Mick's Picks: If you're thinking about eating today, I suggest you forget your plans and get to Bistro la Bon at 1322 Central Avenue in the Plaza/Midwood neighborhood.
You see that nifty new traffic light icon accompanying at the top of our posts. We're gonna use it to steer you around the Charlotte restaurant scene. If there was a color or app I could use to teleport you to Bistro la Bon as you read this love song, I would. My lunch was rousing- almost racy, and I forced myself to linger and savor my meal. I felt like a love crazed teenager steaming up the backseat of the family truckster, fighting that desire to devour everything I could taste with reckless haste and abandon. Yes, it was that good.
I'd read plenty of reviews about the gastronomic splendors Chef Majid Amoorpour crafts in this most inconspicuous of locations near the tracks around Central. But I could care less if a place is in a strip mall or a gas station. It is all comes down to what's on the plate. After seeing the awards and repeated write-ups, I knew something special was happening. Even before you open the doors you sense it vibrating like late afternoon heat humming off the asphalt.
There is a small patio of black iron and intimate tables outside. Upon entry you notice a wave of claret fabric billows from the rafters like a gossamer snake. Walls of windows bend around the dining room and filter light through their curtains the color of chocolate. Fresh zinnias in glass vases brightened up the earthy tones around a gleaming bar and comfortable lounge stocked with bottle after bottle of reds and whites and a respectable selection of craft draft beers and bottles of liquor.
I was smitten.
Shortly after arriving, I eavesdropped on the gentlemen down the bar discussing lunch with the bartender. He'd thought about trying something new but relented and reverted to the Swedish meatballs. "They are so good," he gushed. "You like them," I interjected. He told me they were on par if not better than his Swedish grandma's meatballs. I ordered the tomato soup as a starter while I studied the menu. When a woman fresh out of seeing her hairstylist sat down beside me, refused a menu and ordered a glass of red and the meatballs, I was sold.
Every meal at Bistro la Bon also includes a locavore salad, scratch-made bread and fresh butter. The citrus champagne vinaigrette drizzled on the just-picked mixed greens gave the salad a bright, smooth flavor. My soup arrived with perfect timing, alongside a few warm slices of handmade bread and a swirl of salty butter. Globules of olive oil floated around a solitary basil leaf atop the tomato soup which tasted delicious- so sun-kissed and nourishing. I dunked the bread knuckle deep into my soup without shame.
Then came the much-lauded Swedish meatballs. The menu keeps the descriptions to a minimum. Swedish meatballs, potatoes and lingonberry. Since I'm no Swede I couldn't, and still can't, tell you anything about a lingonberry other than it must be a Scandinavian cousin to a blackberry. I didn't know if my potatoes were coming scalloped, mashed or roasted. I didn't care. Lunch was off to a very, very good start and I knew it was about to get much better.
See how the light glistens off the meatballs and the slick of delicious gravy flecked with scallions. See how the potatoes are tender morsels, split and either roasted or pan-fried and sized for a perfect forkful. Behind the hearty pairing of meat and potatoes was a pool of deep purple lingonberries prepared as a preserve or puree. Forgive me any inaccuracies in culinary techniques and descriptions for I am merely a fan of food. I wish somebody took a picture of me eating the first bite. I imagine I probably swayed on my bar stool like a maestro while fireworks exploded inside my mind to herald the new flavors I was experiencing. The meal displayed true craftsmanship found only when passion and simple, pure ingredients are entwined.
Not much more I want or need to say other than I'll be back to Bistro la Bon. You are really doing yourself a disservice if you don't go check them out.
And if you love Bistro la Bon, we're eager to hear your recommendations on their other menu options in the Comments Section below.