Last week I had the pleasure of joining fellow foodies, photographers and writers at Evoke. Evoke is located on the ground floor in Le Meridien hotel in Uptown Charlotte [right across from the courthouse!].
Le Meridien opened its doors in late 2014. They gave the former Blake Hotel a $20 million facelift in renovations. Wowzer.
At Evoke, they focus on prime and dry aged steaks, housemade pastas and the freshest of crudos. They introduce creative and seasonal menus using local and abroad ingredients, serving exotic salts alongside their dry aged steaks. It is definitely not your typical steakhouse.
Everyone compares its look to being straight out of a Mad Men episode. I’d have to say I agree. If I worked in corporate life in the 1960’s, whether it was in advertising or sales, I’d choose Evoke to have my “three martini” lunches. They infuse a lot of their liquors in house. Sounds amazing.
Executive Chef: Oscar LaFuente
Chef de Cuisine: Robert Reinken
General Manager: Suzanne Albrecht
I entered Evoke and was led to a private dining area enclosed in glass doors. Whoa. This place is legit. I sat down in the company of new and old friends and it was clear that we were all giddy with anticipation. As we were all busy meeting each other, we were poured a glass of house infused lavender sweet tea. I’m usually not a fan of straight up southern, sweet tea, but the addition of lavender made this a surprising treat for me.
Wine was poured and bread was served in these rustic little crates. It took all the willpower in me to only have one slice of bread.
Since Evoke was introducing so many new dishes, they alternated two different dishes for each course between all of us. Luckily we were all kindred spirits and shared with each other so we all could get a taste of everything this place has to offer. We started off with a lovely salad. It was a generous portion and even after I shared some with a friend, I stopped myself from eating it all to save room for all the deliciousness about to come at me.
Served in unison with the salad, we had a butter poached asparagus appetizer that satisfied my meat and cheese needs.
Next we moved onto the second course of many. The crudo course. I knew these were going to be good. First I tried this escolar one. As someone who’s never been a HUGE fan of this fish, I was thoroughly surprised. Absolutely loved it. Between the addition of snap peas and Meyer lemon, it was light and refreshing and everything I wanted in a crudo.
Next we had a Nairagi crudo. What the heck is that? It’s commonly known as a striped marlin and is indigenous to Hawaiin waters. This was a first for me. Again, it was a great combination of flavors.
Third course commenced and it was a good one. PASTA. This, I was looking forward to. A good bowl of pasta is one of the ways to my heart. First up was a pasta dish that just tasted of warm, summer days. The peas were so good here.
But if I’m being honest, I was swept off of my feet with the second of the pasta dishes. I love a good, hearty pasta with meat that’s been cooked down with so much flavor. Top it off with Ricotta Salata and I’ve died and gone to heaven.
For the entrée course [there’s more?!], we dove right into some killer seafood dishes. First up was a light and lemony halibut plate. Halibut is almost always a homerun when I see it on a menu. I loved the lemon pucker on my lips. Also enjoyed the addition of the clams and morels.
But again, the second dish trumped the first one in my opinion. These seared scallops were incredible. They were a gorgeous size, perfectly seared and paired with cauliflower, which pretty much equals perfection in my eyes. The pop of sweetness from the raisins and cipollini were an ideal compliment.
Okay, by this time I was counting my lucky stars I wore a flowy dress and not pants. If I did, the obligatory top button pop would have happened. But it was dessert and how can anyone pass up dessert??
I’ve always loved olive oil cakes. I’ve ordered them on quite a few menus in my day. This one did not disappoint. The gelato and traces of blood orange really transformed this one for me.
As soon as I saw the stemless wine glass come to the table I knew it was budino. Guys, I LOVE budino. It’s my kryptonite. If it’s on the menu, I’m getting it. I don’t care how full I am. This one was SO good. I loved the salted caramel aspect to it. This is the first time I’d seen it served with cookies. Absolutely genius idea. I’m kicking myself for not thinking of that myself.
Verdict? I would highly recommend choosing Evoke for your next date night with your sweetie. Or if you’re like me and take yourself on swanky dates, pencil yourself in here on a date ASAP. Fresh food with a modern flare. Elegant, sleek and downright DELICIOUS! I think I’ll take myself out on a date here someday soon. Word on the street is the gnocchi dish is top notch! Washed down with budino, of course. Perhaps to attend one of Le Meridien’s upcoming Art and Apertif events!
Connect with Evoke
Location: 555 South McDowell Street
Hours: Monday-Sunday 6am-11pm