Friday, March 4, 2016

Sushi? Burger? Or Burgushi?

I'm not sure if you eat sushi or have considered trying it. Sushi is one of my top favorite foods...not appealing I know. A food blogger MUST try all different foods. I'm working my way up to spicy, so don't fire me just yet. I've tried many places for sushi and I've loved them all. I also love me a good burger....red meat is the number 1 spot on my list of favorite foods. As per usual, it was time to eat out and explore a new place. My friend wanted a burger and I wanted....either one :) As we know, Google is our best friend, so I just looked up sushi places around South Park.
I had never heard of The Cowfish before. Doesn't the name sound intriguing and peak your interest? It peaked mine, especially when I saw that they are a sushi, burger and bar place. Just my kind of place. All in one! The menu made my eyes go big. They had so many options for sushi. They had different kinds of burgers. And they had burgushi. Huh? Exactly my thoughts. A burgushi is a combination of a burger and sushi. Totally weird I know and so doesn't sound like it would be something anyone would want to eat. It's not what it sounds like. There's nothing raw inside of your burger. If you get a box, then you get a mini burger with sushi rolls on the side. That's what I ordered. I recommend the parmesan bacon truffle fries for an appetizer. They are good!!! Ok now I want some.
A good drink cannot be passed up. Drinks are another important thing I look for when I look for places to eat. I decided to go with something that would go perfectly with my meal. Sake. It's definitely an acquired taste. I ordered the sampler, which has different kinds of sake...cold, hot, flavored, and plain. If you've never tried sake, I'd suggest to go this route. Drink slowly.
Before our food came out, I decided to take a look at the bathroom. It's a good thing I decided to. It's one stall, but it's big enough for a wheelchair. Slight problem. The toilet's in front of the sink. Whoever thought to put the sink in front of the toilet had too many sakes. There's no way someone in a wheelchair would be able to properly wash their hands. We can't even dry our hands because the paper dispenser is high....not reachable at all. Also, there's no handicap parking in front of the restaurant. You have to go to the parking deck to find accessible parking and there are only 2 spaces. No bueno.

Honestly, I really never thought about accessibility as much. I just always dealt with certain places not being accommodating or figured out a way to make it work for me. Now that I'm involved with W.E.A.N and F4ACLT, I see that places really need to think differently in regards to accessibility. Not everyone has someone with them to help with certain needs. We're just not on the same height as everyone else is.

Stay tuned!!!

Your resident guest blogger,
Melissa

The Cowfish
4310 Sharon Road
Charlotte, NC 28211
Tel: 704-365-1922
Fax: 704-365-1924
They're on Facebook

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mimosas are Sunday Rituals

I'm excited to be writing my first blog post for F4ACLT. After telling Judy that I'm always going to different restaurants and trying new foods....a girl has got to eat......she asked if I'd be a resident guest blogger. Uh yeah, of course! I think it would be perfect for me to blog since I do like to be out and about in Charlotte and I know what to look for in matters of accessibility. If it's not accessible, we can't eat. Now that's a crime!


To me, Sundays call for mimosas. There's something fancy about Champagne and OJ in a nice glass. I asked Judy if she knew any places where they had good mimosas. Of course she sends me a list....it will come in handy. Mimosa Grill was on the list, so I looked it up and it sounded yummy. They have brunch on Sunday. They have a buffet full of breakfast and even fish, cheeses, and meat. Yes, food to suite your craving. I'm more of a breakfast eater, so of course I got the typical American breakfast. I did venture out of my zone and tried a bit of grits. They weren't so bad....I did try it. And to go along with my breakfast, a delicious mimosa. I was slightly disappointed that they weren't bottomless and that the glass wasn't full. Hey what can I say? Mimosas should be a requirement.

I'm not a dessert fan. No sweets for this blogger. Luckily I do have friends that have a sweet tooth, so don't worry, I will talk about sweets in my blogs. My friend got a plate of dessert that did look good. I did try a chocolate covered strawberry...delicious.


Food is always important, but so is accessibility. The restaurant is located in Uptown Charlotte near the Wells Fargo Bank. Be prepared to pay for parking. Getting to the restaurant is accessible. Getting in is slightly another story. The doors aren't automatic and there's no button for them to open automatically. The doors are heavy, so someone with no arm strength like me, needs to have someone open them. The restaurant is spacious and anyone in a wheelchair can get around. The floors aren't so wheel friendly. They are bumpy. These floors aren't throughout the entire restaurant, just at the entrance and around the bar. Once you enter the dinning area, it's carpeted. They do have an outside patio which would be great for the warmer weather.

Overall, I would say it was a nice Sunday brunch experience. It's not a place where I would go to all the time, but if the mood strikes for a good brunch in Uptown, then I know where to go. I'm still on the hunt for bottomless mimosas!!! Stay tuned.

Melissa

Mimosa Grill
327 South Tryon Street Charlotte, NC 28202
(One block from Charlotte Convention Center)

Mimosa Grill is on Facebook

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Amelie's, the Ladies of W.E.A.N. and Changes

So, I have to apologize that I have not been blogging since the beginning of January. It seemed suddenly my calendar became jam-packed with networking and local social events. And, in these short weeks, Foodie4AccessCLT has become more of a solid reality than a concept I constantly babble about to anyone who stays still long enough to listen. I have even updated one of my earlier posts (So What is Foodie4AccessCLT?) because of all of evolving partnerships and connections. In response to the schedule changes, I will be posting shorter entries, but more of them. I also have a resident guest blogger! But, I am getting ahead of myself...

One of the first updates is that Monique Stamps and the Women of WEAN have partnered with F4ACLT to put together four events this year. The events will allow the ladies to discover new and interesting accessible foodie places around town as well as have social time together on different topics. I am so delighted to work with Monique! A certified Zumba trainer and peer support advocate, Monique totally gets the idea behind F4ACLT.

Not too long ago,we met at Amelie's in NoDa, which, by the way, will be the new meeting for WEAN in the future. In looking for a larger space that was accessible AND comfortable for multiple mobility devices, Amelie's won! It doesn't hurt that the WiFi and the treats are terrific!

Monique Stamps (left), founder of W.E.A.N. and Melissa Soriano
We discussed an event which was just recently completed; the taping of one-on-one interviews with the Ladies of W.E.A.N on the subject of disability and dating. The incomparable Saran Almond of "What Would She Do?" was our interviewer. Look for another blog post on that event soon!

Other ideas were thrown around the table as we noshed. And, then, Melissa Soriano began to tell me about her experience at Mimosa Grill. I don't want to give away all of her first blog post, but she will be my resident guest blogger from now on! This young lady, a member of W.E.A.N., gets around Charlotte, has her own business, and is so supportive of everyone in the community! I just love her and she is another reason F4ACLT is growing its wings!

So, suffice it to say, changes are a-coming! But, it is all good, and I hope you will enjoy the added content, the new faces and new places!

Front and ordering area of Amelie's. Larger room is toward the back of this picture.

Amelie's
2424 North Davidson Street
Charlotte, NC 28205
704-376-1781

Amelie's on Facebook

This is one of five locations from Charlotte to Atlanta, Georgia.
This location NEVER closes! Yes, we love that!

Reviews:
Google 
Zagat rated as well

Accessibility Notes:

Parking lot is FREE but can be very challenging due to the popularity of this place as well as other stores in the strip mall. There are steps and a ramp at one end.

There is no automatic door and there is a slight threshold that may be cumbersome for someone using a manual chair.

This can be a very busy location, but to the left is a larger room as well as an adjacent atrium (in the rear) with standard level tables and chairs. I suggest CA (Calling Ahead) if you have a large party.

There is an online menu located here. I use it as the menu items are written on a chalkboard at the location, though I believe there are paper menus available as well. Availability and price of treats are subject to change without notice, so CA (call ahead) for your favorites!

Sensory and hearing issues may be of concern when there is a large number of people present, but for the most part, it is relatively quiet with no overhead music. The atrium is considerably more noisy if crowded. It is well lit but there is a lot of decor items (beautiful to me!) that may be a distraction to some sensory sensitive people.

We did not use the restrooms here.

As always, if you have anything you would like to add to our reviews or our Accessibility Notes, please let us know!



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Julia's Cafe & Books - W.E.A.N. Coffee and Conversations Meeting

Logo for Julia's Cafe White mug outlined in blue with Habitat for Humanity Logon on it. Julia's Cafe and Books in Green with apostrophe and ampersand sign in blue
Logo for Julia's Cafe

Inside view of Cafee with bookshelves, moveable tables and chairs.
Nothing like networking, catching up and getting to know new people around some good food. Such was the recent Coffee and Conversations meeting of WEAN Charlotte - Women Embracing Abilities Now at Julia's Cafe and Books on N. Wendover Road.

I haven't laid eyes on some of these women in over a year, so it was at first a bunch of hugs and trying to catch up beyond Facebook posts and messages. If you are not familiar with WEAN, it is a group started in Maryland by Janice Jackson as a peer counseling/support group for women of varying degrees of disabilities. The goal is to not make the disabilities the focus of life, but to focus on the abilities that we all have.

Monique Stamps started a sister chapter here in Charlotte several years ago, and through sheer tenacity and the power of her personality, she has mentored and motivated a group of women to share their lives, their struggles and their triumphs with each other. I am happy to be a member of WEAN Charlotte and support their efforts. Monique is also a certified Zumba instructor, who regularly holds classes and Zumbathons here in Charlotte.

Julia's Cafe and Books is located on N. Wendover Road as a coffee house slash bookstore, where the proceeds of purchases support Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. So, it is a win-win place for great food and contributing to the community. From their own kitchen and other fantastic local food vendors, such as  Magnolia Coffee CompanyFriendship Trays, Br├╝ks Bars,Nova's BakerySecret Chocolatier, and Anderson's Catering, they provide a wide variety of food items, coffees and sweets. 

I had a Spinach Pie, which was pre-packaged, but easily reheated with the microwave provided in the bookstore. It was really good and a perfect health-conscious choice. Don't forget to go over to the Resource Store next door and peruse the gently used items for sale. There are wonderful bargains and finds not found anywhere else in the city. The items are replenished on a regular basis so check back often. And, enjoy a Chai Latte from Julia's!


Some of the lovely ladies of WEAN- each and every one a success story!
Ms. Vivian (left) and our fearless leader, Monique Stamps

Julia's Cafe & Books
1133 N. Wendover Road
Charlotte, NC 28211
704-295-4585

Julia's on Facebook

Hours: 

Wednesday7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Thursday7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Friday7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
SundayClosed
Monday7:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tuesday7:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Review Link:

Google

Trivia Point:

Every Saturday at 10am, a volunteer reads to children of all ages!

Accessibility Notes:

On this one, accessibility is fantastic. I do recommend CA (Call Ahead) if you have several people who will use mobility devices. We had four women at our meeting and we did need to move tables out of the way. This was not a problem, but we did feel a little cramped.

Flat concrete sidewalk with ramp with low threshold at entrance. 

No automatic door, so someone will have to hold the door for anyone using a mobility device who needs assistance opening doors.

No online menu as their items change throughout the year. See food vendors listed with links above to get an idea of what can be offered. Again, CA if you want to be sure what is on the menu the day you want to go.

Establishment is moderately well-lit with smooth flooring. It is usually quiet, as people are reading or working here. There are children, and adults of all ages. Night-time, it is well lit with a very inviting feel!

Staff is VERY accommodating; friendly and supportive. Have never come here and had a bad customer service experience. 

Parking is free and plentiful, though it can fill up with Resource Store shoppers.
  



Friday, December 18, 2015

Zoewee's Restaurant - African Spice is Nice!



Lewis Dueh, your chef!
The other day on a ride back from 1801 North Tryon Street (spent looking at what various groups/entrepreneurs have done with their spaces), Melanie Dunston of K & M Catering and FB Group, Charlotte Wellness and Events) asked me had I been to Zoewee's. My usual answer of "no, who are they?" was given, at which she promptly began to wax long about the wonderful food, the great people and the homespun hospitality of this hidden gem. So before I could pass the strip mall it's located in (believe me, you can pass it!), we pulled into a rather, bumpy parking lot (drive slow and show your shocks some love!) at 4112 North Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28206. All the way in the back sat Zoewee's African Restaurant, rather unassuming and definitely not hinting of the great dishes inside.

Unfortunately, when we knocked on the door, they were closed. And, even though we wandered over to get some Hot Ginger Ale and other delicacies at a nearby African Food Market (another blog post coming up!), I was hungry and wanted to sample the food Melanie kept talking about more and more.

So, back we went and this time, we were greeted by Lewis, the chef, who informed us that even though something smelling really good was wafting from the kitchen, he was not ready to open and that many of the dishes were not prepared yet. We both promised that we would eat whatever he brought out. I tell you, it was a total treat!

Palava Sauce
Zoewee's, at this location for six years, is definitely a word of mouth and traditional Liberian food find. As for accessibility, there is a low threshold to get into the building, though no automatic doors. It is simple tables and chairs with plenty of room to maneuver or rearrange seating, if needed. Large windows with a light colored floor made the space well-lit for me. The sidewalk outside is almost flush with the parking lot, so maneuvering a wheelchair or a scooter should not be an issue. And, while I didn't notice any designated accessible parking in front of the restaurant, the lot was quite empty, with designated spaces in other parts. I do suggest a run through and a call ahead, especially with the lack of an automatic door, but everyone is friendly and eager to please.

Potato Leaf Greens with Turkey and Chicken and White Rice
Melanie loves to chatter about Charlotte's hidden spots and this was definitely one. Run by Mr. Ernest, a quiet, polite but knowledgeable man, we were served by the chef, Louis, who first brought us a sample of the Palava Sauce, a spicy, but not too hot beef sauce. It had a musky earthiness that instantly warmed me. But, I wanted the only entree already finished, which turned out to be Potato Leaf Greens with Chicken and Turkey over White Rice.

Potato leaf greens with sauce on a bed of white rice
What an explosion of African spices, peppers and just plain flavor! The taste did not disappoint the aromas coming from the steaming hot plates. You don't have to wonder what you are eating. The meat was fall off the bone tender and itself seasoned to perfection. For my first foray into African food here in Charlotte, I was not disappointed. The potato leaves reminded me of spinach, with the same slight bitterness, but lovingly lost within the spicy sauce.

The goal (which I accomplished!), like most indigenous meals, is to slather this spicy concoction over the rice and eat it, sopping up the sauce along the with cassava bread. I didn't have any bread, but no matter. Even with amazingly generous portions, I ate it all.

And, the prices are very reasonable. We both ate for under $30.00.

There are so many other things to try here. Don't be afraid to ask questions. From  links below from Yelp and Trip Advisor, you can see Zoewee's gets very good reviews. It is due to the dedication to keeping authenticity in the traditional preparation and service of their hometown dishes that Zoewee's is well respected and patronized by transplants from Liberia and your truly from New York City!

Definitely stop in, say hello and grab a seat!

Zoewee's Restaurant
4112 North Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28206
704-559-9503
Zoewee's on Facebook

Hours:


Mon11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Tue11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Wed11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Thu11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Fri11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sat11:00 am - 10:00 pm
SunClosed

Review Links:

Yelp
Trip Advisor

Trivia Point:
Ask Lewis what his name means! 

Front counter with dual heights. Love that touch!
Open concept, simple tables and chairs with smooth unobstructed flooring
Large room with plenty of maneuverability space































Accessibility Notes:
  1. First and foremost, I ALWAYS recommend CA (call ahead) for your individual needs. Everyone is friendly, and I believe they will jump at the chance to please.
  2. Flat concrete sidewalk in front leads to low threshold entrance.
  3. No automatic door.
  4. No online menu and no alternate or digital version (that I could find. If you find one, please update me!)
  5. Quiet and well-lit establishment with few sensory related distractions. Nighttime may be a different experience.
  6. Staff is willing to LWAS (Listen with a Smile!
Front entrance of Zoewee's Restaurant 

Sidewalk is flush with the parking lot. Rubber mat at the front of the door.






































Pictures of the Menu:

Monday, December 14, 2015

So, What is Foodie4Access CLT?

So, What is Foodie4AccessCLT

So, now that you understand the original concept behind F4A, now I bet you are asking why then is there something called Foodie4AccessCLT (F4ACLT)?

Foodie4AccessCLT is a nonprofit that focuses on maximizing the number of people with disabilities who attend educational, social and cultural events, as well as participate in great, accessible food destinations in Charlotte, North Carolina. F4ACLT works with local disability advocates, disability-related nonprofits or other groups to increase the number of people with disabilities, or families with a child with a disability) who get out to eat, learn and connect about town to discuss all things foodie, social, accessible and/or cultural.

You don't have to have a specific disability to be a part of F4ACLT. We welcome anyone who wants to be a part of a growing group of consciously aware people who celebrate inclusion, connection, and empowerment for all people, including those who have a disability.

The blog will follow along as I go to fantastic restaurants run by great chefs and their staff, who get the big picture of inclusion. We will be a part of social events around town, philanthropic efforts to raise funds for outings or donate necessities to help others, and community focused gatherings. We want to talk to those of you who want to make a difference in Charlotte; who want to see the community of people with disabilities strong, connected and involved in their community. 

The ultimate purpose of F4ACLT is to eat great food, support each other in our endeavors, and celebrate all of who we are on this journey of life. 

Hope you enjoy the ride!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

What is Foodie4Access?

Hello, folks!

If you are not familiar with the F4A concept, let me tell you the story. Several years ago, I created the Foodie4Access idea, name and blog in order to talk about food and accessibility. Strange combination, right?

Well, the story goes like this.

Three years ago, I attended a self-advocacy training with my oldest son. He really didn't want to go, but I wanted to learn as much as I could on how to successfully advocate for him and his brother. As a parental attendant, I sat in the back, behind everyone, though I got copies of all the content of the training. I watched them go through the breakout sessions, the workshop team match-ups and the seminar lectures. but, where I saw them connect the most was over meals. Suddenly,the polite walls came down, everyone oohed and aahhed over hot, steaming dishes and sandwich combinations. There was laughter, sharing of family history and tales from other dining tables. I noticed something, but wasn't sure exactly what I was seeing.

Later on in the six week training, I began to notice that while we pulled through the trainngs, we glided through meals; lingering over desserts and each other. Finally, I understood. It was connection....through food. And, just like that, an idea was formed.

I could talk about accessibility in a seminar or a Powerpoint-driven presentation, or I could sit down at a meal and ask questions, hear histories and testimonies, and learn about others through the sharing of a meal.

In those training meal times, I could see how if one needed an alternate menu or another one needed their food cut and arranged, or yet another one had allergies, no assumptions were made. I saw how everyone just made sure those needs were met. Because in the end, we all wanted to share the same feeling; enjoyment of a well prepared meal, regardless of what accommodations were needed to get there.

I thought...what would happen if we could talk about our needs over a shared meal? If we could care for each other in that setting? Perhaps that feeling would carry over to the workplace, the marketplace, the community center, the movie theater, anywhere and everywhere people went; all people, disabled or not?

What if we understood that if we could share a meal and make it accessible for all, we could do the same for the rest of the community?

And, that is how Foodie4Access was born. Yes, we may talk about the accessibility of a restaurant, but first we want to find out how accessible is your mind? Your thought patterns? Your attitudes? Come, sit around the table and let's talk.

Question4Folks:

Do you feel sharing food is a way to foster inclusion and a sense of community? What other ways can help foster discussions of accessibility?





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