Music Makes the Meal at Counter- in Charlotte, N.C.

The Award of Excellence winner melds culture and food to create an evening that’s an experience, not just a meal

Music Makes the Meal at Counter- in Charlotte, N.C.
The new location of Counter- provides a larger space for an open kitchen in which the chefs can demonstrate their talents. (Kenty Chung)
Dec 15, 2022

Would you pair Ludwig Van Beethoven with mustard-laced rouladen? Radiohead with sashimi? At the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Counter (stylized Counter-, to indicate the word’s meaning as a prefix) in Charlotte, N.C, the music selection isn’t an afterthought, but a crucial part of the tasting menu’s sensory experience.

This month, Counter is reopening in a new location on Morehead Street, steps away from Bryant Neighborhood Park and with four times the square-footage as the original that opened in 2020. Despite the larger space, Counter will keep the number of seats to only 16, devoting more room to an exposed kitchen intended to set the stage for burgeoning chefs to stretch their limits.

The 10- and 14-course tasting menus at Counter shift as readily as changing the record on a turntable, altering genres and tastes each month. The brainchild of executive chef and owner Sam Hart, the menu at Counter can become anything from a series of entirely monochromatic dishes to a modern homage to German cooking, served to the tune of Beethoveen’s symphonies.

 A menu item inspired by artist Yayoi Kusama with bright dots of color on a cream background, served in a stone-colored bowl
Dishes on the current tasting menu are inspired by Modern artists such as Yayoi Kusama. (Kenty Chung)

The first tasting menu in the new digs is influenced by a trip Hart took to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, with dishes that are reminiscent of Modern and Pop artists such as Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo (with artworks presented in front of diners during the meal) and that incorporate techniques of the modernist cuisine movement.

Charlotte native Bill Cox is the director of wine at Counter and its sister wine bar Biblio, now attached to the new location. With experience working in wine sales and horticulture, he brings a holistic understanding of the wine industry to Counter’s 360-label list, designed to adapt easily to the ephemeral tasting menus. Alongside those, he offers a choice of wine pairings, reserve wine pairings and non-alcoholic pairings; these may feature overlooked wines from all corners of the earth, with special attention to including women-, LGBTQ+- and minority-owned or -run wineries like Cattleya, Bodega Catena Zapata and Merry Edwards. Stars of the cellar also include classics like Oregon’s Bergström and Bordeaux’s Château Léoville Barton.

Counter will be open Wednesdays with seatings at 7:00pm, and ​​Thursday to Saturday with seatings at 5:45 and 8:15 pm. Reservations are required and paid in advance, with availability opening the month prior.

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