Flights of Flavor

Wine, beer and cheese pairings take off at QCCG

By Amy Rogers | Photos by Ray Sepesy

With an opening date for their restaurant just days away, Charles and Catherine Read were hurrying to get ready. Charles was a seasoned pro, having worked in the industry for 25 years. Catherine was a lifelong baker. But Queen City Craft & Gourmet (QCCG) would be the first time they owned a restaurant of their own. Catherine set to work developing a roster of bread recipes for house-made brioche, rolls and pretzels.

That was back in September 2018. As it would happen, those breads would become part of the signature style at the Ballantyne spot. And now, one year later, QCCG is celebrating its first anniversary. Getting there has been “terrifying, gratifying and extremely fun,” Charles says.

On a corner in Promenade on Providence, QCCG is a vibrant and easygoing place. The restaurant has become popular for serving flights of beer or wine that allow guests to try and compare small glasses of different kinds, side by side.

But there’s a clever twist to the offerings here: Cheese flights are paired with libations to enhance the enjoyment of both.

“About six years ago, Cat and I went out to Sonoma (California) where we had a cheese board and a wine flight,” Charles says. The couple became intrigued with the idea of doing pairings. Charles had trained at Johnson & Wales University and worked three years as manager at The Cellar at Duckworth’s uptown, so he knew firsthand that it would take a lot of legwork to make the concept work. The success of QCCG is proof of their efforts.

But which comes first, the cheese or the beverage?

“The cheese comes first,” Charles explains. With selections that change every few weeks, staff members test out different combinations so they can suggest ones that would be most pleasing to patrons. A plate built around a mild gouda and other mellow cheeses, for example, will result in a very different flavor profile than one composed of a sharp Spanish blue and other strong tastes.

Beers rotate by style so that pilsners, IPAs, ales and others are always represented. By rotating the taps every few weeks, Charles estimates they’ve offered upward of 600 brews. A list of old- and new-world wines even includes port. Aficionados can indulge in Century Flights, named for the total number of years the four ports have been aged: 10, 20, 30 and 40.

Cheese flights are paired with libations to enhance the enjoyment of both.

Timing is crucial in preparing a charred wheel of brie to get the perfect temperature and texture of the rich cheese. It’s an appetizer big enough to share, embellished with Granny Smith apples, walnuts and maple browned butter. In a twist on iconic Southern shrimp and grits, QCCG serves goat cheese grits cakes, accompanied by butter bean succotash.

Yesterday’s brioche buns are transformed into bread pudding — available in flights of three — that can feature a maple-bacon version and selections topped with house-made ice cream. Unsold pretzels get a glamorous makeover to become pretzel-brownie sundaes that combine sweet and salty flavors.

Art on the walls represent the locales where the Reads have traveled, including Italy, Greece and France. It’s a friendly space that welcomes families with kids.

As Queen City Craft & Gourmet enters its second year, the owners are planning some special events to celebrate the milestone. The Reads promise more good times will be on tap — along with many more flights of flavor.

Queen City Craft & Gourmet

5349 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy

Suite 100

Charlotte, NC 28277

980-339-5610

queencitycraftandgourmet.com

The bar takes center stage in the restaurant’s welcoming space.

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