BAM! That’s the best way to describe our latest culinary adventure. We recently had the pleasure of attending a practice dinner event at Emeril Lagasse’s newest restaurant, E2 Emeril’s Eatery.
If you’re not familiar with the super star mega celebrity chef, here’s a short breakdown.
- He is the chef/proprietor of 12 other award-winning restaurants.
- He is a national TV personality and has hosted more than 2,000 shows on the Food Network.
- He’s a best-selling author with over a dozen cookbooks
- And In 2002, Emeril established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s art and educational programs.
So needless to say, he’s a Picasso in the culinary world and the opportunity to eat at his restaurant is not something we take lightly. We arrived at 6pm on Monday night and were promptly greeted at the door and shown to our reserved tables. Without delay we met our waiter for the evening and drinks were on the way.
Throughout the night we met all sorts of people, shook a lot of hands and even made a few other blogger spottings of our own during the night. Our table was directly across from one of our favorite foodie buddies “Fervent Foodie“, we met the fashion forward mind behind “the Queen City Style” and ended up ordering nearly the same food as the fellow foodie from “The Dish and More“. All the CLT foodie heavyweights were in attendance and we were all dying to get our hands on some mind-blowing culinary masterpieces.
Ella kicked things off with a Prickly Moon cocktail. It was a mixture of prickly pear juice and moonshine (only 80 proof) with a few other aromatic ingredients. The cocktail was delicious and set the bar high for the rest of the meal.
To start out the night we were given a simple basket of rolls and cornbread with a side of butter. The cornbread was pretty traditional, moist but not too much so, and overall kinda just average. The real BAM! came when we sank our teeth into the rolls… aka the oh so fluffy and salty dough balls of heavenly bliss rolls. The flavor and texture was on point and we found ourselves competing for the final one.
Not being able to make up our minds on what to eat we decided to get an array of apps to start the night off. The first one out was the Yellowfin Tuna Crudo with tangerine oil, sea salt, edamame and Tega Hills Farm micro basil. Neither of us have ever had anything like this dish before. This dish was so light and refreshing it practically melted in your mouth. The tangerine oil gave a wonderful scent to the dish and the edamame added the perfect touch of crunch to a very soft and light tuna.
Next up was the Barbecued Niman Ranch Lamb Ribs with plancha vegetables. The meat was so tender that chewing was optional and it was topped with a sweet and spicy tomato sauce that knocked it up to the next level of deliciousness. I don’t usually get lamb, but these ribs may have just put lamb back on the top of my favorites list.
Ella had never tried pork cheeks before so to round out the appetizer round we got the Confit Niman Ranch Pork Cheeks with dirty rice, apple and brussels sprouts. The pork was exactly what we were expecting, soft and succulent with a mouthful of flavor. The dirty rice instantly brought us back to Emeril’s roots in New Orleans. Ella even liked the brussel sprouts (one of her least favorite foods).
For Ella’s entree she ordered the Citrus Tea Lacquered Five-Day Duck served over a slow cooked Anson Mills farro with stir-fried zucchini, shiitake mushrooms and bok choy. The duck breast and thigh were cooked to perfection and had an amazingly crispy and sticky sweet skin. The farro was both tender and delicious and added a nice earthyness to the sweet duck.
Surprisingly, Ella’s favorite part of the dish was the stir fried vegetables. They were soft but still had a little crunch to them and were coated in the best stir fry sauce we have ever had. Thank God we had some left over to bring home and enjoy the next day.
For mine.. I went with the16oz Painted Hills Rib Eye served with a salad of arugula, fennel, oven dried tomato and housemade worcestershire sauce. Words escape me when reflecting on the pure nirvana bliss I was experiencing while eating this steak. The housemade worcestershire sauce made my tongue do cartwheels and my belly scream BAM!. This steak is an easy addition to our Foodie Favorite list and will become the new benchmark for all other steaks to be measured by.
Unfortunately the side salad of arugula, fennel, and oven dried tomatoes went mostly untouched. Not that it was bad at all.. Curtis has just never been a big fan of arugala.
The purple sweet potatoes need not worry any cautious foodies, they tasted just like sweet potatoes… only they were purple :)
Ella mentioned to the waiter that she was also a Pastry Chef and would love to meet the creator of the wonderful desserts and pick her brain. So a few minutes later, she was nice enough to come out and chat with us for a few minutes and gave us her card offering any recipes or advice that we might need.
Ella got the Huckleberry Upside Down Cake with Brown Butter Ice cream and a Salted Carmel Sauce. The cake was light and moist and the berry packed a lot of sweet and tangy fruit flavor. Her favorite part of this dessert was definitely the brown butter ice cream. It had just a touch of toasted nut flavor that made the ice cream the star of the dish.
I ordered the roasted pears with oatmeal streusel topping and a vanilla frozen yogurt. The pears were warm and soft and melted away with the touch of a fork. The topping was just crunchy enough to balance the softness of the rest of the dish. With Ella’s love for frozen yogurt I bet you can all guess what her favorite part was. This is the kind of dessert that makes me want to curl up in bed with a plate and a fork and not leave.
We had such a great night at E2 we didn’t think anything in the world could top the experience.. and then they asked us if we wanted to come back again the next night and do it all over again :)
Not wanting to be rude we obviously accepted their gracious offer and the next night we were set and ready to go again.
On the second night we had the opportunity to get a much better perspective of the kitchen thanks to our super awesome seats personally selected by the manager.
Ella, being the culinary expert herself, absolutely LOVES open kitchens. Being able to see the inner workings while she’s waiting for her food brings endless smiles to her face.
The best part about these seats was getting to watch Emeril perform his kitchen magic from only 10ft away!
We watched his careful scrutiny over every detail.
And we watched as his eagle eyes monitored every step.
We opted for our second night at E2 to go a little lighter and try some things we missed out on the night before. To start out the second round of culinary critiques we ordered a Shrimp Pizza with artichoke, fontina val d’aosta, white cheddar and an herb pesto.
As with a lot of items throughout the E2 menu you’ll find they are prepared with either locally or regionally sourced ingredients. Our pizza used a locally sourced NC white shrimp for the pizza and being topped with the fontina val d’aosta, white cheddar and the herb pesto made for an amazingly light but filling appetizer.
Next up was the Fried Ashley Farms Chicken Thigh (boneless) with the housemade “Old Mill” buckwheat waffle, cole slaw and sorghum molasses. This is far from your average chicken and waflles.. this chicken and waffles is in its own world. The chicken was incredible tender and juicy, the waffle was soft and the molasses was the perfect medium to tie the two together.
Ella got the Wild Arugula Salad with spiced pecans, orange segments, minus 8 vinegar and “goat lady” goat cheese. The salad was both light and tangy and balanced perfectly with the heavy goat cheese (which is local). The dressing was very acidic and pungent which matched the sharp peppery flavor of the arugula. I am pretty sure she only ordered this salad because it had goat cheese on it, which she could eat by the spoonful and did with this salad.
I got the Burrata Mozzarella with baby lettuces and fresh herbs over crostini and drizzled lightly with an 8 year aged balsamic vinegar. The salad was the perfect palate cleanser between the appetizers and the dessert soon to come.
For dessert we got the Sweet Potato Cheesecake with a toasted marshmallow topping and pomegranates. This is by far one of the best cheesecakes that either of us have ever had. The portion was huge but it was so light that we didn’t end up feeling overstuffed. The sweet potato pie flavor came through nicely and was met by a perfect home made graham cracker crust.
What really took this dessert over the edge was the sweet and sticky marshmallow top that paired perfectly with the sour patch kid sourness of the pomegranate molasses.
I would go back to Emeril’s every night just for another slice of this heavenly sweet potato cheesecake.
And yes… that is Emeril Lagasse looking directly at us :)
Right before we left for the night we looked up and we both stopped breathing for just a second as he looked at us and then… he said, “How was your dinner?” Near speechless, Ella successfully managed to respond without tripping over her own words as she said, “It was wonderful”.
It may not seem like much to the outside world but that short exchange sent her pulse racing and little stars started twirling around her eyes.
Before we left we had to snap a picture to give you a look inside the big and beautiful open kitchen.
Whenever we meet people for the first time and we tell them we went to 150+ restaurants last year the first thing we get asked is… What the best restaurant in Charlotte?
That’s always been a near impossible question for us to answer because of the sheer complexity of factors that we take into consideration when we’re dining out. We can tell you who has the best coconut cream pie (Barringtons), who has the best froyo (Yoforia) and even who makes the best use of bacon (Midwood Smokehouse). But being able to just say a single restaurant is the best in Charlotte is open to a lot of varied opinions.
With that said….E2 Emerils Eatery will definitely be our answer from now on.
We had the opportunity to try a lot of food over the last two nights and consistently across the spectrum it was great. The rolls were great, the steak was great, the chicken and waffles were great, the sweet potato cheesecake was great, it was all great. For their ability to deliver amazing food consistently across the whole menu and the top notch service we had while we were there, E2 Emerils Eatery is our pick for best restaurant in Charlotte.
We did feel a little guilty about not being able to bring all of our fans along with us to the event so we decided we should bring something back for you guys.
So…… we got a copy of Emeril Lagasse’s book “Farm to Fork” signed by Emeril himself and we will be giving it away on our Facebook page :)
Just CLICK HERE for more info!