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.

We arrived at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night and predictably found the place humming. While waiting for our table, we marshaled the kids into the bar and ordered some drinks. The interior is eye-catching, and clearly some interior design whiz has been paid mega-bucks to conjure a sharp look.

At the risk of appearing dull, I must mention the floor plan. The place flows so well, there is absolutely no risk of smacking foreheads with a server when rounding a tight corner, or being forced to sit with strangers to allow someone else to pass through a tight aisle way. All this has a positive affect on the atmosphere, so much so, that even when they’re very busy you feel relaxed.

The menus are impressive. As well as separate brunch, lunch and dinner menus, they have a bar menu with happy-hour food from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., where all items are $3.95 — a great alternative eating place for kids, provided you can keep them safely seated on the high stools. The broad pricing allows kids to eat for as little as $3.95, but gives moms and dads the opportunity to choose from some fantastic entrees, ranging from $8 to $24.

Our espresso coriander-crusted pork tenderloin and Mediterranean pasta easily came up to my expectations. The pizzas for adults are around the $8-$9 mark. Unusually, there is also a menu offering extensive gluten-free options.

Encore stands a world apart from the humdrum chains so prevalent now in modern America. It possesses a chef with a record of accomplishment heavy with formal qualifications and experience. His menu caters to a broad audience, both in terms of choice and affordability. Encore recognizes that eating out is not just about the food. The visually engaging interior, relaxing atmosphere and sharp service contribute toward what was, for us, a memorable dining experience.

Chow Down

Dollar deal: $2.50-$3.95 kids; $8-$24 adults
Kid-friendly:Very
Especially for the little ones: coloring sheets and crayons
To avoid a wait, go: Anytime
Noise level: Not an issue
Décor/Atmosphere: Very modern, and very well done
Kiddie fare: Fresh fruit, apple sauce, mini salad, pizza
Parent fare: Steaks, lamb, veal, chicken, pasta, fish
Bathroom amenities: Sparkling
High chair/booster cleanliness: Good
Got milk/juice?: Yes
Address: 9824 Rea Road in Charlotte
Phone: 704-341-3651
Web site: www.encorebistro.com
Overall rating: 4 out of 5

-Alex Allson