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Morgan Ridge part of Charlotte Restaurant Week

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

Morgan Ridge Vineyards and Brewhouse will be the only Rowan County restaurant participating in Queen’s Feast, Charlotte Restaurant Week.

More than 130 area restaurants are taking part in the Jan. 20-29 event.

For $35 per person, Morgan Ridge will serve a four-course meal. Each course will be paired with a different wine.

“My goal is to showcase the wine,” says Chef Jason Nain. He’s relying on old favorites and using his Cajun background to spice it up a little.

Most of the restaurants are in different neighborhoods of Charlotte, with three in Cabarrus County — Rocky River Grille, The Speedway Club and Union Street Bistro. Hickory restaurants Cafe Rule & Wine Bar and Standard Oyster Co. also are participating.

Morgan Ridge marketing director Kim Love said owners Tommy and Amie Baudoin talked about joining the feast last summer, thinking it was a good way for people who have not been to the vineyard to try it out.

Becoming part of Charlotte Restaurant Week requires an application and a fee. There are two weeks each year, in January and July, times when Chef Nain says business can be slow. “In July, everyone goes to the beach. January is always tough.”

As far as they know, this is the first time a Rowan County restaurant has been part of the event and Morgan Ridge is the only vineyard participating. Love says once a restaurant is on the list, it can stay there as long as the owners want to participate.

Reservations are required and must be made online at CharlotteRestaurantWeek.com or by calling Morgan Ridge at 704-639-0911.

Chef Nain’s menu is on the Morgan Ridge website, www.morganridgevineyard.com.

“A lot of chefs do crazy stuff for something like this,” Nain says. “I went old school because I want to focus on the pairings. What we’re serving are dishes than have been perfected and work well with the wine.”

The restaurant hopes for 300 customers over the nine-day period, and reservations are gradually coming in. The vineyard is typically open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, but it will open on any night for which reservations are made during Queen’s Feast.

Nain said some of the restaurants serve small portions, but his will be a full meal. The options include one beef entree, one chicken and a vegetarian option.

All meals will start with one of Nain’s signature soups — with the beef, a Louisiana Crawfish and Sweet Potato Bisque; with the chicken, Turkey and Sweet Potato Dumpling Soup; and Butternut Squash Soup for the vegetarian meal. The soup will be paired with Morgan Ridge’s 2014 chardonnay.

For the second course, Nain will serve Winter Baby Arugula Salad with slivered red onions, dried figs, crumbled feta and spiced pecans, drizzled with raspberry dressing. On the beef and chicken menus, the salads will be topped with duck confit, pieces of duck cooked in duck fat to make the meat tender and moist. The salads will be paired with a 2012 merlot.

Between the second and third course, Nain always serves a palate-cleansing sorbet.

The third course will be petite Chateaubriand sliced thin, an airline chicken breast, or a thin-sliced portabella mushroom steak. The sides will be Parmesan Herb Roasted Potatoes, finished with a sauce chasseur  and grilled asparagus. Nain says he can make a vegetarian version of the classic deep brown sauce. The third courses will be paired with a 2012 cabernet sauvignon.

For dessert, all meals will include Dark Chocolate Cayenne Mousse in an Almond Praline Tuile Cup, paired with Duet, the vintner’s blend.

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