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Counter Restaurant Review: A Sensory Dining Experience in Charlotte

Updated: May 13

I walked into Counter for the first time for my 30th birthday, in which I was accompanied by my wife and several of our best friends. However, my first experience with them was through social media. I had noticed the food popping up on Instagram which was phenomenal, but as a lover of wine, I also noticed that. Chef Sam Hart, as well as his team including Bill Cox, have assembled a wine list that includes the likes of Bond Cabernets, Krug Champagne, Pomerol, and more. We were blown away, and that started a conversation Chef Sam that ultimately led us through the doors.

Counter is built to provide an immersive epicurean journey paired with music by course. The name Counter comes from Chef’s priority to create a restaurant that is a noticeable departure from the norm, where the focus is less concentrated on the guest and more so placed on the staff. Chef believes that if his team feels well taken care of and supported, then the guests will be attended to at a high level. We can attest to this. Lastly, one of the attributes that makes Chef Sam stand apart is his desire to mentor and give back. In 2021 the restaurant donated $15,000 to charitable causes, and Sam personally spends a lot of his free time mentoring students at both Johnson & Wales as well as South Mecklenburg High School.

Now for the food and wine, which at this point in the article may sound like an ‘oh by the way’, but I promise you it is anything but. You walk into the small industrial-looking building with a long U-shaped table set for ~18 people. Music is playing, the restaurant staff greets you as you sit. The seating certainly possesses a theatrical quality that evoked a feeling of going to the theater for a show. The lights are dimmed and Chef Sam comes on the microphone to announce the menu for the night, Sauce - an exploration through French mother sauces and their global influence. The music drops with Livin’ Thing by Electric Light Orchestra, and we're off!

Of the 12 course tasting menu (you did read that correctly), one that particularly stood out was the Poulette course: salmon, white asparagus, roe, shemeji, absinthe, apple, & epi herb butter. That dish paired with a Hungarian white called “Ko-Papir-Ollo”, meaning Rock, Paper, Scissors. That is just one course, and if I tried to describe each appropriately, this article could go 3 pages! And so, I will stop short of that, and simply suggest you go yourself. This isn't just a dinner, but an experience and one in which you want to get lost. Let Chef Sam and his team take you on a musical-culinary journey, and see where you wind up. From their mission to their food and wine, down to their immensely talented staff, this is one restaurant in Charlotte that I believe will soon not be such a secret left for locals.

Counter will be closing at the end of July as they move to a new location at 2001 West Moorehead, as well as work on their next restaurant they will be opening this year, Biblio. During the month of August, Chef Sam will be doing Pop-Ups for Counter across the country in Napa, Charleston, Greenville, and then back in Charlotte. If you have a special occasion or no occasion at all, Counter is a must-try.

Chef Sam of Counter in Charlotte

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