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Food junkies and trained chefs from Charlotte. ////////////////// After watching hundreds of $$$$s thrown down the drain of every "recommended" restaurant in Charlotte, we bitterly decided to start blogging about it.

CHARLOTTE FOOD SUCKS Charlotte restaurants

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Fern: Disappointing Vegetarian

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A quick review: had to try the new veg cafe in town. Having promoted vegetarian food for over 10 years, run several veg kitchens, this was a must. The menu looked exciting enough, so I ordered the classic tester: the veg burger.

Ultimately, my whole experience was totally disappointing. The service left much to be desired. Hippie-esque tempo, wandering about and not paying attentive service. I was seated in a totally uncomfortable place, in the dark corner with my back turned to the rest of the (hardly full) restaurant, on a sunny day— then basically ignored. I had to wait ages to get the waiter’s attention to bring my a drinks menu (saw a big repertoire of wine bottles, strange they didn’t offer a wine list right away!) — took forever to get my order.

I am a veg food nerd. This burger was completely unimpressive. No flair on the plate whatsoever. The Amadine potatoes were alright, but I’ve seen them (boiled, then fried on the outside) so often I’m sick of these. They are so boring by themselves, even covered in sea salt/parsley.

I also hate it when it reads “fancy” on the menu - but not what you get. Boasted some type of dressing but there was such a little smidge on the bottom bun I couldn’t get the flavor (only hint of citrus). They need to have a healthy application of a brilliant aioli of dressing to make this work— because the “meat” of the burger, was basically a gigantic falafel. Truly. Not much distinct flavor, quite dry and the quinoa/sesame got stuck to the back of my throat. Top bun was dry, no dressing. Boring salad with, no ketchup (had to ask specifically for it, and it was their homemade sundried tomato ketchup, which is great, but WHY is this not on the burger?? needed it)

The cheese was this bulky slab of American orangey squeezy vinyl like cheese. GAG! I craved real cheddar…

All in all, total disappointment. Overpriced. Left not really wanting to come back here again. Don’t want to start my rant about how veg restaurants really need to go the culinary extra mile if they want to survive. What I saw was lackluster (and to meat eaters, probably fulfill all the stereotypes).

Rankings

  • # of times dined here: 1st
  • Cost of Bill, glass of wine incl tip: $25 for 1person
  • Food Rating: 6/10
  • Service Rating: 4/10

Fern, Flavors From The Garden on Urbanspoon

Pho Adventures, Pt III

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Alright, now we’re 3/3 for testing the Top 3 rated Pho Noodle Soups in Charlotte. Verdict? Vietnam Grille (see: Pt. II) takes No. Uno Place, then Viet-Thai Noodle House (Pt. 1) takes number dos, and unfortunately, what’s been listed as many people’s number one place, Pho Hoa, is a distant third.

All the bits were in order, however, the broth had a bit of a greasy beefy taste, not as clean aromatic as the other places. Key differentiators. The beef was a bit too rare (I know Pho Tai is supposed to be rare beef) then my taste. However, the service was great and I love the decor— very authentically Vietnam, you could say. Everything else looked good, and nice that they had a big Vegetarian menu.

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Rankings

  • # of times dined here: 1st
  • Cost of Bill incl tip: $12 for 1person
  • Food Rating: 7/10
  • Service Rating: 9/10

Pho Hoa Noodle Soup on Urbanspoon

Bangkok Ocha

Craved Tom Yum Goong today. A small bowl of it with a bowl of rice cost me about $10 here. Good thing about Bangkok Ocha is its conveniently located, on Hwy 51 next to The Fresh Market. The lunch vibe is a bit weird, ie. nobody in there. Doesn’t seem like business is going well. Will have to try to lunch specials another time, but for today. Was pretty good. Not overcooked shrimp, lime leaves and thai ginger spotted.

 The bathroom was a bit disgusting though… and the carpet… hmm….

The walls are plastered with photos of the King. Really feel like he’s watching me while I eat.

Bangkok Ocha on Urbanspoon

Pho Adventures in Charlotte, pt II

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Ok, another place we heard to check out for Pho was Vietnam Grille.

Oh LORD! Their Pho Tai was top banana! Highly, highly recommended. This is the best Pho I’ve had in Charlotte so far, and I’m a bit of a Pho nerd. The broth is so aromatic you just can’t stop, even after you know you’re full. I love that moment when you first dig in, blindingly happy, then you start to sweat, and sweat, and you blow your nose, then you keep digging through the mysteriously thin soup; like unearthing bits of buried treasure.

Rankings

  • # of times dined here: 1st
  • Cost of Bill incl tip: $13 for 1person
  • Food Rating: 10/10
  • Service Rating: 10/10

Vietnam Grille on Urbanspoon

Viet Thai Noodle House

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We woke up the other day and discussed how we really wanted to see if Charlotte had good Pho. If you don’t know already, Pho is the national dish in Vietnam. It’s clear aromatic broth is notorious for being made by “simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, charred ginger and spices. For a more intense flavor, the bones may still have beef on them. Chicken bones also work and produce a similar broth. Seasonings can include Saigon cinnamon or other kinds of cinnamon as alternatives (may use stick or powder), star anise, roasted ginger, roasted onion, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and clove. The broth takes several hours to make.”


My favorite part of Pho is accompanying plate of: thai basil, green or red chili, squeezing lime, and dropping in the bean sprouts. Did I mention lots and lots of chili:)? And fresh coriander.

We’d been here a few times, but didn’t recall the Pho being super outstanding. So we tried again, ordered Pho Tai. Much better then the Pho with seafood, though, for pescetarians the more obvious choice.

Pretty darn good. Not the best Pho we’ve tasted, but not bad. Definitely satisfying, and worlds better then other restaurants who try to pass as Pho. Also like that you can choose the sizes of M, L or XL. Got a piece of what tasted like the roasted ginger stuck in my teeth, like it hadn’t been sieved from the broth— and we knew this was the real dang thing.

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Rankings

  • # of times dined here: 4th
  • Cost of Bill incl tip: $13 for 1person
  • Food Rating: 8/10
  • Service Rating: 9/10

Viet Thai Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Flying Biscuit R.I.P.

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Alright, today I decided I am never going back to Flying Biscuit again. I have been a super duper avid fan for the last 5+ years, going regularly, weekly. Even after the horrible incident with the murdered pregnant waitress whose body they dumped at the neighboring Chik-Fil-A— and suddenly a huge drop in business— I still made sure they knew I was a loyal customer.


I could write pages about this place. When they hit it, they hit it. Great breakfasts, and sumptuous Southern good, fantastic veg alternatives. Great menu. I wished on a number of occasions in various countries that there existed a Flying Biscuit in everyone of those towns.


Which leads me to present day. Today, I felt a wrench in my gut immediately after eating my burger. But that isn’t even the main reason I’m never going back.


There is one waitress there that over the years, I absolutely hate. Hate, hate, hate. She is annoying, incredibly stupid, and I’m almost certain— a bit racist. Her brain cell count is incredibly low though, it’s hard to get mad.


BUT EVERY FUCKING TIME SHE MESSES UP OUR ORDER. I think she knows it too, because she always resorts to giving us coffee for free.


She’s not explicitly rude, in fact the opposite, overly fakey southern honey and darling, but with an awkward smidge of forced politeness. And she is incredibly slow. And incredibly terrible as a waitress— ie. i know she hates her job.

But don’t make it my problem every single time I eat there.

Orders always get messed up, or the wrong thing. For example, today. I ordered a burger with a side of green beans. She came back with the burger and a pile of green beans. The burger didn’t seem thoroughly cooked, there no jalapeno sauce like on the menu, the green beans were the GODDMAN WORST IVE EVER HAD, so FRICKIN OVERSALTED I HAD TO DRINK 2L of WATER— and where were my bloody potatoes? Everyone knows potatoes go with a burger.

She ASSUMED I wanted beans instead of potatoes.

SO. I had to wait like 10 mins to get her attention, while my food got cold to tell her.

THEN. She gives me a rude quip, and this “look”.

THEN. She comes back suspiciously too fast with these potatoes. They were practically cold, like they’d been sitting there for ages.

It annoys the hell outta me because the potatoes too, were a portion enough to feed an entire African country.

My stomach is gurgling now. I hate Charlotte food. Charlotte food sucks.

Flying Biscuit Cafe on Urbanspoon

Spice South

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This slightly pricey Indian place I haven’t tried before had some decent reviews. So we gave it a shot. And we were craving Indian.

We ordered:

  • Guthi Vonkaya Kura
  • Peshwari Chana (both comes with rice)
  • Raita

Ok. First off, the curries were VERY GOOD. Just look at the photo we took (above) Overall, we were pleased. The Kura is a stuffed Indian eggplant, there’s a kind of red paste they seem to marinate from the inside, then pan fried. These kind of details I love, gives so much unique flavor. The Chana dish was equally great. Proper spices, and deliciously spicy. I love that they made it proper hot!

The raita was the only disappointment. Extremely watered out, but I’m not a fan of raw white onions anyway…

Now, the prices are normal I suppose of South Charlotte. It did make me hesitate from eating here, until I open my takeaway bag and realized that two dishes was enough to feed 3, 4 ppl. Huge portions.

Will come here again to try the daily lunch buffet. They also had lots of South indian dishes, like Kerala Fish Curry. Made me nostalgic about Kerala and spending a few weeks there for my friend’s wedding, eating at Taste of Heaven veg hut three times a week. The only thing I dont like about kerala style food is the coconut and sweetish curries, but anyway. For another time.

Rankings

  • # of times dined here: 1st
  • Cost of Bill: $29 for 2person
  • Food Rating: 8/10
  • Service Rating: takeaway

8145 Ardrey Kell Rd  Charlotte, NC 28277

www.spicesouth.com

Spice South on Urbanspoon

Toast Ballantyne, Pt II

imageAs you recall, our last trip here was not looked upon favorably. Super small portion, high prices, strange service, and strange ambience.

Today, I decided to give it another shot.

I ordered:

  • Spinach mushroom gruyere cheese omelette, with egg whites, wheat toast, and hash browns.

Now, let me tell you precisely what this place is. You get exactly what you order. Nothing fancy. No frills, no added spices, not really even added salt or pepper. You order egg. You get egg. You order spinach and mushroom. There is spinach and mushroom inside.

Now to unassuming Americans, this is probably pleasing and non-complainable. The service today was good, and my coffee got refilled. I also loved the complimentary carrot cake (but it did precipitate over-eating). I watched those calories shoot up.

The omelette was cooked alright, again, no flavor. Spinach was wilted perfectly, but I did detect a bit too much grease, ie. soaked in butter. Also, the potatoes aren’t near as good as Flying Biscuit’s rosemary dusted taters. These are overboiled and chopped with salt and pepper thrown on. The crispy bits were soggy.

The portion left me satisfied overall, but I left feeling no particular flair in the food.

Rankings

  • # of times dined here: 2nd
  • Cost of Bill incl. Tip: $16 
  • Food Rating: 7/10
  • Service Rating: 8/10

Toast Cafe, 8430 Rea Rd. http://toasthousecafe.com/

Toast Cafe Ballantyne on Urbanspoon

Passage to India

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Best. Indian. Lunch. Buffet. In. Charlotte. So far.

First off, f- all your reviews about cleanliness or rude Indian waiters. If you’ve been to India, you know what may come with the territory… heeheehee… Who doesn’t love hole in the walls? I would only moan about the cleanliness depending on whether or not the food quality. And in this case, it has absolutely no effect, so I don’t complain.

There is also nothing that makes me happier then coming here and seeing 80% Indians eating lunch. If this is where all the Indians go, you know it’s gotta be good. Right hand  fluffy nan bread dipping into piles of steaming hot curry.

I haven’t tried anything but the lunch buffet, but I think it’s incredible value. Everything is done properly, the rotis, idlys, the chana masala, the chicken curries, the raita, etc. There’s usually 2 meat curries and 4 veg curries to choose from. Fresh salad (cucumbers to plonk into the raita) and fresh fruit for dessert.

What I’m saying is, know that this isn’t gourmet Indian or out-of-the-box Indian. It’s just plain average mama’s Indian. Which to me, is perfect for a quick lunch. It’s also tons better then overpriced Indian, or sad discolored Indian food. Like the Saag Paneer ain’t the best you’ve tasted. But it’s satisfying.

Prices:

  • Lunch Buffet $6.99
  • Weekend Brunch Buffet $9.99

Me happy. If you want a un-American eating experience, eat here. Crowded to elbows, people eating with their hands, stuffing your face, in, out, job done.

Rankings

  • # of times dined here: 2
  • Cost of Bill: $8 for 1person
  • Food Rating: 8/10
  • Service Rating: 6/10

9510 University City Blvd 101 Neighborhood: University City

Passage to India on Urbanspoon

Jojo China Bistro

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Alright, listen up. Chinese people know what to order here, white people usually don’t. The chef is proper Chinese. He doesn’t make Americanized Chinese food. If that’s what you got, then you probably ordered something on the menu that was Americanized just for your palate. Even our Chinese friends tell us that in terms of “authenticity”, it’s pretty good. Not mind-blowing, but consistently satisfying. I guess there’s a reason this place has been around for a number of years, and we go back every so often.

What do I usually order? Stuff like:

  • The rice noodle soups (ask for extra chili) - don’t think its always on the menu, you might have to ask for it…
  • The Mabo Tofu and Bok Choy - $16
  • or their Shrimp dishes, Royal Shrimp with Walnuts is realllly good $16
  • Szechuan or Basil Chicken - $12.75

(The holiday buffet, btw, is just average. Now THAT is what I’d call more of an Americanized Chinese thing. I really hate seeing french fries and salad with ranch dressing and stuff like that at a Chinese restaurant…)

The service is typical for efficiently-run Chinese restaurants in Charlotte. Bit pricier then most Chinese places— but the portions make up for it. Have never left here without a doggie bag (ie. lunch for tomorrow).

Rankings

  • # of times dined here: 10+
  • Cost of Bill: $15-20 for 1person
  • Food Rating: 8/10
  • Service Rating: 8/10

7800 Rea Road  Suite A  Charlotte, NC 28277 http://www.jojochinabistro.net

Jojo China Bistro on Urbanspoon

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