by Molly Reiter
North Harbor Club hits the close-to-impossible trifecta of dining: view, service and food.
The floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of Lake Norman without a bad seat in the house. The service is spectacular, with waitstaff well versed in specials, menu items and specialty drinks.
And, oh, the food!
Ron Blazek is co-owner and manager of the restaurant, and he doesn’t talk much about his past. But when he describes the food, it not hard to suss out that he is a well-trained chef who helps keep the menu current and sophisticated without being stuffy.
Blazek helped open several restaurants in Chicago as the head chef. He came seven years ago to North Harbor Club, which has been open for 10 years now. These days Blazek is more interested in the business side of the restaurant, as long as that includes the food, and leaves the cooking to Head Chef Pepi Resendiz.
The two have created a menu that is surprising and innovative.
Duck Cigars, for example, involve pulled duck meat, mustard oil, serrano chilis and a basil leaf. They are rolled into a cigar shape, flash fried for crunch and served in a glass “ash tray” with a chutney dipping sauce.
The menu also works with reconstituted golden raisins, kumquats, dates, toasted pumpkin seeds and dandelion greens. This is certainly not your run-of-the mill lakeside restaurant, no fried fish sandwiches – although you can order cornmeal-crisped catfish.
But the food is somehow still accessible to the average diner.
“We take something people are familiar with and twist it, make it contemporary,” said Blazek. “For example the crab spring rolls are wrapped crab rangoon style.”
The spinach and artichoke dip is drizzled with lemon oil and then served on a long plate with crisp yucca chips standing at attention. Many of the creative items are made in-house, such as toasted butternut squash croutons, roasted peppers and the like. Plus the ice cream, sorbet, dressings, sauces and even simple syrups used in the bar are all homemade.
North Harbor Club is hard to miss. It sits right off Interstate 77, facing Lake Norman. But many people might pass right by due to the name.
“That is a challenge,” said Blazek. “But the ‘club’ is just part of the name, anyone can dine with us.”
The restaurant is decked out in a nautical theme: plush navy carpeting, wooden seats with coordinating navy cushions, black-and-white photos of sailboats. There are even scull and shells (sleek rowing boats) hanging from the ceilings throughout the restaurant. It feels like a yacht club, but without the necessary membership.
The menu is constantly evolving, and there are three or four changes per month.
“I get bored,” Blazek said, shrugging. “Plus I like to put lighter items on the menu when the weather gets warmer. That way you put out the freshest food possible.”
The restaurant is not just staying up to date with its menu, the layout is about to change. The bar is being torn out to create more room. It will give more people an opportunity to imbibe while gazing out at the gorgeous view.
“We are just freshening up the place and creating more seating,” said Blazek. The basics of the restaurant will remain unchanged.
This is good news for the brides in the area. North Harbor Club is a favorite for rehearsal dinner due to that view and the amazing food.
North Harbor Club is a perfect place for that special meal or just an amazing night out. Although business has improved in double digits since Blazek began, people still are unaware of the restaurant.
“We get people in several times a week who say ‘I had no idea you were here,’” said Blazek.
Good thing they found it. This restaurant should not be missed.
North Harbor Club
100 N Harbor Place, Davidson