Pork skewers, Phillies, and a bunch of crappy meals {the week in food}

Upon review of my food photos from the past week, I was struck by just how much meh there was!  I went out to eat more than usual, and you’d think the increase would have upped my odds of getting some great meals.  So, apparently the odds were not on my side, BUT I did hit the recipe jackpot with these Asian-inspired pork tenderloin skewers!

Asian pork skewers

Stay tuned for the recipe post coming later this week–I can’t wait to share it with you guys!

The skewers almost made up for the barrage of blah I endured.  It started with dinner with my pal Vanessa at Levant, a Mediterranean restaurant uptown.  The 7pm reservation I made was almost laughable given we were the sole patrons in the restaurant for the duration of our meal.  Is this ever a good sign?  Levant is owned by the same folks who own Kabob Grill (one of my favorite lunch spots in town).  The menu is nearly identical, but the food that we were served was no comparison to Kabob.  I’m still confused on this…  I’ll have to swing by Kabob soon to fill my kafta cravings!

Then there was Pio Pio, where we and several other patrons stood huddled awkwardly by the front door waiting for some direction from the hostess, while tables nearby sat empty.  Once we were sat at the table, we drifted off the radar and waited another ten minutes to be helped.  Pio’s rotisserie chicken is practically legendary in Charlotte, but mine was dry and had about as much flavor as boiled chicken breast.  The two house sauces didn’t help matters.  I did enjoy the yuca (which tastes a whole lot like potato), but the plantains were just gross.  Greasy and mushy.  I’ve had (and enjoyed) plantains previously, but these were not comparable.

To me, side dishes are important parts of the plate.  It’s not all about the entree — it’s the whole shebang.  That’s the problem I had with my Italian sausage from JJ’s Red Hots.  The sandwich itself was good, but the salad with balsamic, macerated chili, and skinny onion rings were unsatisfying.

meh food week

On top of all that, I squeezed in a brunch at Jackalopes, a pub at which I’ve had lots of great meals.  The brunch menu looked promising with its chorizo omelets and “garbage plates,”  but when my eggs arrived at the table they were straight-from-the-fridge cold.  I had to ask the waitress to nuke them in the microwave.  The microwave.  Even the breakfast potatoes were sad.  The whole plate got doused in ketchup.  Hey, at least they had Heinz.


After all that nonsense, I took the Super Bowl menu into my own hands.  Hello Philly Cheesesteaks:

philly cheesesteak

I used Bobby Flay’s recipe, but omitted the peppers and swapped his cheese sauce with slices of provolone cheese and a thick slather of my garlic aioli.  The subs were pretty darn tasty – but marinating the meat would knock them out of the park.

Gobs of garlic aioli necessitate a thorough palate cleansing.   This time I turned to some of Chobani’s newest yogurt flavors (thanks to the awesome Chobani folks for sending)!  There’s Banana, Pear, Fig with Orange Zest, and Coffee with Dark Chocolate Chips!  I’m still debating on my new favorite flavor, but I think the fig is barely beating out the coffee.  Barely.

new chobani flavors JJ's Red Hots on Urbanspoon Pio Pio on Urbanspoon Levant Mediterranean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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  1. It’s refreshing to hear someone say what they really thought of what they ate! It seems like all I hear are good things, especially on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. It all can’t be good, all the time! 🙂

    So, I guess we won’t be checking out Levant! We we’re debating on Levant or Napa on Providence this past weekend and I’m so glad we chose Napa! Loved it! Everything we ordered was great!

    Sorry to hear that the restaurants in my neck of the woods (Dilworth) let you down. Your cheesesteak looks really good, makes me want to start eating meat again! 🙂

    1. Hi there. I had different experiences at Levant than you did. I work in Uptown, and have eaten there 3 times for lunch, each time excellent. My wife and I went there for dinner once pre-show, and found it to be very good, especially their superbly delicious yogurt, so highly purified that it tasted like sour cream!

      Anyway, I just subscribed to your blog, and look forward to your emails. I too am a “fervent foodie” but not nearly as dedicated to it as you appear to be. I’m a Midwesterner like you (Chicago), and have lived in Charlotte for 2 years now. I’ve discovered many good places and would love to trade notes with you.

      Looking forward to reading more of your blog and trying some of your recommended restaurants!


      1. Hello, Paul! Thanks so much for the comment! I am glad you had a better experience than we did! Sounds like I need to give Levant another shot. Have you tried Kabob Grille in Dilworth? If so, I’m curious how you’d compare the two!

  2. Oh no – sorry to hear about the let downs. I was thinking of approaching the Pio for a crawl, but not so sure now…

  3. Geez. Way to kill two awesome restaurants. Maybe you got bad service because you were complaining THE ENTIRE TIME.

    1. Thanks for the comment–and for the chuckle! I was totally bummed by these bad experiences, and the fact that they happened back-to-back made it even worse. I go out to eat A LOT, and not all of the meals can be good ones. It’s just not possible. I haven’t been back to any of these restaurants since the post, but I haven’t written them off entirely. If I go back and have a great experience, I’ll happily post about it.