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Venue Review: Good Food on Montford

Small plates hold a lot of taste
Good Food on Montford
By "Helen Schwab, Restaurant Writer"
The Charlotte Observer

1701 Montford Drive

More info on restaurant

Cleverly crafted and complex, several of the small plates Kerry and Bruce Moffett put out at this rustic little place belie its oh-so-blunt name. Steamed buns with five-spice-rubbed pork belly? Torchon of foie gras with ice wine jelly? Roasted quail with strawberry tamale and “chocolate-scented pan sauce”? That's a lot going on for a place dubbed Good Food on Montford.

The bulk of the lineup is simpler, more in line with the food that made Bruce Moffett famous at Barrington's – the food Kerry cooked with him for eight years before the brothers decided to open this, in March.

The small-plate idea – like tapas, but not exclusively Spanish-inspired – seemed a natural, given the economy and the opportunity for the chefs to get creative. Dishes such as garganelli (tiny pasta) with spicy sausage and tomato sauce, or a soup of New Town Farms' spring onions with baby sweet shrimp salad, or elegant little falafels with tomato-cucumber relish, bring this plan to fruition.

And I'm a fan, too, of the more complex dishes – the lamb tagine is remarkable – but they require more of the diner. Not just in attention, to appreciate them, but in the rest of your ordering, too. That tagine is not going to seem as noteworthy if you've preceded it with the green curry mussels and followed it with crab and ricotta tortelloni over fava beans with a shellfish reduction.

Therein lies a rub with any place serving small plates, but particularly one that offers some challenging fare: It's easy to order too much and feel hornswoggled by the bill, or order badly and feel overwhelmed. To fully appreciate Good Food, stick with mostly simple dishes and choose just one that's complicated per visit per person (and yes, make the tagine – served in a tiny lidded dish – your first).

The meat and cheese plates are strong beginners; don't miss the housemade garlic sausage and the camembert-style cheese with fig chutney. Other must-gets: olive-oil poached salmon in spicy carrot broth; potato gnocchetti with house-cured pancetta, brussels sprouts and pioppini mushrooms; and the falafel side dish (at $6 for four golf-ball-sized, perfectly fried orbs, a steal). Less compelling: A bland braised pork, despite housemade ramen noodles; and an overcooked scallop atop chilled angel hair.

As far as desserts go, it's a smart, short selection of fruit or chocolate: The s'more-like cupcake sports a browned meringue top and balanced chocolate sauce, and there are lemon bars with a barely-tangy frozen raspberry yogurt for fans of the less-sweet. Mango bread pudding and espresso pot de crème were also on the list on my last visit, and after-dinner nips and good coffee are available.

Service is crucial in this setup, and ours worked well: educated on preparations, unintrusive yet available and willing to let each table set its own pace. Space was more haphazard: One night, our party of four had plenty of room; another, two of us squeezed into a table that had not enough. And though white paper is an easy table covering, glasses sweat onto it and create puddles.

Speaking of flatware, check out the simple art and sconces that employ it. Simple. Well-cast here, with the exposed brick and hardwood ceilings and general ethos. Good.

Reviews & Comments
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Aug. 28, 2009 - The Charlotte Observer - Helen Schwab, Restaurant Writer

Good Food on Montford gets wonderful results with a mostly simple lineup complemented by some more complex dishes.

(Full review)
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(no rating) March 26, 2009 - The Charlotte Observer - Helen Schwab

First Bite is a look at, not a full review of, a new Charlotte-area restaurant.

(Full review)
Sep 22, 2009 - CLTEats
A New Favorite

Best meal I've had was here - Potato Gnocchetti. Small for a meal but we had the Calamari as an appetizer which was also stellar. It's a tappas restaurant after all so most things are small. Yes, it's expensive, loud and requires a wait usually if you don't have a reservation. If you're not okay with those things then bag it. If those things are all good with you then it's a winner. Good Food on Montford is affiliated with Barrington's which is a lot quieter although smaller and still expensive. It may be of interest as a quiet alternative.

Aug 29, 2009 - dlk9584

I refuse to spend that amount of money, no matter how good it tastes, on a dish where I have to move the piece of greenery in order to see the entree. If they want to make food into an 'Art' form, then do it in a gallery. I come to eat, not marvel at the colors and plating. I won't go back.

(no rating) Aug 28, 2009 - joatmon
Just too loud

We went there one time. Waited about 5 minutes inside the door just to be acknowledged. Once seated (and it was elbow to elbow), we couldn't hear each other talking nor understand the waitress when she finally came over to speak to us.

I'm sure the food is good, but if it is so loud that it makes my head hurt, I'll just have to pass and enjoy good food on Montford at other places, like Andrew Blair's

(no rating) Aug 28, 2009 - tbeacham13
Rude Hostess (take 2)

Without getting into any detail, I will echo the fact that the hostess completely ruined our experience. She could not have been more rude to us after we patiently waited an hour for a table. Wasted was the good food and the good server we had. Too many other good choices in town to be subjected to abuse by a hostess...hopefully the proprietor recognizes the problem and fires her.

(no rating) Aug 28, 2009 - kitcatnc1
Rude hostess

My husband and I were there shortly after it opened. Maybe 4 weeks. We couldn't even get seated in this restaurant. Waited for 15 minutes at the door. Two other couples that were clearly friends of the owner/hostess were seated immediately. When she finally asked about us she rudely said there would be an hour wait. Not worth it with that kind of attitude! We will not be returning!

Aug 28, 2009 - effortless13
One of my favorites in CLT!!

I have been to GFOM quite a few times since it opened it March, and I don't think I have ever been disappointed. I have my favorite dishes such as the cheese plate, steamed bun, gnochetti, and the pot de creme, but I also enjoy trying new dishes every time I go.

I have dined here alone and with a group and I think the prices are more than reasonable for a night out with wine/cocktails. I think tops I have spent with tip was $60, that is definitely NOT overpriced for a great meal. I think this is a place that is here to stay!!

Aug 28, 2009 - foodlover83
Love this place!!

I have to disagree with some of the comments I love this place!! I have left here feeling full and only spending $30 now if that's the price i have to pay to have an Awesome experience and Amazing food and Great service well then I will pay TRIPLE that especially here in Charlotte!!! My favorites have to be the the mussels (I have had the sauce that was left over to-go and made it with pasta the next day!!!!)Steamed bun leaves me wanting 2 more but I fight the urge and go for the Gnocchi OH MY GOD it's like heaven!!!This place is it for me. My friends and I love food so this is perfect for a night out!!!

Aug 28, 2009 - CO_WHAT
Good Food, Bad Prices

The food does taste good but not for the price. Who would pay $12 for 1 lobster ravioli...with barely any lobster?!?! I don't think that this restaurant will last long in this economy once the newness wears off unless the owners have deep pockets.
I would suggest that you go to Roasting Company or Andrew Blair's if you want great food that will actually fill you up (for a reasonable price).

Check out Soul Gastro Lounge in Plaza Midwood (1500 1/2 Central Ave Charlotte, NC 28205) if you want tapas done right. Amazing food and great prices.

Aug 28, 2009 - archiguy
Too expensive

We remember all the previous occupants of this space; few have lasted more than a few years. So we were anxious to try this out. One look at the portions versus the prices led us to quickly look elsewhere. Somebody should mention to these people that there's a recession going on.

(no rating) Aug 28, 2009 - discourser
Reservations only if 6 or more

They would not take a reservation unless you have a party of six or more. So, our party of four called from nearby Myer's Park to find out the wait time and get on the list. We were told 5-15 minutes, but they wouldn't put us on the list. We arrived five minutes later at the most. The hostess advised us it would be at least an hour!!

My review of Good Food? It's neighbor, Andrew Blair's, was fantastic - delicious food, great service, and prompt seating.

Aug 28, 2009 - littlepenguin
the food is good

the price is not. the FOUR ribs in that picture cost twenty dollars. and its nine dollars for one tortellini.

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