I took for granted the massive amount of good restaurants in Charlotte. They even have a higher caliber of chain restaurants than you can in Little Rock. I don't men "local" chains (Charlotte has a ton of those as well), but national chains you can find all over the country. Firebird's is my favorite chain ever. And there are 3-4 locations in Charlotte, and not a single one in Little Rock. The Melting Pot: another Charlotte favorite; 2-3 locations in Charlotte, none in Little Rock. Mellow Mushroom: two in Charlotte, none in Little Rock.
The pizza chain opened up it's 3rd Arkansas location a little over two weeks ago. I wish they had done it sooner... (like two years and seven months ago) but I'll take what I can get. So far it's doing very, very well. We were going to go on a weeknight, since I assumed they wouldn't be as busy. Wrong. I called at 6:00 and found they were on an hour and a half wait! Then on Friday, Graham & I were both off work early, and decided to head out there for an early dinner. We got there around 4:45, and were seated immediately. I'm glad we got there when we did. We left around 6:00, and the waiting area was packed and there were tons of people outside. Just out of curiosity we asked how long the wait was: 55-60 minutes. Holy crap.
The service was excellent. I can tell they're still working out some kinks (it was opening week, after all), but once you take that into consideration, it was a perfect dining experience. Our server was very friendly and helpful, the manager was going from table to table helping out where needed (which always scores a restaurant points with me) and the food and drinks were delicious. It took longer than is typically acceptable for them to come out, but it was worth the wait. And I personally believe you have to cut a brand new restaurant, very busy restaurant a little slack.
It was happy hour, so we took advantage of their drink specials. Graham ordered beer, I had a Lemon Head. I was unsure about it, since it does have beer in it (and I hate beer), but our sever said it was his favorite and highly recommended it. It was delicious. It was made up of Cointreau, fresh sour mix, a splash of Blue Moon and a fresh squeeze of lemon. Nothing overpowered anything else, and it was just really, really good.
For dinner, we ordered the small Kosmic Karma: red sauce base with feta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, Roma tomatoes and a swirl of pesto. I would have ordered the next size up, but G swore he wasn't that hungry. And then he ended up eating half. Grr. It actually was the perfect size for us, but the fat kid in me would have liked more... We split this, and a dessert and left full and happy.
The pizza was delicious. Their crust is my favorite ever, and the toppings... oh my. The pesto had wonderful flavor, the red sauce was perfect. Everything was just delicious.
For dessert, we split the key lime pie. When it comes out, you're slightly disappointed. I mean, it looks pretty but where is the key lime part?
Oh! There it is! This was so, so good. We devoured this in about 30 seconds.
I hate that we're leaving right as Little Rock is gaining some *good* chain restaurants (Chuy's has opened up next door), but oh well. In 28 days, we'll have a whole new area of restaurants to check out. I will definitely be back before we leave though. Definitely.