Sophisticated Southern fare in Charlotte

33 Tables

Gallery Restaurant is a culinary gem tucked inside The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, just outside the city center of Charlotte, North Carolina. Years ago, it looked more like a scene from Steel Magnolias, what with its bright yellow dining room and oversized floral accents. While the food was exceptional, the décor overshadowed the work in the kitchen. A massive renovation in 2013 left the restaurant looking like the innovative and sophisticated dining spot it was meant to be, one that serves inventive American cuisine with a farm-to-table bent. 

The Food

With a modern approach to Southern cuisine, Gallery still gives you a Southern fare fix sans the traditional hush puppies and ribs that are ubiquitous in Charlotte. Instead, chef de cuisine David Moore crafted a menu that boasts an array of fresh, local ingredients used to create classic Southern dishes with twists. Such is the case with local deviled hen eggs, an innovative take on the traditional deviled eggs, this time served with pickled spring onions, rice masago, tomato gastrique and a touch of heat from chili sauce. But it’s not just Southern eats that play the leading role here. Seemingly simple entrées like steak and eggs are elevated to the extraordinary. In this case, rich and tender black garlic-rubbed cap steak is served with a potato puree and smoked Kobe-shi poached quail eggs. (Tip: A side of the black garlic Brussels sprouts should not be missed.)

The Bar

Gallery’s adjacent bar is a destination in and of itself. Oversized armchairs, dark wood paneling, coffered ceilings, and a backlit bar with sleek, leather stools make this place feel more like Manhattan than suburban Charlotte. Though the décor is one of the bar’s highlights, it’s the food and drink offerings that shine here. With an impressive selection of Scotches, whiskeys, bourbons and cognacs, the bar has one of the best dark liquor offerings in town. (There are more than 150 whiskey offerings alone, plus a Woodford Reserve Personal Selection bourbon created by The Ballantyne.) A must-try: The Curator cocktail featuring the aforementioned Woodford bourbon, absinthe, a dash of peach lime and agave syrup served over smoked ice. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a whiskey pairing menu — dishes like foie gras, smoked almond cake and pork belly are paired with various whiskeys to enhance each dish’s flavor.

The Ambience

Dark wood paneling and modern accents like oversize tufted banquets and all-white place settings prove to be an ideal backdrop for not only the innovative cuisine at the Charlotte restaurant but also the artwork. The 18 paintings on display were curated by nearby Shain Gallery to showcase various local, regional and national artists. The paintings are for sale and each provides diversity to the ultra-modern dining room — for instance, paintings of NASCAR racecars hang across from still-lifes — resulting in an always-changing gallery personalized just for this Southern restaurant.