Gayborhood newcomers light up last weekend of Queen’s Feast

Experience new tastes in familiar 'hoods

by Peter Engels    peteranthonyengels@gmail.com
Published: January 24, 2014 in A&E / Life&Style

queensfeastCharlotte’s bi-annual restaurant week, Queen’s Feast, has been in full swing since last weekend. It continues through Sunday and if you haven’t yet had a chance to get out and enjoy the offerings, this weekend’s the perfect time to do so.

Participants (there are over 100 to choose from) prepare a prix fixe menu of three or more courses for $30 per person. Chefs are able to experiment beyond the restaurant’s normal menu and showcase their creativity and imagination, while diners can discover new (or new to them) establishments at a great price.

Several LGBT-friendly spots in Charlotte’s “gayborhoods” appear on this season’s list. Here are a few highlights:

South End newcomer Nan and Byron’s (nanandbyrons.com) brings new life to traditional American cuisine with their cutting-edge creations. Peruvian-spiced baked chicken, meatloaf in red wine sauce, and slow-roasted prime rib wait inside the expertly-decorated space that blends urban chic with the American farm. The bar scene is lively and the drinks are works of art. Offerings such as the Southend Gin and the Refashioned bring classic cocktails into the 21st century.

Serving NoDa since 2011 is Heist Brewery (heistbrewery.com), a full-service restaurant and brewery serving what executive chef Rob Masone calls “twisted American food.” An eclectic menu, including deep south sushi with pulled pork and a PB&J rangoon, provides an array of textures and flavors to experiment with.  House-crafted beers, including a phenomenal blueberry porter, are always on tap and the talented bartenders are regularly creating new drinks.

For upscale veg offerings, Fern, Flavors from the Garden (fernflavors.com) blends Indian, Mediterranean, and Southwestern flavors in its Plaza Midwood vegetarian café. Enjoy Green Goddess soup, curry eggplant, or beet chocolate cake next to the dining room’s living fern wall or under the creatively rustic Mason jar chandelier. Local and seasonal ingredients ensure the freshest flavors, and many vegan options are also available.

Queen’s Feast runs through Sunday. A complete list of participating restaurants and Queen’s Feast prix fixe menus can be found at charlotterestaurantweek.com.