Executive chef and owner Jim Alexander has created an upscale dining experience worthy of a world-class New York or London eatery, with a menu of contemporary French cuisine that remains accessible to all diners. Educated at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, Alexander has been widely recognized within the restaurant industry, including earning a stint on the 1996 gold-medal-winning U.S. Culinary Olympic Team. His mastery of the kitchen shines not only in the well-flavored meals, but also in Zebra’s characteristic, artistic presentation. Entrees include the flavorful tournedo of beef tenderloin, served with prosciutto roasted asparagus, rosemary-roasted fingerling potatoes, and a kiss of sauce ivoire ($28), as well as the popular Zebra Signature—a French take on surf and turf with beef tenderloin, lobster, shrimp, and scallops served over a bed of angel-hair pasta and tarragon white wine ($44). Endings come together sweetly with French flair in desserts such as house-made ice cream or the hot soufflé of the day.
Patrons who pass beneath Cafe Monte French Bakery and Bistro's bold red awning seemingly zoom across the Atlantic into a Parisian bistro hung with French artwork and vintage photographs. Platters of mussels arrived drenched in white wine and butter, and pommes frites proudly share the spotlight with steak and french green beans. In the kitchen, chefs sizzle crêpes to a golden brown for breakfast, or fill them with savory lobster and crab for lunch and dinner. Patrons can dine alfresco on an outdoor patio or linger inside the eatery's canary-hued walls, where satisfied customers gather around a piano to sing odes to their favorite French pastry chefs.
Georges Brasserie’s executive chef Andrew Dodd conjures hearty platters of French-influenced fare infused with upscale flair. From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. noshers can choose from the full-service lunch menu with its classics such as the croque-madame ($9) and trout served with almonds, roasted potatoes, haricot verts, and brown butter sauce ($13). Fromage and charcuterie platters ($11–$14) dazzle taste buds with local cheeses and a rotating daily selection of house-made charcuterie. Patrons can also go with something from the lighter and quicker bistro menu, such as white wine mussels and frites ($9), soup and salad ($7), or Georges Philly ($9), in which sliced new york strip steak mingles with sautéed peppers in a three-cheese mornay sauce for a French take on the Philadelphia classic.
A hash-brown breakfast may not initially entice the health-conscious diner. But consider: at Zada Jane’s, chefs cook up locally procured sweet potatoes, top them with free-range eggs, and serve them with Grateful Growers’ additive-free pork sausage. Like many of Zada Jane’s entrees, this locally sourced breakfast toes the line between wholesome and indulgent, and it has earned nods from Charlotte magazine.
Zada Jane’s commitment to wholesome dining extends to the dining room itself, which is entirely smoke-free. After clearing plates and exhausting the peek-a-boo potential of napkins, dining companions can burn off meals at the shuffleboard courts out front.
At Harvest Moon Grille, a Thanksgiving cooking class guides food-maestros-in-training through executive chef and owner Cassie Parsons' seasonal recipes that call for regionally grown ingredients from her local farm or fields within 100 miles of the restaurant. Up to 50 guests gather within a private dining room to watch chefs transmogrify raw turkeys into celebratory centerpieces using a battalion of handy tips, professional equipment, and board-certified restaurant fairies. Harvest Moon Grille uses farm-raised, free-range, hormone-free turkeys, which will be available for purchase after the class. In addition to summoning flavor from succulent fowl, the chefs whip up two side dishes to accompany the main course and lend variety to ceremonious reenactments of the first Thanksgiving food fight between the Stooges and Indians.