Surprise! There’s a new restaurant in Charlotte. F2O, in the Pineville Mall.
A couple weeks ago I needed a fun lunch place to meet up and plan with my co-teacher for early morning seminary. She suggested we go check out the new Fresh to Order restaurant over in the Carolina Place Mall in Pineville. (She’d been there the week before and was kind of shocked at how yummy the food was.)
IN the mall I asked? Like the foodcourt?
NO… She said, Well it’s in the mall but has an outside entrance directly to the restaurant between JCPenney and Sears.
Sure? I’m up for a new lunch spot.
And if I need to grab anything in the mall it will be a two birds with one stone option!
I had a TERRIBLE time deciding what to have for lunch that day? Because the different options were more varied than I was expecting. From a coconut curried Salmon I REALLY wanted to try to a blackened lime shrimp appetizer I DID try. –The Thai salad the shrimp came with was amazing by the way, the shrimp was good but more spicy than I was prepared for. So if by blackened you like that level of spice, go ahead, it’s for you!
And then… the drink offerings were another shock!
Sure, usual sodas from a dispenser but hold on… what’s this?
Flavored lemonade with vanilla and star anise. WHOA. That’s grown up stuff there. I’m a total sucker for fun flavored lemonades. Plus a flavored water with strawberry and mint. (No charge for the flavored water by the way!) And several sweet and unsweet tea options as well.
One more shock? Later that day a press invite showed up in my email inbox inviting me to come try out a new restaurant in Charlotte. Guess where? I dare you?
I was all… heck yes! I’m dying to go back and try the coconut curry salmon, or the coconut curry chicken or any of the soups! Wait the salads looked divine, too? What to choose??
Fresh to Order is a relatively new chain, first opened in Atlanta with several restaurants around the South East. This is the first of several planned openings in the Charlotte area. And their hope is that they will be able to entice folks to also use the Pineville restaurant as a catering option as well.
Lucky for me I got to take my husband out for a lunch date back to f2O and this time sampled several of the options.
We started with the Almond Crusted Seared Tuna, Blackened Lime Shrimp and Ale Laced Chicken Tenders (with honey mustard dipping sauce… don’t forget the dipping sauce!).
Of the three, hands down I promise the Chicken Tenders win. As in? WHAT THE HECK? That was unexpected. Moist chicken inside with a crispy outer crunch, seriously the best chicken tenders I’ve ever tasted.
This isn’t Fast Food people.
‘Fast Casual’ is the buzzword for this type of dining.
You step up and order, grab a number and sit down, then your meal is brought to you. And later you simply leave your table, it will be bussed for you. Tips are optional at the checkout when you first order and just saying…, you’ll get better service here than most sit down restaurants so consider tipping.
The cost is spot on for a quick yet REAL grown up meal. The most expensive entrée is under $15 and several of the appetizers could easily double as a meal and most were under $7 or $8. Oh and the kids options were great too. The chicken tenders won my heart already and they offer homemade mac&cheese along with the usual kid-friendly options.
We sampled all 6 of the soups as well. And except for the Lentil all the soups are made on site. (The lentil is dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan, which is why it’s made off site). I was in love with the tomato bisque and the creamy chicken… but my husband said the creamy mushroom was the best one. He’s wrong of course, but I let him think it anyway.
If you do nothing else. TRY THE SALADS.
I was attempting to take a few pictures of each of the sample trays as they came out. But.. um… yeah, when the salads came out we sort of decimated them way too fast for photos. You’ll just have to trust me. All of the salads we tried were amazing.
First I tried the Mediterranean and was all… YES. My favorite.
Then I tasted the Southwest… and changed my mind. It was the winner.
I went ahead and tested the Asian with a Dijon dressing and… NEVERMIND!
They were all my favorites and if you do nothing else, order one of their salads.
I would add the chicken tenders to the Asian salad and call it PERFECTION.
For entrees we picked the Coconut Curry Chicken with Wheat Berry Rice and a Tomato Mozzarella Panini. I only needed the half serving of the panini and it was plenty. I loved the balsamic vinaigrette dressing with it.
But let’s talk about the wheat berry rice? The chicken was really good don’t get me wrong. But seriously? Who raves about RICE? I’d order extra of the wheat berry rice to take home! It was that good.
Great décor, fun and funky with bright orange outdoor seating and umbrellas and green as in GREEN bathrooms. The restaurant used to be a clothing store of some sort, so the whole thing has been re-worked into a restaurant. And the vibe is sunny and fresh. The location in but not quite ‘IN’ the mall is perfect if you need to shop quick on your lunch break, you can easily get in and out of Fresh to Order in 30 minutes.
Who’s up to meet me for lunch sometime?
F2O for a half panini & salad for lunch, or maybe a quick dinner before a movie date?
Disclosure: My lunch date with my husband was covered by Fresh to Order. They had no idea it was my second trip. And I will happily go back another time… there are still more salads to devour!