The bottom line: Better make a reservation!
Maria and I attempted to go to Halcyon on a cold rainy night last fall. I was rocking crutches at the time and it was a bit of a pain to get around, but I was excited to try a restaurant that has been on my list for a long time. We didn’t make reservations because we were having a major storm in the city that night and didn’t expect there to be much of a crowd. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. We arrived at the restaurant and were immediately asked if we had reservations and upon us saying that we did not, we were told that they were booked the whole night. They did have some visibly open tables while we stood at the hostess podium but I can only assumed that they were reserved for a customer that had yet to arrive. I hobbled outside to the lobby to figure out our next move. We were limited in options at this end of Uptown Charlotte, by the weather, and my crutches limited us even more. I pulled up my handy dandy OpenTable app to look for options and lo and behold Halcyon had open tables listed in the next 15 mins. We stood there scratching our heads when one of the hostesses came out to ask if we were waiting for a table (funny considering this same person just turned us away). At this point I shared my app results and the hostess ran back in to talk to the manager. She comes out a few minutes later and apologizes that ‘my’ app was wrong and wishes us a goodnight. And that ladies and gents was my first experience with Halcyon. But one thing I must admit is that a foodie on a mission never gives up.
I wish I could have started this post by talking about the unique location for Halcyon (inside the Mint Museum) or how upon entering I noticed their soaring ceilings and unique decor. How different their concept is, how beautiful the lighting fixtures are, and how cool and apropos their furniture is for their restaurant theme. Instead I walked away (painfully hobbled) with an empty stomach and a disillusioned heart.
That wasn’t my last encounter with Halcyon (as I said a determined foodie never gives up). Despite the previous experience I still wanted to try their food (especially because Halcyon is one of the few restaurants in town service foie gras). Over the holidays a group of friends and I decided to go there. We were a group of 10 people. This time I did come armed with a reservation. We arrived and were promptly seated. Our waitress quickly started explaining specials and our walking us through the menu. Most at the table ordered cocktails or wine. I ordered the Fiery Polynesian, this drinks was composed of chili infused tequila, luxardo (cherry liquor) hibiscus, orange and sweetened with agave. The drink was composed of fresh ingredients and I enjoyed it although I wish it had come in a bigger container considering the price.
As we went through the ordering process Maria mentioned that her waitress was quite pushy and kept telling her that the dishes she was choosing weren’t big enough for her to order just one. Methinks that a customer should ordered whatever they want and that a waiter should only interfere if I am asking for size. Maria had a meal not long before our dinner and was looking to order something smaller. She did end up deviating from what she originally wanted due to the pushiness of the waiter.
For my appetizer I ended up going for the Seared Foie Gras (one of the reasons why I went anyway). The foie gras came with brandy-poached plums, a sweet shallot sauce, and a brioche. I enjoyed the softness of the foie gras and it wasn’t overwhelmingly greasy as some restaurant tend to make it. While I expect a certain degree of ‘fattiness’ for foie gras it should not feel like munching on a grease patty.
For dinner I went with the Spanish Turbot, my primary attraction to this dish was the gnocchi and the fact that fish would be lighter considering that I had an appetizer and was planning on dessert. Along with the gnocchi the dish was served with artichokes and a lemon vinaigrette. While I enjoyed the gnocchi, I wasn’t too crazy about the fish. It lacked flavor and seemed very bland. I think the ingredients in this dish didn’t come together very well to form a composition.
For dessert I went with a scoop of their homemade gelato which is served on a light cookie bowl. This was absolutely delicious and I had no trouble devouring it.
Overall most people in my group seemed to thoroughly enjoy their meal. I enjoyed most of it with the exception of the fish in my entree. Would I go back? I am not sure. Maybe on a rare occasion but for now I think I am good exploring the ever growing Charlotte scene.