Southern Accents

The food—and the music—at a new Belmont restaurant come with a story.

 

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Belmont’s Main Street is only about a 20-minute drive from Charlotte’s Uptown, but the pleasant road lined with historic buildings and homes offers an inviting small-town vibe that feels decades rather than miles away. This is where you’ll find Nellie’s Southern Kitchen. The new restaurant, housed in an 80-year-old building, sits on a prominent corner across from the city hall.

Nellie’s late spring opening was much anticipated, largely because of the owner’s last name: Jonas. Kevin Jonas, Sr. is the father of the members of the internationally known Jonas Brothers pop rock band, who even performed for the opening of the restaurant. He named the Southern-meets-modern spot for his sons’ great-grandmother Nellie Jonas, who once lived in Belmont.

Inside, you’ll find plenty of nods to both Nellie and the family’s longtime love of music. The bright and convivial dining room features exposed brick and rustic barn wood walls, open ceilings, concrete floors, and tall windows to the sidewalk. One wall includes an oversized portrait of the matriarch, while another offers a full stage where patrons can enjoy live country and acoustic rock music most days—played at a perfect tempo and volume for accompanying their meal, of course.

Because, make no mistake, the food takes center stage at Nellie’s. The restaurant’s namesake, who inspired its cuisine, is said to have been an inviting Southern host, known for her fresh biscuits and chicken and dumplings. (Read: This is not a restaurant for those on a diet.) Every meal here begins with those warm, buttermilk biscuits. You’ll want to follow them with appetizers like a creamy pimento cheese served with buttery toast points, or the pecan-crusted green tomatoes topped with goat cheese, pickled vegetables, and remoulade.

The food is both locally sourced and inspired with options like N.C. Mountain Trout served with fresh corn and savory collards, or tender pulled pork alongside a decadent mac and cheese presented in its own skillet and made with bacon and four cheeses. Midday diners can indulge in Nellie’s signature fried chicken, which comes in a golden brown and crispy pile almost certain to require an after-lunch nap.

The best time to dine at Nellie’s, though, may be during its Sunday brunch, when you can linger around the soul food-filled table. Top brunch offerings include a sweet Peach Cobbler French Toast made with caramelized peaches and honey whipped cream, and the biscuits and gravy, which is served with a small pottery pitcher full of sausage gravy.

Hard though it may be, you’ll want to save room for dessert at Nellie’s. This is where diners will find the ultimate comfort foods. For a playful post-dinner twist, try the blissfully creamy banana pudding served in a mason jar or order the Milk ’n Cookies featuring three types of cookies and a cold glass of milk. Or pay one final homage to Nellie herself with her classic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake served in an individual cast iron skillet. Like many on the menu, it’s the kind of dish certain to evoke cravings long after you’ve left the hospitality of Nellie’s and the charm of Belmont.

Photos by Michael C. Hernandez.