Nothing delights the road-weary Epic more than discovery of a really great restaurant. Especially an unexpected one.
Since I returned from Paris, I have been traveling a lot but I have not had a really fine meal until last night. At a little French bistro. In Charlotte, North Carolina.
You simply must try Cafe Monte if you find yourself in the Queen City. The exterior looks like a coffee shop, but the interior decor is very sophisticated and welcoming. They bake pastries there, including buttery, flaky croissants. The bar is great. When I happened by for an after dinner drink two nights ago, I realized I had to try Cafe Monte for dinner my last night in town. I am very glad I did.
A bottle of the fine Rhone Valley rose, Tavel. One of my hero Leibling's favorites. Not your typical "why drink this?" rose but a true Rhone wine with a dark jewel tone color and the chops to stand up to good hearty summer fare.
Like the house-made pate, peppery and right, with cornichons, spicy mustard and little toasts. Trout amandine which was the finest dish of the sort I have ever had. Fresh Carolina brook trout, simply sauteed in a little butter with capers and almonds. Served over haricots verts and fingerling potatoes. A simple but towering dish. Whoever invented trout amandine would have sobbed with delight eating this. After the trout, a bit of cheese was called for and the cheese plate was marvelous with four types of cheese ranging from mild to strong fresh grapes and chopped candied walnuts. As is proper. The Tavel was running low at this point, so I finished it with the cheese. I concluded this outstanding meal with a Calvados, strong black coffee and a plate of three of the house-baked Parisian style Macaroons [coffee flavored, pistachio and lemon] which were perfect and every bit as nice as the ones I ate with a friend in France. They were perfect with the last bites of the cheese plate...the lemon one was my favorite.
I left Cafe Monte a very happy man and when I return to Charlotte I will return there as well, for restoration. And for a bit of Paris.