First Bites - Dogwood (Helen Schwab)

First Bites - Dogwood (Helen Schwab)

Charlotte Observer

~~Dogwood Southern Table and Bar is a new concept from Jon and Kim Dressler, who won fans with their first Dressler’s in Huntersville and opened a second in Midtown at the Metropolitan. Those hark more to his background with Morton’s: a great steak and a few twists, though mostly pretty straightforward. Here, he and chef Scott Hollingsworth push a local agenda; the website’s home page is a map of the Carolinas farms they’re using.

The food: Our server trumpeted scallops and grouper, while another claimed the Heritage Farms pork rib appetizer drove a vegan to recant, so how could we do otherwise? Scallops proved terrific, perfectly cooked with a bit of sear and chunks of tender turnip and acorn squash, plus some arugula pesto (four big ones go for $28, which strikes me a bit high). The ribs had gone a little past perfectly juicy, but seasoning was very good, and the grouper was fine, but definitely petite for $30. Sides include gnudi (think more delicate gnocchi) with bleu, apple and country ham, worth noting.

The look: Handsome, simple, farm-ish (witness tools and photos on the walls) – but also nicely varied in area and seating. There’s a long bar from which you can watch the kitchen, a lounge with TV and fireplace, and a sprawling dining area with both banquette and chairs. Note details like reclaimed wood and bricks, and twigs-in-rainy-glass dividers.

The service: First thing you’ll notice is the tablet you get instead of a wine/drinks menu; you can click around for details, bookmark ones you’re considering and call up your final few, or even email yourself ones that interest you. Great concept, assuming it always works. Second thing: The casual warmth from just about everyone. Dressler, who tours the room chatting, has a knack for creating a welcoming and comfortable environment.

Details: Lunch/brunch (about $6-$18) 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. daily; dinner (entrees $18-$30) 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, to 10 Thursday, to 11 Friday-Saturday. 4905 Ashley Park Lane (near SouthPark); 704-910-4919;

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