Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Farm to Table fresh at Block & Grinder

Name: Block & Grinder
Location: Charlotte, NC
Price: $$-$$$

A few months ago I heard that Block & Grinder was going to open. When I heard the concept I was intrigued. I was told it would be a farm to table restaurant with a butcher shop that would also have wild game on the menu. In the butcher shop part they planned to sell sausage and other charcuterie that was made on premises. It sounded wonderful. My family and I happened to be in the area so decided to give it a try. I'm glad we did.

First Impression
We arrived right around five pm so the restaurant was mostly empty and the servers and chefs were doing last minute prep for the dinner rush. When you walk in you're greeted by a fresh meat counter where you can buy meat to take home. Across from the meat counter is a full service bar. The kitchen is open to the dinning room so you can see your chefs and in the back are floor to ceiling wine racks with a nice collection of wine to take care of any palette. It is clean and has an intimate feel to it, almost like small French boucherie.

Our waiter was very good. She took our drink orders quickly and let us have time to look over the menu. We had quite a few questions and she was able to answer them all. She knew where the pork for the sausage was from, how the duck was prepared and what meats the chefs combined for the meatloaf. She was able to recommend items to eat and knew what they tasted like. She was also able to describe the items on the charcuterie platter and the flavors of each. In a restaurant like this it is nice to have a knowledgeable waiter that knows about the food and can sell it. The other waiters also pitched in to make sure our drinks stated full and our dirty dishes were removed.

We started with charcuterie platter of prosciutto, a farm cheese and a pork rillettes. The prosciutto was made from Berkshire pork which is a heritage pig. It was salty, porcine goodness that melted in your mouth. I could have eaten a whole platter of it. The farm cheese was similar to a white cheddar but not as sharp. It was creamy and good. They drizzled Cloister Honey on it which only enhanced the natural saltiness with the sweet of the honey. The rillettes was good. None of us had ever tried one before and we enjoyed it. It would have been better a littler warmer and more spreadable. That would have made it easier to eat on the crustenies.

My wife had the duck, one of my girls and I had the burgers and my other daughter had mac and cheese.

The duck was served with a bread pudding and in a wine sauce. It was rich and flavorful. The bread pudding was very much like a stuffing in consistency & taste. I imagined it to be sweeter but the savoriness of it paired very well with the mild flavor of the duck & sweetness of the sauce. The duck was very moist & perfectly cooked.

The burgers were cooked perfectly. I ordered a medium burger and that's what I got. Many times at restaurants when you order medium you end up with medium well or well. Not here. The burger had a nice brown exterior with a perfect medium pink in the middle. It was delightful.

The mac and cheese is a great three cheese blend. It is rich and thick and creamy with a little crunch on top.

Overall Impression
We really enjoyed this restaurant and would recommend it to our friends and family. It is a nice addition to the Charlotte food scene. With fresh food that tastes great, a knowledgeable staff, and a great wine selection the Block and Grinder gets a Full Rack of Ribs on the Gibbs Ribs Scale*.

*When I do reviews, books or otherwise, I rate the items with ribs (they are my favorite BBQ dish). A full rack is great and a single rib is poor. I will tend to stick to a full rack, half rack or one rib

Block & Grinder on Urbanspoon

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