For better or for worse, my favorite thing to do on the weekends is EAT. Each Friday night, Jarrod and I head out to a local restaurant for what we affectionately call a “slow dinner.” We order drinks, we savor them. We order an appetizer, we relish it. Then, after turning the server away at least three times, we order our entrees. And later (on occasion) we order dessert. It’s like a progressive dinner, except we sit in one spot the entire night, with the exception of regular potty breaks.
Last weekend, we had the epitome of slow dinners: six small meals at six different locations! The best part was we didn’t have to plan a thing—everything was handled by Kristi of Feast Food Tours.
I met Kristi a few months ago, and I had an immediate urge to go on one of her tours. She has several options listed on her website, including an Uptown Chic Tour and Charlotte Brew and Chew Tour. But, for the love of barbecue, I chose the Soul of the South Tour, on which Queen City Q was our first stop! Queen City Q opened earlier this year, but we hadn’t made it in for a visit prior to the tour. Our first order of business: pulled pork sliders!
The pork at Queen City Q is hand-pulled slow roasted bone-in pork butt, and it makes for a sandwich that’s tender, juicy, and, in a word, PERFECT. The meat is piled high and topped with a lightly dressed cider cilantro slaw. While we noshed, Chef Dan “Boone” Gibson chatted with us about the evolution of the restaurant. Boone’s laid back, down-to-earth demeanor transfixed us all–it felt like we were sitting on his back porch drinking sweet tea as we chatted about his mom’s baked beans and his aunt Nell’s mac and cheese.
After devouring our sliders and chugging our (local) beers, we walked on over to McNinch House, a fine dining restaurant located inside an old Victorian home in Uptown Charlotte’s historic fourth ward.
The McNinch House is one of only three restaurants in Charlotte with a Four Diamond designation from AAA, and according to the restaurant website, McNinch House is listed as one of the top “extraordinary” restaurants in America by Zagat’s Dining Guide. Fancy! Needless to say, Jarrod and I had never before been to the McNinch House! While we toured the house, our wine steward shared a bit of the property’s history, before we all headed to the front porch to drink wine in true southern style.
Next, we headed to King’s Kitchen, a not for profit restaurant whose proceeds go back to the community, helping to feed those in need. This was my second visit to King’s Kitchen. I stopped in over a year ago, and wasn’t happy with my lunch. Disliking a restaurant pulls hard on my heartstrings, so I was very excited to give the restaurant another shot.
We were greeted with THIS: These Anson Mills grits were the creamiest, gooiest, yummiest grits I’ve ever eaten. Each bite was adorned with a shrimp and sliver of surryano country ham. When the chef told me the grist were cheese-free, I looked at him like he was lying! I’m still in a state of shock!
I’m looking forward to enjoying a full-size serving of these grits and some of the King’s Bakery homemade bread very, very soon!
Savannah Red was our fourth stop, and yet another destination I hadn’t visited prior to the tour. The quaint restaurant is located inside the Marriott Hotel, and in the evening each room is basked in a carpet to ceiling red glow. It’s quite romantic! As we admired the dining room, we were brought champagne and flaming bites of Krispy Kreme bread pudding covered in a Makers Mark caramel bourbon sauce.
With our teeth a little sweeter, we walked over to Rooster’s. The Uptown Rooster’s location just opened in 2012, and it has been flooding College Street with a haze of smokey barbecue ever since. We took a tour of the shiny new kitchen, then the group shared a charcuterie board, fried calamari, and mound of droolworthy mac and cheese, which I asked the chef to set directly in front of me, PLEASE.
My belly was quite content as we left Rooster’s and headed to the 7th Street Public Market, one of my favorite spots uptown. We stopped and chatted with Orman’s Cheese Shop while sampling some local NC cheeses. There’s always room for cheese, right?
Then we grabbed one last sweet treat at Cloud 9 Confections.
Cloud 9 is owned by husband and wife team Roland and Erica–he does the baking, she does the decorating and “pretty stuff.” Erica previously worked for a big bank in Charlotte. I love hearing tales of people leaving the corporate world to pursue their passions!
As we stumbled home, drunk from our food comas, Jarrod and I agreed the Feast Food Tour was an exceptional value. We had what basically equates to three small meals, three snacks, two desserts, and three spirited beverages PLUS a fantastic Friday evening of wining, dining, and exclusive VIP access.
If you live in Charlotte or will be visiting soon, definitely check out the Feast Food Tours site for upcoming tours and pricing information.
Thank you to Kristi for a fantastic night on the town!