This week we celebrated our Three Year Anniversary by doing some ziplining and hiking in Asheville then finished the night by dining at the McNinch House in the Historic Fourth Ward section of Uptown Charlotte. For those who haven’t heard of it.. the McNinch House is a super fine dining restaurant located in one of the oldest houses in Charlotte, in fact… its even older than the Biltmore Estate.
We were greeted by the wine steward upon our arrival and given a brief tour and history lesson of the house.
At over 5,000 sqft the McNinch House once served as the Mayor’s House and was even visited by President Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, and Woodrow Wilson. We really loved the amount of detail throughout the house. Original chandeliers, trim and moldings windows, etc… The McNinch House currently serves double duty as both a premier find dining location and the primary residence of Ellen Davis (the current owner of the McNinch House).
After the tour we were given our choice of seating… apparently we came on the slowest night of the week and only shared the evening with two other couples.
We opted for the table with the most natural lighting hoping it would guarantee some good pics of all of the food… but by the time the food starting coming out it had started getting dark already.
Candlelight isn’t our friend when it comes to taking photos but we gave it a shot anyway. Ella and I both started the night with a baby potato filled with a vanilla cream. The potato was tender and mixed nicely with the sweetness of the slightly melted cream. All this dish really needed was a dash of salt.
Our first course started out with the Tomato Basil Soup, grilled white cheddar croutons, and extra virgin olive oil. Turns out the grilled white cheddar croutons were tiny grilled cheese sandwich squares and were pretty freaking delicious.
Then we tried the Jumbo-Lump Crab Cakes with a Louisiana-Style Remoulade Sauce and garnished with roasted pepper jam, crispy prosciutto, and braised mustard seeds. The crispy prosciutto was by far the best part of this appetizer and I would have been happy with just a plate full of that, but the crab cakes were good too!
After the apps we were served a corn muffin with butter that we thought was a little on the dry side.
Followed by a palate cleansing blackberry lime sorbet in a sugar rimmed glass. The sorbet was divine, but I have a hard time considering it a course.
Ella chose the Rosemary and Dijon Crusted Rack of New Zealand Lamb with chevre-arugala cous cous and glazed carrots for her entree.
The lamb was cooked perfectly and had an awesome crunch thanks to the dijon and breadcrumb topping. I don’t get the chance to eat a lot of cous cous, but after this dish I’m going to make it a point to. The cous cous itself was perfectly soft and tender which went great with the slight bite of the carrots and the creamy goat cheese. This might be one I have to try and recreate at our house.
I got the Coffee-Rubbed Filet of Ribeye topped with a red onion-bacon jam, duchesse potato, whipped lima beans, and a veal demi-glace.
I know this will probably shock most of you… but I HATE COFFEE. So my coffee-rubbed filet of ribeye came without the coffee part.
The best part of the plate easily the slightly sweet and savory red onion-bacon jam. The worst… for me was the whipped lima beans, but that’s probably because I don’t like lima beans to begin with.
The duchesse potato was pretty good but I would have easily traded its beautiful presentation for a larger quantity and the veal demi-glace paled in comparison to the red onion-bacon jam.
We started the dessert courses with the Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. White Chocolate-Brown Sugar Mousse, Carrot-Olive Oil Puree, and Valencia Orange Gelee. The carrot cake flavor left a little to be desired, but the orange gelee was awesome and I give the chef props for creativity.
Beth’s Pecan Pie with maple bacon ice cream, powdered sugar, and fresh whipped cream was hands down the better of the two desserts. The pie was both sticky and gooey… just as any good pecan pie should be. The maple bacon ice cream was also really good and added a bit of fun to a traditional dessert, but I hated the little rolled cookie.
Overall.. I guess we would say we liked the McNinch House. I don’t think they had the best food in Charlotte for our palate but they’ve been awarded 15th consecutive Four Diamond designation from AAA and are listed as one of the top “extraordinary” restaurants in America by Zagat’s Dining Guide, which would make me think that obviously a lot of people enjoy the restaurant.
We had a great dinner, thought the service was A+, and absolutely loved the history of the house… but I still think comparing just food to food, there might be a couple of other places better in the Queen City.
Cough… cough… (E2, Good Food on Montford, etc…)