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Tupelo Honey Cafe, An Ashville, NC Chain at Wilson Blvd. and N. Troy Street in Courthouse

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ARLnow reports (in a sponsored post) that Tupelo Honey Cafe will be opening at 2000 Clarendon Blvd* on June 1st. The post states they're hiring for a variety of positions.

Tupelo Honey is a regional (NC, TN, FL, GA, and now VA) chain based in Asheville. According to their website "We serve fresh, scratch-made, Southern comfort food re-imagined."  I haven't had the chance to try it out, but have several friends who are big fans.

It'll be nice to have another dining option in Courthouse.

* The info on the company website says 1616 N. Troy Street.

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Had lunch there yesterday.  It was very busy when we arrived after 1:00 pm.  We were told there was a 30 minute wait, but our table was available before I could pay for two glasses of wine at the bar.

First the good news.  These people know how to fry chicken.  Crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside.  No hint of grease.  We also had the fried green tomatoes and the coconut shrimp.  Both also very good.

Now the bad news.  They need to hire decent management and train their employees.  Our waiter was not familiar with the menu or the wine list.  When we ordered wine at the table, after telling him three times what we wanted, I had to point to it on the menu.  A few minutes later, he came back to ask again what we wanted.  A few minutes after that, he came back again to ask what size pour we wanted.   How can wait staff on the floor not know they offer two sizes of pours?  That is a management issue in not providing sufficient training before putting people on the floor.  Did these folks ever hear of a soft opening?

The problem extends to the kitchen also.  When the waiter brought our first dish, we asked what is that?  He responded that is your fried chicken.  We had not received our appetizers by that time!

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One of the biggest issues that has taken place over the last 5 years within the Food and Bev industry, a lack of industry people to go around especially with so much growth in Food and beverage. Not just so many new restaurants but off-shoots within the industry. More bakeries, more boutique grocery stores, more coffee shops, and so on. The pool of talent is smaller and smaller as this industry gets bigger and bigger. I agree that management should know better by placing un-trained staff on the floor but it could also be the long arm of the home office saying "Hey, get open ASAP, we are paying rent on that space with no revenue coming in the door."

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Had lunch there yesterday.  It was very busy when we arrived after 1:00 pm.  We were told there was a 30 minute wait, but our table was available before I could pay for two glasses of wine at the bar.

First the good news.  These people know how to fry chicken.  Crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside.  No hint of grease.  We also had the fried green tomatoes and the coconut shrimp.  Both also very good.

Now the bad news.  They need to hire decent management and train their employees.  Our waiter was not familiar with the menu or the wine list.  When we ordered wine at the table, after telling him three times what we wanted, I had to point to it on the menu.  A few minutes later, he came back to ask again what we wanted.  A few minutes after that, he came back again to ask what size pour we wanted.   How can wait staff on the floor not know they offer two sizes of pours?  That is a management issue in not providing sufficient training before putting people on the floor.  Did these folks ever hear of a soft opening?

The problem extends to the kitchen also.  When the waiter brought our first dish, we asked what is that?  He responded that is your fried chicken.  We had not received our appetizers by that time!

Always interested and excited to know about a great fried chicken opportunity, especially in the area.    Thanks for the heads up, Finatic, and the comments about service.

One of the biggest issues that has taken place over the last 5 years within the Food and Bev industry, a lack of industry people to go around especially with so much growth in Food and beverage. Not just so many new restaurants but off-shoots within the industry. More bakeries, more boutique grocery stores, more coffee shops, and so on. The pool of talent is smaller and smaller as this industry gets bigger and bigger. I agree that management should know better by placing un-trained staff on the floor but it could also be the long arm of the home office saying "Hey, get open ASAP, we are paying rent on that space with no revenue coming in the door."

After reading this I looked at the list of new restaurants in '13, '14, and half way through '15, provided by Cheesepowder.  Almost 600 total in 2.5 years.  In many cases that skips the "offshoots" she describes above.   That is new restaurants.   I'm sure Josh's comments are right on target, and I'm sure the pressures from management, as he described, could be there.

(meanwhile GAR continues to do a great job with service in the FOH.   They truly deserve a lot of credit.)

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First the good news.  These people know how to fry chicken.  Crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside.  No hint of grease.

Now the bad news.  They need to hire decent management and train their employees.

This is correct on both counts: I had lunch at Tupelo Honey Cafe, and can vouch for both the fried chicken and the well-meaning service that needs improvement.

Tupelo Honey Cafe is brand new, but looks like it's been in place for awhile. The restaurant is on the corner of Wilson Blvd. (the street that heads from Rosslyn towards Clarendon) and N. Troy St., and there's a decent little patio on N. Troy St. The restrooms are nice, and it definitely shows that this isn't the first restaurant they've ever opened: It's finished-looking without being over-the-top or gaudy.

They have 23 draft beers (there's a charming set of chalkboards behind the bar that lists ABV%), and 30 in bottle. I didn't realize they had some upscale soft drinks for $4.25 (no refill), so I got my usual Diet Coke ($3, with refill), sitting in front of one of the flat-screen TVs at the bar.

I ordered the Nutty Fried Chicken ($14.25) with an extra side order of Smashed Sweet Potatoes, but that's not what I got; the gentleman who took my order had forgotten my side when he went to type it in the system, having to ask me what it was again, and he also typed in the wrong entree. Instead, I got the Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast ($13). All entrees come with a side of Carrot & Kale Slaw w/ Avocado-Lime Vinaigrette (served cold), and I had my extra order of Smashed Sweet Potatoes.

A homemade biscuit arrived with a small tin of blueberry preserves and Tupelo honey - the biscuit had a slightly yellow tint to it, and tasted like it might - might - have a bit of cheese in it. I'm morally opposed to serving cheese biscuits with preserves and honey, but I wasn't sure that's what it was, so later in the meal, I asked my server, "What kind of crack do you put in your biscuits? Is it cheese?" He looked for a moment, and said, "No, butter," so there might be some type of sourdough used, or something to give it just a tiny little bit of something other than flour and water.  And the biscuit is very good, too.

My entree arrived, and it would have been somewhat lonely had the smashed sweet potatoes not been on the plate. I knew right away that he'd brought the wrong thing, but it was fine, and I highly recommend getting this, either as a standalone dish, or in the Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich (I'm sure it's the exact same thing, but with bacon). This breast was seven ounces (I asked), moist, tender, perfectly battered, and fried without being greasy or salty, and yet it had a really nice flavor to it - this was a good fried chicken breast! There are two pairs of spices in this world that confound me: wild thyme and rosemary (for those who aren't confused by these, go to the South of France and smell them side-by-side), and cardamom and cumin, when they're used as an undertone instead of a primary flavor component. And indeed, one or the other is used in the slaw - either cardamom or cumin, and if I guess one, it will turn out to be the other - I'm going to guess it's cardamom which means that it's most likely cumin - I would consider nixing this and instead adding something on the order of halved green grapes. The smashed sweet potatoes were as good as I hoped they would be, and I would get them again without question.

The service is trying too hard. After I got my entree, someone came up and asked me something that I couldn't believe I heard, so I assumed I was wrong, and chalked it off to middle-age hearing loss. Then, another gentleman walked by and said, "How's that Southern Fried Chicken Breast?" I nodded my head. When someone is clearly enjoying their meal, it is sufficient to ask them twice after bringing the food, and if there aren't any problems, then to let them finish in peace; in my case, another gentleman walked by and said what I pretended I didn't hear the first time: "Sir, is everything with your meal perfect?" I just looked at him, smiled, and nodded. On another occasion, a man asked me if I wanted a refill right after I had taken a bite of biscuit, asking me what I was drinking and forcing me to talk when I wasn't ready (I'm convinced the Evil Servers Association trains their members to do this). So, yes, the service needs work, and it isn't for wont of being friendly.

Okay, so, Tupelo Honey Cafe has some potential. They have a weekday happy hour Mon-Thu 4-7PM on the bar and patio, featuring half-off wine, $3 pints of beer, and several small plates for $6. They also "offer" draft Sangria for $5, but that's the regular price, so it's no bargain. They also have a weekend "Moonrise Brunch" Fri-Sat 10PM-12AM. I'm going to initialize Tupelo Honey Cafe in Italic in the Dining Guide.

Tupelo (note pronuncation): Black-Tupelo_1-793.jpg

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We had a lovely dinner at Tupelo Honey last night, with excellent service.

The first moment wasn't promising - we arrived twelve minutes before our reservation, and the hostess said, "We'll seat you at 7:30." Nothing about "a table should be ready soon, I'm sorry we can't seat you yet," or anything more hospitable. We were seated a few minutes later, and it took a little while longer than expected for any waitstaff to make a first stop at our table and take our drinks orders.

However, once our waitress did arrive (maybe eight minutes after we were seated), everything went very efficiently, hospitably, and deliciously.

We gave both our drinks orders and dinner orders (since we'd had time to peruse the menu), and she brought them right away (rosemary-peach lemonade was wonderful).  She quickly followed the drinks with complimentary biscuits, which were nicely crusty on top and light and tender crumbed inside. The biscuits came with blueberry jam and honey, and disappeared quickly.

Quicker than we expected, our meals arrived.  I had Southern fried chicken breast, which was terrific - moist and flavorful with tasty skin (slightly crisp and well-flavored with herbs).  Both my meal and my husband's came with a choice of sides, and there were many to choose from.  The smashed sweet potatoes were good, and the blueberry lemon quinoa with feta and arugula was just lovely - fresh and light tasting, with the quinoa fluffy and cooked perfectly.  My husband said his Carolina mountain trout, edamame/pine nut/raisin salad (which I meant to taste, but forgot), and mac and cheese were all delicious.  Our waitress was friendly and helpful as well as being efficient.

We ended with banana pudding, which was excellent, with a strong banana taste (which I think meant it was cooked fresh from bananas, no pudding mix), what tasted like fresh whipped cream, and what I think were house-made wafers (lighter, thicker, and softer than Nilla wafers).  They only have two desserts on the menu, but this one was very good and I'd be happy with it any time.

I saw that Tom Sietsema gave Tupelo Honey a bad review, but ours is a definite thumbs-up.

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First the good news.  These people know how to fry chicken.  Crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside.  No hint of grease.

I had Southern fried chicken breast, which was terrific - moist and flavorful with tasty skin (slightly crisp and well-flavored with herbs).

I saw that Tom Sietsema gave Tupelo Honey a bad review, but ours is a definite thumbs-up.

I ordered the Nutty Fried Chicken ($14.25) with an extra side order of Smashed Sweet Potatoes, but that's not what I got; the gentleman who took my order had forgotten my side when he went to type it in the system, having to ask me what it was again, and he also typed in the wrong entree. Instead, I got the Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast ($13). All entrees come with a side of Carrot & Kale Slaw w/ Avocado-Lime Vinaigrette (served cold), and I had my extra order of Smashed Sweet Potatoes.

My entree arrived, and it would have been somewhat lonely had the smashed sweet potatoes not been on the plate. I knew right away that he'd brought the wrong thing, but it was fine, and I highly recommend getting this, either as a standalone dish, or in the Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich (I'm sure it's the exact same thing, but with bacon). This breast was seven ounces (I asked), moist, tender, perfectly battered, and fried without being greasy or salty, and yet it had a really nice flavor to it - this was a good fried chicken breast!

Wow, I just saw Tom's preview - I have to say, I'm surprised that he said the "fried chicken is a yawn." While I admittedly cherry-picked (or at least I think I did) by ordering the fried chicken, I think that particular item was anything but a yawn. Huh, and we both agreed on Boss Shepherd's version - go figure.

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I had lunch there yesterday.  I ordered the fried chicken BLT sandwich.  I got the kale and carrot slaw as my side, but you had the choice of fries, or two other sides, or any one of their other many sides for $1 more.  I also had an unsweet iced tea.  The fried chicken sandwich was huge, and very good, but decadent, I had half of it and all my slaw, plus a biscuit.  The fried chicken itself was really good, Chicfila style breading, really good bacon, normal lettuce, tomato.  I thoroughly enjoyed my sandwich.  The "slaw" was very good, but to me was more of a kale salad with carrots and vinagrette, but hey salad/slaw, whatever, it was nice to have something light and fairly healthy with my behemoth sandwich.  Their biscuit was good, but straight up plain, it was a little salty to me, with honey and jam it tasted perfect.  I am a sucker for a biscuit.  The service was fine, but the server definitely just needed more experience.  You could tell he was struggling with having to hold a tray while doing other things.  Forgot to take my menu after I ordered, biscuit came out after my sandwich (which was fine I treated it as dessert anyway) and was just a little slow for lunch service.  Lunch service if they want the courthouse crowd just needs to be a little quicker.  But he was very nice and I am sure they are learning.  The bill for just a chicken sandwich and iced tea was a little steep $18 before tip.  But the sandwich did constitute my lunch and dinner.  I will definitely be back as the rest of the menu looked really good.  This is someplace we can take our parents, etc and they will like it which is a good thing.

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Were originally going to go Thursday night but our tablemate had a schedule mix up and we were able to move reservations to Wednesday.  

 

Two of us showed up about 10 minutes early and as the bar was full we asked to be seated to order drinks from table and were fairly quickly.  Our waiter Francisco was wonderful and we had a leasurely dinner

 

We have a number of cocktails thru the evening. (Range $9-$13)

The Georgia Peach Mai Tai was wonderful and fruity

The Elenore Roosevelt Sparkling Sangria was good and light

  I wasn't sure if they were made to mask the booze or if they were light on booze but after 4 drinks I should have been tipsy.  My other half had the Achilles Hell Manhattan and they were good and quiet strong.  Our beer dinker was dissapointed as the first order of the Allagash tripple ended up with the other Allagash as the tripple was out and the waiter had misheard (The noise level is high so that can happen easily) and the second thing he asked for was also out for the night. 

Overall the bar menu was good but nothing to make a special trip for.

 

We started with a number of small plattes. (Range $7-$10)

Goat Cheese Grits poppers (Light and spicy).

Ham/bacon wontons - very yummy

Fried Avocado - great at first bite but cooled quickly and not as good. 

Salted beets with pistatios and goat cheese - yummy but nothing special.

  Over all the small plates are good but a touch over priced  for what they were.  

 

Entrees were ($13-$26)

Fried Chicken breast which was PERFECT - crisp and tender and juicy and not oily and wowza.

Shoo Shrimp and Grits with Chorizo - I didn't try (to spicy) but the others liked this a lot - large serving, much taken home.

Fried Chicken BLT sandwich - very good

Sides were brussle sprout salad, edemame salad, and i'm not sure on the others - they were good but not great, but nice to have vegetable options beyond asparagus and spinach

Over all VERY well done, very reasonablly priced

 

Dessert was Banana pudding which was good and Pegan Pie that was WONDERFUL.

 

Total for 3 peple was $220+tip

Reservations online were easy

Staff was Great and my water was never empty

Well lit but a bit noisy, clean restrooms.

 

This is added to the places to take Grandma as it would be something she woudl enjoy. 

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Ate dinner here with a friend tonight when we couldn't get into Secret Chopsticks in the same time frame we needed.  We both agreed it was average and we wouldn't go back anytime soon.

First, the decor - I felt like I was in a dated airline airport lounge.  Not to my liking at all.

The drinks - those were the highlight of our time there.  I had a margarita, she had some lavender concoction that was tasty.

Small plates (1/2 price or something during happy hour) were average - a plastic-y pimento cheese and fried avocado.  Why anyone would choose to fry avocado slices is beyond me.

Entrees were the shrimp and grits for me and the trout for her.  My entree was swimming in oil/butter/who knows and I blotted it out with my napkin.  The shrimp were fine and the grits were tasty but I kept seeing all that liquid floating around and didn't finish my meal.  My friend's trout was missing something - it lacked flavor.  We both agreed with our assessment of the fish.  Sides of green beans (she ordered brussel sprouts) and the mac and cheese - I've had much better.

Got the banana pudding dessert - I did like that.

Our server was solicitous and fine.  There seemed to be an abundance of staff and managers giving directions like the guys at the airport guiding the planes out from the gates.  Still going with that airport theme I guess.

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Matt and I have been to brunch here twice now.  The first time I had the Shomercy omlette, which was huge, and perfect hangover food, but no civilized person not hung over should ever order it, it's just too much.  Between the jalapeno, pimento cheese, ham, fried green tomato it is great for sopping up any last alcohol in your system and coating your stomach with grease and oil in a nice protective coating, while zinging you back to life with crunch and cheese.  It is a flavor bomb reminiscent to things you would like in high school when you metabolism was high and things like frozen jalapeno poppers were consumed on regular.  But it did the trick to set me back on my way towards humanity, I probably consumed 1/3 of it.

The next time we went, we went with family, and the service was so slow, they offered to bring us a couple free appetizers, but none of us were that hungry, especially after eating a biscuit.  They apologized profusely, and I accept that as an off day where they had a big private party, but it really threw off our entire day a bit as it took so long.  I got the signature salad with chicken which was good, if you don't want to feel like you need to be rolled out, this is a good option.

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Lunch with companions yesterday was nice.

We started with the spicy cauliflower and the fried pickles. Whatever batter they use on the pickles is just right -- thin enough to offer some crunch and avoid being greasy. The cauliflower was a treat.

My main was a southern Cobb salad with fried chicken topping, and it was so-so. The greens were a bit tired, with the telltale signs of the ribs going brownish-white, as if they came from a bag instead of being freshly chopped. Toppings included lazy cherry tomatoes -- you can still get pretty good tomatoes at this time of year -- and a bit too much bits of bacon. The chicken was fading, as if not entirely fresh out of the fryer. I might not order this dish again. My guess is that the salad mise is prepared ahead, rather than a la minute.

One companion's Appalachian pork chop was devoured and declared quite good. Sweet potato and collard greens sides on a few of the plates were highly complimented.

I would definitely return to sample some of the other items on the menu.

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