Girls’ Night at Nolen Kitchen

97% of my Friday nights are spent enjoying a fine meal and some fine wine at a local Charlotte restaurant.  It’s the ultimate workweek climax.  After five days spent on the daily grind, five days of hustle and bustle and busting my butt, Friday night is all about slowing things down, taking a load off, and truly savoring life (and its gluttonous gifts).

A couple of weeks back, my friend Vanessa and I met for dinner at Nolen Kitchen.

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Neither of us had dined at Nolen before but their unique menu wooed us to their doors just as Vanessa wooed the mysterious parking lot attendant to let us park our cars in a no-parking zone in the horribly small and awkwardly shaped parking lot.  So to recap, there was a whole lot of wooing going on, and we hadn’t even had our first glass of wine yet.

Inside Nolen, the quaint dining room has dark wood décor accented by light walls, bright sconces, and a cool curved wood-paneled ceiling.IMG_8495

As we walked to our table, I sensed how alive the place felt. Conversation and laughter filled the room with an uplifting energy.  Feeding off of that vivacity, Vanessa and I fell into a lengthy haphazard conversation:  job updates, blog news, pondering where the heck everything goes when you put on a pair of spanx (8th wonder of the world), and a mutual agreement that red-velvet just doesn’t make sense.  Our poor waiter came back a handful of times before we’d even cracked open our menus.


Both Vanessa and I are very strategic when selecting what to order at a restaurant.  All options must be considered.  My plan of attack is to first skim the entire menu and make mental note of EVERYTHING that looks good—appetizers, sides, entrées, and dessert.  Then, I slyly ask my dining companion what he or she intends to order.  Based on their selection, which I will inevitably get a bite or two of, I make my final decision.

After some deliberation, Vanessa and I agreed an appetizer was in order so we split the hot crab and artichoke dip:


While we savored the creamy tangy dip and the addicting pita, I debated over the “Chivito” Openface Steak & Fried Egg ciabatta sandwich, homemade tortellini with spicy arrabbiata sauce, and smoked gouda grilled cheese.  But in the end, I decided on the chicken souvlaki with greek salad and cucumber yogurt:


The chicken skewers had a delicious lemon and oregano marinade, and I devoured them without haste.  IMG_8490

I absolutely loved the cucumber and tomato salad with the yogurt.  Such a simple concept, but the flavor combination was impeccable and reminded me of summer.  Wherefore art thou summer?IMG_8491

Vanessa ordered the bone-in chicken duo with spaetzle and caramelized onion jus.  She’s a chef, so I’m pretty sure she is obligated to order something fancy when she goes out.  She snapped this photo with her phone.  Talk about mad skill!

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After our appetizer, entrées, and two glasses of wine each it was time for dessert.  A systematic round of dessert menu eliminations landed us with a winner:  flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and homemade marshmallows:


The two little cakes were perfectly petite and intensely flavored.  I adored them.  The homemade marshmallow on the other hand was improperly chewy and downright weird.  After a small taste, I scooted the marshmallow off to the side and focused on those divine little cakes and the slowly melting ice cream.

All of this, and we were still home by 10pm.  Now that’s what I call a Friday night.

Nolen Kitchen on Urbanspoon



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  1. The chocolate cake looks to die for. And I’m mainly drawn to the spaetzle, I feel like it’s majorly underrepresented as a side dish on most menus. 🙁