“Our hearts are broken.” -Miss Lydia Bennet

I got an e-mail today from my friend Sarah.  The subject line was “Sad news for you.”  It was truly sad news.  As I read the blog post that told me one of my very favorite restaurants, Hotel Charlotte, was closing after 31 years, all I could hear in my head was Lydia Bennet saying, “Our hearts are broken.”

I can remember the very first time I went to Hotel Charlotte.  At my first real job, my boss, Rodger, and I would get taken out to lunch by advertising reps.  One day, we happened to go to Hotel Charlotte.  This was back in 1998.  I even remember where we sat, on the far left wall, on the platform.  I remember the train going round and round.  The dark wood, the creaky floors, the long bar.

I’ve been going there ever since, and over time it became a favorite haunt.  I love that the owner, Steve, would greet you at the door.  And Sammy, the bartender, would surprise me with some fruity cocktail (because I’m not much of a beer drinker).

Anytime a new transplant to Charlotte asks me where good places to eat are, Hotel Charlotte was always at the top of my list.  Most times, those transplants are from up north.  So, naturally, I have to steer them to my very favorite (truly Southern) dish on Hotel Charlotte’s menu: pimiento cheese fritters.  Oh, such delicious little balls of heaven.  Warm cheese, crispy coating, served with a sweet pepper relish.  The combination was simply genius – hot and cold, sweet and spicy – it doesn’t get much better.

Most of my family and friends know that I steer away from chain restaurants in general (there are a few exceptions to this rule, I’ll write another time).  I like to support local restaurants, where the food and service are better.  It’s difficult for me to understand why people will wait in line for hours at a well-known Aussie steakhouse, when they could have gone to McIntosh’s (which is also closed, by the way), for an infinitely better dining experience.  So, here’s my plea to you, dear readers…get out of the chain restaurant rut…try Good Food on Montford, or Ru Sans, or Luce, or Blue, or Sir Ed’s, or Baoding, or The Roasting Company, or Alexander Michael’s, or Sole, or … (please feel free to add your faves below; I’m always looking for new things to try!)

Goodbye to Hotel Charlotte, Frankie’s, McIntosh’s, The Coffee Cup and others who have gone away.  I miss you, and your pimiento cheese fritters, your bruschetta, your steak and your banana pudding.

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13 thoughts on ““Our hearts are broken.” -Miss Lydia Bennet

  1. Amen, girl! I really try not to eat at chain restaurants. Is the Knife and Fork still on Independence? That was a Mom and Pop place that I ate at a couple of times . . .

  2. Yay Heather! Welcome to the blog world. And reading your post made me hungry. I do miss my veggie burger at Sir Ed’s and the goodness at Baoding.

  3. Not 100% sure, but I think Knife & Fork closed. I remember eating there a few years back, but it was under a different name and now that place is closed. 😦 Great greasy spoon.

  4. Great job, Heather! I am also pretty sure Knife & Fork closed, but we still have some of our local favorites – Dish, Lupie’s, Hawthorne’s (original…on Hawthorne Lane), Snoop’s (formerly Spoon’s), and nothing beats the old-school Dairy Queen on Central on a hot summer evening . Yes, the last one is a chain, but it does have a lot of character (and characters).

  5. i agree…we need to buy local as much as we can! all of the best restaurants in charlotte are local anyway, so it’s easy to do! glad i could inspire your first blog post.

  6. Hotel Charlotte is the one place I remember specifically from my brief residency in Charlotte in 1998! Probably went there with Rodger too. Sad it’s closing…we always try to avoid chains as well.

  7. I saw that in the paper this morning and immediately thought of you! And you listed some good ones to try in your message…I love me some Roasting Company (as well as many of the others)! I have found that as much as I enjoy the really nice restaurant occasionally (with the fu-fu food and formal atmosphere), I find myself loving those hole-in-the -wall, simple, nothing fancy restaurants more and more. The Knife & Fork was a great example, as you mentioned. We need to show our appreciation for those places!

  8. Congrats on the blog! It’s top on my personal lists of things to do in 2011! I want to focus on Disney/travel. So sad about HC. Not unexpected, but a heartbreaker nonetheless.

  9. Congrats on starting the blog! I ate at The Roasting Company yesterday, then headed to Freedom Park. Wish we had crossed paths! And you may know this, but Frankie’s was owned by Lone Star.

  10. “Sometimes we don’t know how well we have it, until it’s gone”. The Dixie, Wagon Wheel, Starlight, Robin Hood. These were all B.C. (Before Chains). What was the name of the first chain restaurant that you ate at? Great blog! Geese not only hiss, they bite to!

  11. Heather, love your blog…thanks for sharing. And, not that I’m biased or anything, but The King’s Kitchen and Rooster’s are locally-owned and support local farmers by using their meats and produce…and both have GREAT pimento cheese! You and I will have to do another King’s Kitchen date sometime soon!! I agree with you…local is the way to go.

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