After a much needed suggestion by a fellow foodie we decided to check out the Dandelion Market in Uptown Charlotte this week. After driving circles around a parking deck for several minutes and finding absolutely nothing, we were able to snag a spot right across the street.
Taking its name from a famous outdoor market that thrived in Dublin City Center back in the early 70’s, the Dandelion Market in Uptown Charlotte is now a tapas hangout with a seriously relaxed vibe.
I couldn’t help but wonder where in the world the concept for this art piece came from… its just a giant wall of wooden shoe forms, but its really cool.
Tonight we had the rare occasion of dining with both of our parents which afforded us the opportunity to try a lot of things on the menu. So we ordered nearly half of the menu and a few minutes later the dishes started coming out in waves.
First up was the Market Mac and Cheese with a three cheese blend, spiral noodles, buttered breadcrumbs over-top, and smoked pepper. This was far from your typical blue box macaroni and the beginning to a very successful night at the Dandelion Market.
Then came the lightly battered Fried Pickles with a horsey aoli sauce. The pickles were pretty good, given the fact that they are fried pickles, but not on par with some of the others around Charlotte. The sauce however.. well that was pretty stupendous.
Next we had the Shrimp & Grits with goat cheese and a red pepper cream sauce. I (Curtis) typically steer clear of seafood and don’t eat grits… but the grits on this plate were one of my favorite things of the night. The shrimp (as I was told) were cooked perfectly and had a great flavor especially dipped in the red pepper sauce , it was just lacking a little on portion size.
Then we had the Wild Mushroom Flatbread Pizza. It was good as far as pizzas go, but I was looking for more mushrooms. I was expecting crimini or shiitaki or portabella but all we got was a few button mushrooms sprinkled on top…nothing wild about that.
After that came the Baked Potato Croquettes stuffed with aged cheddar cheese, bacon, and scallion cream, then fried into delicious balls of crunchy baked potato yumminess. The texture difference of super crunchy outside and gooey creamy inside made them really fun.
Then came the Grilled Lamb Lollipops served mid-rare with black cherry and a side of spring greens and feta vinaigrette salad. These were cooked perfectly for Ella and her parents (a little rare for me and my mom) and had lots of flavor, but the black cherries tasted so much like cough syrup that I couldn’t even eat them.
The accompanying side of spring greens and feta vinaigrette salad was surprisingly one of Ella’s favorites of the night, she munched on it well after the lamb was gone.
We then had the Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Dip with a mixture of three cheeses and roasted red peppers, with a side of warm and crispy pita chips. The dip was warm and cheesy and gooey and definitely a favorite of the night.
I’m sure at his point you’re like “Really.. come on… more food?” and the answer is yes. We still have more to go :)
Next up was the Butter Sauteed Sea Scallops served with a side of peppered arugula, pomegranate drizzle, and topped with toasted macadamia nuts. The scallops were huge had a really nice sear on them which added perfectly to the sweet and savory that this dish had going on. This was also mirrored in the peppery arugula and macadamia nut salad.
Then we got our plate of Grilled Steak Skewers served mid-rare and marinated in a sweet & spicy honey soy sauce. Every single bite of these pieces of grilled steak were pure carnivoristic heavenly bliss and a favorite of mine during the night.
Closing out the night we got the plate of autumn hash. A sizzling platter of acorn squash, apples, dried cranberries and pecans cooked in brown sugar and butter. It was delicious and being served last actually made for a nice dessert. Add a scoop of ice cream and a crumb topping and you’d have a dessert worth taking home.
As far as I’m concerned, tapas restaurants are generally HUGE rip-offs that feed of off people’s desire to go out and be social with one another. They give people tiny plates of food and charge big plate prices all for the opportunity for people to go out, try something new, and be social. The food often isn’t worth the price tag and leaves me hungry again within minutes. The Dandelion Market, Good Food on Montford and our very own Mystery Chef are the only exceptions to that idea. The Dandelion Market really made great food and despite the tiny portion sizes I left feeling pretty satisfied and with the full intention of coming back again.. and again :)