leaning one way over the other? I'm not fussy about atmosphere, it's all about the quality of the food. Friendly service is always a plus, as well.

Though if someone tells me that there is great BBQ within walking distance, I may have to reconsider my options...

Thanks so much for any input!

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  1. Halcyon, hands down. Harvest Moon hasn't had much love around here in quite a while. The food and atmosphere are "meh".

    "great BBQ within walking distance"... In Charlotte? HA! You're funny! ;-)

    Enjoy your visit!

    4 Replies
    1. re: lynnlato

      Thanks so much! Reservations made for Halcyon!

      As for the BBQ, hey, a poor Canadian can dream, can't she? :)

      1. re: TorontoJo

        Let us know how you make out at Halcyon!

        Oh, and dreamin' is all any of us Charlotteans can do about good cue in "uptown". One day maybe.... one day. :)

        Hey icky! ;-)

        1. re: lynnlato

          I'm going tomorrow night, and I promise to report back. I'm actually quite glad you both recommended Halcyon, because I love restaurants in museums for the sheer beauty of them, but the food isn't always up to snuff. I was very glad to hear that this isn't the case with Halcyon. Looking forward to my dinner!

      2. re: lynnlato

        This is the correct answer. Between the two, it ain't even close.

      3. As promised, here's my report on Halcyon... :)

        First of all, thank you, thank you for steering me here! To start off with, the setting couldn't be lovelier. The collection of great modern architecture at that intersection is amazing, and the wrap around windows in the restaurant allowed us to admire the surroundings all night. The restaurant itself is beautiful, and the chairs are really comfortable (a seeming rarity these days). They don't pair up great with the tables, though, as they barely fit between the legs at the 2-tops. Minor quibble.

        On to the food. Really fantastic. My two colleagues and I started with:

        "Homage to hominy" - pork belly in a wonderful hominy, tomato and ham hock stew. My favorite dish of the night. The pork belly was perfectly cooked -- just enough fat rendered out, a little bit of caramelizing on the skin, tender -- and it paired well with the comforting hominy stew. I actually would have been happy with a larger serving of this dish and a hunk of bread for dinner.

        "Butcher board" -- a nice house made charcuterie plate with a pork torchon, ham hock pate, and lamb liver mush. All very good, though not a stand out for me, as charcuterie are not my favorite nibbles. And I thought it was lacking a cured meat option.

        "Fish and chips" -- a really excellent trout rillette with fried green tomatoes. The trout was so fresh and flavorful with no hint of fishiness or resemblance to tuna (which I've found bad fish rillettes to taste like in the past). Delicious.

        For dinner, one of my colleagues had the special, which was a fillet of wreck fish in a light broth, with clams and merguez sausage and some harissa sauce. He declared it fantastic and cleared his plate. I had a taste of the wreck fish and found the texture so interesting -- really, really meaty. More so than even swordfish. Great flavors in the sauce.

        My other colleague and I had the heritage pork chop, which was served with delicious brussels sprouts leaves and bacon and a gorgeous "brioche bread pudding" that was honestly more like a decadent, tender, buttery biscuit. The pork chop was cooked perfectly medium and was well complimented by hazelnut and mustard vinaigrette. Blurry phone photo of my pork chop below.

        I was too full for dessert, but my colleague had a creme brulee that he enjoyed.

        The service was very good, though our waiter was perhaps a tad too formal in his presentation for my personal taste. He was very nice and did have a dry sense of humor that came through occasionally that made up for it, though.

        Bottom line is that dinner was excellent. I look forward to returning in a couple of weeks when I'm in town next!

         
        7 Replies
        1. re: TorontoJo

          TJ, what a great write up! Do you do this professionally? ;-)

          Thanks for following up with us. Glad you all ate well and enjoyed yourselves. Next trip back we'll have to find you some 'cue.

          1. re: lynnlato

            Thanks, and you're very welcome! We get lots of requests for help on the Ontario/Toronto board and I'm always irked when people don't follow up. :)

            So I'm back in two weeks for one night again. I am currently planning to go back to Halcyon, but was curious if you had any other uptown "must eats" that I should shift my plans to. I'm staying at the Epicenter and would prefer to walk to dinner rather than cab it.

            1. re: TorontoJo

              Hmm, the pickin's are SO slim in uptown, I'm afraid. I can't think of any other "must eats" that you could walk to. God, that sounds so pitiful. Maybe ickymettle can chime in, but I'm at a loss.

              A short cab ride would take you to Customshop which is another one of my favorite spots in and around Uptown. Fig Tree is not too much further from there... down 7th St.

              For the record, Amelie's is a great place to get french pastries, good coffee, lunch soup & sandwiches and the like. Interestingly, they were invited to the White House recently to discuss how they managed to grow their business during the recession.

              1. re: lynnlato

                Thanks, lynnlato! I really don't mind going back to Halcyon at all, as I enjoyed my first meal there so much. I will take a look at Customshop and Fig Tree's web sites, though.

                And a big thanks for the heads up on Amelie's. A good breakfast spot is nice to have, since my meetings don't start too early and the hotel I'm in doesn't have a restaurant.

              2. re: TorontoJo

                Although Halcyon is excellent, I disagree with the premise that it provides the only meal worth eating in Uptown.

                First of all, I would definitely urge you to try Harvest Moon Grille. A true farm to fork restaurant, Cassie Parsons owns Grateful Growers Farm as well as being owner and chef of the HMG.

                There are 2 new places you might want to consider; I haven't had a chance to try either one, and frankly they're probably a bit out of my price range, but they both sound good, Bernadin's and Levant. Here is a link to a recent review of both in the local paper:

                http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011...

                Some other places that are very solid include Dandelion Market for small plates, The Kings Kitchen for southern/soul, Vida for upscale mexican and Coco Osteria for italian (although Coco will cease to exist after the holidays and convert to a tapas concept in January, apparently).

                Also, here is a link to an article about 2 new bbq options coming to Uptown:

                http://helendining.blogspot.com/2011/...

                1. re: Notaslavetofashion

                  Just to clarify, I didn't say that Halcyon is the only Uptown meal worth eating. But it may be the only Uptown restaurant that qualifies as a "MUST EATS" kind-of-place, IMHO.

                  As for Bernardin (no Ripert affliation) and Levant, they just opened their doors. I'm not sure the paint is dry yet, but I do hope they are successful and I look forward to checking them out in a couple of months. Has anyone been yet?

                  1. re: Notaslavetofashion

                    Thanks for the suggestions! I looked at the Bernardin's menu, and it doesn't really appeal to me. Levant appeals more, but I get excellent Middle Eastern food here in Toronto. I will look at your other suggestions.

                    I'm sad to miss the new BBQ, though! Perhaps in the new year...

            2. Hi folks, I'm back in your fair city and I made the mistake of listening to my colleague, who thought we should give Harvest Moon Grille a try. Sigh. What a waste of calories. We would have been MUCH better off returning to Halcyon.

              Apple salad with very little apple and no discernible flavor in the vinaigrette. I was basically eating what tasted like plain mesclun mix with some slivers of apple and few pumpkin seeds. I ate it all simply because I was feeling the need for some greens in my day. Apparently, there was cheddar cheese in the salad, but I missed it completely. Seared striped bass for a main. Once again, very little flavour in the fish or in the sides (which included caramelized onions -- how do caramelized onions have so little flavor?). Couldn't be bother to finish the second half. I think my colleague fared better with the pork shank and grits, but he agreed that Halcyon was easily twice the quality and value. The saving grace of the meal was the sweet potato bread pudding. Moist, rich, full of wonderful flavors.

              Sigh. I hate wasted meals. I should always listen to my trusty chowhounds.

              1 Reply
              1. re: TorontoJo

                Boooo, that stinks. But at least you ended it on an upswing with the bread pudding - yum. Not mention this fabulous weather we're having here. I hope you get a chance to check out Amelie's. I think you'll dig it. Oh, and if you do get a chance to return to Halcyon, you've gotta get the foie gras-stuffed burger - it'll blow your mind!

                Happy Trails, TorontoJo.