Venue Review: Soul Gastrolounge
The Charlotte Observer
First Bite is a look at, not a full review of, a new Charlotte-area restaurant. Food editor Kathleen Purvis is pinch-hitting for Helen Schwab on this one.
The place: Charlotte long-timers (i.e., those of us who've been here longer than five years) may remember the upstairs space at Central and Pecan as the Perch, once home of a comedy troupe called the Legally Dead Parrots Society. Now it's a cross between a food place and a club-scene club, with a small-plates menu, sushi and a DJ booth the size of a sushi bar that cranks out techno-dance music at appropriately high decibels. The balcony outside, overlooking beautiful downtown Plaza Midwood, will be a nice spot come summer.
The food: Soul has a Facebook page and a Twitter feed; it just didn't have a completed menu when we were there last week. The photocopied list of dishes includes an ambitious amount of small plates and sushi (nigiri, sashimi and rolls). The direction is global, so the small plates skate from the Cuban-tini (a credible version of the pressed Cuban sandwich) to surprising picks like bone marrow with toast points, sticky veal short ribs and beet (not beef) carpacchio. The steak and egg sandwich, a generous pile of thinly sliced beef topped with a runny egg, shows promise as a late-night bar nosh. Dessert is sugary-crisp cupcakes that are buttery, made in-house.
The drinks: It is a cocktail lounge with food, so drinks are part of the lineup. The Lychee Martini was Ty-Dee-Bowl blue, but refreshing rather than too sweet. Since the drinks list was still being written, we were told to order anything. Unfortunately, the bartender didn't know how to make a Side Car, but he redeemed himself with a Stinger that was just right. (Get thee to a bar book – the Side Car is just a few pages away.)
The details: 15001/2 Central Ave., 704-348-1848, www.twitter.com/Soul_Gastro.