Feb 28, 2018 - Food and Drink

5 things to know about Zeppelin, the new upscale restaurant and lounge in South End

zeppelin-food-and-cocktail-review-south-end-charlotte

zeppelin-food-and-cocktail-review-south-end-charlotte

Zeppelin is off to a hot start in South End — often generating hour-long waits (or even longer) during peak dining hours.

After 60 days in operation, Zeppelin has generated ratings of 3.5/5 on Yelp, 4.1/5 on Google and 4.8/5 on Facebook.

Negative reviews mostly mention poor front of the house management and high prices. Good reviews mention the dishes, space/design and unique cocktails.

I went to Zeppelin on last Thursday evening at 5 p.m. to check it out. Here are the 5 things you need to know.

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Zeppelin is located in South End – 235 W. Tremont Ave. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m

(1) Zeppelin is beautiful.

Ownership plowed some serious money in the upfit — and you can tell immediately.

Inside, you’ll find seating for about 60. I recommend grabbing a booth.

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Interesting note: Zeppelin’s bar was starting to become so crowded, which meant butts were in the face of people at the bar-facing booths, that they made the decision that you must be seated to use that section of the bar. 

(2) Zeppelin describes itself as a restaurant first, bar second — and I actually agree.

Honestly, I was expecting Zeppelin to be a bar-first spot that just takes advantage of awesome real estate.  I was wrong. It’s an excellent restaurant.

The menu has 12 small plates and 4 entree options (dishes changes frequently). It’s a small menu, which is a trend we continue to see more and more of in Charlotte.

Let’s talk entrees first, then small plates.

The #1 most popular entree is the Buttermilk Poached Kettle Fried Chicken ($23) – local wildflower honey, habanero vinaigrette and pickled mango.

The staff recommended the Dry Aged Crispy Duck ($36) – local wildflower honey, sansyo pepper, coriander, fluer de sel, Arbequina olive oil, fresh herbs, compress persimmon.

I preferred the duck over the chicken. The duck doesn’t come with any sides and can easily be split unless you’re starving and only want a huge plate of meat.

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Buttermilk Poached Kettle Fried Chicken ($23)
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Dry Aged Crispy Duck

(3) Zepplin’s small plates are the main attraction on the menu, and the calamari is the star.

Instead of heavy entrees, I recommend ordering a bunch of small plates. I could even see a future where they drop the entree portions and only focus on small plates.

The #1 most popular dish at Zeppelin is their Point Judith Calamari ($11) — Korean chile, yuzu, pickled bacon dashi gel, serranos and shishitos. It’s a must-order when you go.

I also ordered the Maine Lobster Mac & Cheese ($20) – house made fettucini, uni bechamel, nori ranch fizz, bacon poached lobster tail. Pricey, but delicious.

Other popular plates at Zeppelin include the following:

  • Scratch Buns ($8) — sweet miso heritage pork belly, shaved cabbage and pickled chilisv
  • Fried Green Tomato Caprese ($12) — UAV Burrata, pickled cabbage, baby kale, sorgham-balsamic reduction, red gravy, Arbequinoa olive oil
  • Main Lobster & Avocado Toast ($12) — butter poached, homeade brioche, herd aioli, bacon and preserved lemon.

I literally wanted to eat all 12 of the small plates dishes at Zeppelin, with the exception of the $14 Roasted & Glazed Carrots… Although I’ve heard it’s tasty and popular, I just can’t order carrots at a restaurant. And $14 carrots? Not for me.

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Point Judith Calamari ($11)
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Maine Lobster Mac & Cheese ($20)

(4) The most popular cocktail, by far, is The Edison. It’s that cocktail dramatically served in a smoke-filled glass dome that you’ve seen on Instagram.

What’s inside The Edison (Zeppelin’s take on an Old Fashioned)? Bourbon, cashew infused sorghum, barrel aged bitters, cold-smoke cherry bark and spiced cherry.

I get that the smoke presentation feels slightly gimmicky, but it’s cool. It also smells delicious.

At $16, the cocktail is pricey.

Wait for iiiiiiit… Most dramatic cocktail reveal of your life. . @bartenderlarry showing off The Edison ($16) at @zeppelinclt. Bourbon, cashew-infused sorghum, barrel-aged bitters, cold-smoked cherry bark and a spiced cherry. And yes, this is how it’s always served. 🥃🍒💨 . Zeppelin’s grand opening party is tomorrow (Friday 1/5). Tickets are $29 and include light bites and 4 drink tickets.

A post shared by Axios Charlotte (@charlotteagenda) on

The second most popular cocktail is Zeppelin’s Dilworth Dig ($10) – vodka, Good Road cider, Brothers Vilgalys Krupnikas spiced honey liqueur, fresh lemon and dehydrated apple.

(5) Zeppelin is the type of spot for a group dinner with buddies who don’t mind spending money on tasty small plates and unique cocktails.

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The Edison, after the smoke has cleared

I didn’t think they’d be able to pull off a “Soul Gastrolounge for South End” — but that’s exactly the track that Zeppelin’s on as of right now. We’ll see if they can continue to iterate, maintain quality and hone in on operations.

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Dilworth Dig

Oh, and don’t forget, just like Soul Gastrolounge, Zeppelin also uses the No Wait App.

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