Author: Alex Allson

Jolina Tex Mex Kitchen & BBQ

Jolina occupies a great uptown location on South College Street. It sits adjacent to Fuel Pizza — part of the same restaurant group — and is surrounded by trendy new office and apartment blocks. Given this, one would expect the place to be buzzing 24/7. Unfortunately, when we went it was empty. Nervy and suspicious is how I feel when walking into an uninhabited restaurant during peak time, which in our case was 6:45 p.m. on a Wednesday night. Despite this, I am happy to forgive them; midweek can

Crispy Salmon Burgers with Pine Nuts

A variation on the burger-in-bun format, this recipe, has a good chance of success with the kids. With a texture similar to beef, these healthy, blended fish burgers contain an attractive mix of colors that come from the fresh salmon, spinach and pine nuts.

Family Dining: Encore Bistro & Bar

Encore is located in the Blakeney Shopping Center just two miles south of I-485 on Rea Road — perfect for those living in south Charlotte, but somewhat of a trek if you live closer to uptown.

Marinated Beef Filet with a Potato and Horseradish Cake

The best Valentine’s Day recipes, for me, should include beef — one large filet shared. This excellent marinated recipe comes with a coating of chopped fresh rosemary, garlic and olive oil, with further sprigs of rosemary tucked under the string of the tied filet.

Fenwick’s Restaurant

At some point, you will happen upon Fenwick’s along Providence Road. It is close to uptown in an older residential area of Charlotte. Here, you can safely assume the cash oozes from every pore of the local residents. The restaurant’s size and facade lack a little ambition, being largely inconspicuous and somewhat diminutive, but is in no way out of place amid the eclectic mix of buildings found along this section of Providence.

Port and Orange Gravy

It will be good to know standards of quality for sauces before you get into this recipe. The sauce should be smooth, with no lumps; not too pasty, but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon lightly. It should have a distinctive, but well-balanced flavor — salt and pepper should be present in the taste, but should not dominate flavor. No starchy taste should be present. The appearance should be smooth, with a good shine, and have a good color for its type (rich deep brown for brown sauce; white

Ben Thanh Vietnamese Dining

Tucked away amongst the urban sprawl of Central Avenue, you will find Ben Thanh, a Vietnamese restaurant. Their non-descript, low-rise building fronts a parking lot riddled with broken concrete and potholes. On this particular rainy evening, dirty brown puddles lay all around.

Butter-Basted Lemon and Lime Turkey

A chilled lemon and lime butter, placed under the skin, adds a zesty twist to the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and solves the problem of dry breast meat. You’ll need to dispense with your rings, gird your loins and push that citrus butter up under the skin. It is a little fiddly (the butter will break up), and you may not like the slimy sensation, but it’s well worth it. To help the big day go smoothly, make the butter ahead. Let the kids help mix the butter, lemon and lime zest together,


My wife and three young whippersnappers recently accompanied me to Pssghetti’s, the new Italian restaurant located in Huntersville.

Recipe: Green Lasagna

The pluses to this recipe are boundless. Lending itself to bulk preparation, and then storage in the freezer, this variation of lasagna is healthy (the green comes from spinach), with some easy preparation, followed by brief sautéing and quick assembly.

Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop

Frankly, I was not expecting much from Pikes Soda Shop on the Camden Road. Despite the appealing façade and inviting forecourt tables, I probably would never have ventured-in had it not been to do this review.

Recipe: Ratatouille

NEAT EATS Ratatouille This recipe originates from the southern Provencal region of France, and contains a healthy spread of mixed vegetables – eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and green peppers – that are sautéed and then roasted with herbs. The sautéing and consequent browning brings out the sweetness in the vegetables, and so may appeal to the taste buds of your children. If you’re thinking, "Not for my kids!" go with the extra incentive of showing them the Pixar movie before serving

September – In the Kitchen

This summer’s release of Ratatouille, presented an opportunity to inspire our three children to eat something new. The movie tells the story of a Parisian rat named Remy, who possesses a particular talent for cooking. And Ratatouille – a Provencal peasant dish of sautéed and baked vegetables - features heavily in the picture’s finale.

Recipe: Baked Spaghetti Casserole

Involve the kids with this easy to prepare recipe. It can be readily made in large quantities for freezing, and there’s a good chance your whippersnappers will love it. At least that’s what I’ve found when preparing this for my client’s kids and at home. After you’ve done the initial sautéing, bring the kids in to help you layer all ingredients before it goes in the oven. There’s an opportunity to introduce some culinary math. Units of measure: 1 pint = 2 cups; 1 cup = 8 fl. oz.; 1/2 cu

Big Daddy’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar

You can find Big Daddy’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar by traveling west on Hwy. 150 from exit 36 on I-77. It’s a humongous, stand alone, NASCAR-laden (on the roof), single story structure that you will, without fail, notice when driving by. It’s an excellent example of a business that brazenly markets itself to the passing traffic.

Zink American Kitchen

The atmosphere encourages good behavior, and the menu offers an array for adults and children.

The Bombay Grille

There’s no doubt Indian cuisine does not readily spring to mind when considering suitable restaurants for kids. In fact, for many parents, the presence of hot spices, strange tastes and the probable absence of crayons unequivocally consigns this option to the absolutely, positively never category.