Home | Register | Log In

Venue Review: Utopia Restaurant

Utopia puts flair into comfort food
(no rating)
Utopia Restaurant
By "Karen Sullivan"
The Charlotte Observer

The name Utopia Restaurant pops up across North America – San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Portland, Washington and Toronto, to name a few.

It seems there are more than a few restaurant owners who would like to offer diners a perfect meal in an idyllic setting.

Now Charlotte is on that list, too.

A 140-seat Utopia Restaurant opened in December at the Pinnacle Point shopping center, off Mallard Creek Church Road in University City.

Open Wednesdays through Sundays, it's a place for people seeking bliss through good food and live jazz, said Kennedy Howard, one of three owners.

The lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch menus are chef Manson Furtick's interpretation of fine dining with American comfort food.

New York strip steak ($24), slow-roasted pork loin ($19), crab cakes ($15) and fried calamari ($12) are choices, along with daily specials.

A best-seller is Utopia Sweet Glazed Chicken ($18). It's a fried chicken breast with a brown sugar and honey glaze.

In all, there are just 10 items on the lunch menu. The dinner menu is also highly focused, with 10 entrees, three appetizers and two salads with options for add-ons.

White-on-black tablecloths make Utopia's dining room formal but not stiff. There's also a private dining room with a window looking to the stage.

Musicians perform beginning at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays, and they also perform Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

After 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, guests pay a $10 music cover charge at the door.

National acts appear six to eight times a year, Howard said. Other times, local and regional acts perform.

“This is not only what Charlotte needs,” said Howard, who came to Charlotte in 2000 from Philadelphia. “This is what I need.”

As a newcomer in 2000, Howard spent many weekends back in Philly or in Washington, visiting jazz clubs such as Warm Daddy's and Blues Alley.

Utopia borrows from the intimacy of those clubs, where artists are close enough to interact with guests between shows. Yet Howard hopes the menu also will be a star.

“The Carolinas are starving for a good jazz venue,” Howard said. “but we're a restaurant first.”

Reviews & Comments
Edit this review Delete this review
(no rating) March 12, 2008 - The Charlotte Observer - Karen Sullivan

The name Utopia Restaurant pops up across North America – San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Portland, Washington and Toronto, to name a few. Now Charlotte is on that list, too.

(Full review)
(no rating) Jul 10, 2009 - SlowginJoe
Stay Away!!!

Everything about my "experience" was just terrible. The service was non existent. After waiting almost 50 minutes for my food(bland and over priced) I was treated to the sounds of some one screaming and yelling in the kitchen. Rotten fruit floating in glass jars on the bar also ruined it. Stay away. 0 out of 10. Ill be amazed if they are still open in 6 months.

Apr 10, 2009 - proinsman

Bad service

Apr 06, 2009 - tinkybeshort
Save your time and money!!

We have visited different locations throughout Charlotte that have live Jazz and this was by far the worst one! The menu is very bland, offers few selections and not to mention the expensive prices for the portions. The "band consisted of 2 people! lol. And it was far from Jazz- Brickhouse? Play that funky music? please! And the icing that topped the cake...$9 for a piece of chocolate cake?! No, not the Micky and Mooch's slice that you can eat for days but simply a pience of cake that is served on a small saucer. Please save your money and head to the House of Jazz if you are seeking Jazz and a reasonable selection of menu.

(no rating) Mar 13, 2009 - stronggirl
Maybe Gordon Ramsey can help

This sounds like a good candidate for the Kitchen Nightmare Series. Too bad it sounds like they won't survive long enough for Gordon. F#&k ME!!!

Mar 13, 2009 - pstrong4
Doubtful it will last

I recently had dinner at Utopia against the advice of several friends who had eaten there. Ambience is nice, food is mediocre, waiter was not experienced. Music was highlight of evening. Went again for lunch. Only two people in restaurant. Too bad because North Charlotte needs more dining options. Won't be going back.

(no rating) Mar 13, 2009 - nbevn7i
Big Daddy

Sounds like I will just go for the music and drinks and eat before I get there. Thanks for the reviews!

Mar 13, 2009 - thatuncguy
VERY Disappointed

I took my wife here for Valentine's Day. They had a Valentine's menu which either had a menu for two for $100 or you could order a la carte. Their prices are way too high for what you get. My wife got a chicken breast which came with mashed potatoes for $19. I got a ribeye by itself for $34. The food was decent, but not worth that price. The jazz was good, but only lasted 45 minutes. Not worth a trip, IMO.

Mar 13, 2009 - edwallace4

Sunday brunch is an absolute must!! The selection of choices offers more than enough to satisfy any customer's appetite. A definite must have....the shrimp and grits!!! As a southern girl that is quite picky about grits, this dish is addictively pleasing to the taste buds.

Definitely a great dining atmosphere and experience. As for service, I was so pleased with the server during my first visit for brunch, that I always request to be seated in her section, ask for Britney.

It is great to have a nice restaurant that offers great food, provides great service at reasonable prices.

(no rating) Mar 13, 2009 - bobbydarr
Did The Reporter Taste the Food?

Judging from the reviews written below from others that have tried this establishment, I would say Utopia is not as good as the Observer critic says they are. I agree totally that Charlotte needs live jazz venues. However, don't rip your customers off with bad service and bad food.

Mar 09, 2009 - PuddinPop
Big disappointment

My husband ordered sweet glazed chicken with mashed potatoes and broccoli. The chicken was 3 overcooked (fried) little pieces with a so-so tasting glaze on it. He was served a baked potato instead of mashed so he asked the waiter to either bring him mashed potatoes or sour cream to put on the baked potato. The waiter returned and said they didn't have sour cream (?) and that the baked potato was their version of mashed potatoes. The menu said "garlic & parsley mashed potatoes." I had ordered and received a (half cooked) baked potato which was exactly what my husband got. My salmon was overly seasoned and I paid $7 for five pieces of overcooked asparagus. This was not a good meal and definitely not worth the price (even if you take into account the entertainment). We will not go back. I don't mind paying money for good food. This just wasn't good. This is the first bad review I've ever written for a restaurant, but I feel like I need to tell people so they're not as disappointed as we were.

Feb 20, 2009 - Aggiedecks
Growing Pains

Service is great
Food is average
Jazz is great
wait time is poor

They should be better in a couple of months.

Zvents - Discover things to do