A few weeks ago, I shared with my readers the lofty goal of trying a different restaurant for date night at least once a week. Well, if you follow my @omgclt_ Instagram account and check out my OMGNOMS highlights, you'll see that the boo and I have been doing a pretty good job whittling down the list of the newest — and I would argue best — additions to the Q.C. dining scene.
Shortly after that article, my guy suggested going to Haymaker Restaurant in uptown Charlotte beneath Ascent Uptown Apartments across from Romare Bearden Park. I'll be honest, I'm an all-day grazer. I don't eat a lot in one sitting but if you add up how much I'm eating throughout the day, I guarantee it beats how much my boyfriend eats.
Not to mention, he prefers eating dinner late at night while I prefer eating around 6 p.m. So you can imagine, #hangry attitudes have taken hold way more often than he would like. And I have to apologize for what I've said when I was hangry more than I'm proud to say.
Luckily, however, neither of us were super hungry when it came time for our reservation at 8:30 p.m. I was thankful for the fact we didn't have too much of an appetite when I looked at the prices of the items on the large plates (balling on a budget). Especially considering we end up sharing a few small plates at other restaurants and being super full.
I checked out the menus beforehand as I always do. And the first thing I welcomed was the slogan: Make hay while the sun shines. Then I read that their specialty is farm-fresh fare — prepared by Chef William Dissen and Chef de Cuisines Ashley Quick — and fine cocktails. Combine that with a focus on food sourced from nearby, and you've sold me on a tasty experience with a deliberate conscience (I say this while arguing the true meaning of farm-to-table, *sighs* blame my women's studies background).
When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was the rustic-meets-modern decor, the bright lighting and the spacious concept. The space extends upward for two stories adding to the open feel (and additional seating space), especially when the entire front of the restaurant is comprised of windows.
The hostess was ready to invite us to our table, even though we were a few minutes late, and we settled in without any issues at a two-person table.
We took a long breath from the menu and, in usual fashion, decided to start with the easier-to-digest cocktail menu. The Haymaker Punch: bourbon, lemon, apple, ginger, shrub and cider ($12). Harvest Spritz: aperol, amaro montenegro, cava and orange peel ($10). At least that part was easy.
When it came to food, the task wasn't quite as simple. The waitress, who was almost too attentive (if you can even really get annoyed by that), had to come back to our table a few times before we were ready to just choose already.
However, we finally settled upon three small plates and a dessert that we'd share: crispy pork belly with sorghum glaze, field pea succotash, Benton's bacon, roasted onion broth and peanuts ($14); crispy fingerling potatoes with fresno aioli ($6); roasted asparagus with romesco, fried egg and herb croutons ($10); followed up by whipped ricotta cheesecake with lemon curd and thyme crumble.
And in case you're wondering, yes, we were full. First of all, fingerling potatoes will always fill you up and the aioli was delicious.
Let's be real, I'm no food critic, but I know how to balance my hunger, taste and wallet all at the same damn time. If ever someone wanted me to try every item on their menu, trust I'd still be able to make sound judgments on taste to share with picky eaters like myself.
To top it off, Haymaker serves breakfast every day of the week and brunch from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. (Make sure you check out the featured biscuit of the day before brunch.)
Given Charlotte's iffy food scene when compared to neighbors like Asheville in the past, Haymaker has most likely cemented its place in the Q.C. If I were you, I'd try it out the next time you're planning a date night and secure your reservation via OpenTable ahead of time. (Broke folk beware: there's a $6 loaf of bread you can order before your meal. I'd put that toward your entree unless you're just in the mood for yeast.)