Hello friends! I hope this post finds you having a wonderful week thus far! Did you know that Emeril Lagasse and his crew have set up shop in the Queen City? Well, they have, and it is one hip spot. Most wonderful man in the world and I were fortunate to be included for one of the restaurants private practice rounds last night, by way of a college friend (GO TARHEELS!) of mine with Crown Communications, who works with the restaurant on their local public relations. I could not wait to share with you our very fun dining experience.
Below is the entrance to e2 emeril's eatery, located at the street level of the Levine Center for the Arts in Uptown Charlotte; 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts, Suite 100.
Though it WAS only Tuesday night and perhaps traditionally a bit early in the week for such a heightened level of fun, most wonderful man in the world and I decided to put on our fancy hats and cozy on up to the bar for a little pre-dinner imbibing. Hhhhmmmm... what to have?
And let me tell you, it was not an easy choice. Like many other e2 crew members, master mixologist, Miki, comes to us with quite a resume, and in Miki's case, he brings with him some seriously tasty hat tricks. I mustn't fail to mention that Miki's wife, Stephanie, is the head pastry chef at the eatery, and they have relocated to the Queen City all the way from Las Vegas. Y'all... I kinda feel like Emeril's crew is bringing along the food industry's red carpet with them. It's pretty neat, all the talent they have relocated to our city. So.... I went with one heck of a Manhattan, and most wonderful man in the world had himself a Duck Rabbit Amber Ale.
Can't leave out these little bar snacks of paprika-sauteed chickpeas and brussel sprout leaves. YUM-MEE.
We unglued ourselves from the bar to make our way through the dining room to our table. I describe the ambiance as contemporary meets rustic. Chic, yet cozy. With bottles of wine, panels of raw wood and cut glass in fall-ish tones lining the walls, the image of a rugged yet sophisticated North Carolina Mountain home is holding onto my mind.
First up, Fresh Point Judith Calamari. This isn't your usual run-of-the-mill fried calamari, folks. The preparation? Perhaps, a pan saute. How so ever, very light and absolutely flavorful...
And, how could we say no to the Oyster Shooters? Prepared with parsley oil, pickled melon and tomato water... OH so delish! We ordered ours straight from the menu, but I understand you can opt for a little splash of Vodka in yours.
I can think of no better time to throw in the words of the man himself... BAM! Don't the hatch.
I excused myself from the table momentarily for a quick peer into the kitchen, which is situated on one wall of the restaurant, surrounded by a half glass wall.
We were seated at a table in the dining room, but you may opt for a seat front and center to watch the culinary kings and queens hard at work. Next time! Note the chalk board listing local and regional fresh catch...
And low and behold, look who it is in the kitchen...
What? Were you expecting Dinah? Strummin' on the old Banjo?
They WERE having fun, though not too much fun. I never actually saw Mr. Lagasse leave the kitchen. I kinda like that he wasn't in the front of house workin' the crowd, but rather he was in the kitchen workin' my meal.
We did not order this, but I just had to share with you the Fried Ashley Farm Chicken Thigh served over a House Made Waffle. Drizzled, of course, with a bit of molasses. Next time! (Again!) Back to my table...
Our meal was prefaced with some deliciously baked fresh corn bread; the perfect pairing for a rather uniquely prepared, yet out of this world Shrimp and Grits dish.
Perhaps some Creole/Cajunesque characteristics by way of Emeril's extensive time spent in New Orleans. Honestly, my initial thought was "this is going to be more flavor than my mouth can handle." Do you know how some Shrimp and Grits dishes can be down right too heavy? Well, not this one. The ingredients complimented one another adoringly. Feng Shui for the mouth. Might I add, they use Anson Grits, the real deal.
Most wonderful man in the world ordered the Citrus Tea Lacquered Five Day Duck prepared over slow cooked Anson Mills Farro. And, yes, the preparation of this duck is a five-day process. e2 emeril's eatery + quack quack dressed to impress = one happy hubby.
We ordered dessert to go, so I will share with you what remains... though not for long! Sweet Potato Cheesecake and this Sinful Chocolate Bomb. I vouch for their divinities.
I love to take notice in all the little things. There were many unique qualities that set this dining establishment apart from others. In the below picture are two of those little things that caught my eye over the course of the night. Do you notice the server's shirts, and do you notice the number of servers?
It's not because they didn't get the memo on which shirt to wear, and it's not because they are confused about who ordered what. Intrigued, I inquired about both. Each server and bartender receives three shirts from a plaid varietal, and they get to choose which one they will to wear for that day. The second fun fact is that if there are two or more guests dining, there will be at least two servers bringing your food. No trays, no tray stands, no arsenal of plates lined up the server's arm just waiting to crash into your lap.
At e2 emeril's eatery, there is a lot of attention to detail, and (I say this in all caps) there is a LOT of creativity on display. I leave you with this one last image that most wonderful man in the world caught at just the right moment. Totally candid. He said
I look like I've just seen the best meal in my entire life put in front of me, and I'm about to dig into it. And boy, oh boy, was I.
If you are a foodie living in the Queen City you already know Charlotte has a number of dynamite dining establishments prior to e2 joining the ranks. I give the new kid on the block a swell high five. e2 emeril's eatery general manager, Jeff Wakem, was conversational and friendly but had work to do. What I took away was that this is a group of professionals here to do one job- serve up a dining experience of delightfulness. Welcome to the Queen City Emeril and crew! I hope you will find yourselves right at home here with us. Click HERE to visit the e2 emeril's eatery website to learn more about the menu, hours of operation, etc etc.
For the love of dining in most hospitable style... vino is calling.... xx Whitley