I haven’t lived in Charlotte for that long, but I have developed an affinity for a well-known North Carolina native, Jim Noble.
I was not able to visit Noble’s Restaurant before it closed in August 2010, and I have not been to Roosters Wood Fired Kitchen. However, recently, after a restaurant week reservation mix-up, my husband suggested we dine at one of the more unique restaurants in his empire, The King’s Kitchen.
The King’s Kitchen, you see, is a nonprofit restaurant. 100% of its profits, according to the website, goes toward feeding the hungry both in Charlotte and beyond. The restaurant employs as many as it can who have found themselves struggling and searching for food, training them for success in the restaurant world. The King’s Kitchen uses as many local ingredients as possible; maximizing it’s potential to help the local community.
On top of everything, it serves great food. It specializes in familiar southern specialties and local food. For our appetizer, my husband and I shared a local cheese plate and the deviled eggs. My favorite of the cheese was a local(ish) tomme, and the eggs were perfect; creamy and delicious. My husband ordered the signature dish, Aunt Beaut’s Pan Fried Chicken, while I sampled the shrimp and grits. The chicken lived up to expectation, beautifully moist on the inside, lightly breaded and fried to perfection. It came with a choice of three sides, we chose the mac and cheese, butter beans and green beans. The green beans were forgettable, but the butter beans were lovely. The mac and cheese was the old fashioned, beautifully rich casserole, rather than the slick, rubbery version we have become accustomed to. The shrimp melted in one’s mouth, while the grits were astonishingly creamy. The cornbread served on the side was crisp on the outside, but one bite revealed a rich, creamy center. Both desserts that we had eyed before dinner were unavailable (the apple pie and the pound cake), so we ordered the brownie instead. It was good, but not transcendent, or maybe we were too full to really enjoy it.
The restaurant itself is bright and friendly, and the staff greeted us cheerfully. Our waiter was charming, which made up for his more forgetful moments. During dinner he forgot to bring us the cornbread, began to open the wrong bottle of wine (we managed to catch him in time), and forgot to describe the cheeses on the cheese plate. However, he was friendly enough that these things passed without incident, and each was corrected quickly.
All in all, I have fallen for this gem of a restaurant. It is comfort food gone gourmet, and supports a terrific cause. Thank you Chef Noble for your terrific work at King’s Kitchen. After all, who better to help the hungry than the person who makes the food?
The King's Kitchen
129 West Trade Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Lunch: Mon - Fri from 11:00-12:30