Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Today is New Year's Eve. And you know what that means. Yup, I'll have a good dinner with a good drink --and be in bed by 11:00p. Can I party or what??

For those of you interested, I'll be cooking a Filet Mignon topped with avocado with hot sides of risotto and chopped squash with onions. The drink will be a Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs. YUM!

To be perfectly honest, I'm more excited about the dinner than I am about the coming year!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wine Wednesday: Schramsberg Champagne

This holiday season my parents were kind enough to send me two bottles of Schramsberg sparking wine. And this time one of the bottles was Blanc de Noir. In case you don't read French that reads (approximately) "black of whites." And THAT means that this golden liquid of sparkling bubbling goodness came from the red wine Pinot Noir grapes.

Question: If that's the case, then why isn't this sparkling wine red?

Answer: Magic! It isn't red because the dark colored /red skins were removed early in the process. Thereby removing the red coloring from the liquid.

Ok. I'm done with the lecture. Let me just say this was the BEST bottle of champagne sparkling wine that I've ever had. Period.

My wife and I inhaled this bottle over some take-home sushi and pot-stickers from eeZ. The sweetness of the sparkling wine was a perfect counter point to the heat of the pot-stickers. But the flavor wasn't so overpowering that you couldn't taste the sushi. All-in-all it was a very good meal, elevated to "excellent" by the sparkling wine.

New Years is rapidly approaching. If you're looking for an EXCELLENT bottle of bubbly. I highly recommend the Schramsberg 2006 Blanc de Noirs. It just doesn't get any better.

Score: 5/5

Price: $$$$ (approx $34)

Sparkling Wine Info:
Schramsberg 2006 Blanc de Noirs; Brut
Schramsberg Vineyards
1400 Schramsberg Road
Calistoga, CA 94515
p) 800-877-3623

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mrs. Foodie Rocks the Red Velvet Cake

For the past few years, my wife has made a Red Velvet cake for Christmas dinner. They've always been good, but for some reason this years' two-layer cake was above and beyond all the others.

Maybe it was the new recipe. Maybe it was because she ran out of red food-coloring, and substituted it with cranberry juice. Maybe it was because she made the Christmas Tree decoration on top. I'm not sure why it was so darn good, but it was freakin' fantastic!

Without this cake, I probably wouldn't have gained any weight this holiday season! (Yeah, right!) But it is because the cake was soooo good, I have no qualms with hitting the treadmill for a few extra minutes a day. Thanks Mrs. Foodie!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays!

Well, last night I FINALLY got around to making Christmas Cookies. I get the recipe from the America's Test Kitchen, on page 508, for their Holiday Cookies. No egg, lots of butter and sugar. Almost a shortbread, but not quite. Either way, it's darn YUMMY!!

I'd just like to take this time to wish you a Merry Christmas and /or Happy Holidays. No matter what you may celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful holiday surrounded by loved ones, good food, and even better alcohol. (Those loved ones can drive us to drink!)

My postings will be sporatic until the New Year, but be sure to check back. I'll have some recipes and reviews soon.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Wonderland!! In Troutman??

Yeah, I know that this isn't a restaurant review. But in all honestly there won't be many of those this week, because I'll be stuffing my face with cookies, popcorn balls, and more cookies.

But I thought I'd pass along some information that you might find useful. Last night my wife and I drove up to the Zootastic Christmas Wonderland of Lights. The "Zoo" part of the name comes from the fact that in a few months this area will be a semi-large exotic animal collection.

However, during these next couple of weeks it's home to the largest drive-through light collection in the LKN area. (I have done no fact checking to prove the baseless claim that I just made.) According to Channel 36, this massive Christmas light exhibit has " . . . more than a million lights spread out over 40 rural acres off Oswalt Amity Road."

That's one heck of a LOT of lights! I wonder if Duke dedicates a reactor just to this exhibit alone....

But either way, it was very enjoyable. There was still some snowy ice on the ground so the lights looked even more festive. In addition, there are pony rides and a petting zoo for your children. Also, don't forget to get your photo taken with Santa!

Take 77 North to exit 42. Turn left at the light. Turn right onto Oswalt Amity Road. Then turn left at all the lights. You can't miss it.

Cost = $5 per person with a $20 limit per car.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Another LKN Closing: Max & Erma's

I heard about it a couple of days ago -- and confirmed it yesterday -- Max & Erma's on 73 across from Birkdale has closed its doors. Personally, I'm quite saddened by this ... they had GREAT ribs!

The signs on the exterior have been taken down, but I have completely unconfirmed reports (a friend of a friend of a friend, etc. etc.) that the Melting Pot may be looking to open a restaurant there. I hope it's true, though I'm not going to hold my breath (yet).

This is the 2nd restaurant in the Birkdale area to close in a month. I hope the others will continue to survive.

Original NY Bagels Deli & Restaurant

A few weeks ago I posted an article that the Original NY Bagels Deli had opened a new location in Mooresville at the Town Square center at Brawley School Road and Williamson Road. That short posting got two hearty thumbs up. So, I decided to give it a try last week. Glad I did.

I walked in and took a look at their menu. It was sizable, and it took me a while to make a decision. Eventually I decided on the Appalachian. It's a turkey and bacon sandwich on a bagel. I chose a sesame bagel with mustard, lettuce, and tomato. I was told to choose a small side salad, so I went with a macaroni salad.

The sandwich took a while to prepare, over 5 minutes. However, my impatience was tempered once the I looked over the sandwich that was brought to my table.

The sesame bagel was stacked high with turkey, bacon, lettuce, and two thick slices of the best winter-time tomato I've ever seen. (Where did they get it???) The turkey was standard deli turkey, the bacon was cooked to a crisp, and the bagel was good. But for me it was the produce that put this sandwich above average -- just top-notch. By my rule of thumb: when the produce is good, it shows that the restaurant pays attention to details.

The macaroni salad was good, and the chips that came with the sandwich were just average chips. The atmosphere in the deli isn't anything special, just lots of tables packed into a tight place -- I wasn't looking for a quiet and romantic table when I was only meeting a buddy of mine. But the food and service were good. If you like a good NY style bagel, this is your place.

Atmosphere: 3/5
Food: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 11/15

Price: $$ (Sandwich and soda just over $10 -- more than I was expecting.)
Kid Friendly: Yes

Conclusion: Good deli style food and friendly service are what you remember walking out of here. On a side note, I grabbed a salt bagel to take home. Delicious!

Restaurant Info:
Original NY Bagel Deli & Restaurant
Can't find address, but it's on the North East Corner of Williamson and Brawley School Roads
Mooresville, NC

Thursday, December 17, 2009

131 Main & Latta Pavilion Hosting Breakfast with Santa

Below is an excerpt from the 131 Main press release. If you've got kids, sounds like fun.... especially getting your child's name on Santa's List!

Santa Claus is taking time out of his busy schedule to be at Latta Pavilion on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, and he wants to have breakfast with all the good boys and girls. A breakfast buffet will be served between 10 and 11:30 a.m. at 131 Main Restaurant, located at 1315 East Blvd. Breakfast is $3.95 for kids and $4.95 for adults. To put a child’s name on “Santa’s list,” please email

Following breakfast, Santa will be located outside between 131 Main and East Boulevard Bar and Grill until 5 pm. During the day, several Latta Pavilion establishments will be offering holiday specials including 131 Main, Petal and Peek A Boo Couture.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Out of Town

Hello, you have reached the Lake Norman Foodie's Answering service. Currently, he's eating in another state -- or two. But he'll be back on Wednesday.

So, feel free to leave a blog comment on any review you like and it'll get posted as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading....


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mimi's Cafe (North Lake)

After a morning of Christmas shopping at Northlake Mall (why do they call it Northlake when it's actually SOUTH of the lake??), my wife and I decided to give Mimi's Cafe a try. Neither of us had been there before, but we'd heard good things. So we hopped in the car, drove across the street, and made our way inside.

Mimi's is new, and it shows. There really isn't much wear and tear to be seen. The carpet is still new, the tables aren't scarred, and the booth seats aren't cracked (one of my pet peeves). We were quickly taken to a booth in a back room. The room had some French flair, and the ceiling was designed to look like brick. So, I'm guessing that the room was supposed to be in a quasi New Orleans style -- but don't quote me on that.

The menu was huge. So many items to try to understand, it was a little overwhelming. After a long time thinking about it, I decided to go with a Chicken Parmesan Ciabatta and a cup of French Onion Soup. While my wife decided on a Sweet and Sour Chicken Wrap and a cup of Chicken Gumbo.

Up to this point our server was awesome. She was friendly, helpful, and seemed like a top notch waitress -- until she forgot my soup. After my wife's gumbo was dropped off, she disappeared before I could even ask about my soup. About 4 minutes later, she apologized and said that she'd get my soup. About 5 minutes later, after my wife's gumbo was long gone, my soup arrived.

The French Onion soup was good, but not great. Melted cheese on top with a slice of soggy baguette under the cheese -- that's delicious! But in all honestly, it was just like every other good French Onion soup that most restaurants serve.

About 10 minutes after I finished my soup, our entrees arrived. Now it's about 45 minutes into our meal, and we just received our entrees. Needless to say, I was getting a little cranky.

My sandwich was quite good. The chicken was nice and crispy on the outside but the tomato sauce that topped it was lacking flavor. The ciabatta bread was good, and the fries were top-notch.

However, it's my wife's selection which gave us pause. The Sweet and Sour Chicken Wrap is a new menu item and described as "Roasted chicken cooked in ginger sweet and sour sauce, shredded cabbage, carrots, jasmine rice, green onions and won ton crisps with baby spring greens tossed in balsamic dressing." Sounds good right?

Here's the thing, it tasted like .... wait for it....... FISH!

FISH?? Yeah, really fishy fish.

They must have put in too much fish sauce, or cooked the chicken on the same grill that cooks fish, because the fish smell and flavor were overpowering. Needless to say, my wife didn't finish her wrap. But she ate half of my sandwich instead. (I think she stole some fries too!)

Long after we were done eating our waitress appeared and took our plates. Fortunately, she asked about my wife's uneaten wrap, and once she heard our response, she summoned the manager. He apologized for the fishy wrap, and handed us a total of two coupons. One for a free appetizer, and one for a free dessert. And though nobody told us about it, the wrap was removed from the final bill (as it should have been.)

Here's the thing that really annoys me about this meal it was VERY inconsistent. The service was sometimes good, and sometimes bad. The food ranged from horrible (the afore mentioned wrap) to really good (the chicken gumbo). I'm really having a hard time trying to score this one.

Atmosphere: 3/5
Food: 3/5
Service: 2/5
Total: 8/15

Price: $$ (even minus the one entree, this lunch was easily over $10 per person)
Kid Friendly: Yes, kids menus and high chairs abound.

Conclusion: Inconsistent food and service made this a mixed bag. Even with coupons for free items, I don't see a reason to return. I'll just stay across the street and eat at Firebirds.

Restaurant Info:
Mimi's Cafe
10224 Perimeter Parkway
Charlotte, NC

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cafe Mia CLOSED!

A friend reported this to me earlier today, but I had to drive by to confirm it -- Cafe Mia is out of business. Aside from the display cases, the store is empty. And all that's left to tell us what happened is a short note on the door saying that Cafe Mia is closed.

The Cafe Mia website doesn't have any info about the closing, so I really have no other info to pass along.

I've gotta admit, I loved Cafe Mia. Their sandwiches and gelato were fantastic. I'll definately miss getting a gelato on a warm summer night in Birkdale. Hopefully another gelato place will eventually open nearby.

Monday, December 7, 2009

NY Bagels Opens New Branch

According to an article by Joe Marusak of the Charlotte Observer, Original NY Bagels Deli & Restaurant has opened a third location. This one is in Mooresville, at the Town Square center at Brawley School Road and Williamson Road.

According to the article, the bagels are made fresh daily, and they also offer foods like omelets, sandwiches, and burgers.

I'll be heading there soon to give it a try. Lemme know if you've had a chance to visit any of their locations....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dragon Buffet (Denver, NC)

Next to the Coffeehouse in Denver, NC, are a variety of new restaurants. I've already reviewed Nevole's. So, now I get the chance to review Dragon Buffet.

As you can probably tell by the name, Dragon Buffet is an Asian inspired all-you-can-eat buffet. The food ranges from Chinese to Japanese to a couple other assorted Asian styles.

I walked in for my lunch and was quickly seated. My waitress took the drink order (Pepsi -- they don't offer Coke), and I walked up to the buffet area. It's pretty huge with four food-bar areas, and a separate sushi area, they've got quite the selection from which to choose.

For my first plate I decided on an egg roll, Crab Rangoon, spicy tempura roll, fluorescent red beef, and some Lo Mien. Ahh, the beauty of a buffet -- five completely different types of food on one plate!

I started with the egg roll. Pretty standard. It has the usual fillings of vegetables and shrimp, and was deep-fried to a crisp. The duck sauce (from the sauce section of the bar) was a necessary addition, and gave it a nice sweet flavor. But really, this seemed like the exact same egg roll that I get at most Asian restaurants -- where do they buy them???

The Crab Rangoon was pretty standard as well and consisted of cream cheese and very little (if any) crab. Don't get me wrong, I liked it. A crispy shell fried to a crisp and filled with cheese = YUM! But, I tend to like it even more when I can taste some crab.

Next was the fluorescent red beef. It was different from what I was expecting. Looking at the thickness of the sauce, and the color, I figured it was a type of teriyaki sauce. Instead this beef tasted much more Korean than Japanese, with the emphasis on vinegar and not the teriyaki sweetness. All-in-all, this was probably my favorite food while there.

Then it was time to try the spicy tempura roll. It was good, but thin. so thin that I had to use a fork to scoop it up, instead of chopsticks. It just bent under the pressure of the chopsticks, and was too thin to hold together when held vertically.

The last food left on my plate was the Lo Mien. Unfortunately, I found it lacking. The flavor was really mild, and aside from the very light sesame sauce, there was little flavor. I suppose I could have used a sauce from the sauce selection (which was plentiful), but I wasn't in the mood to get up and try to figure out what sauce was needed.

The restaurant has a nice open feel -- it is one large room. The windows at the front allow light to reach the back, and the color template is warm. The staff were friendly, and my drink was instantly refilled whenever it ran low.

The buffet food is just that -- standard buffet food. Quantity is the focus. And buffets really aren't my favorite. However, it you're a buffet person, you should give this place a try, the price is down right reasonable.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 2.5/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 10.5/5

Price: $
Kid Friendly: Yes

Conclusion: If you're REALLY hungry and want Asian food, this is your place. In general, I found the food's flavor to be on the lighter side, but that's something I've noticed with many of the Asian restaurants in the area. However, the staff and atmosphere are above the standard buffet.

Restaurant Info:
Dragon Buffet
7260 Hwy 73
Suite 112
Denver, NC 28037

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dressler's Expanding!

During a recent e-mail conversation with Jon Dressler, I learned that his restaurant Dressler's is expanding.

No they're not taking more space in Birkdale -- they're adding a new Dressler's restaurant at the Metropolitan, in Charlotte. In addition to the current Dressler's in Birkdale, and Max's Ally in Concord, this Dressler's will make a total of three restaurants for the local restaurateur.

The Metropolitan is in an up-and-coming area, and just a stone's throw from Dilworth. This could be a very good location for a high caliber restaurant like Dressler's.

According to Jon, the restaurant will be opening in February, and will again feature his mother's famous cheesecake and carrot cake.

In addition to this news, I hope to be interviewing Jon soon. So, stay tuned for updates!