To the Islands Mon


Today was such a bright and beautiful day it felt like a great day to hit the islands even if the temperature wasn’t quite tropical.  With that in mind Jamaica became the country and Caribbean Hut restaurant the representative for the food.  There are two locations in the Charlotte area and the closest to me is off Woodlawn and I mean off.  Google maps pinned it but couldn’t quite figure out how to get there.  It ran me past the location, indicated I should do a U-turn and then just gave up.  The pin was an island on the screen Google couldn’t navigate to.

Fortunately for me the JROTC training kicked in and I was able to figure out the map and successfully arrive in the parking lot.  The Caribbean Hut shares the lot with some interesting company, including a restaurant named Chubz, and the Gentlemen’s Club that I don’t believe is a habitat for gentlemen but I could be mistaken.  In any case I reached the destination and it looked promising.

I walked in and was greeted by the sounds of Mr. Bob Marley, whose likeness also graced one wall.  The staff and several of the restaurant patrons had accents than pegged them as being from the Caribbean if not from Jamaica.  As I’ve said more than once it’s a good sign to me when people from the culture eat at the restaurant.

The menu wasn’t huge but did have a nice variety of items including some combos that came in small and large.  I went with the small oxtail and curry goat combo that also came with rice and beans, vegetables and plantains.


I have never had oxtail at all or goat this way, which is of course why I got them.  I liked them both but preferred the curry goat overall.  The goat was cooked in a mild green curry that had a nice flavor and the meat was cooked tender and had a rich taste.  If you are a health nut and you’ve never had oxtail keep it that way.  The oxtail was about fifty percent meat with the other fifty percent being just about equal measures of fat, gristle and bone.  I know some of you are saying “Yum” and meaning it while others probably fought back a gag reflex but let me assure you it was actually quite good.  The meat was very tender and flavorful and the brown gravy was just a bit sweet and tasted like it had some of the same spices used in jerk seasoning in it as well.  The rice and beans had just a few beans in it but did have other seasoning that went well with both the curry and oxtail.  The vegetables consisted mostly of steamed cabbage with a can of veg-all thrown in.  The cabbage was cooked thoroughly and not overdone so it was nice.  The plantains were cooked with a slight glaze on the outside and soft on the inside while staying firm enough you could push food on to your fork with them.

They had a selection of other Jamaican foods and drinks including meat patties, island sodas and Red Stripe beer.  I can definitely see giving the Caribbean Hut another shot to try some of the other menu items.

They don’t have a website but here’s a link to their Facebook page:

Caribbean Hut Facebook

don’t forget to check out Tell Me More

Pub Time



Kept it close to home this weekend and got the England stamp at the Six Pence Pub in Baxter Village.  I have been to Six Pence before and enjoyed each trip.  It has pub food but also a lot of other things so if you have folks who might have heard British food is not the best in the world they’ll be ok.

They start laying the English pub mood with the red phone box out front and then when you go in it has dark wood and heavy furniture aplenty to continue the motif and of course a nice bar area.

I thought about  going with the fish and chips as the typical English meal but instead went for the Shepherd’s Pie and the accompanying salad with a Strongbow Cider to wash it down.  This turned out to be a great combination.  The salad was a nice start and gave the feeling of healthiness to the meal.  The shepherd’s pie had a ground beef filling (I know that technically makes it a cottage pie) with peas & carrots and some nice herbs and spices.  There was a layer of mashed potatoes and then a scoop smothered in cheddar cheese.  The potatoes were skin on mashed which personally I like and these were made with red potatoes which I also have a fondness for.

The really pleasant surprise was the Strongbow Cider and how well it paired with the pie.  The cider was crisp, dry and enjoyable by itself but it stepped up a notch once I started eating the pie.  The first sip after a bite had an aftertaste of fresh apples like you had just bitten into one.  I immediately had to take another sip to make sure I wasn’t imagining it.  Same result.  Once the pie was finished and I was drinking the cider by itself the fresh apple after taste faded so it was the combo that complimented one another so well.
























Overall I’d have to say this was quite a good meal and an excellent surprise pairing.  The portions were sufficient and didn’t make me feel like I was waddling out of there after what could have been a heavy comfort food lunch.  I did forgo the Scotch egg appetizer they have which is one of my favorites since I was eating solo but if you visit give it a try.

Don’t forget to check out the Tell Me More page for an extra little bit of England.

Land of Cedars


Lebanese stamp

This week’s culinary passport stamp is from Lebanon via Arabesque in Columbia.  I got to share the meal with three of my favorite people; Andy, Melanie & Ian McGehee.


Few things can whet the appetite like overcoming trials and tribulations to earn the right to your meal.  When we arrived at the restaurant, which shares a parking lot with several other businesses including 2 other eateries, it looked like they were giving stuff away.  There were no spaces to be found, the parking lot was circled and people seemed to be parking in a vacant lot across the street.  Not to be deterred though Andy drove through a second time and suddenly spotted an empty space beckoning to be occupied.  Interesting note about this parking lot.  They have a short single row of parking places in the middle and based on the distance between the lines the spots are for sveldt little cars not the beefy behemoths that predominated this lot.  The empty space was in this row and there was an SUV or van on either side.  After eyeing the spot and a brief discussion we decided three of us would get out prior to parking just in case.  With a deep breath and steely determination Andy bravely took the car in.  Fortunately he was able to extricate himself from confining quarters and triumphantly we made our way to Arabesque.


This is a nice place and although it was clear when we entered the crowds weren’t here I think that worked for us.  We were greeted quickly and seated at a window booth.  The benches were deep and had big tassled cushions to lean back on which added a nice little touch.  Let me say now that the benefits of dining with great friends is hard to overstate.  You get the benefit of good conversation and commraderie that makes the meal better even if the food tastes the same.  Additionally you can see and try more dishes without looking like a glutton so it’s a win all the way around.

We started with the Arabesque Appetizer Sampler which included Hummus, Falafel, Damascus Bread, Grape leaves and my favorite one to say Baba Ghanouj.  It was good enough that we got another Damascus bread and order of baba ghanouj.  All of it was good.  The hummus tasted like you’d expect, nothing outstanding.  The Falafels were some of the best I’ve had and if you have never tried a falafel you should.  Apparently it’s a thing for people who own or work in Mediterranean restaurants located in the South to helpfully equate them to Mediterranean hush puppies.  The grape leaves were tender and the stuffing had a consistency that was almost creamy and the whole had a bit of a tang that contrasted with some of the other foods, in a good way.  Damascus bread was flat and covered in sesame seeds, both white and black for a bit of contrast.  It also made a great delivery system for the baba ghanouj (it’s not as much fun to type as to say) which was also tasty.  Overall the sampler platter got an A from me and judging by the empty plates a passing grade from the McGehees as well.


Since the McGehees are observing Lent and not eating meat I decided to not be that guy going on about the great lamb shawarma to the people who couldn’t have any although I was assured it was not a problem.  For entrees I got the Mujadara, rice & lentils with fried onion topping, a cucumber yogurt salad and lettuce & cabbage.  Andy got the falafel platter and Melanie got a medium spicy shrimp curry.

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The mujadara was filling and good with the onions.  Without those it would have been just filling.  The cucumber yogurt salad had a cool flavor and had some herbs in it to add a dill/mint touch.  Andy’s falafels came with a heaping helping of hummus and Damascus bread and a salad.  All were part of the appetizer platter so I can attest they were better than average.  Now we get to the curry which comes with a cautionary tale.  Originally ordered as mild the waiter, trying to be helpful, strongly suggested going medium as he had been told often that mild was bland.  Turns out medium was spicier than either Melanie or Ian cared for and after tasting it I could understand how the mild would be bland because the medium was semi bland and the heat did distract from that.  General consensus was Indian curries were more flavorful.  The waiter got feedback that he might want to suggest that anyone ordering curry mild would be better served if he advised them to consider another choice.  Overall the entrée success rate was 2 out of 3.

Between the appetizers and the entrées everyone was pretty full but Ian and I powered through the pain and ordered some desert just to complete the courses because we are troopers like that.

I got the baklava and he got cheesecake.  The baklava was a bit different than most I’ve had in the past.  The thickness was as others but it had a significantly thicker top layer of filo than any other in my experience.  Also a lot less of the honey / syrup found in most.  The result was a lighter baklava with crispy filo layers and sweet but not overly sweet filling.  I didn’t even feel my blood sugar go through the roof so that was nice.


I’d have to say my Lebanese experience was tasty and they have a chargrilled quail on the menu as well as the previously mentioned lamb shawarma that sound like a good reason to return to Arabesque.  The food was good and the company great so this week was a winner.


Check out Tell Me More

Seoul Food


After a bit of searching for Korean restaurants Pepero in Matthews, NC was the place I settled on for this weeks passport stamp.  It’s not much to look at. When you walk in, to the right is the restaurant area and to the left is a Korean market.  The fact there was a market was one of the deciding factors in picking Pepero.  There are two seating areas side by side, one apparently the original and the other a more recent addition to accommodate more folks.  I was seated in the older section which just reinforced the “it ain’t fancy” vibe but it was very clean and my table had recently been bused and you could smell the cleaner.  Points for that.

There were only a few people there when I arrived but it quickly filled up and honestly I was heartened to see and hear the majority were Korean.  If they were choosing to eat here I figured that was a good sign the food was authentic.  There were some interesting choices on the menu but I settled on the Seafood Pancake from the appetizer section and the “Bul go gi dup bop”, Korean BBQ beef and rice.  As you can see from the shot below it came with several sides.


I’m not sure what all was in the seafood pancake but I did detect shrimp and squid.  It was good and the pancake texture reminded me of a potato pancake.  The beef was thinly sliced and chopped and was marinated in a slightly sweet sauce and had green onions and sesame seeds sprinkled on it and the rice was chopstick friendly sticky rice.  The sides were kimchi, some kind of greens, pickled cucumber with some mild spicy sauce, bean sprouts and what I think was tofu, at least it had that consistency.  The vagaries of restaurant in a market lighting didn’t do the food justice in these pictures.  Up close and personal it was quite appetizing.  Oh there was soup at the beginning also.  This was a lot of food and against my normal nature I brought food home.  One reason I had to leave a little room was I knew this was available just outside in the market and I had to try it.


If you can’t read the package it is an ice cream sandwich in the shape of a fish with vanilla ice cream and red bean paste.  The “cookie” was the same material they use to make the cheap ice cream cones you get in the store.  Normally I hate those things (waffle cones rule!) but in this case it was great, easy to hold, no leakage and did I mention shaped like a fish.  Who wouldn’t want to try that?  For those going “red bean paste, are you serious?” it was tasty but never fear they did have versions with strawberry and chocolate.

I had to stop in the market and just wander around looking at all the things I had no idea what the hell they were.  I did see Korean Spam which made me smile and more varieties of seaweed than I thought possible.  I did buy a couple of other things I’m going to try later.  Some because they shared the name with the restaurant and they had chocolate.  The other was because it is a sweet potato cookie, how could I not.


Overall verdict is this place is worth going back to visit.  If you want good Korean and plenty of it I’d recommend it.  They don’t have a web site but you can Google them.  Pepero in Matthews, NC.

Next week it’s a road trip to Columbia for Lebanese at Arabesque with friends.

Tell Me More

North to Germany


This week we moved from Africa to Europe and I chose Germany as the target country and Waldhorn Restaurant as the establishment.  This was a bit of a cheat as I have been here several times before but didn’t find any place else that really seemed to typify German cuisine.
Waldhorn is a large white building with foliage around the perimeter of the property to lend it some separation from the other businesses and the nearby James K Polk museum.  This particular Saturday they weren’t very busy but there was a meeting of some kind of Mercedes owners club so my Hyundai and a little Nissan were the only non-Mercedes in the parking lot that I could see.  I felt like I should have stopped at the car wash first just so my car would have at least been shiny.  Enough about that.
My impression of the interior of the restaurant is that it has 3 areas with different feels.  There is one section where they have windows on three sides and during the day it has a bright, airy feel to it.  The main part of the restaurant seems darker and heavier but in a good comfortable way.  Finally there is an upstairs area good for groups but not private as it is open to the rest of the restaurant.  It does get you up out of the traffic pattern though.
The staff was friendly and attentive and Paul and his trainee Ashley took good care of me while I was there.

Although Waldhorn was not new to me and I had tried their Jaegerschnitzel and my go to is usually the Schwaebische wurstplatte I had never tried the Wienerschnitzel so that was the choice for the day.  It came with spaetzle and red cabbage.  To accompany the meal I decided to go with a beer sampler to maximize the variety and still be able to drive home.  I tried the Spaten Premium Lager, Warsteiner Pilsner, Warsteiner Dunkel and the Spaten Oktoberfest.


The wienerschnitzel was thin and tender and cooked a perfect golden brown all the way around.  The spaetzle by itself could have used some more salt but along with a bite of the meat it worked.  The cabbage was a little sweet but complimented the rest of the meal.  Being a good southern boy I could have used a ladle full of that gravy but there was enough to enhance the schnitzel and spaetzle without drowning either.

Oh and the beer.  All four were decent but the Oktoberfest was far and away my favorite of the lot. Neither the pilsner or the lager really stood out.  The dunkel was bitter, in a good way.  That Oktoberfest though was nothing but smooth.

As I was eating I could overhear Paul schooling young Ashley on the finer points of being on staff and he described to her his favorite menu item and you could tell it was not just what he considered the most edible thing on the menu but that he truly liked this particular dish a lot.  That says something when your wait staff is enthusiastic about the food when they don’t have to be.

If you’re in the market for German and in the Charlotte area you won’t do better than Waldhorn.

Here’s a link to their website

Next week I’m heading east to Asia.