The Turnhouse Grille: Delightfully dressed up pub fair in country club setting
by Brianna Melanson | images courtesy Turnhouse Grille
The Turnhouse Grille, tucked in Parktowne Village, has been prospering ever since opening at the end of 2016. This restaurant serving classy pub fare has an intimate atmosphere, perfect for a date night. So, my date and I sat down for a late dinner as other couples chatted at the sophisticated bar and a group of ladies celebrated their friend’s birthday in a back booth. I’d heard nothing but rave reviews about the cuisine, and it was finally my chance to form my own opinion and meet the faces behind the restaurant’s success.
Owner Andy Pressley grew up here on Selwyn Avenue and opened The Turnhouse Grille to continue his career in the restaurant industry. The Hef wings are his recipe, and he is especially proud of them. Naturally they were the first thing we ordered, accompanied by the house-made “can’t we just get along” sauce. We loved that the sauce had a little kick without burning our mouths. Crispy and meaty, they’re definitely the best quality wings I’ve had so far in Charlotte.
Our other appetizer, the steamed bao buns, were heavenly. Soft buns enclosed Chinese pork belly, orange sauce glaze, and pickled peppers and scallions. I could have made a meal just out of those. The appetizers were where we began to question the identity of The Turnhouse Grille.
You don’t expect a restaurant with an atmosphere like this to have bar food on the menu. You’re eating messy wings in the dim, romantic candlelight.
Pressley explains that the name ‘Turnhouse’ comes from a country club, so it seems natural that there’s this elegant country club setting combined with laid-back bar and grill. You have the country club tufted leather chairs, a wreath, rustic chandeliers, and canvas wine paintings, but also can find the Hornets playing on their big screen TVs. Sometimes you just want comfort food in a classier setting—somewhere that people aren’t being rowdy and obnoxious.
Pressley mentions that many people traveling into Charlotte who stop by proclaim they’ve never had a better Duck Confit, so it seem they’ve found a balance in their menu.
Chef Aeisha Davis is the shining star of The Turnhouse Grille. Pressley says, “Once Aeisha became the head chef, she took my menu to another level.” Chef Aeisha kindly went over her exceptional menu and shared the story of how she began cooking.
She explains that her grandmother made the best sweet potatoes, but passed away before she could get the recipe. Now at Turnhouse, Chef Aeisha puts her own take on them, with a bacon apple-ginger reduction in her seared sea scallops dish. I don’t care if it’s not proper manners, I was stealing the sweet potato hash off of my date’s plate. If your meal doesn’t come with the sweet potatoes, I highly recommend getting them as a side. You wouldn’t get the full Turnhouse Grille experience without trying them! Chef Aeisha’s grandmother would have been proud of not only her granddaughter’s amazing sweet potato recipe, but of all her achievements here.
Charlotte locals especially favor the Turnhouse’s burgers. They are easily the most Instagrammed in the city. Featured is a traditional hamburger called The Turnhouse Burger, with cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, tomato, lettuce, and onion. I’d suggest adding an egg to bring in even more flavor and protein. Additionally, they have two more out-of-the-box burgers that shouldn’t be missed: a crispy battered shrimp burger topped with coleslaw and cocktail sauce, and the salmon BLT.
For me, chicken pot pie is the definition of comfort food. It’s difficult to find one that meets my standards, but Chef Aeisha’s was a game-changer. The puff pastry encloses the thick and creamy soup with fresh herbs and vegetables—an outstanding blend—and is served with a side salad coated in a delicious balsamic vinaigrette. The temperature may have dropped the night we visited, but the pot pie warmed me right up.
Their fun craft cocktails are named after local people and places near and dear to the staff. I tried the ‘Milestone,’ named after a popular Charlotte bar that’s no longer in business. If you like Scotch, this one’s for you. My date tried the ‘Noblitt,’ named after a Turnhouse regular. Then, Chad the bartender hooked me up with a ‘Myers Park Mule,’ a take on a traditional Moscow Mule. It’s so light and refreshing, and I recommend sipping it outside in the nice weather. My date’s favorite drink is an Old Fashioned, so Chad made him a ‘Bloody Old Fashion,’ which is now featured on the spring cocktail menu. They also have an amazing selection of craft beers, as well as red, white, and Rosé wines on the list. Every weekend you can go for a delicious brunch and get the $4 Bloody Mary and Mimosa special.
To conclude the feast, Chef Aeisha surprised us with two different desserts she was trying out for spring. Luckily for us, we somehow still had room for sweets. One was a chocolate cake topped with Bailey’s Irish Cream whipped cream and drizzled with hot fudge. I love when desserts incorporate adult beverages—it was a delectable combination. Lastly, we tried a blueberry crumble over vanilla ice cream. They were a fantastic finale to our visit.
Chef Aeisha’s dishes exceeded our expectations, and our taste buds are utterly grateful. We are already planning our next date night there to cozy up with more of her culinary innovations. The Turnhouse Grille is certainly somewhere you’ll want to frequent.