Charlotte Eats: Soul Gastrolounge {bday dinner!}

When looking for my birthday dinner, I didn’t know what I wanted really… just something good, and local. I Googled, read reviews, and kept coming back to Soul Gastrolounge. Zagat top 10 restaurant in Charlotte? Check. Charlotte Magazine Top 25? Check. Tapas, sushi, cocktails, and cool atmosphere? Sold.

Soul Gastrolounge is located near Uptown (Charlotte speak for Downtown) in Plaza Midwood, a unique area full of art galleries, restaurants, and funky stores. The restaurant is upstairs above an art gallery/bar and easily missed if just driving by. I had been warned about the exterior stairs/lack of elevator from a friend but decided I was up for the challenge! There was also plenty of free parking within a short walking distance.

We met another couple there around 8pm on a Monday night (my actual birthday). Reviews online said the wait is loooong on weekends and even on a rainy Monday night, there was a short wait. We asked for first available and were seated outside on the patio – that also boosted a great view of Uptown!

The interior of Soul is loungy (duh). Dimly lit, cozy seating, good music, and a cool atmosphere. Late at night, there is a live DJ (10pm-2am, I believe).

The service was excellent. Our waitress was friendly, helpful, and always available for additional orders or advice on what we wanted next. She was also heavily pierced and used to work in the circus. True story.

The innovative menu is what really got me. Here is the menu on their website, but I’ll also list it here since I know most of us don’t bother clicking through 🙂 Please note their menu is constantly evolving but they do seem to update regularly online.

Most of the menu are tapas – aka, small plates meant for sharing. Or not, depending upon how good it is…

Salads

MIDWOOD MIXED GREENS tomatoes, red onion, crimini mushrooms, shaved pecorino, red wine vinaigrette $6

GRILLED CAESAR garlic-oil grilled romaine, toasted sourdough crouton $6

GUACAMOLE STACK sliced avocado, red onion, cilantro, fried garlic chips $5

COUNTRY GREEK SALAD tomatoes, red onion, cukes, kalamata olives, peppers, feta, EVOO $7

ROCKET ANTIPASTO arugula, tomatoes, marinated criminis, pepperoncini, black olives, mozzarella, cured ham, vinaigrette $8

Dips

BABAGANOUSH smoked eggplant dip $4

TZATZIKI garlic-yogurt dip $4

HUMMUS of the Day $4

WHITE BEAN and GOAT CHEESE $5

ATHENIAN TOMATO SALSA $5

TARAMOSALATA caviar spread $5

SPICY FETA DIP $5

DIP TRIO: tzatziki – hummus – babaganoush $8

Sides~Nibbles~Toasts

Marinated Spanish white anchovies on bruschetta $6

Fried goat cheese on bruschetta $6

Herb cheese stuffed piquillo peppers on bruschetta $6

Serrano and manchego on toast $6

Marinated baby portabella mushrooms $5

Mixed marinated olives $5

French fries with garlic-herb salt, pecorino & truffle oil $5

Barrel-aged Greek feta, with Greek oregano and EVOO $6

Toasted pita bread/pita chips $1

Skewers

Garlic shrimp $7

Gyros [house-made ground lamb & beef] with tzatziki $7

Lemon chicken $5

Pork souvlaki with tzatziki $6

Chimichurri beef $7

Ahi tuna with sesame & soy drizzle $8

Curried lamb with mango chutney $8

Panini Sandwiches

CUBANINI – BBQ pork, ham, pickle, provolone, mustard $8

EGGPLANT PARMESAN whole milk mozzarella in a deep-fried eggplant bun, with tomato-basil marinara $7

WILD MUSHROOMS ON TOAST topped with local fried egg & dijon-olive oil drizzle $8

MINI-BURGERS blue cheese stuffed, with fried onion strings, lettuce & sriracha mayo $8

SOUL-GRILLED CHEESE mozzarella, provolone & kasseri chesses, panini grilled $6

STEAK & EGG hanger steak on toast with sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, and provolone, topped with a fresh local fried egg $9

GRILLED PITA SANDWICHES tomato, parsley, onion and tzatziki

gyros $8 beef $7 pork $7 chicken $6 lamb $8 falafel $6

Cupcakes $4

red velvet – cream cheese frosting

salted caramel – popcorn buttercream

cupcake of the day

Soulmade Ice Cream $4

goat cheese – Vietnamese coffee – pistachio

Smallplates

DIRTY SOUTH NACHOS fried chicken skin “chips” with a pimento cheese fondue and jalapeño spiked pickled okra $8

SHRIMP CEVICHE in coconut milk and lime, with plantain chips $8

SASHIMI TUNA TACOS Bragg’s marinated diced tuna in fried wonton tacos, with marinated cucumbers and siracha mayo $9

ANCHOVY FRIES fresh fried whole anchovies with tomato-lemon tartar sauce $6

SALMON-O-PITA smoked salmon with chevre, cream cheese & chives, baked in phyllo, with candied red onion relish $7

SOUTHERN FRIED OYSTERS calabash style, with tomato-lemon tartar sauce $7

STICKY VEAL SHORTRIBS hoisin-braised, with five spice honey $9

LAMB LOLLIPOPS lamb racks with rosemary & pecorino $18

ASIAN GLAZED PORK BELLY TACOS in flour tortillas with watermelon salsa $9

PAN CON TOMATE Spanish chorizo, whipped manchego, rioja reduction $7

FOIE GRAS CREAM PUFFS profiteroles filled with foie gras mousse, served with a red wine reduction sauce $15

SOUL WINGS:

KOREAN BBQ – fried & tossed in a fiery Korean BBQ sauce, then grilled and served with scallions $7

SOUTHERN FRIED – dredged in seasoned flour, fried crispy served with a pickled pepper-buttermilk dipping sauce $7

CHEESE PLATE kasseri, barrel-aged feta, manchego, bucheron, apricot jam, toasts $10

HAM PLATE Calhoun’s country ham, Serrano, Virginia ham, cornichons, capers, EVOO, toasts $8

SPANAKOPITA spinach and feta phyllo pies $6

SAGANAKI pan-fried kefalograviera cheese, flamed with brandy $6

BONE MARROW garlic roasted beef bones. with parsley salad, toasts $8

ROCKY MOUNTAIN OYSTERS deep fried veal fries, with spicy ranch $7

FRIED MEATBALLS herbed ground beef, tzatziki $6

FLATBREAD truffle whipped goat cheese, pistachio pesto, honey braised garlic and fresh arugula $8

Sushi

Edamame $4 Seaweed Salad $5 Squid Salad $6

NIGIRI: on a bed of rice – SASHIMI: straight up 2 pcs/order

Tuna $6 Squid $5 Salmon $5 White Tuna $6 Salmon Roe $6 Octopus $5

Yellowtail $6 White Fish $5 Eel $5 Shrimp $5 Sweet Shrimp $9 Scallop $6

FEATURED ROLLS: CALIFORNIA $6 VEGETABLE $6 SPICY TUNA $7 HAMACHI JALAPEÑO $8

PHILLY $8 EEL $7 YELLOWTAIL with SCALLIONS $8 RAINBOW $12

* available with soy paper OR as hand rolls

Soul Originals

SOUL ROLL 8 pcs $11

spicy salmon, cukes, jalapeño, sliced white tuna, wasabi aioli, spicy mayo sauce

KI ROLL [vegan] 8 pcs $9

carrots, cucumber, mint & mango in soy paper with a sweet chili sauce

NAPOLEON ROLL 8 pcs $9

tuna, cream cheese, jalapeño, lightly fried in a tempura batter

REPLAY ROLL 8 pcs $10

eel, cucumber, crab and capelin roe, with eel sauce on a bed of crispy tempura flakes

CRUNCH ROLL 6 pcs $10

yellow tail, crispy tempura flakes, scallions & white fish, spicy mayo, lightly fried

QUEEN CHARLOTTE 8 pcs $10

tempura shrimp, cucumber and capelin roe

HAMACHI with JALAPEÑO 4 pcs $10

thin cucumber, yellowtail [white tuna by request] w/thinly sliced jalapeño & ponzu sauce

SUSHI FONDU 8 pcs $11

spicy tuna, avocado, kani stick & capelin roe, creamy aioli sauce & crispy tempura flakes

SPIDER ROLL 5 pcs $11

tempura soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado and capelin roe

SAKANA ROLL 5 pcs $14

tuna, salmon, and avocado,lightly fried in a tempura batter with spicy sauce & eel sauce

DANCING TUNA ROLL 8 pcs $13

seared tuna and avocado, topped with spicy tuna, jalapeño, tobiko, finished with sriracha mayo & wasabi mayo

SASHIMI PLATES: SASHIMI SAMPLER 6 slices – your choice $16

SASHIMI MORIAWASE 9 slices – chefs choice $21

Delicious looking, right? And so.hard. to make a decision.

Between the four of us, we ordered:

* The spicy feta dip with pita chips. This was delicious, and reminded me a lot of pimento cheese!

* The Napolean Roll – tuna, cream cheese, jalapeño, lightly fried in a tempura batter. Yummy, yummy, yummy and a great portion size for price

{really bad phone pics ahead!}

* Dirty South Nachos – fried chicken skin “chips” with a pimento cheese fondue and jalapeño spiked pickled okra. Jason loved these, and said they reminded him a bit of fried catfish because of the batter. They were a bit too skin-ny for me (get it? *snort*)

* Sushi special of the day, that was raved about and looked gorgeous (my pic came out unidentifiable)

* Asian Glazed Pork Belly Tacos in flour tortillas with watermelon salsa – another of Jason’s choice, he said they were delicious. Instead of a true watermelon salsa, it actually had a cube of watermelon atop each piece of pork belly

* Flatbread – truffle whipped goat cheese, pistachio pesto, honey braised garlic and fresh arugula.  Ohmyheavens delicious. The honey braised garlic was my favorite part

* French fries with garlic-herb salt, pecorino & truffle oil – delicious, and the perfect salty snack for the table

Bottom line: it’s good eatin’. I need to go back ASAP and try another round of deliciousness. While I have no qualms going by myself or with Jason, going with more people = opportunity to taste more things. Hit up Soul Gastrolounge if this sounds like your thing – and invite me to join you!

Psst. I had no idea how to use the flash on my phone to take pics until three dishes into dinner when my friend showed me how. Which ended up being so simple a cave man could do it. True Story.

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