By: Jessica Moore
Let’s pretend I don't want to list Coco and the Director as the first 17 reasons to visit the newly renovated Charlotte Marriott Center. But really though, I do, because...COFFEE. So let’s start there.
Coco and the Director
I’ve really felt the need for more coffee shops around town lately. I have a couple favorites but sometimes I need a bit more inspiration surrounding me than walls with lackluster color or walls with so much clutter that I can barely focus.
I don’t want people rushing around me because all they are here to do is eat food with their kids and be loud. I would rather not have the temptation of 75 different sugary pastries, all I need is caffeine. I also don’t want to be forced to listen to my own tunes because the overhead music sucks. Oh, and I want easy and convenient parking.
I'm writing this article at Coco and the Director and it's the perfect environment. I'm Your new #1 fan!
1 | Coffee. I ordered a Caramel Latte last night and I’m not lying, it was the best latte I’ve ever had. Plus, all of their syrups are made in-house.
2 | Upbeat music that ranges from Jay-Z to Pink Floyd.
This gorgeous space is fit for almost anyone’s needs.
There are small stools along the windows that face the street for those who like to watch the busy streets. The entire back wall of the loft above is adorned with chalk art and other local Charlotte-inspired pieces, and it overlooks a widened corner staircase with large pillows for lounging.
3 | Unique seating with adorable lamb printed pillows, which are for purchase over in the retail section. This area is mainly a hangout to finish your coffee before heading on to the next stop.
4 | Multiple large tables for group sessions. You can book them on a first come, first served basis on their chalkboard.
5 | Retail area with gifts for purchase from local vendors.
6 | Open 6:30am to 10pm Monday through Sunday.
7 | Specialty Sandwiches.
All food items are made fresh daily, from their pastries and to-go salads to their incredible daily sandwich specials. Be sure to get them early because they will sell out!
Speaking of food, if you take a short walk through the lobby you’ll find Stoke and Stoke Bar.
The restaurant and kitchen are completely open, bright and welcoming. The kitchen is in the middle of the dining area with huge marble counters on three sides, with their wood-fired oven on the back wall.
You can see EVERYTHING and that’s very exciting for those of you who appreciate the hard work it takes to create beautiful dishes.
It feels like you could be a guest in Chef Chris Coleman’s home. He's doing some impressive and innovative things with the team here at Stoke.
The Stoke Motto | The warmth of wood-fired cooking complemented by closely-sourced ingredients in season from Carolina farms and local partners.
8 | Wide open kitchen in the center of the dining room.
9 | Wood-fired everything.
10 | Supports local farmers and partners.
11 | Even their deviled eggs are cooked among the embers. Bet you’ve never tried that at home!
The menu tasting I attended earlier this week was a minimal portion of their menu. Each item delivered amazing flavor and technique.
12 | Charred Watermelon Steak topped with crab and pickled jalapenos.
13 | Charcuterie Board with pickled veggies, local preserves and cheeses.
14 | Salt Roasted Oysters with brown butter, hot sauce and celery remoulade.
15 | Sticky Pork Shank served on a cornbread biscuit with sweet chili glaze and benne seeds.
During all of this sampling, I was served at least five cocktails. There was no way I could finish all five in the hour we were given so I just took generous “sips” of each one.
I adore bars that feel like someone’s cozy living room. Low lighting, strong drinks and comfortable seats. If you’ve been to The Cellar, The Broken Spoke or Essex you’ll know exactly what I mean. It’s everything you want in a laid back bar.
Todd Bayley brings a magnetic positive energy to his space at Stoke Bar.
16 | The Hive. Todd’s personal favorite that brought his love for gin alive. If you aren’t a fan of gin, you must at least have a sip of someone's. He and I would both bet that it will change your opinion on the power of gin.
17 | Pressed cocktails, two seasonal offerings right now.
- Evolution: Monkey Shoulder Scotch, tea, mint, lemon, and orange.
- Southern Swag: Starr African Rum, tea, lemon, raspberry and rhubarb.
18 | The Bartender’s Handshake (fun fact: it’s infused with bacon jam).
19 | Bottled cocktails like Lay of the Land: white wine, aperol, elderflower, lemon.
20 | Local beers on tap.
21 | Plush seating and soft lighting.
Written By: Jessica Moore | @finickylady
Native Charlottean and good food guru who loves cupcakes, whiskey and Sunday brunch.