Charlotte, North Carolina is a foodie’s dream, and one of my all-time favorite eating cities. From my first visit to Jim Noble’s “Noble’s” restaurant at South Park, I was hooked on his delicious recipes. My family dined there every trip we made to the Queen City and Noble’s Shrimp and Grits were always my standing order. Today, Chef Jim has moved uptown (which is really downtown) and resides over a top kitchen, eatery, and mission project. I was excited to visit King’s Kitchen and see how his work and food had evolved over the years.
Lunchtime Dining in Uptown
My daughter, Peyton, and I arrived one afternoon at King’s Kitchen for lunch. We had a hard time narrowing our choices from the delicious sounding menu, but what we selected was perfect. I opted for the Braised Pot Roast with three sides (collard greens, creamed corn, and potato salad). I had never eaten collard greens before but oh my goodness, these bacon laden veggies were spectacular! In fact, they were the best thing that I ate while in Charlotte. The potato salad was spot on; potatoes cooked to perfection, a nice creamy sauce, and crunchy vegetables.
There is nothing like homemade creamed corn, and unless you have had it like this, Southern style, forget it. Last but not least, my slice of cornbread with super crispy edges and golden yellow corn kernels, was luscious. I was sad that my cornbread loving husband was not there to share it with me. My food was a huge amount, especially for the price ($16), but I gave it a good attempt.
Peyton sprang for the Baked Barbecue Chicken (price $12) with sides of macaroni and cheese and green beans. She raved over her macaroni and cheese and said it was the best that she had ever eaten. I tasted it and it was impressive. Her bread choice was a homemade biscuit which she described as “freaking delicious!”
Just to whet your appetite, the side dishes at the King’s Kitchen are: cole slaw, black-eyed peas, macaroni an cheese, potato salad, creamed corn, green beans, creamed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato mash, butter beans, and garden peas frites.
Speciality Items from King’s Kitchen
Since the Chef knew that we were bloggers, he sent over a few things for us to try such as a Beet/Potato/Herb Salad. My favorite was the Pimento Cheese Spread, which had a little zing to it. It was served with a King’s Kitchen baguette and the dish was fantastic. Definitely order this while you are deciding on your meals!
A noteworthy food item was delivered to the table beside me and I have already planned to try it on my next visit: The Virginia Chicken Salad, piled about 6″ high. Or perhaps the Sourdough Benton’s Bacon or Chicken Panini (tomato, arugula, pimento cheese). Yum!
A Sweet Combination of Desserts and Specialty Items
The Lemon Meringue Pie with Blueberry Compote not only made for a stellar Instagram picture, but it was absolutely mouthwatering. Oh my! This is definitely a restaurant you would not want to skip dessert at.
A bakery, located beside the restaurant, is also part of King’s Kitchen. Homemade pastries and breads are available for purchase at the front of the restaurant during the morning and lunch hour. They also have grab and go dishes. There is also a Barista on-site to take care of your early morning coffee desires.
King’s Kitchen is located in a desirable part of Uptown Charlotte (though this is the downtown area) and the curb appeal is fantastic. Huge windows allow for maximum light while candid pictures of local residents adorn the walls. The hardwood floors are lovely and I appreciated the cloth napkins and tasteful china. Airy, high ceilings made King’s Kitchen appear bigger than it truly is. A special feature that I liked and had never seen were Southern recipes etched on the windows. It was very cool.
The King’s Kitchen Mission
The King’s Kitchen’s profits are donated to charity. Chef and owner Jim Noble more than has his finger on the pulse of Charlotte’s homeless community and he sets the bar for other business owners. Jim’s charity mission is painted on a wall inside of the restaurant and a “Friends of the King Dream Center” features names of the patrons and donors that help in this cause.
King’s Kitchen is closed between lunch and dinner, for Jim Noble to lead a brief Bible Study for Charlotte’s homeless citizens, although anyone is welcome to attend. They are then fed plated dishes from the King Kitchen’s menu. This happens three days a week and on weekends they provided box lunches. No wonder the King’s Kitchen’s tagline is “A Southern kitchen on a local mission.” It fits perfectly and I wish them all of the success in the world.
I am appreciative for being hosted by the King’s Kitchen and the chance to learn about how one man’s dream can make major positive impacts in the community.
My Interview with Chef Jim Noble
- What are your thoughts on how Charlotte has become such a “foodie” city?” “Food is getting better mostly all over the country, some cities lead the way faster than other, i.e. Charleston, Nashville, Atlanta largely due to chefs’ cooperation and collaboration. The more they work together and cross promote the better. Charlotte, despite our worst critics, is achieving this status, but it has taken a longer time than hoped. For a long while the city was excited about new building and development and chains, steakhouses leading the way. I never considered a national steak chain to be my competition until I came to Charlotte. This is changing. When the clientele demands better food it will come, and we are well on the way.”
- What is something you could not eat if your life depended on it? “Not really anything, except prepared kidneys and I am not really fond of kimchi, though it is all the rage.”
- What is your favorite recipe? “Any smoked meats; these day smoked beef brisket, as done in Texas, little known nor done here yet, but coming soon; our bread pudding; your country bread too; oyster stew; white acre peas with their proper pot liquor; the new Mississippi purple hull peas Sammy Koeningsburg just propagated for us.”
- What was the first thing you learned to cook? “Omelettes and angel food cake at age 8 or 9. Baguettes in 1981.”
- How does it feel to have 2 of the top 40 restaurants on Trip Advisor out of nearly 1900? “I didn’t know it but I am glad. More moved by our clients appreciation and support.”
- What drove you to creating the homeless mission? “It is not an option, it is a mandate from our faith.”
My Rating Scale 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest)= 9