Carolina Dine Around - February 4, 2022

The latest in Charlotte doughnut news and other Carolina happenings

Charlotte's doughnut boom rolls on with the pending arrival of B.A.D.
Charlotte's doughnut boom rolls on with the pending arrival of B.A.D. (Peter Taylor)

By Robert F. Moss

It’s time for another Carolina Dine Around, your digest of the latest food and beverage news from around the Carolinas.

In last week’s Dine Around I noted Charlotte’s impending deluge of doughnuts, with the opening of Joe and Katy Kindred’s Milkbread in Davidson and the planned arrival of outlets from two national chains, Salty Donut and Mochinut. The doughnut news kept rolling in from the Queen City this week, and some of it’s B.A.D. Plus, a few new Charleston arrivals had me looking back to the history books for parallels.

So let’s dig in.


A Queen City Quartet

It seems that each week brings news of ever more ambitious new restaurant openings across the Carolinas, but I can’t think of a time when a single restaurant group announced not one or two but four new establishments at once—until this week at least. The big news out of Charlotte is that Gregory and Subrina Collier, the team behind the acclaimed Leah & Louise, announced that their Bayhaven Restaurant Group is expanding its footprint in the Camp North End development with a quartet of new restaurants and bars.

Let me pause and take a deep breath . . . OK. Here we go.

B.A.D. (that is, “Beyond Amazing Donuts”) will serve donuts, fritters, and cinnamon rolls in a counter service format, while Bird is the Word will dish out Leah & Louise’s popular chicken sandwich along with smoked chicken, chicken stew, and chicken fat donuts, also as counter-service. Sit-down dining will be available at Passage Seafood, a “modern fish camp” featuring fresh Carolina seafood with a rotating whole fish option and—in a particularly intriguing detail—whole fish charcuterie. Finally, adjoining Passage will be the Abyss, a 40-seat cocktail bar with a late night menu.

All four of the new spots will be clustered along the north end of the 201 Camp Road building, facing into the Crossroads District. For the Colliers, the move not only expands their own horizons but also advances their mission of empowering and elevating other Black culinarians who have worked in their restaurants. B.A.D. will be the brick-and-mortar incarnation of former Leah & Louise pastry chef Jasmine Macon’s pop-up donut operation, while the Abyss will be led by Leah & Louise’s current head mixologist, Justin Hazelton.

The four new ventures are slated to open sometime this summer, with the two counter-service restaurants arriving first. And don’t forget, as we reported in the Dine Around on December 3rd, the Colliers are also bringing back their breakfast spot Uptown Yolk, which is slated to open this spring in the Vantage South End development on Tryon Street.

Here Chicky, Chicky

When Charlotteans aren’t busy scarfing down doughnuts this summer, they’ll likely be munching on fried chicken sandwiches. Fast on the heels of the news about Bird is the Word, Axios Charlotte reports the pending arrival of Summerbird, a new fast-casual joint on Tryon Street in the South End that will feature crispy fried chicken sandwiches.

Speaking of Doughnuts

Lest there be a hole in the coverage of the flourishing Charlotte doughnut scene, the Charlotte Observer this week offered up a detailed profile of the newly-opened Milkbread in Davidson. It explains what milk bread is in the first place and how the Kindreds started making doughnuts out of it. It also provides an update on the pending second location of Milkbread, which is scheduled to open later this year in a former Dairy Queen building in Plaza Midwood because no one wants to drive all the way to Davidson to get doughnuts.

Not in the mood for doughnuts? Milkbread still has you covered. As Eater Carolinas highlights this week in its newly-revised “hot list” of Charlotte restaurants, Milkbread’s other signature item is a crispy fried chicken sandwich with shredded lettuce, Duke’s mayo, and pickles on a soft potato bun.


Culinary History in a Box

Chef Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood with his take on catfish spaghetti
Chef Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood with his take on catfish spaghetti (Jennifer Noble Kelly/JNK Public Relations)

As he did last year, Ricky Moore, the chef/owner of Saltbox Seafood in Durham, is celebrating Black History Month with an intriguing slate of dishes that not only honor Black culinary traditions but also tell the story of “the Pan-African global influence of the Atlantic Slave Trade” and how enslaved Africans shaped food cultures throughout the Americas.

“I've chosen to feature dishes that I’ve eaten in the regions where they originated and experienced them prepared by someone’s native hands,” Moore said in a statement. A new special will be launched each Wednesday and will include the following:

  • February 2nd: Fried Catfish & Spaghetti, a dish that originated in the Mississippi Delta and traveled North during The Great Migration to cities along the Mississippi River, including St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee. In Moore’s version, the spaghetti that accompanies the fried catfish gets a dirty rice-inspired twist from an aromatic base of onion, green pepper and celery.
  • February 9th: Bake & Shark, a popular stuffed sandwich from Trinidad and Tobago, with “bake” (a pita-like fried bread) filled with chunks of fried shark, lettuce, tomato, grilled pineapple, and spicy cilantro and tangy tamarind sauces.
  • February 16th: Fish Yassa, a variation of the traditional Senegalese dish of chicken smothered in a caramelized onion sauce seasoned with mustard, lemon juice, and fresh chiles and served over rice. Inspired by the West African restaurants Moore visited in New York City that made a yassa with whole fish, his version will incorporate Carolina rockfish or monkfish.
  • February 23rd: Moqueca Baiana, a Brazilian fish stew made with garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, salt and olive oil cooked with dende (palm oil) and coconut milk.

They’re Sure Fonda that Restaurant

This week Julie Leonard and Drew Jackson of the News & Observer interviewed owner Biridiana Frausto, the owner of Fonda Lupita in Sanford (population 30,261) about 40 miles southwest of Raleigh. She shares the story behind the small home-style Mexican restaurant and her reaction to its being named one of the 11 Best New Restaurants in America by Eater.


A New York State of Mind

The Bodega will feature bloody Marys and New York bodega-inspired breakfast sandwiche
The Bodega will feature bloody Marys and New York bodega-inspired breakfast sandwiche (Uptown Hospitality)

The Uptown Hospitality Group, the team behind the King Street sports bar and nightspot Uptown Social, announced this week that it will be opening two more downtown restaurants on February 15 and bring a touch of New York to the Holy City.

Bodega, which sprouted from a weekend breakfast pop-up at Uptown Social, is billed as an homage to the “ubiquitous neighborhood bodega” in New York, while Share House nods to the beach houses in the Hamptons and similar spots where young Gothamites flee on weekends to escape the summer heat, pooling their funds and trying not to kill their dozen or more new roomates.

Why all the Big Apple imagery? Uptown Hospitality is an outshoot of New York-based Eat Drink & Be Merry Hospitality, which operates eight neighborhood bars in Manhattan. After striking success on King Street, the partners have headed a few blocks down and around the corner to the long brick building stretching between Ann and John Streets, which was built in 1850 as a freight depot for the South Carolina Railroad.

Long-time Charleston residents (and by that I mean anyone who’s been in the city at least five years) may observe that these aren’t the first New Yorkers to have a go at opening restaurants inside that old historic building. Back in 2016, Jonathan Buck and chef Damon Wise, a veteran of Andrew Carmellini’s Lafayette and Tom Colicchio’s Craft, overhauled the space and launched a trio of high-concept restaurants called Scarecrow, Feathertop, and Wise-Buck Smoked Meats.

Wise left the partnership after just four months, and Feathertop and Wise-Buck Smoked Meats quietly closed their doors in October 2016. Scarecrow folded the following year. Charleston did realize a lasting gain out of venture, though, for it lured David Schuttenberg, another Craft alum, down from New York to be the restaurants’ Director of Culinary Operations. He went on to lead the kitchen at Fish before stepping out on his own and launching the much-beloved Kwei Fei at the Charleston Pour House.

But back to this new crew of New Yorkers. The 8,000 square foot depot will be divided between the Share House and Bodega and have roll-up garage doors opening onto a pedestrian walkway and plenty of patio space. Share House will have “a coastal cantina vibe” with lots of pastel colors and a sea glass and tabby-topped bar. The tropical themed menu will include shrimp & avocado empanadas, street corn hushpuppies, and crab cake or vegan chorizo sliders on Hawaiian rolls.

The old South Carolina Railroad freight depot on Ann Street in the 1930s
The old South Carolina Railroad freight depot on Ann Street in the 1930s (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Artist's rendering of the soon-to-open Share House at 23 Ann Street
Artist's rendering of the soon-to-open Share House at 23 Ann Street (Uptown Hospitality)

Bodega, on the other hand, will have “a distinctly New York vibe” with graffiti and colorful tiles, and the menu will feature Manhattan-style breakfast sandwiches and cocktails. No word yet on whether there will be cats.

Fish Tales

In March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was arriving in the United States, Mark and Kerry Marhefka opened their Abundant Seafood retail store in North Charleston. This week, Parker Milner of the Post & Courier profiles the Marhefkas and how they became Charleston’s go-to source for sustainable seafood, first among chefs and then home cooks. Navigating government quotas, seeking out niche fisheries, and making restaurant deliveries in person are all parts of the story.

Have Mercy

Bistronomy by Nico, the new(ish) downtown venture from longtime Charleston restaurateur Nico Romo, has announced that it is bringing back Mercy of the Chef, one of Romo’s signature specials from his previous restaurants. Each Wednesday night Bistronomy guests can choose to throw themselves on the mercy of chef Andrew Singer for a five-course tasting menu, complete with wine pairings, for $55.

Waving the Checkered Flag

Monza, the wood-fired pizza shop on Upper King with an Italian auto racing theme, closed its doors this week after 13 years in business.

Vegan Food Can Be Salty

This week in its Pop Up Picks series, the Post & Courier highlights Bangin’ Vegan Eats, a food truck that’s been making the rounds on the pop-up circuit in recent months. The story is accompanied by a photograph of the truck, which is colorful in more ways than one. The slogans emblazoned on the side include, “everyday I’m brusselin’”, “I’m so f’n vegan I don’t even call my wife honey,” and “rock out with your broc out.”

The vegan banger sausages sound promising, but maybe they could hold the broc?

Fine Charleston Wine

This week Michael Pham of the Charleston City Paper chatted with Lindsay Williams, who is launching a new Charleston version of her successful Davidson Wine Co. from Davidson, North Carolina. There are a few unusual wrinkles to the story. Williams not only sells wine but makes it herself at her “urban winery.” She gave up a career as an attorney to take up winemaking in 2018, and she’s among the just one percent of American winemakers who are African American.

About the Author

Robert F. Moss

Robert F. Moss is the Contributing Barbecue Editor for Southern Living magazine, Restaurant Critic for the Post & Courier, and the author of numerous books on Southern food and drink, including The Lost Southern Chefs, Barbecue: The History of an American Institution, Southern Spirits: 400 Years of Drinking in the American South, and Barbecue Lovers: The Carolinas. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.