If executive chef Bill Greene’s Banner Elk restaurant, Artisanal, is so good that some patrons find it worth helicoptering in for — well, one might say it’s just a tiny bit exciting that he is bringing his talents right here to the Queen City.
One step into SouthPark’s newest restaurant, Peppervine, is all it takes to realize that this is something different. “We wanted something light and airy, something warm with soft textures,” Greene told CharlotteFive in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “A lot of restaurants tend to be on the darker side, so we wanted to see something like you’d see in a bigger city.”
Peppervine will open Friday at 4620 Piedmont Row Drive, Suite 170B, serving progressive American small plates and shareable items. Expect to see a mix of cultures in the menu. “This country is a big melting pot as it is,” Greene said. “People travel a lot and taste different flavors and textures.”
Yet, don’t expect the menu to be too far out there. “We want people to understand the food,” he said.
Peppervine will be run by Greene and his wife, Anita, who will serve as general manager. The Greenes have teamed up with Robert Lackey and Robb Lackey of Imagine One for management. The Lackeys were once customers of Artisanal. “We all had the same vision for a restaurant here,” Greene said. “We want to make it affordable and give a great experience to everyone. We want it to be an everyday restaurant. You can spend $30 if you like or you can spend a lot more. There’s a lot of flexibility in the menu.”
Robert Lackey’s son, Brian, designed the logo and also served on the naming committee. A peppervine is a plant that mimics a grapevine, but it is actually a weed. “It’s extremely aggressive and it takes over,” Brian Lackey said. “It actually fools you. The chef liked that concept.”
Why not just keep the name Artisanal, the place the Greenes are famous for? “We needed to branch off,” Greene said. “We’re going to push the boundaries a little more here.”
If you’ve been to the famed Banner Elk spot — even if you don’t have a helicopter, which is seriously how some customers arrive — you can rest easy knowing that the yeast rolls will be served here, too. It’s a version of a Japanese milk bread, Greene said.
Otherwise, the menu will be different. Greene said the restaurant plans to establish relationships with local farmers. Every day, a new menu will be printed, with changes based on what’s in season.
The Pimento Cheese Scones will be made to order, served warm and with sorghum butter and pepper jelly.
Greene also recommends the smoked butternut squash with miso. The current menu also includes Squid Ink Bucatini served with Spanish octopus, bone marrow and kale; Lumache with confit rabbit, sugar snap peas, mint pistou and beech mushrooms; or the Smoked Butternut Squash with miso, pickled bok choy and labne.
The Peppervine team will grow their own shrubs and make their own tinctures for cocktails. Greene himself will be involved in the cocktails, bringing his knowledge of the kitchen with him to the bar. “I’m going to bring a more molecular aspect to it,” he said. Look for liquid nitrogen, a fish pump and a Vacpot, a vacuum coffee maker that uses a flame and pressure.
A local love story
Bill and Anita Greene actually met in Charlotte. They were introduced by Anita Greene’s sister, who worked at Upstream with Bill Greene. “If I hadn’t met Anita, I probably would have gone back to New York,” Bill Greene said. This time, their life in Charlotte includes their 10-year-old son, Alex. Expect to see him around the restaurant, opening the door for customers.
The Greenes treat their staff like family, Bill Greene said. “In this business, sometimes you see each other more than your own family.” This family experience goes beyond the staff and to the customers as well, he said. “We care about every customer. If someone has a bad meal, I would call them up personally and see what went wrong. We go above and beyond.”
Greene said often when people think of high-end restaurants, they think that has to mean expensive. That is not going to be the case, he said. “We’re going to be one of the cheaper restaurants in SouthPark, compared to the chains.”
Paying attention to the details are important to the Peppervine owners. They even use measuring tape for silverware placement on the tables, Greene said. “We underpromise, over deliver. If you do those things, you’ll wow people,” he said.
Here are highlights from Peppervine’s March menu:
Chorizo, stewed lettuce lentil, sauce Vierge
Cider-braised cabbage, honey crisp apple, bacon creme fraiche potato broth
Mushroom bread pudding parsnip, mustard pepper
Smoked Breast of Duck
Fried brussel salad, cashew apricot
Beef Short Rib “Pastrami”
Carrot BBQ, Spiced cucumber Shittake duxelle
Dry Aged Ribeye Cap