I love food. This is evidenced by the extra pound or fifty and pumpkin head I’m sporting for autumn. Indeed, I love food so much that when I travel somewhere one of the first things I do is search local restaurants: I want to see where the locals like to eat. Chain restaurants have their place, but nothing beats local. In the small town of Cornelius, NC, right on Main Street, is the little jewel, Fork!
Cornelius is an up-and-coming town, given new life in recent years due to its proximity to Charlotte. Traffic can get a little dicey, but after the rush hour traffic clears out you’re able to see all the charm this town has to offer. Many of the old homes on Main Street are re-zoned for businesses, which now dot the landscape. Fork! is no exception.
Located in what was once a charming Victorian home, the restaurant is perched on a tiny hill a little way off the road. At night the lighting softens the edges and delicately highlights the Victorian details of the front porch. Parking is located in the back and you meander along a walkway that borders the porch to the front door. Entering through the red French door you are greeted by gorgeous old wood floors and tall ceilings, and details such as wainscoting and beautiful wood trim. It feels like a home, yet different.
My friend and I picked Fork! because it is a farm-to-table restaurant that serves in season, small plate dishes. It is so hard for local businesses, especially locally sourced restaurants, to thrive. In Fayetteville, the Butcher and the Baker, a locally sourced meat, milk, cheese, and other local goods shop just announced their closing and they always seemed busy and people loved them. I would much rather support a business like that over a chain any day, with very few exceptions.
So, back to Fork! The great thing about Fork!, and probably why they are successful, is that their menu does not have an overwhelming amount of options, like the Cheesecake Factory, for instance. They have several things under each category that they serve daily, and then they also have a daily specials menu based on the local meat, cheese, seafood, and such. From what I can tell, they are known for their risotto and mac-n-cheese. And I am here to tell you, both were delish!
I ordered the Spicy Chicken Spring Roll with wasabi and plum sauce, which is actually an appetizer but I ordered it as a meal, a side of Parmesan Fries, and a Lobster Mac. The Spring Rolls were light and crispy, with a really, really fantastic plum sauce for dipping! Mac-n-cheese done right is always a treat – comfort food at its best. Throw in some lobster chunks and that creamy goodness gets swiftly elevated from comfort food to sophisticated side.
The Spring Rolls and Lobster Mac were the perfect portion size. The Parmesan Fries, on the other hand, should come with a disclaimer. These shoestring lovelies are not only tasty, lightly seasoned with salt and parmesan cheese, but are also served in a bowl that could feed an army. Okay….maybe not an army, but they could feed several people easily. We tried our best but could not finish them!
Last, but certainly not least, was the meal my friend ordered. He fancied the Scottish Salmon and the Daily Risotto, which on this particular night was a black-eyed pea and mushroom risotto. The salmon was drizzled with a chickpea vinaigrette and cooked to perfection. It flaked onto the fork and melted in your mouth. The added zest from the vinaigrette only added to the flavor. I don’t even care for salmon that much and I thought it was very tasty! The risotto? Perfection! It was so creamy and had a delicate flavor from the black-eyed peas and mushrooms.
Fork! serves an ala-carte menu which is great for flexibility in ordering! Keep in mind that they source locally, so the menu items are served when they are in season. If you’re traveling near Charlotte, Davidson, or Mooresville you should give Fork! some love! The food is fresh, the staff is pleasant, and the restaurant is in a great old home. They have outside seating and a bar so you can catch a game or sit on the porch and enjoy the outdoor scenery. Why try the same-old tired restaurant when you can try something fresh? From farm to Fork! to mouth. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!