Category: Tapas

Six Plates Wine Bar (Dinner) »

The Basics

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Cuisine: American Tapas
Ambiance: Modern Chic
Address: 2812 Erwin Rd, Suite 104, Durham, NC 27705
Neighborhood: Duke
Phone: 919.321.0203
Web Site: http://www.sixplates.com/
Must Taste (Dinner):

  • Wine: Six Plates is a wine bar! Try the suggested pairing for the dish(es) you select.
  • Side: Flavored popcorn of the day – taste the unique flavor offering – I’ve never seen popcorn like the popcorn served at Six Plates.
  • Tapas: Lamby Joes – this is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Ground meats with fennel seed on ciabatta rolls make for a light tapas good for sharing between 2 people.
  • Tapas: Flatbread of the Evening – I loved the texture of the flatbread and the toppings were a big hit, too!

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Best For: Date, Group Outing (with friends or co-workers)
What to Wear: casual-dressy (no tennis shoes) to dressy
Good to Know: the restaurant doesn’t have traditional waiters. Sit at the bar if you want more interaction or help.
Fave Points: Unique dishes, small portions, suggested wine pairings, and especially the restaurant’s use of as many local ingredients as possible.
My Fave Dish: My fave dish came as a bit of a surprise to me. Turns out the Flatbread of the Evening (we got a flabread with a chickpea puree with local tomatoes, a cheddar cheese and a yogurt sauce) was my fave so far. The dish seemed quite simple, but the flavors went together so nicely. I thought the dish was flavorful but light and a delight for my palate.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

I met up with a girlfriend for a girls’ dinner out at Six Plates Wine Bar in Durham, NC.

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I loved the modern ambiance inside and the black, white, and red color combination.

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I enjoyed the lighting inside – especially the chandelier.

Upon entering the restaurant, we were promptly greeted with a friendly smile from the owner, Matt, who helped us during our dining adventure for the evening.

Since the restaurant doesn’t have traditional waiters, and this was a first visit for both my friend and me, we decided to grab a seat at the bar.

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We started with one of the restaurant’s signature dishes – The “Tenured” Lamby Joes.

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Two mini sandwiches with ground meat, fennel seed, and lettuce on tiny ciabatta rolls. I thought these made a great starter for the meal and were perfect to share between the two of us.

Next up, we ordered the steak.

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We each had a glass of the Olivares Monastrell “Altos de la Hoya” Jumilla, Spain, which was the suggested wine pairing for the steak plate. I thought it was a great wine.

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Not too long after, our steak dish came out – braeburn farms sirloin – local asparagus hash | fig demi glace sauce. The steak was super tender and I loved the fig sauce. A nice savory-sweet combination.

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Matt surprised us by sending out the Tuna Tartar Tower on the house – My friend and I were on the fence about trying this one, but it was quite good (if you like raw tuna). The tuna was paired with jicama, avocado, and a lovely mango vanilla vinaigrette.

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We also ordered a small cup of the bacon-flavored popcorn because we were so intrigued by the idea of the uniquely-flavored popcorn. It was gooood!

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For our final (savory) dish of the night, we got the flatbread of the evening, which had a chickpea puree with local tomatoes, a cheddar cheese and a yogurt sauce. I think the flatbread was my fave dish of the night – it surprised me the most with its interesting combination of ingredients and light yet tasty flavor.

Next up…dessert!

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My friend and I each got a glass of the dessert wine – Robertson Winery Late Harvest Gewurtzraminer South Africa. I really enjoyed the dessert wine, and I don’t usually do dessert wines.

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While deciding on dessert, we perused the gelato menu, which had so many interesting flavors, I wanted to try one of each.

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Instead of trying to try all the gelatos, I settled on swapping out the goat cheese gelato in the dessert we ordered for the thai basil gelato. As for dessert, we ordered the Strawberry Shortcake. I had visions of fluffy, biscuit-y shortcake floating through my head as I waited for our dessert to arrive, so I was surprised to see a modern take on the dessert with a flaky nest of batter in lieu of the cake-like base I typically see. Though it wasn’t what I was expecting, I thought the shortcake “nest” was pretty cool and made for a fun presentation. Dessert was light and delicious.

Final Dish

Check out Six Plates Wine Bar in Durham, NC for a new take on tapas-style dinner. Choose from the six, seasonal tapas dishes offered or try one of their other dishes (flatbread, lamby joes, or olive plate). The wine pairings for each plate make choosing a wine extra easy for the amateur wine drinker. Those more experienced in the wine department may make their own selection from the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Additional drink options are available for the non-winos.

Try the Flatbread of the Evening and be sure to save room for dessert. Six Plates offers several unique gelato flavors like Olive Oil, Guinness, and Yuzu (yea, those really are gelato flavors).

Choose a seat at the bar for a more interactive experience or make your way to one of the swanky arm chairs if you want to get cozy. Either way, spend an evening at Six Plates to enjoy interestingly-delicious food paired with great drinks and escape in the modern-chic ambiance.

D’Vine Wine Cafe (Dinner) »

The Basics

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Cuisine: American + Tapas
Ambiance: Intimate Chic
Address: 14815 John J. Delaney Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28277
Neighborhood: Ballantyne
Phone: 704.369.5050
Web Site: http://www.dvinewinecafe.com/
Must Taste (Dinner):

  • Small Plate: Lobster, Crab, and Corn Fritters – $11 – Sort of like crab cakes with lobster, served with warm apple chutney – this is a great tapas-style plate for sharing.
  • Small Plate: Apple and Fig Toasted Bread + Melted Brie – $6 – This savory/sweet combo makes a great appetizer or tapas-style plate for a group. The flavor combination is simple but tasty and the melty brie is the best part.
  • Drink: Wine Flight – prices vary – When in Rome…if you’re in a restaurant that has “wine” in its name, you should probably go with the wine. If you like to sample, go for a wine flight. Otherwise, make a selection from their extensive wine list. Owner Terry Miller is a wine collector and medal winning wine maker, so he really knows how to pick the cream of the crop.
  • Dessert: Cheesecake – $6 – Three mini cheesecakes in Vanilla Bean, Black Berry, and Chocolate. I had a hard time picking a favorite flavor because they were all so good, but I had a good time trying.

Pricing Samples (Dinner):

  • Small Plates: $6 – $11
  • Main Course: $5-$19

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Best For: Romantic Date, Group Outing (with friends or co-workers)
What to Wear: nice casual (not tennis shoes) to dressy
Fave Points: Huge wine selection, delicious eats, cozy chairs in the lounge area
My Fave Dish: Those yummy cheesecakes – they were relatively light for cheesecakes, which is always impressive, but the flavor combos really got my attention.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

I met up with five of my girlfriends for a group outing to D’Vine Wine Cafe for a special birthday celebration over good eats and great wine.

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Inside D’Vine there was wine everywhere proudly on display…what a selection!?

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The tables were simply decorated and the ambiance was tastefully modern.

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We all ordered wine to start our meal, with most of us ordering flights to get a good feel for some new wines.

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I ordered the Interesting Whites Flight.

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The wine flight carriers were unlike any I’ve seen before – so neat.

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Though there were some interesting entrees on the menu, we decided to go for a tapas-style dinner by sharing a few different dishes. We started with the spinach salad. We got 2 orders and the restaurant kindly split the 2 orders among 5 bowls – 1 for each of us.

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They even put the dressing on the side. The salads were really good and I enjoyed the dressing.

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After the salad, we ordered a bunch of different plates.

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A cheese plate (you get your choice of 3 from a list of 6 options from around the world)

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Hummus – 3 flavors served with warm pita. I normally shy away from things I think I can make at home, but the flavors in the hummus were really intriguing – I’d definitely order this one again.

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We got extra bread.

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Apple and Fig – loved this savory/sweet combo with the melty brie cheese.

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Lobster, Crab, and Corn Fritters – served with warm apple chutney. I’m a big fan of crab cakes and these were sort of like crab cakes with a slightly different flavor but same great concept. Go for this if you like crab cakes and lobster.

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Seared Scallops – in a Thai coconut sauce. It’s hard to go wrong with scallops to begin with, but the sauce really made this dish extra yummy.

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The sliders (kobe beef, turkey, and tuna) served with your choice of bean salad or chips. Again, I’m loving the flavor options and ability to try different flavors in one dish – beef to turkey to tuna…nice. Go for the bean salad if you want something more unique – the chips are pretty tried and true.

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A birthday dinner wouldn’t be complete without dessert. We first ordered the Kilwin’s Chocolate Tasting, which contains an assortment of chocolates from the Ballantyne Village chocolatier, including fudge.

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My personal favorite was the cheesecake trio – 3 cheese cakes in chocolate, black berry, and vanilla. All these flavor are different and delicious at the same time. I loved the presentation of the cheesecake mini-towers with fresh berries and chocolate pieces. The cheesecakes were the perfect end to our meal.

Final Dish

D’Vine Wine Cafe is more than a wine bar, this place has an incredible selection of eats in addition to their amazing collection of wines. Whether you’re looking for some small plates to snack on over wine or a full-on dinner, D’Vine has you covered with some truly delicious options, from crab cakes to cheesecakes.

If you’re looking for some interesting and unique flavor combinations, give D’Vine a try and maybe go for the Wild Boar Tenderloin or the Chocolate Dessert Sushi – you’re not easily going to find that elsewhere in Charlotte.

If you’re looking for a quiet evening, hit up D’Vine earlier in the week around Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday through the weekend is usually chock full of exciting events – from wine tastings to live bands. For more action, visit the restaurant closer to the weekends and check out D’Vine’s event calendar to learn more about their special events like the American Cancer Society Benefit this Thursday, 6/11/09, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Join the Connoissuer Club to be kept in the loop of D’Vine’s latest happenings.

From entertainment, to great wines, to awesome eats, D’Vine Wine Cafe has a lot to offer.

Sole Spanish Grill (Dinner) »

The Basics

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Cuisine: Spanish + Tapas
Ambiance: Intimate
Address: 1608 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
Neighborhood: Dilworth
Phone: 704.544.7918
Web Site: http://www.solespanishgrille.com/main.htm
Must Taste (Dinner):

  • Tapas: Gambas Picantes – Shrimp in a spicy tomato broth. This is no longer on the tapas menu, but they can make it upon special request. I highly recommend it if you like shrimp dishes with a spicy twist. Use the leftover sauce as a dip for your bread.
  • Tapas: Patatas Bravas – $6 – from the menu: “fried potatoes with a mildly spicy alioli sauce.” The sauce was quite creamy (possibly mayonnaise-based) so it’s a little rich, but full of flavor. I love it.
  • Drink: Pitcher of Sangria – though the sangria is a bit on the expensive side when sold by the pitcher, the pitcher contains quite a bit of sangria and no ice or fruit. The fruit is served in a cup with ice which you can fill with the yummy sangria of the restaurant – the flavor is awesome. Should you choose the pitcher, be prepared to drink up! Perhaps I’m a lightweight, but my friend and I struggled just a bit to finish the pitcher between the 2 of us.
  • Dessert: Tres Leches – one of my fave Charlotte desserts. This dessert is deceptively simple in flavors with a milky, almost vanilla-like taste (vanilla as in simple…the cake doesn’t take much like vanilla to me). The first time I had this, I thought the first bites were pretty plain, but if you’re not careful, you’ll unwittingly fall in love with the dessert like I did. Luckily, the other restaurants (Miro, Zen Asian Fusion) under the same owners serve this dessert, too.

Pricing Samples (Dinner):

  • Tapas: $3 – $9
  • Dinner: $11-$22

Best For: Romantic Date, Group Outing (with friends or co-workers)
What to Wear: nice casual (not tennis shoes) to dressy
Fave Points: Cozy patio and the fact that I always have a hard time picking between tapas and full entrees when I go here – too many good options
My Fave Dish: This is a tough choice between the Gambas Picantes and the Tres Leches dessert, but I’m going to have to go Gambas Picantes because it’s the first thing I think of every time I go to Sole.

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

My friend from San Francisco was visiting for the weekend and I wanted to take her somewhere “chill” with a real local feel for her first dinner with us.

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Hubby and I decided on Sole, one of our local faves, so we took our friend on over in search of Spanish tapas. We really wanted to sit out on the patio to take advantage of the warm April night, but there was a bit of a wait, so we headed over to the bar area for some sangria.

My friend and I split a pitcher of sangria while my husband started on some beer. We were a little surprised to find out that the pitcher was almost $30, but we did get a lot of sangria out of it. Seriously, the pitcher was all sangria, no ice or fruit taking up space – our fruit and ice were served in our glasses when the pitcher was delivered, so you get your bang for your buck if you’re ready to drink a fair amount. If you just want a little sangria, you may want to order by the glass.

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As someone who refuses to put their purse on the floor, I was very thankful for the hooks just under the bar where we could hang our purses while we waited for our patio table.

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Soon enough, our table was ready and we headed out to the patio area to enjoy dinner. I thought patio area was really cute – especially the lighting.

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We started dinner with some hot rolls and butter. I thought the (free) bread was nice because I’ve noticed a lot of places seem to want to charge you for bread these days.

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When it came to picking out tapas, I quickly scanned the menu for my personal favorite: the Gambas Picantes tapas. I was sad to see it wasn’t on the tapas menu any more, but more than happy when the owner told me they could still make it. Phew!

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We also got another of our faves: the Patatas Bravas, which have a slighty-spicy alioli sauce – a bit on the creamy side, but I really like it.

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We also went with an order of the ever classic Empanadas (from the menu: “Traditional Spanish turnovers with beef“), which were very good with that yummy, crunchy outside.

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And, to round things out, we also ordered the Croquetas de Pollo – from the menu: “Chicken croquettes.” The croquettes were pretty good, but I thought they were slightly on the bland side along with the accompanying sauce. This tapas was probably my least favorite of the group but probably because everything else was so amazing. Not to mention, it’s hard to compete when you have a tried and true go-to dish, like me and the Gambas Picantes. Regardless, I’d order these chicken croquettes again.

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Though we didn’t order that many tapas for 3 people, I was, personally, saving room for dessert. When we decided to go to Sole for dinner I had 2 things in mind: 1. that shrimp tapas and 2. the Tres Leches. The Tres Leches cake is one of my favorite desserts in all of Charlotte. I remember the first time I ordered it, I got it because the menu touted that the dessert had won a “Best of” award. I thought the first couple bites were rather simple and wondered what the big deal was. However, as I continued to work my way through the cake, I fell more and more in love with it with each bite. Nowadays, I have a hard time resisting this dessert whenever I see it on the menu at Sole and its sister restaurants – Miro, Zen Asian Fusion. I’ve even actually ordered this cake (and this cake alone) for take out a couple times.

Final Dish

I highly recommend Sole Spanish Grill for a near-future restaurant experience for you. I love the intimate, welcoming environment, their sangria, and their menu. I’ve dined at Sole several times before enjoying both the tapas and the entrees. I always have a hard time choosing between the 2…especially when I’m already trying to save room for dessert. To me, Sole is a great restaurant no matter your occasion – whether you’re on a romantic date or catching up with a friend. Relax into your conversation over a variety of Spanish flavors and check out the patio if the weather is nice.

ARPA Tapas (Dinner) »

The Basics

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Cuisine: Spanish
Ambiance: Modern
Address: 129-100 West Trade, Charlotte, NC 28202
Neighborhood: Uptown
Phone: 704.372.7792
Web Site: http://www.harpersgroup.com/arpaTapas.html
Must Taste (Dinner):

  • Tapas: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes – $4.50 – Great smoky flavor from the chorizo
  • Tapas: Gambas a Ajillo – $9/$16 – simple but delicious – try this if you like garlicky-shrimp
  • Drink: Pitcher of Sangria – delicious sangria – great if you like fruity drinks or wine with a sweet twist
  • Get it while you can: 6 + 6 = $12 – Arpa Doubles the Fun Each Month. Now you can join us for our popular 6+6 events every first Wednesday and third Wednesday of the month. Enjoy 6 amazing tapas paired with 6 wines for just $12. 5:30pm-8:30pm.

Pricing Samples (Dinner):

  • Tapas: $3.50 – $24
  • Flatbreads: $9-$12

Best For: Date, Small Groups (probably large, too, but I’d call to verify)
What to Wear: nice casual (not tennis shoes) to dressy
Fave Points: Huge selection of tapas with authentic Spanish flair. Where else can you order Boquerrones in the Queen City?
My Fave Dish: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes – one might think a potato too simple to pick as a fave, but the combination of gold and purple fingerling potatoes paired with the smoky chorizo flavor and tender texture of the potatoes themselves…heaven!

Menu pricing and availability subject to change.

My Dish

I met up with a friend (who was visiting all the way from NYC) and one of her good girlfriends for a girls’ night out. We hit up Press for a glass or two of wine and then went down the street to ARPA Tapas for some delish Spanish tapas.

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According to their web site, chef Tom Condron’s vision for ARPA is:

To truly dine in Spain is to share several small, intricate courses reflecting the rich diversity of classical and contemporary Spanish cuisine.

The bar should boast a wide variety of Spanish red, white and rosé wines, available by the glass, as well as a selection of Sherries and sangria.

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I ordered a pitcher for our table, which came out in a pretty blue pitcher. The sangria was super good and the pitcher was great for sharing.

We each picked 2 tapas to try and then shared a bit with each other. Here’s what we got:

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Rock Shrimp and Serrano Croquettes – $5.50 – with picked vegetables and saffron aioli. These were quite good but I couldn’t get over how much the saffron aioli sauce looked, to me, like mustard! I did like the flavor and texture of the croquettes, though.

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Crisp Goat Cheese – $7 – with honey drizzle, pepperanata and almond pesto. These came out nice and hot and gooey inside.

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Tortilla de Espanola con Espinaca – $5.50 – This fritatta had a nice soft texture inside and crispy texture on the outside. I wish there would have been more spinach, but it was still quite enjoyable.

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Gambas a Ajillo – $9/$16 – sizzling spicy garlic shrimp – this was one of my favorite tapas of the night. The flavors were so simple yet so tasty! Definitely try this one if you like shrimp and garlic.

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Crispy Skin Duck Breast – $12 – with sweet and sour onions and quince. The flavors of this dish are amazing, but be warned, if you like your steak well done, you should either avoid this entree or ask for it to be prepared to your liking. The center of the meat is quite rare. Another thing to note is that this picture was taken after approximately 2 slices of duck had been claimed. The portion is a little larger than portrayed.

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Roasted Fingerling Potatoes – $4.50 – with chorizo and shallots. How do you take potatoes from simple to divine? Like this. An interesting mixture of golden and purple fingerling potatoes were sliced thin and cooked with shallots and chorizo. I think the use of different potato colors paired with that yummy smoky taste really put this one over the top for me. I highly recommend that you try this if you go to ARPA!

Final Dish

I’d recommend ARPA for either a playful date (sharing food is always more fun, no?) or dinner with friends. Enjoy the patio area if the weather is nice…we did, and I really liked it out there. Don’t let the Spanish menu scare you off…just ask the waiter or waitress what the different dishes are if you are curious about something but don’t speak/read Spanish. If they’re still offering it, I’d try the $6 + $6 = 12 special mentioned above – I love a good tasting-menu-style meal!