Chances are, if you’ve lived in Charlotte long, you’ve already spent time around the table at a Rare Roots Hospitality restaurant. Now, the talented team behind Dresslers, Dogwood Southern Table, and The Porter’s House has made their first entry into Uptown with the new Fin & Fino. From a shellfish chandelier to half-shell wine pairings, the stylish new spot is dedicated to all things seaside—something that’s new for Rare Roots. But that may be the only change. This restaurant group has its formula of sustainably-sourced food, creative cocktails, and great service down, and diners can expect the same level here that they’ve come to know at the group’s other local spots.
Housed in the former e2 Emeril’s Eatery restaurant space beneath the Mint Museum Uptown, the restaurant’s spacious interior has undergone a dramatic renovation. White tiles and shades of blue allude to seaside dining, and a stunning oversized oyster-shell chandelier draws attention to the U-shaped bar. If you’re craving the beach, snag a stool there and order the Adventures in Paradise cocktail ($18). Served in a pineapple, the boozy rum cocktail tastes—and looks—like something you should drink with your toes in the sand.
For a different take on seaside sipping, try one of the restaurant’s recommended pairings of different oysters from its raw bar alongside cold and crisp drinks like sherry, hard cider, and sparkling rose. Sherry, which has its own coast
al origins, plays a prominent role on this menu. Be sure to try one of bartender Brittany Kellum’s infused sherrys, which come in subtle but sweet flavors such as pear and honey.
You’ll find sherry among numerous other options on the delightfully curated wine list, which only features boutique wines (10,000-case production or less). It’s this kind of attention to sourcing that permeates the menus at Fin & Fino. The fish and shellfish here are all sustainably caught or raised, and they’re delivered daily. “We took the same attitude from Dogwood,” says Ryan Daugherty, who was the chef at Dogwood Southern Table and has now moved to lead the kitchen at Fin & Fino. “As much fresh and local as possible—and from the hands that we know.”
Daugherty and others on his team even visited Rappahannock Oyster Company, from which they source many of their oysters, in the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia. “We went for a day trip, and they took us out on the boats,” he says. “It really inspired us.”
In addition to the plump and briny oysters, which are a must on any visit to Fin & Fino, the menu draws from international flavors and features a variety of small-plate seafood dishes perfect for sharing. Inspired by the popular Vietnamese sandwich, the Grilled Banh Mi Shrimp ($13) features tender North Carolina shrimp topped with daikon, carrots, cilantro, and aioli. The Scallops & Latke ($15) hints at flavors of Russia with tantalizing orbs of the seared shellfish resting on miniature fried potato pancakes with crème fraiche and caviar. The menu’s showstopper, though, is the Lobster & Truffles ($14). Fresh lobster is served with housemade basil shell pasta and shaved truffle to create a dish just as decadent as it sounds.
But the emphasis on fresh means that this menu will occasionally change. “I’m going to take the same attitude that I did at Dogwood,” says Daugherty. “We changed consistently according to what was growing in the fields. Fishing seasons also change. So, our menu will change frequently as we need to with the season.”
Whatever is on the menu, this is a spot made for tasting and sharing. Oysters can be ordered one at a time, and even the wines come in varying sizes of pours to allow diners the chance to sip and sample different flavor combinations. It’s the kind of place that’s easy to stop in for a quick bite at lunch or a cocktail before a show at the Knight Theater across the street. But for those who would rather soak in the seaside-like experience, it’s a relaxing space to spend an evening sharing small plates. There’s even an option called The Treatment ($50) in which your server and the chef take you through a variety of tastes you can share on the menu. Just don’t plan on sharing dessert. Trust us, sweet dishes like a silky chocolate torte or a honey-soaked olive oil cake are something you’ll want all to yourself. finandfino.com
Photos courtesy of Fin & Fino