The Queen’s Feast, Charlotte’s semi-annual Restaurant Week, returns Friday, Jan. 22 through Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 for its winter edition. The Feast has expanded again, now including more than 130 restaurants across the region. All will offer prix fixe menus for $30 or $35 per person. All menus have at least three courses each with several options, with many of the $35 menus including a fourth course or up-market items such as Kobe beef or lobster.
Restaurant weeks are one of the most popular dining trends in the country, and no wonder. They are a great opportunity to try something new, expand your dining horizons, or eat at that spot you keep hearing about but haven’t visited because you were afraid that “sticker shock” would break your budget. No chance of that during the Feast (unless you go crazy with the wine list); you know up front what you will be getting and paying.
Just reading the list of participating restaurants on the Queen’s Feast website can be an eye-opening experience. Here’s a chance to find out what restaurants have opened in the past few months as well as re-discover old favorites that you haven’t visited in awhile. Yes! The Village Tavern, your hangout back in the ‘90s, is still open!
Fifteen restaurants have joined the Queen’s Feast list this January, and while not all of them are new, there are some real keepers among them.
ROCKSALT, behind Park Road Shopping Center, has the sweetest, juiciest oysters we’ve had in a long time – and should. It’s owned and operated by one of the owners of Rappahannock Oysters, the premiere oyster farming operation in the Chesapeake Bay. Read our review here for menu suggestions.
Corkbuzz Restaurant & Wine Bar in SouthPark, besides having a superb winelist, has a nice touch with go-with food. We’d have a hard time chosing between the smoked trout dip and the pickled deviled eggs. And, despite the high-flying wine selection, the atmosphere – inspired its NYC sister spots – couldn’t be more relaxed.
Other restaurants debuting on the Queen’s Feast 2016 list include CO Pan Asian Cuisine in the Park Road Shopping Center (so new we have yet to visit); JP Charlotte at the Westin in uptown Charlotte; BLOCK Bistro with J&W chef Josh McCracken at the helm in Huntersville; Union Street Bistro in historic downtown Concord; Pearlz Oyster Bar in Ballantyne; and Lily’s Italian Bistro in Gastonia. Restaurants that joined the Feast during the Summer 2015 edition that you may have missed included Aqua e Vino near SouthPark; Sabi Asian Bistro in Davidson; and The Flipside Restaurant in Old Town Rock Hill.
The Flipside Restaurant and its sister establishment the Flipside Cafe in Fort Mill, both participating in Queen’s Feast, offer great opportunities to check out the latest projects of one of Charlotte’s finest chefs. Jon Fortes is familiar to many diners thanks to his long and successful career at Mimosa Grille as executive chef for the Harpers Group, which he topped off with a state championship in the 2014 “Got To Be NC” Competition Dining Series. At the Flipside restaurants, Jon and his wife Amy, both Johnson & Wales graduates, get to escape the corporate scene and create their personal vision of both casual and fine dining.
Opportunities abound during Queen’s Feast to check out the work of some of the region’s top chefs. You can take the elevator all the way to the 21st floor of the Skye Condos to Fahrenheit where you can enjoy a superb view as well as the specialties of Chef Rocco Whalen, who comes to the Queen City from Cleveland. Chef Tom Condon always wows us with his creativity at the Liberty Gastropub, but now has opened Lumiere, specializing in the French cuisine he studied during his time in Paris and with mentor Jean Louis Palladin. Both of Condon’s restaurants are participating in the Feast. A bit further afield near Mountain Island Lake, Johnson & Wales grad Clark Barlowe is exploring the possibilities of farm-to-table cuisine at his own restaurant, Heirloom.
Another fine dining experience available at budget friendly cost during Queen’s Feast is the prix fixe menu at Evoke, a newish steakhouse in the Le Meridien Hotel. Don’t miss the dry-aged beef tenderloin on the menu here, although the kitchen excels at everything from pasta and vegetables to desserts and “crudos” (raw seafood).
Read the list of participating restaurants on the Queen’s Feast website and you’re sure to find some spots you never heard of, but want to visit. We’ve added a downtown spot to our short list, The Mandrake small plates + wine, where award-winning chef Donnie Simmons is creating tapas style dishes. Another spot we plan to try out Ballantyne way is Gusto! Fresh Pasta, Tapas & Sangria. We are devotees of the small plate culture, and the more restaurants specializing in them, the better.
All participating restaurants in the Queen’s Feast offer either a $30 or $35 menu with several choices for each course, including, often, a vegetarian option. Taxes and tips are not included in the set price. Reservations are highly recommended. Visit the individual restaurant pages on the Queen’s Feast website for menu options and details on how to reserve your table.
For more suggestions on where to go for Queen’s Feast, check these articles. They were written in previous years, but have been updated with all restaurants participating, except as noted.
Old Favorites at Queen’s Feast
Steakhouses at Queen’s Feast
New restaurants at Queen’s Feast (2014)
Top Chefs at Queen’s Feast
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