It’s Fire Season

Restaurant kitchens across the land are on fire. Wood-fired cooking has chefs competing to see who can come up with the most Pitmaster-ish updates to classics of the smokin’ hot grill.

In the Charlotte Marriott City Center, Stoke is overseen by Executive Chef Chris Coleman, one of North Carolina’s most respected chefs. Local hams hang from the ceiling above an iconic, red Berkel charcuterie slicer. Stacks of wood stand ready for the Beech wood-burning oven.

The open fire allows Coleman to impart smoky notes to dishes such as the quickly seared scallop crudo with pickled jalapenos and herbed buttermilk puree. Other starters include beef marrow bones, lightly smoked, then roasted and plated with crispy ginger and quince jelly.

Wood-fired dishes are the core of the communal dining experience. Heartier meat dishes include the signature sticky pork shank with chili-sorghum glaze, Bertie County peanuts and benne seeds, and duck that is brined, then aged for four to five days before being pan roasted and glazed with a bourbon-barrel-aged sherry vinegar.

Save plenty-o-room for dessert. Here comes Stoke’s signature one-pound donut! It starts with house brioche dough, shaped to a ring, proofed and rested overnight. For service, it’s fried atop the wood oven and filled with diplomat cream and topped with crumbled Heath Bar.

It’s real good, y’all.