Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to the historic Elizabeth area of Charlotte to Kennedy’s Premium Bar & Grill. This pub is tucked into a neighborhood friendly area that boasts many family restaurants and has a huge outside deck. Dora here. Wish the sky hadn’t been so overcast because I would’ve enjoyed sitting outside on the gorgeous deck. 

We started with the Pretzel Bites appetizer served with Queso and Dijon mustard dipping sauces. Dipping in the Queso took the pretzel bites from OK to good. The server warned us that the Dijon mustard was spicy and she was right. Dora here. Phew! Have a tissue handy. The mustard sauce will clear out your sinuses, but I liked it! I was expecting these little nuggets to taste chewy and soft, but instead they were a bit crispy.

Pretzel Bites with Queso and Dijon Mustard

I chose the Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness gravy, layers of beef, mushrooms, carrots, celery, and onions topped with mashed potatoes along with a side of tater tots. The meat was tender and the vegetables cooked so that they still had a crunch. The mashed potatoes were creamy and the tater tots outstanding. My biggest issue with this dish was that it was only lukewarm, causing the flavors not to mix well. 

Shepherd’s Pie

My wife had the Fish & Chips, deep fried Haddock, battered with Harp lager, an Irish beer. Dora here. Since Kennedy’s is a pub, I had high hopes for this dish. The fish was lightly battered, flakey and tender. The sweet potato fries were a bit lackluster, and the slaw was just average. Nothing  really tantalized my taste buds. And the iced tea? A total loss. Bummer. But then I’m quite sure people don’t frequent this establishment for the iced tea. 🙂

Fish & Sweet Potato Fries

I would rate this restaurant 3 forks out of 5 forks for a family friendly restaurant serving good food.

Do you set expectations for your dining choices based on a review, recommendations from friends, or perhaps from the name of the restaurant? 
Kennedy's Premium Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This week’s Excited about Eating is headed to Uptown Charlotte to visit Ri Ra Irish Pub. When we walked into this restaurant, it felt like we were walking into a pub in Ireland. Our server told us that the interior was transported from Ireland and restored into its existing condition.

Ri Ra Irish Pub

We started with the Potato Cake appetizer, pan seared potato and cheddar cakes served with savory sour cream and a balsamic reduction. The Potato Cake was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. On the downside, it was loaded with onions and only served lukewarm. Dora here, in blue. Good thing we didn’t stop there. 🙂

Potato Cake

I ordered the Shepherd’s Pie, made with minced lamb, gravy, peas, carrots, and leeks served with a mashed potato crust and a slice of brown bread. The term “shepherd’s pie” is used when the meat is lamb; the theory being that shepherd is connected to sheep and not cattle. This was an outstanding dish. The lamb and vegetables were perfectly cooked and full of favor with just the right amount of liquid, and the mashed potatoes were creamy with a nice crust. I’m always game for Shepherd’s Pie, and this was the first I’ve tasted with lamb. Thankfully, hubby shared with me or I might’ve resorted to stealing his fork. Soooo good! 

Shepherd’s Pie

My wife chose the Ri Ra Burger, topped with Ashe County cheddar, country ham, brown sugar onions and a Brioche bun. This burger was tall, juicy, and almost too big for the mouth. The caramelized brown sugar onions were sweet, and the garlic mayo added a unique taste. The “Chipper “ chips are actually thick cut fries. I snagged a few and enjoyed dipping them in the garlic mayo. This was a messy burger, but oh so yummalicious! And I probably drank a gallon of their iced tea.

Ri Ra Burger

I would rate this establishment 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food. If I included the less-than-thrilling appetizer, I’d lower my rating to 4 forks.

~Ernie Hiers, Food blogger at Fiction Faith & Foodies

Ri Ra the Irish Pub on Urbanspoon