On Sunday, my friend and fellow blogger, Wendie (aka PantryDoctor) and I made the quick hour and a half drive to the Queen City for a Charlotte Blogger Meet-up with Joey Hodges of HodgePodges and her pals.
The Gallery at Southend
Our meeting spot, The Gallery at Southend, was rocking! Owner, Ana Amigo Antonio danced from person to person welcoming us like we were her longtime girlfriends. The cafe is reminiscent of someone’s very large closed in side porch. It’s bright and lovely and the walls are covered with paitings by the owner’s husband, artists William Antonio. The weather was teasing fall and gorgeous, and the doors were open, so people were spilling out onto the porch, dancing in small groups to the music spun by the Sunday afternoon DJ. We sipped on both white and red sangria, noshed on olives, cheese, fruit and chicken salad sandwiches, and got to know our NC blogger girls.
Our host, Joey Hodges, recently moved back to Charlotte and realized there were so many bloggers around her that she should start a meet-up group. Greenville doesn’t have a blogger group (I’m working on it), so Wendie and I were all over meeting our pals north of the border. It was great to meet you, ladies!
The Gallery is open for breakfast lunch and afternoon coffee and drinks. It’s a fusion of French, Japanese and American fare. A great place to land for a gathering of friends, or to settle in and work for a while. They are located at 1320 S. Church Street, Charlotte.
When Wendie mentioned we were thinking of eating dinner at Soul GastroLounge, our new blogger friends couldn’t say enough of the place. This hip little Charlotte restaurant has been holding strong since opening in 2009. It’s located in Midwood, one of the up-and-coming outcroppings of downtown. The menu is a spread of creative sushi, tapas style dishes from across the globe, and sophisticated cocktails. After 10pm, the intimate date night hot spot starts thumping when the DJ starts spinning tunes.
If a chef could create a man cave, this would be it. It is private cigar/bourbon club (minus cigars) meets swanky hunting lodge, with a hint of hipster and dash of dive bar.
The menu blew me away. It’s risky to try transverse the globe on one menu, but it works here. We were told the Asian Glazed Pork Belly Tacos with Watermelon were a must. The pork belly was perfectly crisp on the outside. This was our FAVORITE dish. I could eat this every day.
I couldn’t resist trying Bone Marrow for the first time, either.
And the Shells and Cheese just screamed comfort. The BBQ glazed pork belly stuffed shells were baked in a creamy white American cheese sauce, and topped with sharp white cheddar and bacon fat cornbread crumble. After we devoured the shells, there was tons of cheese left over. We ordered bread. We weren’t leaving that cheese behind!
This was one of those rare meals that starts off great and ends great. It’s a solid gold dining experience, not just because the food was challenging or because the hospitality was unbeatable… it’s because the menu was surprising, the drinks were detailed and delicious, the music was great, the seat was comfortable, the waiter was funny and helpful, and because the cupcake of the day (chocolate with peanut butter cream cheese icing) might be one of the best I’ve eaten in my life. I can’t wait to get back to this place to knock out more of the menu!
And when you walk out the door? The gorgeous downtown Charlotte skyline beams on the horizon. Soul GastroLounge is located at 1500-B Central Avenue, Charlotte.