Cost Plus World Market is a retail store that sells items across multiple categories including furniture, gifts, decor, food, and wine. One of the many draws to World Market is their wine and beer offerings. Unlike other wine retailers, World Market offers a discount when purchasing a minimum of four or more bottles of wine. This deal can include any bottles in the store or a specific style of wine such as rosé. Typically, the discount is 20% off the current price of a bottle. A few times a year, World Market will offer up to 30% a case of wine.
On July 7th, 2019, Ashley and I visited World Market and bought a couple bottles of wine with a 20% discount. Some of the bottles we got were on sale as well. The pricing on the receipt made the deal appear too good to miss. However, I wanted to compare the final price per bottle against a low-cost competitor.
The large retail wine competitor in my city is Total Wine. They carry a large variety of wine bottles from all over the world. I like Total Wine because they almost always have what I am looking for or carry an applicable substitute. The only time I have issues at Total Wine is when I walk in without a plan and get lost roaming the endless aisles.
While not all wines carried at one store can be found in another, I was able to find pricing for three bottles purchased at World Market. These bottles were Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2017, and Masciarelli Montepulciano 2016. We have had the Line 39 and Santa Julia before, but the Masciarelli was one Ashley wanted to try.
The Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 at World Market was on sale for $11.74. After applying the 20% discount, the final price came to $8.99. According to Total Wine's website, this wine is available at my local store for $7.99. The total savings would have been $1.00 at Total Wine.
The Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2017 had a price of $13.99 at World Market. With the 20% discount, the final price came to $11.19. Total Wine sells this bottle for $10.99. However, my local Total Wine did not have it in stock. The potential savings at Total Wine would have been $0.20 cents.
The Masciarelli Montepulciano 2016 was on sale at World Market for $12.49. The final price after applying the 20% discount was $9.99. My local Total Wine sells this bottle for $8.99. I would have saved $1.00 if I went to Total Wine to purchase this wine instead of World Market.
If I had visited Total Wine to purchase these bottles, I could have potentially saved $2.20. While one bottle was not in stock at Total Wine, I would have easily found something else at the same price point. World Market offers a small selection of wines by varietal and region compared to Total Wine. Ashley and I typically have few other options when searching for a specific varietal and price point at World Market. Due to the large selection at Total Wine, we likely would have purchased one or none of the same bottles from World Market. This is because we do not always purchase bottles that we already enjoy. We like to try new regions and brands on occasion.
I believe the biggest takeaway is that World Market's wine discounts are not as favorable as they appear. The prices for each bottle of wine at Total Wine were lower. While Total Wine may not carry every brand or bottle, they offer plenty of options at multiple price points. However, there are still a few reasons I would continue to buy wine at World Market. If my local World Market is more conveniently located, I would continue to shop there. In addition, saving $2.00 is not always worthwhile when time is a factor. I also would continue shopping at World Market if they carried a bottle I enjoyed that was not available at Total Wine. The ability to re-buy something you enjoy is important. Going forward, I will pay more attention to wine prices and where I can purchase my favorite bottles.
Hawkers' food menu offers a wide variety of Asian-inspired dishes. Our server said that each dish is large enough to share between two individuals. We ordered a few of the recommended items including Bulgogi Chicken Skewers, Steamed Baos, Korean Twice Fried Wings, and Golden Wontons. The best dishes we had were the Twice Fried Wings and Steamed Baos. I thought the Singapore Meh Fun and Pad Thai were also tasty. Our least favorite dishes were the Golden Wantons and Siu Yoke. They both came out overcooked and did not meet expectations. Since there are so many options on the menu, I would not let one or two dishes define an overall experience. However, I plan to avoid ordering those two options in the future.
The beverage selection at Hawkers is quite large. They offer a wide variety of wine, cocktails, and beer. The full bar has something for everyone. Seating is spread throughout the restaurant with booths and bar chairs in the front. Additional table seating is in the back by the open-style kitchen. Additional patio seating wraps around the outside of the building.
In my opinion, the best part of dining at Hawkers is the atmosphere and decor. I enjoyed seeing the colorful posters, signs, and mix of decor. It is also interesting that each seating area has a different vibe. The food and drinks take a back seat to the atmosphere created at Hawkers. I recommend visiting just to experience something new and different in Charlotte, NC.
La Belle Helene is an upscale, French brasserie in the Uptown district of Charlotte. The restaurant opened its doors in the summer of 2018. Inside the restaurant, you will immediately notice a long bar area. This is a perfect for a beverage after work with friends or coworkers. The decor inside was beautifully done. I particularly like the large light fixtures and copper pans around the kitchen area. There is indoor, outdoor, and private room seating available. Helene is open for lunch and dinner during the week, but has different hours on the weekend. They do offer a Sunday brunch, which is popular in Charlotte.
Helene's menu offers many seafood, beef, chicken, lamb, and meat options. Their lunch menu is on the lighter side and does contain options for some dietary preferences. However, I would not suggest this restaurant for dinner to someone who is vegetarian or vegan. During my recent visit for dinner, our group ordered the Scottish Salmon, LBH Burger American, and Hand Chopped Beef Tartare. I was unimpressed with the portion size of the salmon, but my friend thought the dish was very tasty. My wife and I shared the burger and tartare. Their burger was well spiced and delicious. The artisan bun was a great compliment to the two thin 4 oz. patties. The side of pomme frities were also very good. We thought the beef tartare was good, but not amazing. It was very tender, but not as flavorful as I would have liked. Our other friend also ordered the burger and thought it was wonderful.
The beverage list of wines, beers, and spirits is plentiful. You should have no issue finding something you enjoy during a happy hour or with dinner. One of our friends also enjoys their wine spritzers. My only complaint is that there are very few inexpensive wines available by the glass or bottle. We shared a bottle of Pinot Noir with dinner that was on their lower end of pricing at $48. I like having the ability to order multiple wines around $8-10 a glass and $36-40 a bottle.
The service at Helene was above average from everyone we encountered. We had a team of two servers take care of our table. Our water glasses were kept full and food came out in a reasonable amount of time.
While our experience at Helene was enjoyable, I felt that our bill was higher than I would have expected. The prices at Helene for food and alcohol are high in my opinion. In addition, we did order the most expensive entrees such as their signature rotisserie chicken or steaks. For the amount of money spent, there are a lot of options around Charlotte.
I plan to return to Helene in the future for drinks and dinner. Their location, atmosphere, and dining experience left a good impression. While I felt that we paid too much for our meal, I hope the next visit will change my perspective.