Charlotte: Vine American Kitchen in Ballantyne
My SO and I went for lunch today. It just opened this week but we couldn't resist - Ballantyne is SO lacking in decent restaurants. It's a beautiful place - hard wood booths abound, beautiful bar backed by a wall of windows, an open kitchen and an all glass wine room for private dining (is that a contradiction?). The menu and atmosphere/decor SCREAM 131 Main. Even the menu has similar offerings and similar price points. The wine list is pretty conservative and doesn't have as many by-the-glass selections as I had hoped (they should offer more local brews too).
We ordered an Old Mecklenburg Brewery Copper Ale, a King Estate Pinot Gris, a Chop House Burger and the Napa Salad. The burger was good. We ordered it med-rare and it came out cooked perfectly. The bun was a little too big (kaiser roll), I would have preferred a brioche bun. The garlic aioli was a nice addition. The fries are the shoestring variety - again, just like 131 Main. The Napa Salad was mixed greens w/ bits of rotisserie chicken, chopped asparagus, roasted red pepper and mixed mushrooms all tossed in an herbed vinaigrette. It was perfectly dressed and nice and light.
The service was stellar too. Everyone we encountered was friendly and competent. The tables are a little dark but all in all its a nice atmosphere and I look forward to hanging out at the bar.
Our only complaint, really, is the lack of leg room in the booths. We're short people and our legs & feet were on top of one another. I can't imagine how the 4 guys in the booth next to us managed to sit comfortably.
I think this will be a nice addition to the Ballantyne area and will likely do well. It's got a safe menu of salmon, crab cakes, steak, ribs, etc. (no bone marrow, chicken livers or shortbreads here) but this is Ballantyne after all. ;-)
Lynn, I don't contribute nearly as often as I should to the Charlotte boards, but always enjoy your recommendations about town. (I originally tried Tria Terra a few years back because of a rec of yours here :)
Glad you visited and posted about Vine. My husband and I were talking about it the other day - seems like everything else that tried to open in that spot was a little cursed. Hope to get over there to try it soon (131 Main is one of my favorites in town, so glad as well that you mentioned the similarities in ambience!)
Thanks IGH. Yea, that spot has been cursed. I hope for Vine, and for the folks who live in the area, that this new place does well. It doesn't have that chain concept vibe (even though I believe it is launching as a the first of what they hope to be several more).
If you visit Vine, I hope you'll report back. I love reading about other folks' experiences too. Happy Eating! :)