Several months ago, a group of women from work went to La Paz on South Blvd for lunch. We had already placed our orders and were quickly devouring chips and salsa when our server came over and said, “Um, we have a gas leak and need to close the restaurant for the day.” After a few quizzical looks, we decided to walk over to The Liberty for lunch instead.
I had heard a few good comments about The Liberty, which was fairly new at the time. I have fond memories of that location in general. When I first moved to Charlotte, it was Alston’s. Then changed over to McIntosh’s which I’ve mentioned before in my blog – in my opinion, one of the best steak restaurants in Charlotte. But alas, McIntosh’s closed, and now The Liberty is in its place.
That first experience at The Liberty was actually disappointing. My shrimp salad was late to the table, under-seasoned and over-priced. I was quite disenchanted with the food and the service, and made sure to fill out the comment card with my thoughts on the experience.
Cut to 2 weeks ago. I still kept hearing good things about The Liberty and started to wonder, “perhaps they were still getting things settled early on and I should try it again.” So, I signed up for one of the restaurant’s evening cooking classes. 4 courses and wine pairings for $45 – pretty good deal.
What an incredible dining experience. The food, the service, the atmosphere…it exceeded all my expectations. Chef Tom Condron was a funny and gracious host, and his demonstration of how to prepare the evening’s dishes was well-organized, engaging and educational. The courses included pork belly, a hearts of palm and seared scallop salad, braised short ribs with farro, and an apple pudding with a salted caramel sauce. Every morsel was a mouth-watering treat. I mean, if you haven’t had pork belly, go out immediately and order it. The combination of tender meat, fresh herbs and a crispy bacon-like skin…out-of-this-world deliciousness. The salad was surprisingly flavorful, and I appreciated Chef Tom’s explanation of hearts of palm, a food I’ve never prepared on my own. When the short ribs dish came out, I said to my dining companions, “I will never eat all that.” After about 10 minutes and countless “mmmm” sounds, my plate was completely empty. The dinner ended with an apple pudding (think English-style pudding, not JELL-O pudding), accompanied by vanilla ice cream and a salted caramel sauce. I could have eaten that caramel sauce with a spoon, a dreamy amalgamation of sweet and salty.
I left The Liberty that evening thoroughly satisfied and wanting to come back again. Now I understand all the great comments I’ve been hearing for months, and am very much looking forward to my next meal there. Plus, if you’re looking for something different to do in Charlotte, check out The Liberty’s cooking class schedule – a great value and fabulous food.