Welcome to another installment of Fervent Foodie Flash Reviews! These reviews are my frills-free thoughts on restaurants I’ve recently visited. Quick and to the point–just what you need when you’re starving like Marvin, girl.
NOVA*S BAKERY COFFEE SHOP – Nova’s Bakery has been supplying Charlotte with baked goods since 1996, and a few months ago Nova’s expanded their operations to include Nova’s Bakery Coffee Shop in South End. The 24-7 bakery and coffee shop serves hand crafted coffee and espresso beverages and baked goods straight from their mother location in Plaza Midwood. They have a wide variety of fresh baked breads on hand, including sour dough, focaccia, and olive bread, plus bagels, muffins, and scones. The coffee shop also offers an extensive selection of sweets, including cookies, cakes by the slice, and filled-to-order cannoli. I can personally vouch for the walnut brownies, which taste especially good when warmed up at home and topped with hot fudge and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Just sayin. While the coffee shop is small, there are a handful of tables and ample workstation seating with plugs and free wifi. For a real steal, check out the half-priced day-old baked goods rack. Nova’s is a fantastic addition to South End, but there is one negative. Even with all the delicious fresh bread they have stocked, they don’t serve sandwiches. Did I mention they’re open 24 hours a day?
MIDWOOD SMOKEHOUSE – I’ve tried lots of lots of barbecue joints in Charlotte, and Midwood Smokehouse is my absolute favorite. Midwood is one of several restaurants owned by Charlotte restaurant tycoon Frank Scibelli (side note–I also love Mama Ricotta’s, Bad Daddy’s, and Paco’s Tacos, all owned by Frank). There’s a lot to love at Midwood, and some of my favorites are the pulled pork sandwich, pull pork Cuban sandwich, brisket sloppy joes, queso with pulled pork, and the Midwood chop salad with pulled pork and avocado goddess dressing. You get your choice of BBQ sauce, and my favorite is the Eastern NC. The mac and cheese and hushpuppies are great as well. Whatever you do, get the pulled pork on SOMETHING. ANYTHING. You can buy the meat by the pound, so consider taking some home with you. The pulled pork makes for one AMAZING omelet. Trust me, my friends. Separate from the food, be ready to be knocked off your feet by the intoxicating smell filling the restaurant, courtesy of Midwood’s custom built wood-burning smoker. I once gave up meat for three whole months, but one whiff of that scent and it was game over.
PEWTER ROSE BISTRO – if you’re looking for a restaurant with great ambiance, Pewter Rose is a perfect choice. With the low-strung lights, wood accents, origami birds, and hanging plants, the restaurant’s dining area feels like a fancy grown up tree house, which is also due partly to the steep set of stairs you climb to reach the dining level. Pewter is well known for their weekend brunch, which includes the highly coveted Bananas Foster stuffed french toast, butterscotch scones, and mashed potato omelet. The dinner menu is small, but offers a wide variety of meat entrees, ranging from espresso braised short ribs to browned butter ahi tuna to a smoked Gouda burger with garlic aioli. There are a few vegetarian options, namely the veggie lasagna and black bean burger with pepper jack and guacamole, both of which I’ve tried and enjoyed. A few of my favorites at Pewter are the bacon wrapped meatloaf (nightly special), hummus platter, and their incredible CLAM CHOWDER.