Stool Pigeons

September 2nd, 2009

I was going to Discovery Place today with Zack, and decided to go eat beforehand. We looked at several of the other nearby options, including Zink, but it did not seem like an atmosphere that I wanted to take a four year old - especially one that was particularly wild on this day.  We noticed Stool Pigeons Coops & Grill on the corner of Church and 5th Street - directly across from the Discovery Place entrance and parking garage.

I had seen Stool Pigeons before I both this location as well as the Matthews location, and had always wanted to try one.  Due to its atmosphere, price point, and location, today was the day.

When we went it. I was pleasantly surprised. While it has a long bar that runs the length of the restaurant, there were about 15 tables an about 8 booths. The booths were huge compared to most place. Everything had a dark wood stain which made it look.a lot nicer than just your average bar.  There were also tons of TV’s scattered throughout the place to watch you favorite game on.

We were greeted and seated immediately. The waitress was very attentive - although, it was very slow since they had just opened for the day.

Now on the important part, the food. I expected the menu to be made up of a lot of “bar” food, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a mix of a few other things throughout.

They had the standard bar stuff on the “Starters” menu (nachos, wings, onion rings, mozzarella sticks to name a few). They also had a fairly long list of salads (six in all) as well as chilli and soup. They had a lot of Wraps and a few sandwiches and burgers.   In addition to those, they had larger entrees that included mahi mahi and a black angus ribeye. They also had a variety of pizzas. As far as price goes, the appetizers, salads, and sandwiches ranged between $6 and $9. The entrees ranged between $12 and $16.

I got the “Giant Mahi Mahi Pita” which was grilled mahi mahi topped with pepper jack cheese, shredded lettuce and mango salsa stuffed in a giant pita. It also came with fries. The sandwich was delicious. The pepper jack cheese and the mango salsa mixed with the mahi to make a great mixture of complimentary flavors in my mouth. I would recommend it to anyone (well, anyone that eats fish).

My wife got the chicken fingers entree.  It came with three oversized chicken tenders served with tator tots.  She thought they were “ok” but to me they had too much breading on them.

My sons “cheesy pizza” was good (for a bar, but not great for a pizza place). It had both mozzarella and parmesan cheese with a garlic butter crust.  One thing of note is that they do not have a kids menu, but have several non-menu specia for kids. For instance, the pizza that my son got was on the regular menu for $8.99, but was only $4.99 (same size and everything).

Another plus for me was that they had Pepsi products!

All in all, I won’t hesitate to go back there!

There are also locations in the University area and in Matthews; although, I have not visited those.

Stool Pigeons Coop & Grill on Urbanspoon

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Monty’s Seafood Grill

August 25th, 2008

I went to Monty’s Seafood Grill in Ballantyne Commons a few weeks back. It was my first visit to Monty’s. Upon arriving, I noticed that the restaurant was really slow for 6:30pm on a Thursday night. I would have expected it to be busier. We were the only people in the dining area, although there were several people in the bar area. They had a $4 tapas bar from 5pm to 6:30pm on Tuesday through Saturday, which is probably why there were people in the bar area.

It was strange to be that slow in the dining area because they do run an all you can eat crab legs special on Thursday nights ($24.95). The Carolina Wing & Rib House was always packed during its Thursday night all you can eat crab legs special, so I suspected Monty’s would be the same. Perhaps people just do not know about it as of yet. They better find out in a hurry because I don’t know how long a place can stay in business as slow as they were.

I started with the bacon wrapped scallops. I got three scallops on a skewer that was served over a bed of diced pineapple, red onions and red peppers. The scallops were not what I would call large, but were perhaps slightly larger than average. The bed of pineapple, red onions and red peppers was amazing. It was simply fantastic. It made the entire dish worth getting. On the downside, it was a bit overpriced at $10 - especially in comparison to the other items on the menu. For example, my entree was only $17.95. The scallops would have been more appropriately priced at $7.

For my entree, I got the Grilled Mahi Mahi with lemon butter. They have several varieties of fish to choose from as well as several seasonings to choose from. The fish has a really really (really!) strong grilled taste to it. I agree with Hank Hill that you are supposed to “taste the meat, not the heat.” I don’t mind a little grilled or smoke flavoring every now and then but it should complemint the meat - not the other way around. The fish was moist and appear to have been prepared good other than the overly grilled flavor.

I also got shrimp scami on the side with were great. My other sides included mushrooms and asparagus, both of which were good (not great, just good). My wife ordered a filet which she also thought was good, but not exceptional.

For desert, we had strawberry cheesecake. It was pretty good, but would have been better with strawberries. It wasn’t spectacular by any means. In my opinion, it is difficult to find bad cheesecake.

I will probably try to visit Monty’s again in the future, but will likely do it for the all you can eat crab legs special, primarily because there are not a lot of places that have the special anymore.
Monty's Seafood Grill (Ballantyne) on Urbanspoon


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The Capital Grille

July 14th, 2008

For the first time in several years, I went to The Capital Grille for dinner. For those unfamiliar to The Capital Grille, it is an upscale restaurant chain with locations in major cities throughout the U.S. Our local location is in the heart of Uptown Charlotte at 201 North Tryon Street. If you are concerned with parking, they have valet service, so you just have to pull up in front of the restaurant on Tryon and they will park the car for you. If you do not wish to valet, there are many parking decks within a few blocks. Make sure you make reservations (704-348-1400).

The atmosphere at The Capital Grille is as nice as any restaurant in Charlotte. It gives me the feeling of a very upscale lodge but is quite beautiful in its architecture. Everything has a dark would finish that enables you to be comfortable and relaxed.

The service was exceptional - easily a 10. The waitress was extremely knowledgable about every ingredient of every dish and how it was prepared. She kept our drinks refilled well in advance of our actually needing them and was always around if we needed to ask a question or anything.

While I normally order a Filet when visiting these types of steakhouses, the waitress steered me toward the Porcini Rubbed Delmonico steak. I was so glad she did. This steak was just phenominal. It was dry aged (as all steaks at The Capital Grille are) and had was topped off with a light drizzling of premium 8-year aged balsamic. I was not sure what they topping on top was as I ate it, but upon reviewing the menu determined it to be the balsamic. This steak was perfect in about every way. It was also very large at 22oz. The broiling process created a thin crust of porcini mushroom that blended perfectly with the other flavors. As stated before, this steak was amazing.

I had two sides with my meal - Fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise and Roasted Seasonal Mushrooms. The asparagus was exceptional, but the mushrooms were simply outstanding. They consisted of a large portion of portabella, oyster, shiitake, crimini and button mushrooms that were slowly roasted with extra virgin olive oil, rosemary, thyme and garlic butter. Like the steak, they were amazing. I am so glad that the waitress recommended them.

After eating all of this, I was quite full. Of course, I am a huge sucker for Creme Brulee and guess what? They had it. It too, was fantastic. Of course, does anyone make bad Creme Brulee? I have never found it.

All in all, The Capital Grille hit a grand slam on this visit. Everything about it was exceptionally great.

Before making your reservations to The Capital Grille, beware that the prices are not cheap. They are an upscale restaurant and charge accordingly ($$$$).

Capital Grille on Urbanspoon

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Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q

July 11th, 2008

I was excited to see the new barbecue restaurant opening near my home- Jim ‘N Nick’s. It seems like the built it in no time once they broke ground. I visited it for the first time last week, with mixed reviews.

The atmosphere was extremely nice and it seemed much nicer from a design perspective than most barbecue restaurants. After looking the menu over, I noticed that they are actually a chain. Most of their 23 locations are in the Southeast - this is their first in North Carolina. It is located near the corner of South Tryon and Highway 160 - on an outparcel next to Harris Teeter.

The waitress did a very good job. Our drinks did not get empty and she seemed to be around when we needed her. It appeared they had ample waitstaff. Hopefully, this is not just due to the fact that they are new.

First, let me mention their tea. It was very light in color and very weak. Their menu made a big deal of the fact that it was their “Signature Slow Brewed Tea.” I sure hope this was a bad batch because it could be improved upon. It was drinkable though - unlike some places.

They bring you a basket of what the waitress called “Cheddar Biscuits.” These did not resemble anything I have ever known to be a biscuit. They were more like corn muffins with cheese. Regardless of what they called them, they were hot and fantastic. I could have eaten an entire meal just on the “Cheddar Biscuits.”

I was a bit disappointed when I saw the Barbecue being delivered to tables smothered in sauce. The thing that comes to mind is what are they hiding with the sauce. Good barbecue does not require sauce - altough it is sometimes a nice compliment. To use a quote I hear a lot on the Food Channel - “Sauce hides things.” I immediately told the waitress that I wanted my sauce on the side so that I could truly judge the quality of the barbecue.

The barbecue was good but still not the great barbecue that I have grown to enjoy over the years. I tried the sauce. The regular sauce was nothing to write home about. They had a Habenero Hot and Spicy Sauce on the table which was great. I may have to get me some of this to use at home. It was hot - and it was Spicy - although not as hot as habenero usually is. This was a good thing since they have the sauce sitting on the tables.

The baked beans were good, but kind of different than what I expected. They had some sort of pepper in them that made them spicier than normal.

The slaw was pathetic. It was basically cabbage salad. It was not grated at all. There were large chunks of cabbage sitting in a pool of white liquid in the bowl. I suggest they spend 30 second longer on each batch of slaw to grate it and blend it well.

On another note, there was no border between smoking and non-smoking. Given the numerous studies related to higher revenues in non-smoking restaurants, I am not sure why a new restaurant would even have a smoking section. When selecting your table, be sure to request to sit far away from smoking if you do not wish to be bothered by the stinch.

They have lots of items besides BBQ pork - including an assortment of sandwiches, burgers, salads, brisket, chicken, turkey, pork hot links, ribs, steaks and much more. The one thing I did notice on most all items is that their prices were about $2 to $5 higher on each item than your typical barbecue restaurant. For instance, a pulled pork Bar-B-Q plate was $13.50, and hand pulled pork Bar-B-Q sandwich was $8.50…..and so on.

As far as what I had, I rate them as follows (scake if 1-10):
(1) BBQ 6 of 10 (better than average - not great)
(2) “Cheddar Biscuits” - 9
(3) Baked Beans - 7
(4) Slaw - 0 (they didn’t even hit the scale on this one)
(5) Onion Rings 8 - my wife had these, they were exceptional
(6) Tea - 4
(7) Atmosphere - 8
(8) Service - 8

Jim 'n Nick's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

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