Evoke: “to bring (a memory, feeling, image, etc.) into the mind”, “to cause (a particular reaction or response) to happen.”
The minute I stepped into Uptown Charlotte’s Le Méridien hotel, I asked who the design team was for their 20+ million remodel. It’s been completely, and beautifully transformed by Le Méridien’s LM100™ Community – “a group of cultural innovators and artists who define and enrich the guest experience . . . The group comprises a global array of visionaries, from painters to photographers, musicians to designers, chefs to architects.” And it shows!
Next, I asked who named Le Méridien’s restaurant “Evoke“. The answer? Brainstorming employees. The name fits so well, it’s genius. For me, the decor evokes a sleek, retro, urban-chic feel.
After ordering our first course, we sampled a nice bread selection and Lavender Cosmopolitans, a signature cocktail made with house-infused lavender vodka. Not too sweet with lavender enough to flavor but not overwhelm. Tasty.
“Evoke offers an exquisite setting of a warm, yet chic, new-age steakhouse. Focusing on prime and dry-aged steaks, house-made pastas and fresh crudo.”
Our meal began with lovely Crispy Fried Oysters ($16) with a Southern twist. The oysters are dusted with cornmeal rather than panko. They’re served with Taragon Aoli. Not too heavy on the batter and creamy-rich inside.
Followed by a beautiful to behold Diver Scallop (Crudo/$19) dish. Scallops are thinly sliced and placed on the plate with orange sections, shaved Leeks, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and then topped with Fennel, toasted pine nuts, and chopped Kalamata olives.
And a Frisee Salad ($11). We both loved the interactive process of cutting into the soft-poached egg, allowing all that warm yolky-goodness to mix with the salad. Stone-ground mustard vinaigrette smears anchor the Frisee, Baby Arugula, Lardon, and sliced pear mix. This is a nice dish to share.
About this time, we switched to Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling, available in North Carolina as of about a month ago. It was recommended as good paired with pasta. Neither of us could guess what it was at first. It was so different for a Riesling. Fruity and effervescent, I’ll be drinking this at home!
What better way to test the Kung Fu Girl pairing suggestion than by sampling a couple of Evoke’s fresh house-made-daily pasta dishes.
First, beautiful Agnolotti ($15) stuffed with slow-cooked, braised Veal in a Truffle Burro Fuso (rendered butter sauce), topped with fresh, shaved Parmesan and Truffle, and micro greens.
Okay. This one sang to me. Earthy and robust, this is a dish I’d like to have again and again.
And second, a beautiful Tagliolini ($16) presentation. Sweet Sausage, Swiss Chard, and Walnut Pesto, are mixed throughout. Crumbled goat cheese and fresh walnuts top it all off. Savory, Salty, Sweet.
Just before our entree (from the USDA Prime/Certified Black Angus Beef portion of the menu) was served, an impressive assortment of salts were brought to our table: Bon Fire (smokey), Black Lava (Hawaiian), Chili Salt (spicy), and Pink Himalayan. This is a fun way to add a little seasoning to taste.
As it turned out, none of the salts or any other seasonings were needed for the 21-Day Dry-Aged NY Strip Steak (8oz/$30) flanked by sides Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta ($8) and Truffle Potato Puree ($7).
Although the Brussels Sprouts had great flavor, they could have been a little more tender. The NY Strip was excellent, cooked medium-rare with a taste-enhancing sear, tender and very flavorful. Both of us loved the smooth potato puree that had noticeable, not overpowering truffle flavor.
Whew! Time for one of the best coffees in the world, illy, and dessert!
They all sounded so good, we couldn’t decide on one to share. So we went with our two favorites to share. 🙂
Top: Olive Oil Cake ($10) with infused pear (rounds), blood orange, and Honey Gelato under a lovely crisp round. My favorite part of this dessert were the infused pear bites. Couldn’t get over the deliciousness.
Bottom: illy Espresso Chocolate Torte ($10) For complete awesomeness, take Bourbon Caramel and smear it on a plate. Strategically place two illy Espresso Tortes and Sour Cherries along the smear. Add a scoop of Hazelnut Gelato and garnish with a sweet, round, nutty crisp. When you go, you must order this!
Evoke’s dining room is cool, but if you’re looking for a little privacy for your group dinner, check out the swanky private room that seats up to 24 people that’s tucked away toward the back.
If you have the opportunity to stay at Le Meridien Charlotte, you’re going to love it! We took a look at one of the rooms and thought they did a fab job updating everything from coffee service to linens. The nighttime city skyline view from some rooms is killer.
Meal courtesy Evoke/Le Méridien