The King's Kitchen ~ Charlotte NC
Vacation is a time to enjoy life and eat well. Before we headed out on our trip to North Carolina to explore Charlotte, we researched restaurants. All of us have a limited amount of meals we will eat on a trip – and true foodies see travel as a time to enjoy different culinary adventures, tastes, local flavors and foods.
Research led me to The King’s Kitchen a few blocks from the Dunhill Hotel in the uptown section of downtown, in downtown. One block from the fabled statues marking Trade and Tryon Streets in the heart of the banking district, this unusual restaurant is a local favorite with a huge heart. Not only do they cook amazing food, but 100% of the profits are channeled into a feeding the local community, and “The King’s Kitchen Restoration Program” raising funds for their top notch internship that helps rehabilitate people who have been incarcerated. In a disciplined 42 week program, former inmates are given the chance for a do-over on their lives. Learning how to function in a vibrant city restaurant – they learn skills needed to live on the outside. On Sunday, the owner is an ordained minister and closes the restaurant to have a church service inside.
While the goal sounds noble, you can’t help but picture some old run down building with stale donuts and old coffee. Nothing could be farther from the truth – The King’s Kitchen is a gleaming building of stainless steel, beautiful architecture, lovely table settings, outdoor patio dining and a gorgeous interior. Modern and sleek, verging on the upscale, the walls tell the story of who they are, and what they are all scattered across the wall into art. It was beautiful.
Their goal is to feed body, mind and soul, serving local, healthy food, Southern style. While I am not a fan of country cooking and never will be, Southern cuisine can have an elegance and lusciousness like no other, is lighter, more flavorful and worth eating. The King’s Kitchen delivered Southern cuisine perfectly and is now one of my all time favorite restaurants, ever. I like what they stand for, their mission and the One they serve!
In the South, there is a curious phenomenon called “Meat & Three.” As a California native, I had no clue what a “Meat and Three” was until we moved here – it is simply a meat and 3 vegetables. Here is where my CA mind goes nuts, to digress further, since the vegetables inevitably include macaroni and cheese and other carby dishes, bean dishes and more. The King’s Kitchen
Perusing the menu, everything sounded good. The fact that it is local, free range, and everything is made from scratch made me want to live in Charlotte and eat there every week, trying it all. We always ask what a restaurant is famous for and everyone pointed out Aunt Beaut’s Skillet Fried Chicken under the Meat &Three section. For $13 for the entrée – we could not resist - or perhaps it was the light smell of golden fried chicken wafting through the building – we were not leaving until we tried the signature dish – and we did the unthinkable and both ordered the same thing. We could have chosen flounder, steak or salmon in a meat & three, but skillet fried chicken it was!
The bottom of the menu said “Eat some chicken and feed somebody” so we did!
After a pleasant wait, huge platters of succulent, golden chicken breasts were brought to our table. Gorgeous mounds of all white meat, still on the bone, tender and juicy – easily the best fried chicken I had ever had. While I am not normally a huge fan of fried anything – these were the perfect vacation treat….how I wish I had one right now. Huge helpings of well chopped collard greens were in the center (yes, we opted for one real vegetable out of our “three vegetables!) Sandwiched between the best cheese grits ever - cooked to perfection with bacon and savory cheese. Rounding out the three, a home baked macaroni and cheese that had that wonderful, not quite crunchy on the edges, baked mac and cheese taste that was perfect. The whole meal was perfect....despite the less than perfect pictures!
Our waitress was fantastic - in fact their entire staff is first rate and you could quietly observe that throughout the restaurant. Throughout the evening, we had the most attentive service enjoyed all weekend in the Queen City. Each guest was special, worth interacting with and serving. They took the idea and practice of hospitality seriously, working like a finely honed symphony, in unison, allowing their diners to enjoy a flavorful meal, perfectly cooked, with top notch ingredients, and a great experience overall. Never snooty or full of themselves - just pure awesomeness!
And can I just be honest – there were several gentleman who helped us that were absolutely beaming with joy and the pleasure of serving and I could not help but wonder if these fine men were reintegrating into life, as a part of the “The King’s Kitchen Restoration Program.” They served with gratitude, honor, precision and as I said above, joy. I watched them, studied them, and they maintained that level of incredibly service the entire time we were there. Easily laughing with us – they embodied hope, pure and simple. They gave the restaurant a beauty I have simply never seen. Anywhere, in any restaurant, from coast to coast
We finished off the meal with dessert, of course, choosing Pecan Pie with Chantilly Cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Oh. Happy. Day. Rich and savory, with a velvety smooth pecan filling with plenty of pecans, topped with rich, sugar infused Chantilly cream. A small sliver was perfect to split. Pecan pie is often very high fructose corn syrup tasting and rather a gelatinous glob with a few nuts on top, leaving you aching for a real slice of pie. This pie was a superstar, with plenty of UNsweet tea, the perfect end to a great meal!
The King's Kitchen is “New Local Southern Cuisine” cooked from scratch with local foods – utilizing the farm to table concept as much as they can – this was one of the best Southern meals ever. In fact, it may be one of our favorite meals ever and we highly recommend The King’s Restaurant.
So enjoyed their foundation scriptures and the fact that they are living them out, with the best food and superb service, ever!
Matthew 25:40 Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling you the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’ – The Message
Luke 7:22 So He replied to them, Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news (the Gospel) preached to them. – Amplified
Galatians 2:10 They only [made one stipulation], that we were to remember the poor, which very thing I was also eager to do. – Amplified
Go visit The King’s Kitchen in beautiful Uptown Charlotte and tell them the folks at LivingHistorySites.com sent you! And tip well, it is worth every penny! I am no ticking off the months until we get back to Charlotte and this amazing restaurant!
The King’s Kitchen, 129 W. Trade Street, Charlotte, NC, 28202, 704-375-1990