Friday, September 21, 2012

Hazelnuts Creperie - Uptown Charlotte

Mexicana Breakfast Crepe: egg fried or scrambled, bacon, black beans, tomato, red onion, avocado and swiss cheese - a great start to the morning!

I was so excited to hear that Hazelnuts Creperie opened in uptown Charlotte. Located in the lobby of 200 South Tryon Street, the casual eatery is open 7 AM until 4 PM weekdays. I met up with a friend for lunch here in August and we really enjoyed sharing the BBQ Chicken Crepe, the Florentine Crepe, which is vegetarian and the Banana Nutella crepe (below) - all so delicious.

At lunch more than 10 signature crepes, including 3 veggie, are available and you can also create your own crepe with any fillings you like. In addition to what we tried there is a Pesto Chicken crepe, a Buffalo Chicken crepe, a ham and Swiss Crepe a South West Veggie crepe and more. Dessert crepes are also available all day and locally roasted coffee is served as well. With the dessert crepes there are several signatures and you can also build your own.

When owner and chef Asi Agajan found out I was a blogger, he invited us to return to Hazelnuts to try his breakfast offerings. We loved the Mexicana (above) and the Chevere & Mozz was also very good. There are 4 signature breakfast crepes, all loaded with eggs + other toppings and, as with the lunch and dessert crepes, you can always create your own breakfast crepe as well. We also tried some sweet crepes that are suitable for breakfast or dessert - the "Not French Toast" with maple syrup, cinnamon, powdered sugar, whipped cream (also available with ice cream) and walnuts was fabulous as was the less sugary Berry Delight with strawberries, goat cheese, walnuts and honey.

Hazelnuts has seating available in the cafe itself and there is seating on comfortable leather ottomans just outside the restaurant in the lobby as well. Takeout is, of course, available. Charlotte does not have many places where crepes are available so this is a real find. It is truly worth a visit to uptown Charlotte to sample these delicious offerings, perfect for breakfast, lunch, a snack or dessert and coffee! I will be back at Hazelnuts soon for sure.

Owner and Chef Asi Agajan in action making a crepe.

Chevre & Mozz: egg either fried or scrambled with olives, red onion, mushrooms, goat cheese and mozzarella.

Not French Toast with Whipped Cream - so delicious. I could eat this every day - really!

Berry Delight with Ice Cream - love that it contains goat cheese and honey!

Nutella Banana - a classic.
Hazelnuts Crêperie on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The breakfast described in this review was complimentary. The lunch was not.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

East Boulevard Bar & Grill

Cobb Salad - love this version.

I had the pleasure of dining at East Boulevard Bar & Grill recently for lunch. This place is quite nostalgic for me even though it is now located a few blocks west of the old location on East in Latta Pavillion. As a kid my dad and I used to dine here with some frequency and I remember the salads, the round fries and the tuna melt - all still available. Lucky for me the Grill is even closer to my house! I also love that the new location allows the front windows to be raised, opening the restaurant up to the street, which is perfect for people watching and an urban touch not seen enough in Charlotte. Definitely a great place to have a beer and watch a game, too.

The menu includes lots of great appetizers (think nachos, wings and quesadillas among other items) sandwich options including the popular oven roasted grinders, a French dip and a Reuben, burgers and salads. The below fish tacos are another option. Entrees, including fried shrimp, grilled or blackened fish, pot pie and fish and chips are also available. If you haven't tried East Boulevard Bar & Grill you definitely should! I look forward to returning soon to try more menu items.

Signature round fries - brings back memories!

Fish Tacos with Slaw.


Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quaker Steak and Lube - New Pineville Location

Wings in 2 varieties: Thaisian and Hot with celery/carrot sticks and blue cheese.

I was recently invited to check out the new Pineville location of Quaker Steak & Lube. Located near Carolina Place Mall, the restaurant boasts a large indoor seating area, covered patio with bar outside and outside deck seating. We opted to sit on the deck, near where cornhole games are available for patrons' use. A full drink menu is available and Calvin enjoyed a couple of margaritas with dinner. There is a wide variety of food available here including more than 20 kinds of wings, burgers, sandwiches, salads, entrees and appetizers like the below shrimp quesadillas. They are constantly adding new menu items and lighter items are noted on the menu. The Pineville location has specials almost every day including Bike Night (Thursday), All You Can Eat Wings!! - both bone-in (Tuesday) and boneless (Wednesday) and Family Night (Monday) when kids eat free. There is a location in Concord also - I'm sure very popular with the Speedway crowd - as well as locations in many other states. If you haven't already, check out the Quaker Steak & Lube in Pineville!

Shrimp Quesadilla.

The new Pineville location.

Arizona El Camino burger with tasty onion rings.

Caramel Apple Nachos - a sweet treat to end the meal.

Quaker Steak & Lube on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

10 Park Lanes

St. Louis Ribs with Mac & Cheese and Green Beans. Very good BBQ with 4 sauce options!

I was recently invited to check out the newly renovated Ten Park Lanes, which was formerly George Pappas Park Lanes - probably the first place I bowled growing up! The space is much improved - definitely not your average bowling alley and it includes fun for all generations. There are 2 large bars, including a special moonshine bar, comfortable lanes, a separate dining area, several decks and patios and room for outdoor games.

The food is also a major focus, which is rare for a bowling establishment. We enjoyed everything we tried, with the St. Louis cut ribs and the mac & cheese especially standing out as excellent. The barbecue is great in general and there are four different sauces offered including my favorite: coffee jalepeno BBQ sauce. In addition to the ribs there is also pulled pork, chicken, sausage and prime rib BBQ, available on platters or in mason jars stacked with various side options - a unique concept. The mason jar also figures prominently into the dessert we tried: the jar is dipped in chocolate, then nuts and frozen - when ready to serve it is filled with brownies, ice cream and whipped cream. This is currently my favorite version of an ice cream sundae!

In addition to the BBQ there are several good salad options, flatbread pizzas (also delicious!), burgers, other sandwiches and a multitude of appetizers including sliders. Definitely something for everyone. Food can be served right at your lane or you can take a break and eat in the dining area.

Drinks are also a major focus. Wine and a long list of draft beers are available but the real specialty of the house are moonshine drinks including martinis and cocktails. Calvin enjoyed the very berry-basil lemonade with strawberry infused moonshine as well as the less sweet Troy & tonic.

We also bowled three games, which was a lot of fun - the graphics on the display screens here are new and more innovative than others I've seen. There is also comfortable seating in the bowling area with booths instead of the hard, uncomfortable seats you usually find at bowling alleys. Bowling specials include a lunch and bowl, retro night, a Sunday night special and a kids bowl free night.

I look forward to visiting Ten Park Lanes again very soon!

Entrance and deck.

Roll Ten Chips - homemade potato chips made into nachos with pulled pork.

Oven roasted spinach dip with naan bread chips.

Moonshine Cocktail.

Flatbread pizza - we had half and half with pepperoni and sausage (top) and prime and bleu.

One of the outdoor areas.

Delicious ice cream sundae with brownies and ice cream inside - yum!

Bar #1.

The lanes.

Moonshine Bar.

Ten Park Lanes on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The meal (and bowling) described in this review was complimentary.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Simmons Soul Food Restaurant

Baked chicken with stuffing, mac & cheese and greens.

Following a recommendation we recently tried out Simmons Soul Food Restaurant. When we arrived the place was empty and we found a seat at one of the simple tables. The decor is not much to look at, although some interesting pieces of memorabilia line the walls which contain some famous and not so famous patrons' signatures! The food was definitely not as impressive as we had hoped. The best thing we tried was the baked chicken and the collard greens and mac & cheese were good. The ribs were horrible with mostly fat and the fried fish was just decent. We did enjoy the cornbread, though. Overall I think Charlotte can do better. I am still on the lookout for my favorite Soul Food dining destination!


Ribs with green beans and fried okra.

Fried fish with mac & cheese and greens.

Simmons Soul Food Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Zio's Casual Italian

Chicken Piccata served with homemade pasta and vegetables.

Zio's Casual Italian is one of my new Charlotte finds. A friend recommended that we meet here for dinner several weeks ago and I am so glad that I now know about this place! Zio's has a pleasant yet casual atmosphere, good service, and most importantly - delicious food. You enter by going down a short staircase and the restaurant is welcoming to families as well as to groups and couples. The food is truly worth coming back for - especially the grilled pizza (loved the pear and Gorgonzola pie) and the house made pasta. I also really enjoyed the Caesar salad. I look forward to returning here again soon to try more menu items.

Baby Arugula Salad with Asparagus.

Caesar Salad.

Grilled pizza: half Margarita and half Pear & Gorgonzola.

Zio's Casual Italian on Urbanspoon