Uptown Chic Behind-the-Scenes Tour

May 11, 2013

We attended our first ever food tour through FEAST (Food Tours and Culinary Events) owned and operated by Kristi Martin. The first destination where the group was to meet, was located in the Ritz Carlton, at a place we’d been to once before… Bar Cocoa.

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Now since we arrived more than fashionably early, we wandered around the lobby, where I took a snap of a pretty cool art display by the elevators.

Apples anyone?
Apples anyone?

While we waited for the rest of the group to arrive, we had a look around Bar Cocoa (you can enter directly from College Street entrance or through the front lobby.) There are plenty of delicious sweets to be had from truffles, cupcakes, gelato and macaroons.

Note: The Honey Pecan Gelato uses honey that has been harvested from their rooftop bee hives (also the location of the trendy Urban Sip.)

Macaroons...
Macaroons…
We came back for some of these...
We came back for some of these…

Everyone got to try two truffles each… and let me tell you it was very difficult to choose.

Left: Tahitian Cream, Venezuelan Dark 66% Right: Strawberry Cheesecake, __________.
Left: Tahitian Cream, Venezuelan Dark 66% Right: New York Cheesecake, Raspberry White Chocolate.

Our next stop… Morton’s Steakhouse, where we learned how to make crab cakes from beginning to end…

Check out the cool video below… I apologize for the audio… I’m still learning the whole record with the iPhone thing.

Little did we know, that crab cakes were going to be the order of the day at several of our stops…

With the honey mustard mayo, these were hands down the best crab cakes I've ever had...
With the honey mustard mayo, these were hands down the best crab cakes I’ve ever had…

Some interesting facts about the Chef/Mortons:

  • The chef loves to grill, doesn’t like making salmon but is very good at it.
  • They wet age their beef versus dry age.
  • One of their dishes, the Chicken Christopher is made with white boneless chicken that has been sautéed in White Wine Butter with shallots. Yum!

Next we headed off to McCormick and Schmick’s on S. Tryon…

McCormick and Schmick's
McCormick and Schmick’s

Facts about McCormick and Schmick’s:

  • According to USA Today, they have the #1 Happy Hour (Tues-Sat 4-7p)
  • Their Cheeseburgers and Mac and Cheese are the top items ordered.
  • The first restaurant was opened in 1979 in Portland, Oregon. (They have two locations in Charlotte, the Uptown one we visited, and one at the South Park Mall.)
  • They dry age their beef.
Snugs, private dining at it's finest.
Snugs, private dining at it’s finest.

E2 was the next stop on our tour, and as you probably read, we’ve been there once before during our FOOD exhibit tour. We learned about Mixology from Miki the top expert in Charlotte, and got to taste barbecue shrimp and crab cakes.

E2 offerings.
E2 offerings…

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse was next, where we got to see the kitchen where head chef Michael Romano does his magic. He told us about the history behind the restaurant (Ruth bought the New Orleans restaurant from a man called Chris who insisted that his name be preserved in some way…)

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

The other really cool thing was while Chef Romano told us about how they cook the steaks and put them on a plate that has been heated to 500 degrees and then topped with butter till it sizzles, we actually got to watch the steaks we would be  enjoying placed in the oven.

Steak
Steak, mine was without butter of course.

I should probably note here, that this was a food allergy friendly tour. When you sign up for the tour just state what you’re allergic to (like dairy for me) and the chefs will do everything they can to accommodate you. At Ruth’s they brought out my steak sans butter and instead of the sweet potato they gave me some steamed broccoli which was oh, so delicious.

Now, last but not least, we made our final stop at Vapiano. (A restaurant that had been on my list to visit this summer.)

Vapiano
Vapiano

Interesting facts:

  • The restaurant is a German owned Italian restaurant.
  • All of the decor from tables, to flooring is shipped in from other countries.
  • The only items native to America are the two olive trees growing up between two of the large tables.
  • They make their pasta in house.
  • When you enter the restaurant you are given your own card, everything gets added to it at each station you visit. (Salad, Pizza, Pasta, Desserts)
  • The chalkboard drawings above the food station are hand done by an artist from NYC.
Queen City
One cannot think well, live well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. – Virginia Woolf
One of the olive trees.
One of the olive trees.
The room where the pasta is created.
The room where the pasta is created.
You can pick fresh herbs to add to your dish, or take some home with you...
You can pick fresh herbs to add to your dish, or take some home with you…

All in all a very interesting tour, and quite a work out. So if you enjoy good food, and want to see what culinary offerings the Queen City has to offer, you should check out the Uptown Chic Tour for yourself.

~thefoodie

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