I've been wanting to try one of Charlotte's newest members to the bar community, Haymaker, for a while now, so once I saw I would be in the area, it was a win-win! Located right next to Romare Bearden Park in Uptown, this is the perfect place to visit while chilling at the park or catching a Charlotte Knights game. The restaurant is also just a couple of blocks away from the train, so off we went.
As you can see in the photo, the space is absolutely gorgeous. It feels very welcoming and you can tell they put a lot of time into the look of this place. As soon as you walk in, the horseshoe bar immediately captivates your attention and definitely owns the room. If for nothing else, you'll want to take a picture of it for Instagram. There is seating downstairs and also in an upstairs area as well. We were seated immediately upstairs which was a little less chaotic than down below, with all the people walking about. The staff definitely seemed to have a passion for what they were doing, which was nice to see. The menu is on the smaller side and features several small plates, a few snacks, sides(not included with dishes), and some large plates. They also have a Charcuterie option currently. The prices are in the mid to high range for even small plates, so just be prepared. So what did we order......
Heirloom Cornmeal Hushpuppies
First up, we went with the Heirloom Cornmeal Hushpuppies. These are served with a jalapeno sorghum butter that was delicious. The spice levels are mild, but every once in a while you get a little unexpected kick. The hushpuppies themselves were absolutely great. They have a nice crispy coating, but remained perfectly soft in the middle. They tasted fresh and paired great with the butter. This will be something that I'll be getting again.
Crispy Pork Belly
Next up was the Crispy Pork Belly because.... pork belly is delicious of course. This is served with a sorghum glaze, sea island red pea succotash, benton's bacon, in a roasted onion broth with peanuts. Yea, all that! The pork belly was cooked to perfection and was delicious. The succotash had great flavors, and the broth was really good, but the added texture of the peanuts threw that portion of the dish off a bit for me. There were definitely great flavors in there though.
Mac & Cheese
Mac & Cheese is something I'm always skeptical of getting at restaurants as often times it is mediocre compared to what I'm used to(baked), but I decided to go with it anyway after seeing it delivered the to the table next to us. I must admit, the green caught my eye and made me try it. It turns out that this is a really good herb crust that they add to the top that gives it a little more pop. The mac & cheese also has a smoked cheddar mornay, which some benton's country ham scattered throughout. The added bit of saltiness from the ham was perfect. Mac & Cheese at Haymakr is a go!
NC Shrimp A La Plancha
This is the type of dish that you'll either love or hate. I personally loved it, but other did not as there are a ton of different flavor levels here in this dish. This is shrimp and grits with manchego, a brown butter vinaigrette, and pickled chilis. The shrimp was cooked well and have great seasoning. The grits are the part in which you get a lot of flavors melding together which for some could be a turn off. There are definitely levels to the flavors here so depending on your taste, it may or may not work together for you.
I thought Haymaker was pretty cool. I'll definitely be going back to sit at the bar to have some drinks when it is less crowded. They seemed to put their own flare on each dish to differentiate themselves, which I liked. They have a great location and the ambiance is great for a date night or just to chill and relax while having a drink with friends.