Wednesday, June 6, 2012

e2 Emeril's Eatery in Charlotte (Who Knew?!)

When you think of Charlotte, you may primarily think of the banking industry that is a major employer there.  However, over the last 5 years the city has really exploded, and visiting my brother has given me a first hand view of all the changes.  With the expansion of the city came a lot of restaurants, including ones you would expect to find in a much bigger city.  Most recently Emeril Lagasse opened up a new eatery - e2 Emeril's Eatery.  Like most people, I have heard a lot about Emeril but never actually had eaten at one of his restaurants, so when I was told we had reservations there on the Friday night of our arrival I was excited!

Next to the new Theatre in the Uptown area of Charlotte, e2 is sleek but comforting, with its huge open kitchen where you can watch the staff cooking up your meal.  We were sat straight away and immediately perused the cocktail menu.  With some fun combinations, Nick and I couldn't resist trying one.  Both were tasty without being overly sweet.  Could you imagine getting a moonshine cocktail up here in Boston?!

Prickly Moon - Local Moonshine, prickly pear juice, hibiscus syrup, lime juice and maraschino  liquor
Zydeco Punch - Pisco, apple pucker, elderflower syrup, lemon juice, bitters and ginger beer
Soon after our drinks were served, a basket of hot potato rolls and corn muffins arrived.  The bread is sourced from locally operated King's Bakery.  UPDATED!  These fantastic rolls and muffins are made in house by the pastry chef!! Thank you so much to Ellen for the correction - proper credit needs to be given for these guys. We couldn't help but get seconds on the potato rolls, they were soft, buttery and delicious - one the best I have ever had.

Potato Roll and Corn Muffin
When it came to ordering, we followed my brother's lead since he had been there twice before.  Even still, he has never had an entree because the raw bar and appetizer/small plates menu has so many delicious offerings that perfect for sharing.  Without batting an eye he ordered us a round of oyster shooters.  These were outstanding!  Had I looked at the menu I would not have tried it (due to the tomato water), but WOW!  The flavors were so strong and burst in my mouth.

Oyster Shooters with pickled melon, parsley oil and tomato water
Along with the oyster shooters, we had some marinated blue crab claws.  These small claws were totally prepped and cracked for easy eating.  These were a new flavor for me - I don't get much crab here in Boston.  The blue crab was similar to lobster but a bit lighter, flavored with lovely contrasting accents that highlighted the fresh shellfish.

Marinated Blue Crab Claws with olive oil, shallots, basil and balsamic
After a little breather, we were ready for round 2, starting with a delicious mussels dish.  The chorizo and corn added a yummy spice that the dish a wow factor and, for lack of a better phrase, kicked it up a notch! (sorry, I couldn't resist!).  This baguette is sourced from King's Bakery.

Wood Oven Roasted "Icy Blue" Mussels with Giacomo's chorizo, roasted garlic, corn, and King's bakery baguette
After having beef cheek here in Boston, I have been anxious to try it again in some way.  When I saw pork cheek on the menu, I wanted to make sure we got to try it (close enough, right?).  I'm so happy we did because the cheek was so tender and moist, and the dirty rice was flavorful, adding a great contrast to the richness of the meat.  On top of it all, every bite had a bright burst of the Brussels sprout and apple.

Confit Niman Ranch Pork Cheeks with dirty rice, apple and Brussels sprouts 
Since we were in the south, we could not resist getting some fried chicken.  This version was some of the best I have tasted - the golden friend crust was almost candy like, but in a delicious way.  The molasses added such a delicious flavor and made the texture of each bite amazing.  Sitting on top of a light homemade waffle and crisp slaw, this dish was too good to resist.

Fried Ashley Farm Chicken Thigh and housemade buckwheat waffle, slaw and sorghum molasses
We started our last round with the Grilled Octopus, which was cooked well - not too rubbery.  However, its accompaniments were only OK.  The dish did not work as well as the rest of our choices but was still tasty.

Chargrilled Spanish Octopus with chickpeas, oven dried tomatoes, frisee and oil cured olives 
My brother somehow had not tried the Ceviche in his previous trips and with the rave reviews of our server we had to get it.  Hands down, this was the best ceviche I have ever had.  The dish had a rich butteriness to it that I haven't experienced with a ceviche dish before.  This dish is a must try!  The only thing it needed was some chips to help get it to your mouth faster!

Ceviche Avelar, tomato, avocado, chili and lime
Finally, we got the Shrimp Pizza.  With the open wood burning fire in the kitchen, it was too tough to resist ordering the pizza.  The favors and toppings all worked together and crust was great with a nice char to the bottom.  That and I love pesto pizzas!

Shrimp Pizza with artichokes, fontina val d'aosta, white Cheddar and an herbed pesto
Finally, somehow, when I wasn't looking my brother and Nick ordered dessert.  Our waitress was talking up the banana bread pudding with dark chocolate ice cream, and since bread pudding happens to be one of Nick's favorite desserts we HAD to try it!  Of course it was delicious (I had to have a bite so that I could give a proper critique not matter how stuffed I was!)

Bread Pudding
This meal was fantastic.  Almost every dish was spot on and we didn't even touch the entrees!  It felt like we had an amazing tasting menu for dinner rather than a big meal.  My brother said that Emeril was actually behind the line when the restaurant first opened making sure that everything came out perfectly.  Obviously he did a great job because only a few short months after opening the kitchen is doing well and really has found its way.  Based on the restaurant alone, I would definitely seek out any of Emeril's other restaurants.  If you find yourself in Charlotte, I highly recommend a trip here.

E2 Emeril's Eatery on Urbanspoon


  1. Ooh, I want the dirty rice with brussels sprouts, and the bread pudding, and the corn muffins. I'd love to visit Charlotte!

  2. I have been to one of his restaurants in New Orleans! You sampled so much of the menu, it all looks incredible but you had me at moonshine and oyster shooters in tomato water!

  3. What an adventurous spread you guys got!! Sounds like a fantastic meal.

  4. Oh wow, this made my mouth water! Especially that pork cheek. And bread pudding!

  5. The moonshine drink and that pork cheek dish sound awesome! What a fun trip!

  6. This sounds like a fabulous meal, and a great combination of dishes to try! And that fried

  7. Wow - we're going to Charlotte for a long weekend in the fall and I seriously want to go here and order everything you got. Those cocktails look great and the oyster shooter, ceviche, blue crab, and pork cheek are a definite must! If you have any other must-see/do/eat advice for Charlotte, let me know!

  8. I stumbled onto your blog and what a great review! I live in Charlotte and e2 is fantastic. As a transplant from Southern California, we've been here a year and half and have wanted to find a restaurant that has the best of everything - fabulous food, eclectic wine list, innovative cocktails and e2 has it all! We're very happy they've come to Charlotte. Everything you reviewed is spot on. My favorite dish is a toss up between the Marrow Bone and the Pork Cheek :) I did want to make one comment though, the cornbread and the hot potato rolls (which I can't get enough of) are actually made in-house by e2 pastry chef - only the baguette that accompanies the mussels are sourced by King's Bakery.

    1. Thank you so much for the note! I updated the post to reflect your correction, the pastry chef deserves all credit in the world for these amazing rolls. I can't wait to head back for more!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...