Smalls Food and Spirits, Charlotte
I had lunch at Smalls on Elizabeth Ave in Charlotte yesterday and was impressed. The space is stark and fairly small but I liked the look. I don't know if noise would be a factor if all the tables were full but we were the only people eating except a couple at the bar.
Granted this review is based on one visit and a very small food sample but the place has real promise! The menu had a bunch of things I wanted to order. Our very capable server told me that everything but the ketchup is made in house.
My lunch mate and I shared the “Mulled Pear, Arugula, Butternut Crème Fraiche, Roasted Walnuts, Spiced Citrus Vinaigrette” salad ($8.) The pear was stuffed with about a tablespoon of the crème fraiche and acted as a nice compliment to the slightly bitter arugula.
I ordered the “Smalls Steak Burger: House Ground Hanger Steak, Leidys Double Smoked Bacon, Blue Cheese, Amish Potato Roll with Pommes Frites” ($9.) The burger was delicious and cooked perfectly. The roll was soft enough to chew but firm enough to hold the juice from the meat. I’m not sure I’ve had a hanger steak burger before but it works great and you end up with a burger with real beef flavor. The accompanying fries were fabulous, crispy with herbs and grated parmesan on top of the pile.
The beer list features North Carolina brewers. I’m looking forward to trying more from the menu.
I've been there four times so far (all for dinner) and have really enjoyed it. I only have two complaints: (1) the music they play when I've been there has been pretty bad and louder than I would like to have a conversation (and it's not like I'm some old dude); and (2) the last time I went, they were out of about half 1/3 of their menu and several of their wines. I think it was more crowded than usual that night, and we were there on the later side, so I don't think they were prepared at the time to accommodate all those people throughout the night.
But the food has been delicious and I love the space. The first time I tried some scallops over some time of puree (I'm blanking on it now) and it was very good. The scallops were cooked nicely. Their charcuterie plate was delicious when I had it. The chicken and thyme waffles are amazing, but very rich. The chicken was fried to perfection. I have also enjoyed the espresso braised short rib. And the Korean BBQ wings are nice appetizer, but make sure to ask for extra napkins.
Welp, so much for one of the few places to do farm-to-table in Charlotte in a way that was actually tasty, and the owner who was going to bring us the only locally-sourced seafood place in town. Guess I'll have to continue driving to the Triangle, Asheville or Charleston to satiate my palate as to these things.