Global Restaurant's Chef Bernard grew up along the sun-soaked shores of the southern French village of Nice, where his grandfather was a pastry chef and his father owned a fish shop. This rich familial and Francophilic culinary heritage inspired him to take chef apprenticeships in Paris, the United Kingdom, Russia, and upon globe-roving cruise ships. His travels infused an eclectic edge into his cooking, which still incorporates traditional meals, fusion concepts, and a French spirit. His journeys also yielded him more than recipes — during one of his cruises, he met his wife, Shannon, whose experience with the front end of the food-and-beverage industry led the pair to open their own restaurant in Charlotte.
Inside the duo's creation, Global Restaurant, electric blues and oranges brighten the space, and crisp tablecloths lay a canvas for dishes with inventive flavors and artistic presentations. Chef Bernard's specialties include cauliflower-goat-cheese sauce, boldly splashed across a seared sea bass, and date chutney and caramelized apples that dance across an all-natural duck.
The menu, which is in many ways a travelogue of Bernard and Shannon's journeys, has snagged the attention of the Charlotte Observer and of WCNC's Charlotte Today, which invited Bernard on air for a live cooking demo, where he seared some of his famous diver scallops atop the weatherman's greenscreen.
It’s hard not to feel nostalgic at Jake’s Good Eats. For starters, the cozy eatery is housed in a converted 1930s gas station, and—with vintage Coca-Cola and motor-oil signs scattered across its whitewashed walls—it's decorated to match. But the nostalgia doesn’t hit full force until the first bite of Jake and Gordon Stegall's homestyle Southern food. Bone-in, maple-glazed pork chops dotted with candied apples, free-range barbecue chicken, and blackened grouper smothered in the house's original crawfish sauce are just a few menu highlights that have made Jake's worthy of a feature on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and a place on Guy Fieri's speed dial. And that’s just the Stegall brothers’ take on what they call “more refined country cooking.” They also assemble oyster po’ boys, pit-smoked barbecue sandwiches, and even hot dogs—in homage to their days as car-show vendors—topped with chili and slaw.
Best of all, from the brown sugar to the blackening rubs, the brothers make practically everything from scratch. And what they can't handle, their Mama Jean can; according to Creative Loafing Charlotte, she bakes all the biscuits and desserts, including banana pudding and chocolate-peanut-butter pies that “are everything to make your mouth happy.”
The textile warehouse had seen many uses since it was built in 1925, but it had been empty when Susie Peck and her friends moved in. They saw its hardwood floors, exposed brick, and massive timber ceiling beams as warm and rustic—the ideal setting for the new Pewter Rose Bistro. Named for a small, pewter tin the original Pewter Rose Bistro owner purchased on her worldly travels, the now collectively owned restaurant posits a distinctively American take on casual European fare, which the agile hands of head chef Cory Zupon bring to fruition at every service.
The kitchen blends southern-style comfort fare with Mediterranean dishes and other ethnic cuisines, with many dishes assembled from local produce and fresh seafood into risottos and finely cooked filets. Dishes pair with more than 170 wines, each handpicked to join the eatery's focused collection, which features California and European varietals. At weekend brunch, more than 25 à la carte offerings rise from foundations of egg, toast, and produce, which also evoke the eatery's signature creative touches. On some evenings, aromatic tendrils rise from tables to mingle with strains of live music from the laid-back Pewter Lounge bar area, where guests relax on padded couches or chairs to listen to acoustic strains and jazz on Wednesday and Thursday.
As Tommy, one of Howl at the Moon’s piano players, explains on the club’s website, “Every night…we try and throw a party, regardless of whether it’s a Tuesday night or a Saturday night.” The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
There’s nothing more quintessentially Irish than Guinness beer, a fact not lost on the chefs at Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub. Led by Deacon Ovall, recently featured on Fox Charlotte's Chef Spotlight, the kitchen staff pairs house-cured corned beef and cabbage with Guinness au jus, smothers flank-steak shepherd's pie with Guinness gravy, and batters fried cod fillets in Guinness batter. But the menu is nothing if not multifaceted, with offerings ranging from traditional Irish eats and hearty half-pound Black Angus burgers to nearly a dozen freshly tossed salads.
Diners can pair their upscale pub eats with a hearty selection of pours. Four of the eight draft beers on tap hail from Ireland itself, and the servers also mix up "Lucktinis," including the Spiced Leprechaun made with Bacardi Oakheart, sour-apple Schnapps, and pineapple juice. Big-screen TVs dazzle eyes as flights of Irish whiskey tantalize tongues. Every Wednesday at 9 p.m., rounds of trivia keep brains from forgetting little-known factoids, such as the name of George Washington’s least-favorite fruit.
According to Villa Antonio's chef, there are only two secret ingredients in romantic fine dining: abundance and flavor. The menu strikes a careful balance between the two, from the New Zealand lamb chops crowned with melted gorgonzola to the mandarin-orange pesto in the grilled diver scallops to the dessert trolley's pilings of cannoli, tiramisu, and italian cheesecake.
That abundance extends to the spirit of the staff—who upholds the restaurant's motto, "Where you are never a stranger twice"—as well as the decor. At the Ballantyne location, a stone rotunda fitted with hand-blown glass looms over the dining area, while a fountain casts shimmers of colored light across the outdoor patio. At the South Boulevard location, eyes are drawn to the bar area via the black-and-gold flower pattern that dominates the floor. Additional audio-visual flavor can be found on Friday and Saturday nights, when live music helps conjure a romantic atmosphere, much like the sound of Barry White cackling like a witch.