Category Archives: French

REVIEW: Amelie’s French Bakery – Charlotte, NC

If you have been to Charlotte but not to Amelie’s French Bakery, shame on you. This 24-hour bakery in the NoDa neighborhood of Charlotte is perfect for a lunch date, a late-night macaron craving or Sunday brunch – if you’re willing to wait in line. The pastries and the decor will fight for your attention as you walk in. A chandelier made of pots and pans, a translucent lamp shade, Parisian themed photo montages and the tempting bakery case.

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You will be tempted to try one of everything, but the prices may steer you away from that – $1.99 per macaron is a steep price for a small delicacy, but it is worth it. Amelie’s prepares their pastries around the clock, ensuring that everything is fresh. I had the salted caramel hot chocolate last weekend and it was one of the best hot chocolates I have had. What can beat a delicious hot chocolate, a reunion with an old friend and all the board games you’ve ever wanted in a coffee shop?

Macaron vs. Macaroon – One is a chewy coconut treat and one is a crispy merengue. The delicacies pictured above are macarons. They have a crisp outer shell with a ganache-like filling.  My favorite flavor is rose, but you cannot go wrong with chocolate. While macarons have more of an almond flavor, macaroons have a coconut flavor. You can read more about the ingredients and find some recipes here.

If you don’t have a bottomless stomach or wallet, order at least one macaron and one salted caramel brownie. Or take some goodies home with you! But stay at Amelie’s long enough to enjoy the creative interior design. You will be hard-pressed to enjoy all the nooks and decorations in just one trip to Amelie’s.

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I suppose I should have mentioned the “real food” before dessert. Amelie’s has a selection of sandwiches, salads and soups. My favorite dishes include the spinach asparagus leek soup and the turkey and brie sandwich – roasted turkey, brie and seasonal compote on a baguette. These light dishes are satisfying while still allowing room to try some of the desserts.

I try to make it to Amelie’s whenever I am in Charlotte and no matter if I get the same flavor macaron every time, it is always a different experience. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in Charlotte, otherwise I’d never leave Amelie’s! It is open 24 hours, after all.



Amélie's French Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Noble’s Grill – Winston Salem

Jim Noble’s restaurants have been a symbol of fine southern dining in North Carolina cities like Greensboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem and High Point (his first location) since the mid 80’s. The award-winning chef currently has four restaurants open in North Carolina including his latest venture, Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen, in Charlotte.

I met my parents, my brother and my soon to be wife (now my sister-in-law) at the only remaining Noble’s Grill in the state located  next to the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts headquarters in the Bank of America building just off of Business I-40 in Winston-Salem. We went to taste wines for their rehearsal dinner and discuss the menu items that were going to be served. The relaxed atmosphere and great help from the staff made it the perfect place to plan and taste everything.

The interior of the restaurant is a little dark so I have to apologize for how bright some of my pictures turned out because I was using a flash. We started out the night with an order of the hush puppy-dusted fried shrimp ($12) in dijonaise. They were absolutely killer especially since they combined two of my favorite foods in one. I believe that the kitchen fried them at a very high temperature because the exterior had the crunchy, crispy cornmeal texture like hush puppies but the shrimp were cooked to perfection with a solid yet tender state. The hush puppy-dusted shrimp were very impressive and only the first sign of good things to come.

We also ordered a plate of the flash fried calamari ($10) which came Italian-style with lemon and marinara. I thought it was okay. The breading was very salty and had a bit of spice from the cracked pepper over it but it didn’t hold together very well especially after being dipped in the marinara sauce. It was better than most calamari that I have had recently especially since it wasn’t just the rings and had tentacle and mantle pieces in it.

Thinking back, it seems that I have ordered calamari as an appetizer at a few places that I have reviewed so far and I don’t know why I have done it so much. I never seem to be blown away by any restaurant’s version and I should probably go with something different but it seems that calamari is just a dish that the people that I eat with enjoy.  I guess you could say that it is a good community appetizer.

I grew up in High Point so I had been to the original Noble’s Grill which was formerly located downtown but closed and then basically (under same management but without Noble’s name) moved to High Point University’s campus as 1924 Prime Steakhouse. If you haven’t heard, High Point University is making a lot of noise as one of the best private schools in the state and I think they may already be winning in the food department.

I had been debating between a few entrees like smoked BBQ pork, the spit roasted Ashley Farms chicken, the wood grilled veal tenderloin  or even one of the fantastic sounding pizzas but I ended up ordering the pan seared Filet Mignon ($30) after my dad told me that it was one of the best steaks that he had ever had. It was damn good. It was served with Yukon mashed potatoes and wood roasted vegetables in a Bordelaise which were delicious. I think they used a little bit too much of the Bordelaise sauce which took the rest of the tastes in the dish hostage because it was so rich.

I think AK and my mom both ordered the spit roasted Ashley Farms chicken which looked delicious. It was a 1/2 chicken over creamy polenta and roasted asparagus with a jus sauce. I tried a bite of the chicken with some of the polenta and it was very tender with a great taste on the skin as well as a terrific flavor in the sauce. Both AK any my mom really enjoyed it and didn’t come close to finishing it.

Noble’s Grille is definitely an upscale bistro where drinks and food are a little pricey but it is a great place if you want to impress a date. They have a terrific selection of wine and a pretty decent selection of beer. I would go back for another special occasion dinner or to meet some friends for a drink or two before going out in Winston for the night. If I had bags of money, I would probably go once a month if I lived in the area but it is just way too hard to get out of there for less than $25 if you aren’t swimming in loot.

Noble's Grille on Urbanspoon

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