Ballantyne Magazine

SPRING 2019

Ballantyne Magazine covers news, events, real estate, restaurants, shopping, health, schools and business in the upscale Ballantyne Area of Charlotte, NC.

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F A B F A R E Coastal Cuisine Island Thyme features Florida, Caribbean Favorites By Amy Rogers | Photos by Ray Sepesy T hat banging you hear coming from the kitchen isn't construction work. It's the chef cracking open conch shells to get the meat from the mollusk. That's how Island Thyme can claim conch fritters that rival those you'd normally find in Florida. Chef and owner Earl Losey grew up in a restaurant family, but it was his move from Michigan to South Florida in 2001 that stoked his appetite for coastal cuisine. Fishing excursions to the Bahamas, Tortugas, Turks and Caicos and other islands deepened his appreciation for Caribbean cooking. During trips to visit family in Charlotte over the last few years, Losey saw the many chain restaurants in the area and noticed an opportunity. He realized: "With the connections I have in Florida, why don't I just do what is (uncommon) here? Fritters, chowder and seafood straight out of Florida to here, out of the water two days?" So, he and his partner, Michele Bougard, decided to buy a home here — and open a restaurant, too. Its name is a tribute to a fresh herb that's found across the islands, according to Losey. It's also a play on words for a tropical state of mind. Bougard explains, "If you have a contractor coming at 5, you have to ask him, 'What day?' That's island time." "Lunch time could be 4 in the afternoon or 10 in the morning," Losey adds. At Island Thyme, Losey smokes mahi and wahoo in-house to create a traditional fish dip with a creamy bite. For diners who like more intensity, pickled jalapeños on the side will turn up the heat. For conch fritters (seen at left), nuggets of conch meat are blended with breading and fried into perfectly browned fritters. They can be dipped into tangy cocktail sauce; although, some purists enjoy them with just a squeeze of lemon. Losey concocts an array of sauces that includes guava "Good food isn't fast, and fast food isn't good." — message on dining room sign Fresh grilled swordfish is shown here with rice and mango salsa. Michele Bougard makes the restaurant's popular Key lime pie in-house. A side of pickled jalapeños adds spice to the fish dip. BALLANTYNE SPRING 2019 49 Fab Fare

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