Until recently, Main Street in downtown Pineville was a fine place to grab a cup of coffee or a scoop of ice cream as you perused the historic storefronts for antiques. It had one upscale eatery, Global Restaurant, which served French-inspired cuisine. But the pedestrian-friendly corridor didn’t have any casual, sit-down dining options.
Then, in early 2021, Kevin Devanney opened Margaux’s Wine, Pizza & Market in the space next door to Global. It drew a steady crowd despite mask mandates and limited indoor capacity and was successful enough for Devanney, a St. Louis transplant with more than 40 years in the restaurant industry, to expand. When Global shut its doors in April, Devanney bought the space, and in September he opened The Garrison: A Cocktail Bar & Restaurant in the 100-year-old building that was once the town’s bank.
The food is fine—standard American fare like burgers, steaks, and Applebee’s-sized salads—but the decor and cocktails are the standouts here. The interior has a modern Parisian aesthetic, with exposed brick, crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors, and antique ceiling tiles. The bar, tiled in emerald green, has charcoal countertops and globe pendant lights above, which give the space a contemporary edge. Upstairs is another full-service bar and space for private events, comedy nights, and live music.
Drinks are fun and unpretentious with five ingredients or less, and mixologists aren’t heavy-handed with syrups and garnishes. Signature cocktails include You Can Call Me Honey ($14), a gin-based cocktail with spiced honey syrup, and Take Me to the Islands ($14), with rum and pineapple juice. Be careful with the Wildberry Basil Refresher ($14), though. It’s one of those dangerous drinks that goes down verrrrry easily before the buzz hits you.
Alas, Chef Logan Wright’s menu isn’t particularly bold, and the dishes themselves range from very good to merely acceptable. At lunchtime, servers circle the dining room, carrying plates heaped with steak fries and gargantuan sandwiches. At dinner, it’s steaks and chops with basic sides like mac and cheese, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes.
The Buffalo Cauliflower ($10) and Crab Hushpuppies ($10) are good, bite-sized bar snacks to pair with your cocktails. If you’re from St. Louis (or you’re familiar with the city’s cuisine), try the Toasted Ravioli ($11). Devanney says this signature deep-fried appetizer is the most authentic in Charlotte.
The Burrata Salad ($12) sounds like the most exciting of the four dinner salads on the menu, but the flavor is underwhelming. The crispy prosciutto lacks the sweet-and-salty punch it has when it’s left uncooked, and the drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette isn’t enough to enhance the bland burrata or grilled peaches.
The restaurant’s website advertises “the best burgers in town,” which is fair when your closest competition is the Burger King up the street. Their signature, The Garrison ($15), is a bacon cheeseburger on a brioche bun. The Firehouse #73 ($15) is named in honor of a fallen firefighter from Pineville’s Engine 73; the jalapeños give it a fiery bite, and the story behind it gives the menu a sense of place.
The Steak and Frites ($38) is an unremarkable 6-ounce filet mignon with—you guessed it—a heap of steak fries. The Dirty Gamecock ($18), aka roasted chicken, is the dark horse on the menu, with crispy skin and savory seasoning. You also have a choice of $10 sides, which are portioned for two. Don’t bother with the Mac and Cheese; it might as well be the Kraft Deluxe variety served in a ramekin. The Balsamic Brussels Sprouts are what you want—they’re crispy, smoky, and slightly bitter with a sweet bump of balsamic vinegar.
Despite its inconsistency, there’s something charming about The Garrison, and it’s more than just the gorgeous decor, superb cocktail bar, and revitalization of a historic building. It echoes Charlotte’s food scene from 20 or so years ago, when the city was just coming into its own as a place where a skilled restaurateur could start with the basics and develop from there. It’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood, which, like the restaurant, has room to grow.
TAYLOR BOWLER is the lifestyle editor.
The Garrison : A Cocktail Bar & Restaurant
314 Main St., Pineville
11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday
11:30 a.m.-12 a.m. Thursday-Saturday
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday