Our Good Life Guide continues with the best food and drink experiences we’ve found.
Copain: Sit back and let Copain cater your next get-together. There’s little that this Jim-Noble-led collective doesn’t offer: Chef Maris Petersen’s European bakery-style bread, painterly pastries, savory tarts, and beautifully sculpted cakes are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Whether someone’s tying the knot, or you’ve just got someone to impress, Copain’s chef-driven catering, wide array of prepared food and provisions, and immaculate presentation is the definition of luxury: All you have to do is gather round the table.
Baku’s Omakase Tasting: In Japanese, the phrase “omakase” means something along the lines of, “I’ll leave it up to you.” Maybe it’s 17 rounds of sushi you’re after, or just one huge overarching sampling of Baku’s selection of Japanese delicacies. Either way, the SouthPark restaurant’s Omakase tasting is all about your preference: It’s a ‘chef’s choice’ experience curated by you.
Caviar sampler at Bentleys on 27: This sampler offers up a what may be the city’s most exquisite selection of caviar (alongside the usual condiments and blini). Standouts on the plate include the Oscietra and Tradition eggs, from the Oscietra and white sturgeon, respectively. Production of these eggs requires about a decade of maturation in the fish’s life cycle—making them a true delicacy. And we’d be lying if we said the skyline views at Bentley’s didn’t improve the taste.
Dinner at Heirloom: Eat anything at Heirloom Restaurant. We’re cheating a little here, but seriously, Clark Barlowe’s restaurant serves up freshness and unconventionality daily. Spring might be the most ideal season for dining at Heirloom, due to the endless amount of foraging this season affords the chef and his strict local-only mentality. Go in April and May, or go anytime really—Clark is always doing creative things when the season challenges him. Regardless of season, you can rest assured that the immaculate dinner in front of you came from very close by.
The McNinch House: The McNinch House Restaurant offers a dining experience like few others: Six courses of Continental fare, served in a beautifully restored Victorian house—each course with its own wine pairing. All courses are set at the discretion of Chef Matthew Shepard, and thank goodness for that.
Lady of the Lake Dinner Cruise: The evening starts with assorted cheeses and lazy drifting on the water and ends (if you know what’s good for you) with an ice bucket of Dom Pérignon. A dinner cruise aboard the Lady of the Lake grants you four courses, with an impressive wine selection to boot. The Catawba Queen is another lovely, albeit slightly more old-world, dinner cruise option. Either way you go, Lake Norman views are included, free of charge.
The Fig Tree’s Wine: Maybe you think you’re in the mood for a red from the south of France, and maybe you even have an idea which vintage should make its way to your glass, but… just let Greg Zanitsch choose which wine you’re having. Seriously. Inspired though his food may be, The Fig Tree chef is no slouch when it comes to his wine offerings. A great palate is a great palate. Also, Greg knows exactly what’s in that foie gras you’re about to dig into.
The Cellar At Duckworth’s Beer Cellar: It’s okay to be obsessed with the expansive craft cocktails and incomparable small plates in Uptown Charlotte’s original speakeasy, but the beer cellar here is the namesake of this atmospheric underground lounge—and for good reason. Head in here for a selection of hundreds of rare beers, kept at the temperature that both best maintains their flavor and primes them for consumption. The Cellar even offers personalized lockers, but the wait for those is long. Still, there’s no good reason why you shouldn’t add your name to the list.
Dogwood’s Bar: Belly up to the bar at Dogwood Southern Table (after a lengthy and life-affirming dinner, of course) and ask bar manager Brian Lorusso for the kind of drink he’d make himself at home. Disclaimer: You probably need to be into whiskey. Regardless of your spirit preference, though, Brian’s sure make something you’ll enjoy. If he asks for your preference of base spirit, that’s easy: Ask for the oldest bottle of Pappy Van Winkle they offer.
The $400 Cocktail: Order it at The Punch Room, and let cocktail wizard Bob Peters tell you all about it. He’ll likely have to explain the price, and no, it’s not a joke: The base of this drink—can we even use so banal a descriptor as “drink” for this beauty?—is a 3000-dollar bottle of 100-year-old Rémy Martin Louis XIII cognac. The Louis XIII holds court with Byrrh Grand Quinquina wine, sassafras and sorghum bitters, and a homemade brandied cherry. Silky, floral, and requisitely boozy, it’s worth every penny.
SHAKE.STIR.SIP.SOCIALIZE Cocktail Classes: Liberate your Palate runs these private cocktail courses, which attempt to free mixology from all of its pretentious trappings, allowing you to bring this craft home. Every class provides all of the shakers, mixers, fresh herbs, spices, fruit, bitters. botanicals, and small bites necessary for the course: You just have to show up.
Barkeep’s Choice at Kindred: The gentlemen behind our favorite lake-community bar know their spirits… and their liqueurs… and their fortified wines… Long story short, Kindred’s barkeeps know how to make a damn fine cocktail on the spot—and they seem to relish the challenge. You just have to specify a few things, like your preferred base spirit, a tendency toward sweetness or booziness, and what kind of flavors you’d like to see represented. Or, if you really want something worthy of the kind of creativity this restaurant is known for, let the bar guys make all the choices. And if you’re feeling particularly bougie, buy a round of beers for the kitchen while you’re at it.