Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sonoma Modern American (Uptown)

Last week I went into Charlotte to meet with an acquaintance for lunch in downtown Charlotte Uptown. I've gotta admit, I was kinda excited. I rarely make it to downtown Charlotte Uptown. I'm usually just hanging around the Lake Norman area, eating and running errands. So, when I get the chance to try a new restaurant in downtown Charlotte Uptown, I'll jump at the opportunity.

(Ok, I'm done with the crossing-out, but why is it called Uptown??)

I'd been foiled in my two previous attempts to eat at Sonoma. Both were for dinner, and both were scheduled after an event. And, both times, the event ran longer than expected -- so dinner never happened.

This time I had nothing previously planned, so I drove into Uptown, and parked at the nearby EpiCenter lot. FYI, be careful where you park. I was parked for just over an hour, and got charged $12! Where the heck am I -- Uptown New York??

I made my way to the restaurant, and waited for my friend by the door. Sonoma is decorated in sorta a cool and suave way. With clean lines, dark wood, and local art. I just felt like I was in a fine dining establishment -- and I couldn't wait to see the wine list!

My friend arrived, and we were promptly seated. We were given a table against the wall, and after some brief conversation we looked over the menu.

The menu looked amazing. I could see where the name came from, as much of the menu had a California influence. Some of the items included: Grilled Chicken Goat Gouda with Roasted Peppers, Arugula & Pesto; Asparagus Avocado Wrap with Brie, Portobello, Baby Greens & Balsamic Vinaigrette; and Grilled Breast of Organic Chicken with Lemon & Herb CousCous & Grilled Asparagus. Any one of these could come from a restaurant in California's wine country.

I settled on the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Goat Gouda and Roasted Peppers, Arugula & Pesto. It sounded amazing. We continued our conversation, and waited for the food.

And waited....

And waited....

And waited....

Yup, that's right, our simple sandwich orders took almost 30 minutes to arrive. I know Rome wasn't built in a day -- but does it really take 30 minutes to prepare a sandwich? To add insult to injury, a table of four behind us arrived and ordered after we did -- and they got their food about 10 minutes before we did!

Eventually our food arrived, and I took a look. Honestly, I found the appearance a little bland. This is Sonoma Modern American. Shouldn't there be a little presentation going on? A piece of lettuce? A sprig of parsley? Anything?

But no, just a white plate, with light golden potatoes, and a slightly toasted sandwich. Yawn.

But appearances aside, I couldn't wait to bite in to the delectable sandwich. I took a bite. Again, Yawn.

The ingredients were there. They SHOULD work together. The flavors should work with each other like a symphony, and build on the flavors to make a melody for the taste buds. But it didn't. The chicken was dry. The cheese too mild. And the pesto lacked flavor and made the bread soggy. Granted the bread was probably soggy because it was on the heating tray for waaaay too long.

Ok, I was disappointed in the sandwich. But the waiter HIGHLY recommended the fries. I was assured that they were the best side item on the menu. I took a bite. Meh. They were OK, but they weren't as amazing as I was told. They were slightly soggy, needed salt, and really not worth remembering. I didn't finish them.

Thinking, I was just having an unusual experience, I checked with my friend about her lunch. Different sandwich, different side. But the same conclusion. And OK sandwich with an OK side. Nothing more, nothing less.

I know this post sounds like a total rant against Sonoma. And in all honestly, I'd only read good things about it. So, my expectations were high. But at the same time, if this restaurant is going to keep it's good reputation, it needs to keep the bar for service and food high. Unfortunately neither was on the day of our meal.

But I'll be back for dinner. This lunch may just have been an anomaly. I'll know for sure during my second visit.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 3/5
Service: 2/5
Total: 9/15

Price: $$ (lunch was about $15 with tip)
Kid Friendly: I'd recommend adults and older children for this restaurant.

Conclusion: Simply put, I felt the food and service for this lunch should have been much better. The ingredients were not ordinary, but the results were. In addition, the service was very bad, bordering on neglectful.

Restaurant Info:
Sonoma Modern American
Bank of America Corporate Center
100 N Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
p) 704-377-1333
f) 704-332-1134


  1. Two stories behind the "Uptown" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_center_city#.22Uptown.2FDowntown.22

  2. Thanks for the info! I'll continue to call it Uptown, but I still find it mildly amusing. :)