Smalls Pre-Grand Opening

Get ready Charlotte, this weekend Smalls is set to steal the show. Smalls is the newest restaurant in Charlotte and although its name may not be grand, it’s sure to put an end to the biggest of appetites. Luckily for us we got access to the pre-Grand Opening party the night before they opened :)

Located along Elizabeth Ave within walking distance of CPCC and just a short trolley ride from Uptown, Smalls may very well be the hippest hangout that the Elizabeth neighborhood has to offer.

Although… for now you may have a hard time finding it. It’s located at 1609 Elizabeth Ave. right next to the abandoned NOFO gift store and if you’re not careful you might drive right by. Apparently the neon sign was ordered back in November and is still a couple weeks away from being delivered.

Inside you’ll find a cross between a hip lounge, a funky art studio, and a chill nightclub. It is by far the hippest place in Elizabeth. We’re pretty familiar with a lot of the Charlotte neighborhoods and the second we walked in the door the first thing we thought was… “Wow, this place looks like it should be in Midwood or NoDa”.

There were all sorts of funky art deco type paintings and sculptures. The whole restaurant had a real urban art vibe which we don’t often find in the typically traditional Elizabeth.

This had to be one of our favorite things to stare at for the night. Its a giant chandelier that we first saw at IKEA a few months back and fell in love with, so naturally when we walked in and saw it hanging from the ceiling we instantly had smiles on our faces.

And no urban art restaurant would be complete without a set of Picasso style melted face paintings. Full of bright colors and abstract angles these were the perfect fit for the restaurant.

Once we stopped wandering around the place we sat down and looked over the menu. Ella ended up going with the 18 hr. braised short rib with yukon gold mashed potatoes and creamed corn, and of course a glass of wine. I couldn’t resist getting a burger with a side of onion rings and an order of fried pickles to start the night off.

The fried pickles came out first and we fell in love at first bite. Fried pickles are a HUGE thing around Charlotte and between Pinky’s and the Penguin, there’s already a lot of fried pickle competition. We definitely think Smalls fried pickles can hold their own next to the other Charlotte heavyweights.

Drown these things in ranch dressing, close your eyes, and get ready for a fried pickle mind trip. These pickles are super thin sliced with a fairly thin batter than packs a hefty crunch. In other words.. just the way we like them :)

Before long we were able to dive into the real treats of the night. Ella got the 18 hr. braised short rib and it came out like it was fit for a queen. Served with a side of yukon gold mashed potatoes and creamed corn, Ella could barely keep her hands off long enough for me to take the pictures.

The yukon gold mashed potatoes may look inconspicuous… but they might very well be one of our favorites. We’ve had the yukon gold mashed potatoes at Firebirds plenty of times and can honestly say that Smalls blows them out of the water.

The corn was also an unexpected sweet surprise. Aside from the bbq corn we had at BLT Steaks this may very well be the best corn we’ve ever had.

Overall the braised short ribs were pretty good. We wouldn’t call them the best we have ever had quite yet, but with a touch of salt and maybe a slightly larger portion it would quickly be on its way.

My burger came out on a fresh made Amish roll and the juiciest fresh made patty I have ever sunk my teeth into. The meat was so tender it had a closer consistency to meatloaf than the typical frozen burger patty. There was also an amazingly high quality blue cheese melted over top that sank its way into every bite of the burger.

Our onion rings came out fried in the same batter used to make the fried pickles so right off the bat we loved them.

They were served with a side of thin buffalo sauce instead of ranch dressing which made for an interesting twist. We liked the buffalo sauce but ended up getting a side of ranch to drown our onion rings in anyway :)

After about an hours worth of eating and taking pictures.. our night had come to an end. Our plates were empty and our bellies were not very small anymore.

We just couldn’t leave without taking a peek inside the kitchen.

Altogether we had a blast at the pre-Grand Opening and can’t wait to see what else is in store for Smalls. We’re hoping Elizabeth will embrace its funky artistic vibe and delicious food…if not NoDa is only 10 minutes away :)

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