One of my favorite qualities about my sister is her ability to bring me to good places to eat when visiting her. I recently went down to see her, and among taking me to baseball games and other events, we mainly just ate our way through Charlotte, NC.
I asked her to narrow down some brunch options for us with the criteria that it was local and preferably a place we’ve never been before. Her two suggestions came down to a place with gator bites and a muffaletta or a place with a brunch buffet.
I weighed both options, but it’s rather hard to beat a brunch buffet for $13.95.
One of the reasons that the brunch buffet also won out was because it is a local legend in Charlotte. It’s sort of a place you have to go, much like Millie’s is in Richmond. So to Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop we headed.
Upon arrival, you are immediately hit with nostalgia. It’s like you walked through the doors and back in time to the scene of a black-and-white movie. As we make our way to our seats, you have to snake through the several tables of the buffet, which only whet my appetite more. There seemed to be more options than advertised online, and I couldn’t wait to dig in.
Once we get our drinks and seats, I am back first in the line to fill up my plate. Round one consisted of homemade applesauce, eggs, half an eggs benedict, some mush that I perceive to be either potatoes or cheesy grits, a cinnamon scone, Waldorf salad, lasagna and a scoop of cucumber, tomato and feta salad. Please – hold your judgment on the fact that this is only the first plate. Since that’s a ton of food to review, here we go on rapid fire: the applesauce was great, but tasted like it could be out of a can; the eggs were a bit rubbery, but tasted like eggs; the eggs benedict was excellent, but I wish it had more hollandaise on it; the potatoes/cheesy grits were great even though I couldn’t identify it; the scone was probably my favorite thing on the plate; the lasagna was sitting for a bit too long and hardened; I didn’t know what Waldorf salad was and I still don’t; and the feta and cucumber salad was exactly what you’d expect by the title of the dish.
Next I went up and got sausage gravy on a biscuit, roast beef, sweet potato casserole and broccoli casserole with a slice of red velvet cake for dessert. Rapid fire critique on this plate: the biscuit and gravy were spot on and one of their stronger samplings; the roast beef was a bit dry and could really use either some au jus or horseradish; the sweet potato casserole was a better dessert than the red velvet cake; and the broccoli casserole was not pretty, but incredibly delicious. Since I didn’t love the icing on the red velvet cake (it wasn’t cream cheese icing), I got the carrot cake next and that was much more to my liking.
Phew, so I basically rolled out of that place, but was perfectly content. If you were to take each of their offerings and compare it to other restaurant’s offering of the same dish, Pike’s wouldn’t win them all. However, the wide selection and quantity is exactly what you’d hope for at a buffet while still maintaining a moderately high level of quality. If I could replay one aspect of Pike’s, it would be eating that scone. I was really debating shoving as many scones as possible into my pockets and purse, but thought better of it.
If you're ever heading to Pike's for brunch, I'd definitely say go for it -- and send me a scone or 20 please!