In keeping with our urbanevolve project we decided this week to branch out from our norm and check out the latest vegetarian hangout to hit Charlotte. Fern, Flavors From The Garden, or just Fern for short, is a super hip bistro style vegetarian and vegan restaurant located along Central Ave. in Charlotte’s Plaza-Midwood neighborhoood.
We went for lunch and apparently we were the first ones to get there because the place was completely empty. The whole place was decorated with Martha Stewart type eco-friendly wood tables, neutral and earthy colors, as well as the coolest home-made Ball mason jar chandeliers we have ever seen.
We were seated at a little two-seater wood table next to a wall of floor to ceiling windows. The ball mason jars were used throughout the restaurant from the chandelier to the planter on our table.
The menu at Fern changes seasonally and some items daily depending on the availability of ingredients. After a short speech from our waitress and a quick look over our menu we decided what we were going to get. Ella kicked off the veggie fun with the goat cheese cannelloni and the Fern bruschetta, and I went with the Indian tacos and a side of roasted potatoes.
The goat cheese cannelloni is made with whole wheat pasta then stuffed with goat’s milk ricotta cheese (made in-house) and topped with fried sage, spiced almonds and a butternut squash puree.
The cannelloni is made with fresh made whole wheat pasta along with goat’s milk ricotta and taste amazing. The balance of flavor and texture was truly exciting. The butternut squash puree was sweet and smooth and matched perfectly with the salty goat’s cheese and the little crunch from the almonds. It’s not often that we eat a meat free meal but this dish easily swayed my opinion on the deliciousness of vegetarian food.
The Fern bruschetta came with what was called “Warm Vegetable Ragu over Hearty Slices of Charred Garlic Bread”. What the menu should have said was “Delicious Yumminess Over Eye Fluttering Amazingness”.
The veggies in the warm vegetable ragu change daily. The day we went the bruschetta was topped with tomatoes, shaved fennel, spinach, broccoli and parmasean over a white bean pesto and thick sliced garlicky bread. This was our favorite dish of the afternoon and one of the best plates of bruschetta we have ever had. It was an interesting twist to have so many veggies instead of the simple tomato mixture we were used to. The bread was easily the best part though, it was thick and crunchy on the edges but soft in the middle with a touch of garlic goodness.
My Indian tacos came with a traditional fry bread and was topped with a pinto bean and squash chili, fresh diced tomatoes, chopped red onions, shredded lettuce and locally sourced cheddar cheese.
I can’t say I tasted anything Indian in the dish whatsoever. When we think Indian usually it’s strong spices like coriander, garam masala, turmeric, etc.. but instead it tasted like a bland microwaveable Hormel chili mixture. The fresh toppings were a great addition but if I were to make some suggestions they would start with the addition of some sour cream, you can’t have a taco anything without some sour cream. The second suggestion would be to swap out the fry bread for a fresh made corn tortilla. The Indian tacos weren’t bad by any means but they weren’t exactly special either.
To round out the experience we also got a side of roasted red potatoes. They were good and we were glad that we had them but they weren’t anything different from any other roasted potatoes that we’ve had.
What we did love was the little serving dish that they came in. It rounds out the whole ambiance of the earth friendly vegetarian restaurant.
Our first trip to Fern could best be described as trying to eat fruit before it’s ripe. We really like the concept and think there is huge potential for growth in this niche but there seems to be some fine tuning to do still. We’re definitely planning on visiting them again in the future and would easily recommend Fern to anybody looking to take a break from the carnivore lifestyle.