The first night of vacation is always a great one.  You arrive at your destination and it is time to relax, settle in and get the lay of the land.  So for our first night in Charlotte, NC, called for a celebratory evening enjoyed with good food, great people and delicious cocktails and 204 North was the perfect way to kick off the trip.

204 North is an uptown Charlotte hangout known for serving up mouth-watering American plates with a Southern twist paired with delicious handcrafted cocktails. The moment we arrived at 204 North and peered through the front glass windows, we knew we were in for a treat. The softly lit interior welcomed us with smiling faces and great music that followed us into the restaurant from the outside as the glass doors eased shut behind us.

We decided to start off with some signature cocktails, and have no doubt that the “cocktails” portion of “204 North  Kitchen and Cocktails” definitely lived up to the hype of being included in 204 North’s name. They have mixology down to a pure art form creating innovative cocktails with juices that are squeezed fresh in house daily. Our fabulous waiter recommended the “Wild at Heart,” which I can only describe as a beautiful mix between an Aperol Spritz and the perfect fruity lemonade.

After the killer drinks, we all knew that we were about to dine like royalty. The Charcuterie & Cheese Starter was on our collective mind from the moment we entered the restaurant. The Tempura Shrimp and the Seared Sea Scallops were also a group decision, however when we asked our waiter Orlando what we couldn’t afford to miss, he suggested the Deviled Eggs without hesitation.

At first we were a little put off.  Deviled eggs are not on our top ten list of favorite appetizers to say the least!  In fact, not one of our trio would have decided to order them had Orlando not highly recommended them. But seeing as the man knows his 204 menu items, we succumbed and ordered the Deviled Eggs as our final to-share starter.

The Charcuterie & Cheese came with salami, soppressata, white cheddar cheese, Ashe County marble blue cheese,  local honey, Lusty Monk mustard, walnuts, and lavash crackers. If you know anything about charcuterie, you of course know that the idea is to get as many of these outrageously-complimenting flavors on one cracker as possible. When achieved at 204 North, you’re rewarded with a splendor of salty, sweet, tangy, and everything in between.

The Tempura Shrimp was done to perfection as well. Simple and to the point. Tempura breaded shrimp with a chili garlic sauce. Mmm! The Seared Scallops were probably my least-preferred out of the Starters we ordered, but only because of the caliber of the other dishes. The scallops were not simply roasted and plated. They came expertly paired with grilled carrot puree, roasted cauliflower florets, spring peas, and radish. This amazing combination of flavors allowed for the scallops to carry the texture and tenderness of the dish while the carrot puree did most of the flavor legwork.

Not-so-surprisingly, our favorite Starter across the board was the Deviled Eggs. Orlando, you got us. The oysters with the whipped egg yolk make the most peculiarly satisfying taste, it simply blew us all away. When paired with a little Sriracha (also an Orlando recommendation), this appetizer is absolutely to die for.

For the main courses, we made sure no one ordered the same thing, but also made sure to share so we could all taste what each other chose. I inquired about the Fresh Catch, and Orlando approved, telling me about how delicious the Mahi Mahi was. I knew I had chosen a winner, and stuck with it. We also ordered the Apple Brined Pork Chop and the Petite 6oz Filet.

The Fresh Catch was the best fish dish I’ve ever had in my entire life. Scratch that. The best entree I’ve ever ordered in my entire life. Super tender, cooked to perfection. Juicy, but not fishy. Slight crunch to the outside from being perfectly grilled. Decadently sauced and served over an avocado puree. I made sure not to share too much of this dish. 10 out of 10. Would order again for the rest of my life if I lived in Charlotte!

The Apple Brined Pork Chop was good. Honestly, I don’t think it held a candle to the Mahi Mahi, but it was very good, and I enjoyed snagging a little of the sides it came with too. The butternut squash succotash was a great combination with the chili cider reduction, and tasted like Fall. The steak did not disappoint either, and was of course another winner.

For dessert, we pigged out. We got them all. The Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake was a clear favorite amongst our group, followed by the Chocolate Cheesecake. The mousse cake was fluffy and not too heavy, the cheesecake a little denser with a biscotti crust. The Strawberry Bavarian was a lemon mousse, with almond sponge cake and a strawberry glaze. I found the texture on this dessert a little crumbly underneath the gooey top layer, but it was very citrusy and overall flavorful. The Fruit Tart didn’t compare to the mousse cake or cheesecake, but I still found it delicious.

The only thing that may top 204 North’s delectable dishes is their incredible service. Our waiter Orlando was a master of, not only what to order on the menu, but how to best spend our time in Charlotte. He was a warm welcome and an outstanding representation of the people of North Carolina. As a whole, 204 North receives rave reviews from all 3 of us! The excellent food and atmosphere tied together with our wonderful server Orlando makes this an easy recommendation to anyone visiting the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Oh and don’t forget to get one of the signature cocktails while you’re there! Cheers!