Passion8 Bistro

Passion8 has been one of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte for the past several years. While the outside may lead you to believe it’s not fancy (an old brothel), the inside will surprise you with an intimate setting, creative dishes and a farm-to-table experience. While technically in Fort Mill, I would consider this one of Charlotte’s finer dining experiences.

IMG_2953They proudly list where their food comes from so you can be sure of where your food is coming from. They do try to get everything locally (seafood being the exception!). The chefs are amazing at creating dishes that you would never have imagined on your own, like peach gazpacho soup as an appetizer. Although they are famed for their calamari (it’s a must have on your first visit!).

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On our last visit, I had the culotte and my husband had fish. We both devoured our dishes in a matter of minutes. They were THAT good.

IMG_2960I forgot to mention how incredible the cocktails are. The creativity certainly doesn’t stop with the food, their libations make you want to try one of each!

IMG_2954Never have we been to Passion8 and not had dessert. I usually opt for whatever is chocolatey on the menu and my husband goes for the fruit desserts. Neither was a disappointment.

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IMG_2962I am so excited that Passion8 is moving from Fort Mill to the Elizabeth neighborhood in September and we’ll have this deliciousness that much closer to us. Go ahead and make your reservations now, once the secret is out, I think it’s going to be hard to find a table! Not many other restaurants can compete with Passion8; I’d put it on the same level with Bernardin’s, Halcyon and The Fig Tree.

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Nikko Nom Nom Nom

Nikko has been one of my favorite sushi places since arriving in Charlotte. As long as you don’t go on Friday nights, you can have a pretty peaceful dinner. On Fridays, it gets a little rowdy with tambourines, club music and lights. We went for dinner on a Sunday and the place was practically empty.

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Normally, I would recommend a reservation but I don’t think it was needed that night.

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We each ordered a martini to start with and the shrimp rolls. They were pretty good (although too hot to eat upon arriving at our table). I would have selected a non-fried dish but our waiter recommended these.

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For our meal, we decided to split three rolls. They were all delicious but I would probably choose something other than the spicy tuna next time. That’s our “go-to” roll but Nikko offers so many special rolls that it’s worth stepping outside the box.

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VIP roll

Those jalapeños were as hot as they look. Luckily, our waiter made sure our waters were ALWAYS full.

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Dragonfly Roll

Three rolls were the perfect amount for two people to split (plus the appetizer). It was kind of nice to have the place to ourselves too and all of our waiter’s attention. This was by far one of my more enjoyable experiences at Nikko.

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I will say that it’s a fun place to go with groups of 6-8 people. That’s a great time to try a bunch of rolls and you get to sit in the bigger, cooler tables. Make sure to let them know if you’re there for an anniversary, bachelorette, etc., they are great with surprise desserts.

 

A night in the Biergarten!

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is famed for their german style brauhaus and brews. Just last weekend, they opened their new facility which is about a gazillion times as big (and beautiful) as the old warehouse style brewery. 

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Sticking to their traditional German style beers and not adding in jalapeños, peaches or thyme like some of our other local breweries, Olde Meck has their own niche within Charlotte’s world of breweries. 

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Copper is a long time favorite beer in the Queen City, as well as their Captain Jack Pilsner. Occasionally, they’ll introduce a new beer, such as their anniversary beer or the recent Southside Weiss, but they never venture outside of their German roots. So if you’re looking for quadruple hops or fun flavors, go hang out at Unknown, NoDa or Birdsong. If you want a classic taste and style, you’ll want to check out Olde Meck.

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The new Brauhaus is strikingly gorgeous. It’s decorated perfectly to match their style, with old barrels for tables, stunning wood everywhere and a crisp look and feel.

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There is plenty of room to move around in the new place without feeling crowded, and if you don’t want to go inside, there’s an amazing outside biergarten that awaits you. 

IMG_3841There’s a self-serve station in the biergarten for ordering food and drinks, and plenty of seating. This will be HUGE when Mecktoberfest and their other festivals happen. Plenty of room for not just standing, but there’s actual seating! Not into sitting down? Feel free to play cornhole or bring your pup and play in the yard (just be careful, it’s not totally fenced in!). Be sure to join them for one of their Wine & Design nights, Yoga on Tuesdays (6:30 PM), or music on Fridays. 

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Kudos to OMB on their new space. It’s perfectly designed and absolutely spectacular. I know great things will happen here for years to come. 

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While it’s not technically Southend as it’s classified in some places (more Steele Creek-ish), it’s worth spending an afternoon indulging in German beers and enjoying the feeling of being in the city but outside of it at the same time. Prost! 

 

90’s Night!

Decked out in denim and sunflowers (my husband in a Nirvana shirt and ripped jeans, my friend in flannel) we ventured out for Discovery Place’s Science on the Rocks (#SOTR) night last Friday. The theme this week was 90’s Throwback and was complete with 90’s music, plenty of flannel and even 90’s trivia (think Friends, Homeward Bound and Bill Clinton). Science on the Rocks is basically adults night at Discovery Place and alcohol is served (must be 21+ to attend).

IMG_3610Upon entering, we were given slap bracelets and pointed in the direction of one of the four bars. The bars upstairs were rather crowded but downstairs was pretty empty.

IMG_3626It was pretty neat to see this place at night and not crawling with kids. Although, there were definitely some “adults” who could have passed for children. The biggest attraction was the bed of nails…

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Which was far more exciting than the Air Chair…

IMG_3603It seemed exciting but the release was slow and disappointing. Giant pong was being played in the middle of the floor, which brought college memories flooding back to us all. Except this actually required skill to sling it into the bucket.

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The rope climb was fun with stations for “hard”, “harder” and “hardest” (which was actually pretty darn hard!).

IMG_3577Giant tug-o-war was also available, as well as a disc-toss (remember all those AOL CDs you used to get in the mail?).

IMG_3620We did actually venture around and try to “discover” new things. We built a structure that could withstand an earthquake without TOO much structural damage, and checked out the cyborgs…

IMG_3588Throughout the night we kept hearing sporadic and LOUD booms. We finally made our way over to the corner were Ace Ventura was serving liquid nitrogen wine slushies. Yes, you read that right, and yes, it was delicious.

IMG_3608I highly recommend checking out Science on the Rocks next month when it’s offered. It’s a great Friday-night date-night idea, and you’re right uptown so you can grab a bite to eat afterwards.

Be sure to follow @whenincharlotte on Instagram and Twitter for more photos,  updates and events!

Thrill seekers unite!

The USNWC or Whitewater Center is one of Charlotteans favorite spots to visit. Whether you’re looking for trails, flatwater kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, a zip line or rafting, you can find it here.

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Even if you’re not into adventurous activities, you can sit on the lawn and listen to music on Thursday nights during their River Jam series.

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The Whitewater central is a great location for festivals, which they hold several of throughout the year. The Brew Stash is one of the best. You can sample craft beer, enjoy music and sunshine and watch the rafters float by. TuckFest is another popular festival, as well as St. Patrick’s Day when they dye the water green.

IMG_0021Parking has improved over time, but you can still expect to wait and have to park far away from the entrance on days like the 4th of July. It’s $5 to park or $40 for an annual pass. It’s worth the wait on those days where the line of cars seems to never end. There are a million things to do there depending on how active you are. I personally like to run the lake loop trail and then relax wtih a craft beer before flatwater kayaking.

IMG_3373The trails are full of runners and bikers, but most are courteous and get out of the way/let you know they’re behind you. Smart to take bug spray and sunscreen with you no matter what you’re doing.

IMG_3685The lake loop is the easiest trail with very few hills. I ran a 5K last year on North trail and found myself surprised with the narrowness of the trail and some of those hills. Recently River Jam Run series was started with 1, 3, and 6 mile runs on Thursday evenings at 6:15. The Lake Loop has nice scenery, including (as it’s name states) a lake. Visit the website to see if the trails are open (they close when it rains a lot), or find them on Twitter at @usnwctrails.

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You can get a Quick Sport ($20-25) pass if you just want to do one thing (running/walking the trails is free, as is biking if you bring your own bike). A Cool Sport ($44) pass if you want to do all flatwater and land activities (no rafting!). Or you can get the All-Sport pass which includes rafting for $54. The better deal here is to get the season pass, if you come back 3 times, you’ve basically paid it off. The season pass and All-sport pass don’t include the canopy tour, but cover everything else that you might want to do.

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I love the recent addition of rock climbing for kids. There aren’t many activities kids under 4 feet tall can do (or under 45 lbs.), so be prepared to entertain the little ones if they are tagging along. River Jam is a fun time for the whole family, as are Saturday evenings when music is also played.

IMG_3690There are several places to get beverages and food. The market is a quick-grab type place (think Cliff bars and canned beers), there are outside bars and the trail center that also serve, and then the River’s Edge Grill. The food isn’t amazing but then again, it wasn’t built to be a 5-star restaurant. The restaurant is there to service hungry thrill seekers. The menu sounds much more creative than the food actually is but it’s definitely edible.

IMG_3689I actually recommend going down to the trail center to get beer if you’re there on a crowded day. You’ll be surprised at how much faster the process is!

IMG_3711If you haven’t been to the USNWC by now, you should definitely go. Make a whole day of it and try anything and everything. It’s a spectacular adventure-land to have just outside of our little city. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

A central location for pints

On Sunday, we were starving and couldn’t decide where to eat. So after driving through NoDa, Elizabeth, and Uptown, we landed on Plaza Midwood and Pint Central (thanks, Yelp!).pc5

We had browsed the menu before going in and decided we would share some tapas. The beer list is overwhelming in a good way. Lots of local craft beer, lots of not-so-local craft beer, and then of course, your watery domestics.

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We started with Beef Tenderloin and Chargrilled Brussel Sprouts. Can we say, “Yum”? They were both delicious. The sprouts were a tad filling when shared between 2 people, but the tenderloin was perfect.

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We decided to get something more “meal” feeling for our second round. I selected the buffalo wings (8 for $8), and my husband got the sliders. They were both delicious, but the sliders definitely won that round. The wings were your typical wings (but good!).

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I really wanted to try their desserts made wtih NoDa Jam Session (bread pudding) or Highland Mocha Stout (cheesecake), but since it was lunch and I’m trying not to be such a fat-kid, we skipped dessert this time.

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Super impressed with this gem we stumbled upon. We’ll definitely be back and hope to enjoy some sunshine on one of their patios before summer is over!

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Roll Ten

Sunday, we chose to go bowling at Park Lanes instead of spending the day in the heat.

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This was my first time inside the bowling alley and I was surprised at the modern decor!

PLinsideI was also surprised at how expensive it is to bowl. For 2 games and 2 pair of shoes, it was $33. We ended up tacking a third game on to that number. We also indulged in some NC beers while we were there. They do have servers that will walk around and take your order, so that’s nice.

PLsideIt was pretty busy to be a Sunday afternoon, so we had bowlers on either side of us. I was impressed with the collection of balls they had and how on top of the service they were. They had some really nice features for kids, in addition to the bumpers we all used as kids, they had a contraption that the kid could role the ball down to pick up some speed.

PLlanesMy only complaint was that our pins had a hard time reloading after a strike. They told me to use a heavier ball but that didn’t help solve the problem. Oh well, we had a blast, got nowhere near 300 and realized how much easier bowling is on the Wii.

PL hubsDefinitely worth checking out if you have a group of friends to go or just want to do something on a rainy day. Don’t forget your socks!