I don’t like to cook. I like to eat out. At different points in my Charlotte life, I’ve been a power user of Chipotle and Zoe’s Kitchen. Both takeout options that are strategically located between office and home, have the illusion of health and are relatively inexpensive.
But, I do love a good date night with my wife.
And, there is one meal that stands above the rest in Charlotte.
When I have a business colleague come into town and ask for the one meal they need to try, I give the following instructions.
When my Mom and Dad come to Charlotte and ask for the one meal they need to try, I give the following instructions.
Go get the grilled grape salad and fried chicken from Carpe Diem.
I called Carpe Diem and asked the nice hostess if she had any fun facts in regards to the fried chicken entree. She thought I was slightly crazy, but told me: “People love the fried chicken. Yes, it’s our most popular item. It’s been on the menu for the entire 26 years that we’ve been open. For many, it’s the dish we’re known for. The fried chicken even has it’s own Facebook Page.” Love it.
Let me walk you through the experience.
Seating. We like to sit at the bar. I’ve recently become obsessed with eating at bars because I think the mixture of intimacy and casualness leads to better conversation. Below is a photo of the main dining area.
Bread (free). About the size of a yo-yo. Outside texture is firm, but not crumbly. Inside is warm and fluffy. Even though I average 2.25 pieces, I typically break the bread in half and put the other half back into the basket, telling myself that I’m only going to eat half. Then I proceed to eat 4.5 halves.
Grilled Grape Salad ($9.50). I first encountered this when my girlfriend (now wife) ordered it on a date. I thought to myself, why did the person that I’m likely to marry just order a salad that almost cost $10 and has grilled fruit on it? Then I tried a bite. The bite turned into six bites and yielded the comment, “you can get your own.” It’s an oddly, drug-like addicting mix of grapes, onion, pistachios and blue cheese.
Sorbet, aka palate cleanser (free). Makes me feel like I’m living in Downton Abbey. I binge eat Panda Express from time to time, so clearly my palate is not sophisticated enough to warrant a cleansing. For a second, I wonder where my butler and chauffeur are and then I realize that I send newsletters for a living.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast ($20). I almost didn’t publish Joshua’s Top 5 Charlotte Fried Chicken Spots because it didn’t include this meal. This is the best dish in Charlotte. Beautifully plated with the stacked boneless fried chicken reaching towards the sky. Yukon mashed potatoes? Of course. Sautéed spinach? Perfect illusion of health compliment. Shallot-black pepper gravy? Duh, drizzle it on my face too (just messing, that’s weird). This is the most famous dish in Charlotte – if anybody argues against this, they probably think Applebee’s is just their neighborhood grill.
See you at the Carpe Diem bar. Unless, of course, you think I’m wrong. In which case, no, I won’t join you for the craft cocktail rollout at Applebee’s. Okay, I need to go cleanse my palate.