October 29 – November 2
Continuing our string of meeting up with two different sets of people each day, we made our way to The Famous Toastery at Concord Mills to for breakfast with some of our friends from the Piedmont Adventure Club, Peggy and Luther and Diane and Loren. During our time in Charlotte these folks and that group provided a ready outlet for outdoor adventures and many a social outing.
As we’ve reported on several breakfasts at the Toastery, you can rest assured I ordered some version of a veggie omelet and Joanna pancakes or a waffle. The only downside to the meal was how short the time with these fine folks was, ending before it seemed we got started. As I glance through past pictures it reminds me that the passing of time has not been kind to many in this group, as we’ve all aged, and the price of aging is not always good. But the times we’ve shared with them will resonate for a long, long while.
Appreciative of some downtime, we doodled around town and then returned to the Airbnb for a long afternoon of goofing off. At the appointed hour, we met up with another cherished group who we’ve long chronicled here, that is our closest biking friends, Bonnie, Charlie, Kim, and Paul at our regular stop with them, Bonefish Grill, again taking us up to Concord Mills. Maurice was supposed to join us, but unfortunately needed to stay late at work at the last minute.
I didn’t get any pictures this time around but can assure you the food was as good as always and at consistently reasonable prices. We started off with Calamari appetizers for table and then laid into our entrees, Prince Edward Island Mussels Josephine (tomatoes, red onion, garlic, basil, and lemon wine sauce) for Joanna and the sublime Fresh Swordfish and Pumpkin Ravioli (wood grilled Swordfish topped with crispy onions, feta, and a hint of butter). Conversation flowed as we discussed travel plans, the pandemic, and of course reminisced about times shared. Food consumed, wine glasses drained, we bid farewell to each other with the knowledge we’d meet again during our next visit to Charlotte.
Tuesday would be our last day in town before returning to Durham to continue our efforts to get Joanna’s Mom placed and moved. We wanted to get a bike ride in and had to decide between two of our favorites, one being a tour of the greenway system around our former house and the other an up and back to Davidson with a stop there at Summit Coffee. In the end we opted to do the greenways as they are unique to Charlotte and a joy to ride on.
We started off at the shopping center parking lot on Highway 29 across from UNC Charlotte and then rode into campus, descending from the west side (where the engineering and motor sport buildings are) to hook up with the greenway that follows Toby Creek. We turned right and rode past the tennis courts and women’s softball field eventually leaving the school and crossing Highway 49 (the two roads form the western and eastern boundaries of campus) following it to its conclusion at Rocky River Road.
We doubled back to campus and rode through, this time under the overpass for the light rail that terminates near the northernmost dorms and then hit the Mallard Creek Greenway, which we turned onto and rode the short distance back to Highway 29, crossing under it to continue through the wooded area (every once in a while I would see deer as I rode in on my morning commute) that leads to University Park and a long stretch of unpaved path.
Eventually you hit pavement again and reach the intersection with Clarks Creek Greenway, which we transitioned onto, riding it to its end before turning around to return to the intersection where we turned right to continue onto Mallard Creek riding to where it ends, a few blocks away from Maylandia Rd., the street that we lived on. We climbed the steep hill to the top of the neighborhood, turned right to Maylandia and stopped to have a look when who should we run into, but our former neighbor George.
We have great long-time neighbors (Sue and Kwan, and Marilyn and Jason) in Los Angeles and were equally blessed with George, a retired New York railroad employee with a passel of adult children, who we shared stories with and watched each other’s properties while the other was away. Finished, we mounted up and returned to the Greenway retracing our route back to Highway 29 to climb back up to the car and lunch at a new place we’ve been wanting to try, the Original Hot Dog Factory.
I ordered my usual, a dog southern style, the Carolina Slaw Dog (Grilled beef hot dog, chili, mustard, and slaw) and Joanna the Street Polish Dog (Polish Sausage on a poppy seed bun, grilled onions, mustard, and sport peppers). These were good, quite good. Almost on a par with our favorite Charlotte doghouse, JJ’s Red Hots. I’m sure though that if the opportunity presents itself, we will return.
It was just the right amount of food to tide us over for the rest of the day until our rendezvous with Dee and Richard for dinner at 300 East, which I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty is our favorite restaurant in Charlotte, having enjoyed countless good meals there at ridiculously reasonable prices.
We all arrived at about the same time and were soon ushered to a cozy booth in the upstairs dining room. Joanna and I started with a glass of Albarino white wine apiece and the Baked Marinated Vermont Goat Cheese (with Roasted Garlic, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Your Mom’s Baguette) appetizer for the table.
It was as good as it sounds and made us ready for our entrees, for Joanna the 6 oz Filet Mignon (Gorgonzola Cream and Bacon Jam) and for me the Pan Seared Springer Mountain Farms Airline Breast (Stuffed with Country Ham, Manchego & Tomato Jam, Shiitake-Rosemary Gravy), both served with mashed potatoes and that day’s vegetable.
When we talk about reasonable prices, what exactly does that connote? Here it means $18.50 for the chicken and $28 for a delicious filet mignon. Last night celebrating a birthday with friends here at home, I had a filet at a very nice restaurant, just the steak mind you with nothing to accompany it, for $54. Was that steak better than the one at 300 East? Perhaps a bit better but almost $30 better? I’m not a steak connoisseur but I’ll stick with the tried and true.
We finished with a sinfully good Callebaut Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce & Caramel. The restaurant has their own pastry chef, and it shows in all their desserts, which we had left just enough room to split between the four of us. And just like that, we completed our stay in Charlotte and prepared for the next phase of our trip, returning to Durham and hopefully a positive outcome there.
Original Hot Dog Factory: https://jxe.f3c.myftpupload.com/locations-3/charlotte/
JJ’s Red Hots: https://jjsredhots.com/
300 East: https://www.300east.net/