“REAL” Good Food on Montford-Charlotte, NC
My Charlotte journeys continue to grow as the months pass on! Last month I had my fourth visit in the past six months to the Queen City. I spent three days bouncing around for work activities, visiting my best friend, and of course continuing my food adventures. I have to share a quick story that gave me a laugh while on my visit. I spent some time with a work colleague who lives in Charlotte and has for thirteen years. As we began to discuss my love for food she started to list off some of the popular bars and restaurants in the area. I let her in on the secret that I had gone to almost everything on her list. She explained with shock that she had lived there for over a decade and had yet to go to most of them. The conversation continued with me giving her recommendations on which hot spots to get to and which seemed a bit overrated.
I love that I have been able to immerse myself in the city. I know I am far from a true local but, I feel a kindred relationship with Charlotte. There is such a passion for eating and drinking local ingredients. My write-up today is a prime example of one of these homegrown inspired restaurants. Good Food on Montford is a seasonally driven tapas style restaurant. It boasts an award winning chef and was a past semi-finalist for the James Beard best new restaurant award. But the question is, did it live up to the acclaimed hype and accolades?
The restaurant’s interior plays on the rustic chic trend of wood furnishings, vintage style décor and the exposed brick walls. It feels warm and welcoming but with a sense of community rather than intimacy. Small crowds of friends gathered at the bar or at groups of tables for outings. After being seated at our high top we pursued the seasonal cocktails for some liquid inspiration. I went with the very refreshing and bubbly honeysuckle ginger mule. My friend had the crisp and clean sakitini that had large undertones of cool cucumber.
The menu ranged from modern southern classics to globally inspired small plates. We asked our waitress for her personal preferences as well as the fan favorites. We were able to narrow down our four dishes. Our first choice was the steamed bun with five spiced rubbed pork belly, hoisin, and pickled vegetables. It arrived with one oversized bun to share. The pork was flawlessly sticky and crispy on the outside. The bun was an airy pillow (not chewy at all) that absorbed the sauces in all the right ways. In our minds, one little bun was not enough. However; we had 3 more plates to come.
Next they brought us the gnocchi with braised duck, squash puree and toasted pecans. Speaking of airy little pillows, these gnocchi were the dough puffs of my dreams. Forget the dense, often undercooked, pre-made gnocchi we are subjected to at most restaurants. This house-made pasta was impeccable. The squash puree and duck were delicious as well but, I couldn’t get over the technique in those gnocchi, just outstanding.
The octopus with olive oil potatoes, olives, caper and lemon butter was served next. The seafood was tender, but I don’t think it was showcased as much as it should have been. The potatoes were too heavy with the delicate, tender bites of octopus. It was my least favorite of the bunch and my subconscious must have known because I forgot to take a photo. Lastly, our small plate of Korean beef arrived. Who knew that rice could be the star of the plate, let alone a tapas sized one! The crispy rice crackled as you took a bite but melted with its soft center in your mouth. The spicy Korean marinade from the beef had seeped into the grains. The beef was tender and the light, sweet and savory, Korean barbecue flavors completed the dish.
After having full on debates on which dish was our favorite we decided we had room for dessert. But, after looking on the menu we just didn’t have a sweet tooth. So, ordering mussels would be the obvious next choice right? Well, that’s exactly what we did. We asked the waitress what favorites we had missed and then selected the green curry and coconut mussels from her recommendations. The broth was warm and comforting. The mussels were fresh. But, after some of the other spectacular dishes we had a hard time finding an element that really stood out with this last dish. It was solid, just not remarkable.
I sipped my second honeysuckle mule while reliving the meal a bit. I think it was my favorite so far in Charlotte. Don’t get me wrong, I love to visit a good barbecue when I visit because I can’t get that up North. But, if I lived in Charlotte, this would be my regular stop. I would congregate for every girls night around those creative cocktails and intriguing small dishes.
…all for the love of the dish
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