Posted on Jan 25, 2012 | 6 comments
Emeril Lagasse’s newest restaurant, E2, opens in Charlotte Thursday January 26th. Monday night, Vanessa, my favorite foodie friend, and I got the opportunity to check out the new restaurant space and sample the wares. For those who aren’t familiar with Emeril, he is a boisterous celebrity chef, author, and restauranteur and (most importantly) my grandma loves him. I first became acquainted with Emeril through his shows on the Food Network. I was instantly attracted to the peculiar pairing of his cheerful easygoing personality and his serious kitchen demeanor. He is, in my mind, an ultimate foodie, and I both admire and envy him for it.
I’ve always liked watching Emeril cook. He’s a burly man with a big personality who likes even BIGGER flavor. Arguably, Emeril is most known for adding spice to food. He lets you know things are about to get serious by exclaiming “let’s kick it up a notch!” or voicing a booming *BAM* at the addition of a spicy ingredient. Given this *BAM* factor and Emeril’s ties to New Orleans, I was ready for some serious flavors at E2.
E2 Emeril’s Eatery is located in the Duke Energy Building in uptown Charlotte – that’s the tall one on the right, which I can see right from my balcony!
The exterior of the restaurant is adorned with bright red awnings. Inside, things are “taken up a notch,” if you will. There is a good-sized sleek-looking bar near the entry with seating for nearly 20 people. High ceilings, dark woods, fun fabrics, and low lighting give the space an urban appeal. Think swanky, in a jeans and blazer sort of way.
We ordered the Shrimp Pizza with artichoke, Fontina and herb pesto for our appetizer. It was surprisingly light and mild. At first bite, I paused and wondered where the *BAM* was. Had they left it in the kitchen? Were they fresh out? As I continued to nibble, thoughts of the missing *BAM* started to drift away and my attention turned to the pizza’s delightfully chewy crust, light sprinkling of melted cheese, and slathering of herby pesto. I contentedly ate a second piece of the shrimp pizza as I contemplated Emeril having a softer BAM-free side.
Just as we finished our appetizer, we were brought the house basket o’ rolls—two mini cornbread muffins and two glorious rolls of salty squishy carbohydrate perfection. Just thinking about those hot salty buns makes my mouth water, and no I’m not talking about Emeril here.
Or maybe I am.
When it came time to order the main entrée, I debated on the Shrimp and Grits but decided to go with the Roasted New Bedford Sea Scallops. The dish came with five succulent scallops cooked with fennel, leeks, mushrooms, and mini potatoes.
This too was surprisingly light and mildly flavored. With every bite I kept thinking what IS that delicious broth? I kept swirling my fork around in it, coating my scallops and veggies in its light yet deep flavor. Only after finishing my meal and momentarily considering sticking my straw in the bowl to slurp up the rest of the broth did I realize the superb flavor was crab! Crab broth! I heart thee!
Vanessa opted for the Sea Salt Roasted NC Rainbow Trout. The trout was topped with Israeli couscous, which included artichoke, Cerignola olives, pine nuts, currants and Portuguese olive oil. I nabbed a bite of the couscous and I must say the currants were the welcomed star. According to Vanessa, the trout was well-seasoned, well-prepared, and delightfully salty.
Even though we were ready to pop, we could not refuse dessert. What two gals go to dinner and DON’T get dessert? Am I right?
First, we had one slice of sweet potato cheesecake with a pillowy marshmallow topping. The cheesecake was adorned with pomegranate arils, sweet potato bits, and an intriguing sour caramel drizzle.
We also ordered the huckleberry upside down cake with browned butter ice cream. I cannot pass up an opportunity to indulge in browned butter, and this ice cream was light, fluffy, and blissfully creamy. I was ready to pass out from fullness after a few bites, so I took most of the cake home. I’m eating the leftovers as I type….. and for the record, the cake tastes splendid reheated as well.
In the words of Emeril, “aw, yeah, babe.”
Walking into E2 for the pre-opening event I was expecting BIG bold flavors. Lots of BAM! The flavors of all the dishes we tried were light and sophisticated rather than the *BAM* in-your-face flavor I anticipated. While this caught me off guard, I was very pleased with each item I tried. Overall, the entrées were on the pricy side at $20-$30 a pop. Separate from the great food, I must make mention of the attentiveness of the wait staff—water glasses were refilled on a continuous basis and we were checked on again and again. No want was left unfulfilled.
E2 Emeril’s Eatery provided us with food and drink free of charge. Other than the delicious meal, I was not paid for this review. This blog post and comments within are based on my unbiased honest opinions.