Nestled inside of the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel, Flagstones Restaurant challenges your previous ideas of “hotel food” and serves up Southern-accented fare that will make you grateful it’s in your neighborhood. This hidden gem honors Charlotte’s culture by utilizing several local vendors, including The Goat Lady and Nova’s Bakery. Chef Leland Spence and Mixologist Morgan White challenge their genius every few months by creating seasonal menus that can rival any fine dining establishment. Two foodies attended a spectacular dinner and enjoyed the ambiance of the courtyard as well as the atrium.
Deconstructed Caprese Salad
Garlic Herb French Bread, Burrata Cheese, Watercress Petite Tomato Salad, Fig Balsamic Reduction, Basil Micro Greens
Cocktail: Fig Fizz Fig puree, Angostura bitters, champagne
Annie: I can never say no to Burrata Cheese! And Chef Leland’s addition of homemade fig balsamic reduction which blends a hint of sweet with the garlic herb from the French bread, is the cherry tomato on top. A great starter option that pairs perfectly with dry bubbles of the Fig Fizz Cocktail.
Daisy: This first dish set the bar for the food presentation. It was so pretty I wasn’t sure if I should eat it! Just kidding, food is meant to be eaten, that’s why we were there. The flavors were so bold that nothing was left out. The fig balsamic reduction was perfectly paired with the Fig Fizz Cocktail. Not a heavy starter and bursting with fresh flavor.
Turkey Reuben with Watermelon Jicama Salad
Slow Roasted Turkey Breast, Dill Havarti Cheese, Honey Mustard Cabbage Slaw, Nova’s Bakery Cranberry Pecan Bread
Cocktail: Hello Summer Blanco Tequila, Lillet Blanc, Lime juice, watermelon juice, agave nectar, salt, pepper, chili powder
Annie: This sandwich was a highlight for me. Served with slow roasted turkey breast, the subtle flavor of the Dill Havarti Cheese mixes well with the sweet and tangy combination of the Honey Mustard cabbage slaw. And it gets better … the Hello Summer Cocktail is not only adorable; it’s sweetness of watermelon and agave nectar provides a refreshing tart taste. The tequila is not overpowering and I could sip on this drink all night long and not regret it in the morning!
Daisy: I don’t usually enjoy Reuben’s, but I usually like to try them again and again just to make sure I’m not missing out on anything. You’re missing out if you don’t get this sandwich. It’s a perfect mix of flavors; none overpowering the other. The Watermelon Jicama Salad is a very thoughtful pairing. Since the sandwich is hearty, the salad complements the dish very well. It’s not often something other than greens is offered up so taking the opportunity is ideal. The Hello Summer Cocktail enhances the lightness of the salad while continuing to balance the sandwich. This grouping was my favorite.
Southern Fried Green Tomato
Vine Ripe Tomato Onion Jam, Roasted Red Pepper Goat Lady Smoked Goat Cheese Aioli, Micro Greens
Cocktail: One tomato, Two tomato Tomato water, gin, ginger liqueur, Lillet blanc, orange bitters, simple syrup, lemon juice
Annie: A Southern institution, this dish adds a twist to a traditional fried green tomato by adding a roasted red pepper Goat Lady smoked goat cheese aioli. The thin coating of breading preserves the sweetness and juiciness of the tomato. My favorite thing about the paired cocktail, One Tomato, Two Tomato, is its use of tomato water, making it less concentrated than a traditional tomato based cocktail. Made with gin, this cocktail is a welcome addition to the summer menu.
Daisy: I don’t think I ever get used to this being on a menu, but I should because it’s a Southern staple. The tomatoes were breaded so well and in a way that the tomato wasn’t soggy. I find goat cheese to always be too overpowering for me so I brushed most of it off. In doing so, I could avoid a dish that simply tasted like goat cheese since I know I’m sensitive. Again, the presentation was spectacular here. The cocktail was much lighter than I anticipated. The two paired well together and was another lighter dish and cocktail combination that would work well as an appetizer or small dish.
Baby Back Ribs
Peach Bbq Baby Back Ribs – Southern Collard Greens – Cajun Creamed Corn
Cocktail: Everything’s Just Peachy Bourbon, peach schnapps, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, simple syrup, basil
Annie: “Bourbon is the best friend of a rich red meat,” Morgan explains as she creates Everything’s Just Peachy. Flavored with the essence of peach and basil shaken into the cocktail, this cocktail has you smelling the flavors before you’re drinking them. Sometimes I steer away from ribs as I find them overpowered by too much BBQ sauce, but Chef Leland changed all that with these peach flavored BBQ baby back ribs. The meat literally falls off the bone and the sweetness of the sauce mixes well with the slight hint of jalapeño. The bourbon based cocktail is the perfect compliment.
Daisy: Woah. Just impressive. The meat slid off the bone and then surprised you with a nice kick in the sauce while enjoying. This is not something I would normally order, but was so impressed. And that corn? Let’s just go ahead and add that to everything. The dish packed a lot of spicy-punch which was cleared away with the deep smooth punch of the bourbon. Could not agree more with Morgan that Bourbon and red meat are basically best friends.
Colossal Tiger Prawns, Garden Vegetable Boursin Parmesan Risotto
Cocktail: Berry Good Lemonade Lemon vodka, homemade sweet and sour mix, blueberries, club soda
Annie: Delicately grilled to perfection, these colossal tiger prawns are served atop a smooth blend of garden vegetable Boursin Parmesan Risotto. The hints of cheese flavor in the risotto mix well with the summer garden vegetables. It’s a filling risotto which is complemented by the lightness of the grilled shrimp. In my opinion, the Berry Good Lemonade Cocktail is Morgan’s finest creation yet. Served in adorable coupe, or Marilyn Monroe glasses, this cocktail features Flagstone’s house made sweet and sour mix and Deep Eddy’s lemon vodka. Morgan shares, “it’s the perfect summer sipper.” Perfect to enjoy out on the Renaissance’s charming courtyard patio housing Mr. Marriott’s favorite live oak in the center.
Daisy: Another winning presentation – the shrimp sit so nicely on top of the risotto it’s as if the two were always meant to be enjoyed together. The risotto is on the heavy side; the Boursin flavoring is not subtle. And then you enjoy some of that cocktail. Take this dish and drink into the atrium. You need to feel as if you’re in a summer oasis. Even if it’s a bit hot outside, the courtyard would be even better. You will cool down with the berry good lemonade. Maybe even a few. It may be possible that you will need a room upstairs if you enjoy the summertime perfection.
Turtle Cheesecake with Kissed Caramel Cocktail
Chantilly Cream – Fresh Seasonal Berries
Cocktail: Kissed Caramel Cocktail Caramel vodka, cinnamon cream liqueur
Annie: This delicious turtle cheesecake is the perfect balance of flavors: not too rich and not too sweet. Topped with nuts for the perfect sweet and salty combination. The Kissed Caramel Cocktail keeps it simple by mixing caramel vodka and Rum Chata; cue visions of white sand beaches and clear blue water. This cocktail is sweet enough to serve as your dessert if you just need something sweet to finish the night.
Daisy: Decadent. Does anything else really matter? Some days you want a nice creamy drink – and this is it. Unlike the berry good lemonade, you will probably only want one of these. It’s rich and sweet, but not too sweet to avoid the turtle cheesecake. These two are meant to be paired at the end of your meal. Or maybe to take back to your room. We won’t tell!