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Charlotte Notes: Arpa and Savannah Red

janetofreno | Jan 29, 200708:00 PM

Just got back from one of my thrice-yearly (or more) business trips to Charlotte. On the suggestion of someone here on Chowhound, we had dinner the night of our arrival at Arpa, a tapas place uptown. Good call, thanks!! My vegetarian friend said that it was the most veggie-friendly place she ate at this trip. Three of us shared hummus, grilled asparagus, a potatoe tapa of some sort, mussels (yum!), the bread with olive oil and pomegranite juice as dippers, a spinach dish, quail, and the two of us non-veggies shared the paella. There was plenty, even with our vegetarian friend skipping the mussels, quail, and paella. All was delicious. About my only complaint was that the sangria was a little watery. I would have expected better, given the quality of the food. Dinner for three including tax, tip and a round of drinks came to 80 dollars, certainly reasonable for the quality and the amount.

Also, I can't remember if the tip came from a chowhound or not, but I really enjoyed our meal at Savannah Red. This is "upscale new south" (whatever that is). It is a small restaurant, even though its in the Marriot Hotel (don't let that stop you from going). Cozy, with a lot of red in the color scheme. I had the spinach salad with figs and pecans, delicious. My main was shrimp and grits. Can't go wrong with shrimp and grits. The only other main dish I tasted was one gentleman's lamb...crusted with pepper. It was tender, but a little too well done for my taste (I think he ordered it that way). I will tell you that everyone loved their food. Someone had the gumbo, and declared it excellent, and there was also a delicious lobster appetizer that several of us shared. We shared several servings of the rum cake for desert, and one renegade had the pecan pie. Both were heavenly! BTW, the most interesting item on the menu could be the Krispy Kreme bread pudding with Maker's Mark sauce...(yes, made with real Krispy Kreme donuts...). I must admit I was very tempted to at least try it, but alas they were out that evening. I suppose this is as good an excuse as any to return.... The wine list is extensive but a little pricey, especially since we were at the upper end of our expense account limits anyway. I gambled on a Marlborough pinot noir by Steele winery...I had never heard of the winery but like wines from that district. Gamble paid off; everyone complimented me on the choice. whew! (I was acting as the hostess at this meal). A few other notes: the bartender makes an excellent martini and pretty good cappuchino too. Service was great. Dinner for eight including tax and tip, two bottles of wine, and a round of pre-dinner drinks was $653.

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