From the luminescent silk screen Barbies on the walls, to the linen towels in the bathroom, to the liquid nitrogen cloud lingering over your cocktail, at Bubble Charlotte no details are spared. Bubble, which officially opened May 17, 2013 (after years of anticipation), is Charlotte’s first champagne bar and oh so much more. There’s a full-service kitchen, patio area with bar service overlooking the intersection of College and Trade, and not one but FOUR different beverage menus.
Bubble’s main entrance is on the Epicentre’s ground level. Once inside, guests ascend a dramatic staircase to the second floor. The decor strikes a playful balance between sophisticated and fashionable, and the dining area is anything but standard with large round communal-style tables. The aim is a premium (but not pretentious) experience.
So let’s talk booze. Bubble has over 30 champagnes in house, and their Perlage preservation system enables high end champagnes to be sold by the glass, while still maintaining the flavor and integrity of the beverage. Patrons can score a solitary glass of Dom Pérignon for $45, while a bottle can cost upwards of $200.
Bubble’s beverage repertoire spans much further than champagne though, and all of the bartenders are Bar Smarts certified. They offer a “slim list” of sub-120 calorie cocktails, and their much-buzzed-about N’tini cocktail is topped with liquid nitrogen steam, which quickly chills the cocktail and produces a “seductive cloud.” Ingesting liquid nitrogen is hazardous, in fact, a British teen had part of her stomach removed last year after ingesting the chemical. To avoid potential harm, Bubble’s N’tinis should not be consumed until the liquid nitrogen cloud has dissipated. At the press event I attended, Bubble’s operating partner, Bourke Floyd (fka Brady on Dawson’s Creek), was adamant about the safety precautions the bar will take to ensure no one is given an N’tini until it’s safe to drink.
The petite chef-driven menu at Bubble features a handful of small plates: prosciutto wrapped melon, pomme gaufrettes (waffle fries), chef-chosen cheese plates, and fresh, never frozen, calamari served with wasabi cream and Sriracha. As for salads, I enjoyed both the fresh strawberry chevre salad (with goat cheese and Spanish candied walnuts) and the Caprese Napoleon, which is topped with a fig balsamic reduction and a light drizzle of olive oil.
The entrees include champagne poached shrimp, Thai-chili ribs, steak frites, and Mediterranean chicken skewers. There are also four flatbreads, the toppings of which were promising, but the bread itself was horrendous–flavorless with the texture of a hardened shortbread cookie. Dear Chef: please fix this flatbread faux pas ASAP.
One of the most interesting dishes on the menu is the foie gras PB&J with muscat grape jelly, almond butter, and seared foie gras. (What’s foie gras? It’s liver. Extremely fatty and buttery, usually of the duck or goose variety.) The combination of muscat jelly, almond butter, and warm brioche was delicious, but I can’t honestly say I’d order it again.
Without a doubt, Bubble will become a prime place for date nights and celebrations. As such, I found the limited dessert menu surprising. There are only two options: Crème brûlée and a molten chocolate cake.
Overall, Bubble is an exiting addition to uptown, and a fantastic stop for an upscale night on the town. The beverages are inventive and the venue is sophisticated. The food I sampled was consistently bright and light, even the fried calamari and fried asparagus were somehow light as, well, bubbles. Though Bubble claims to support the farm-to-fork and grain-to-glass movements, the “farm-fresh” deliveries they get six times a week aren’t currently being sourced from local farms. Hopefully this will change as they get settled in.
Bubble Charlotte provided all media event attendees with gratis food and drink. Other than the delicious meal, I was not paid for this review. This blog post and comments within are based on my own honest opinions.