Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Black Mountain
My Father’s Pizza - Our table of three adults had: a small order of bruschetta, a Caesar salad, a Greek salad, an order of meatballs, a white garlic pizza and a custom pizza (with vegan cheese.) The bruschetta was good, but the bread was not grilled or toasted so got a little soggy under the tomatoes. The meatballs were not as tender as I was expecting and the tomato sauce need a little something to cut the acidity a bit. Salads and pizzas were good, but nothing to go out of your way for.

Louise’s - Crowded during Saturday brunch. (It is an old house, so tables are placed in the rooms as well as possible. There is also outdoor seating on the wrap-around porch.) Our table of three adults and one toddler had: the blueberry waffle, Big Boy burrito, grit cakes and pancakes (for the kiddo). We also had the special mimosa of the day which was some sort of blackberry, lemon, mint thing. The food  was not overcomplicated and everything tasted good. The grit cakes were something I’d never seen before; the black bean and corn gave it a vaguely Southwestern flavor. For the cakes themselves, picture a black bean burger, but instead of beans as the base, grits.

Asheville
Thirsty Monk (Downtown location) - We went for the beer and stayed for the bar food. Downstairs (or enter from the back) is all Belgian-style beers, upstairs (or front entrance) has a variety of beer types from American (many local, it’s Asheville, after all) brewers. I had two tacos, one each of the Thai pulled pork and the chipotle brisket. The Thai pulled pork was good, but the chipotle brisket was the standout for me. I think it was the balance of flavors in the taco itself, which included pickled red onions, shredded romaine and crema. The crema was supposedly avocado and the only evidence of that was a slight greenish color.
NB - Make-your-own flights are priced based on the beer you select.

Buxton Hall (Shares an entrance with Catawba Brewing) - After beers at Green Man and the decision to hit all the breweries in that several block radius, we decided food was necessary. Two adults shared the pimiento cheese and pulled pork plate with cole slaw and potato salad. The pimiento cheese had something I am not used to in it; I think it was mustard seed. It was served with some sort of flatbread cracker I’d compare to lavash. The pork was moist and tender and needed just a dash of the Carolina-style vinegar sauce. (They also had a mustard sauce that looked and tasted too much like plain yellow mustard. Which was a little disappointing only because I was expecting something a little closer to Myron Mixon’s mustard sauce.) The potato salad was good, but nothing special. It did have fresh basil, which I have not had before and enjoyed. I did not try to the cole slaw.

I took a break from beer at Buxton Hall and had the daily slushie which was bourbon Cheerwine. And it was perfect.

Curate - Go. If only for the chance to enjoy excellent food and drinks for about two-thirds of what it would cost you in DC. 

The hostess was a little awkward when we arrived just before 8:30 for what I thought was an 8:30 reservation. She told us our reservation was actually for 8:45 and the table wouldn’t be ready until then. Fine. But then didn’t say anything else. So we went to the bar where a few seats had just opened up. At our appointed time, we went back to the host stand. And were shown to a table directly behind where we had been sitting at the bar which had been empty the whole time. Ummm, okay…

In the order they were served, the two of us over-ordered and had (including restaurant website descriptions):

Croquetas de setas - sautéed mushroom and béchamel fritters
When we admitted we were over-ordering, our server suggested a half order (three instead of five) of these. They were very small, about two bites. I don’t usually like mushrooms, but I like croquetas. A lot. (Chalk it up to my four years in South Florida?) These had finely diced mushrooms and the bechamel and were fried and seasoned perfectly.

Pulpo a la gallega - Galician-style octopus served warm w/sea salt, olive oil, Spanish paprika, and Yukon gold potato purée 
Not sure if Galician-style means that the octopus is pre-sliced into little rounds, but that’s they way this was served. The smoky flavor in the paprika was a little overpowering, but other than that, this dish was perfect.

Pimientos de piquillo rellenos - Piquillo peppers stuffed w/ Spanish goat cheese
Exactly as described, well executed. It was garnished with micro greens and an unidentifiable (to me) green puree.

Gambas al ajillo - Sautéed shrimp with sliced garlic, sherry, and chili pepper
If you don’t already have bread at your table, ask for it (or say yes when offered) to soak up this sauce! The garlic was not overpowering as it sometimes is with this dish but I thought it could have been spicier since it was described has having chili peppers. (They were dried and whole, so not all that spicy unless you purposely incorporated it into the dish.) The sherry flavor really helped round out the flavors of the sauce and dish as a whole.

Pincho moruno - Lamb skewers marinated in Moorish spices served with cucumber pickles
Small, not quite cubes, of lamb, cooked to about medium rare. I could pick up ginger, paprika and something acidic, maybe vinegar, in the spice blend. Maybe berbere? But to be honest, I actually have no idea what that is/tastes like… The server recommended trying a bite each component of the dish, which made for a good balance of flavor and texture. I don’t generally order lamb, but I would order this again.

Espárragos verdes con romesco - Grilled green asparagus with a hazelnut and almond romesco sauce
My concession to my dining partner was the lamb, and this was hers to me. I just really like grilled asparagus. The romesco was fine, but in general I could take it or leave it. There was nothing extraordinary about this dish, but it was delicious because oil + salt + asparagus + grill = perfection.

Albondigas - Meatballs with cured Ibérico ham in a tomato sauce that makes Felix’s mother proud
There was absolutely nothing wrong with these, but I was expecting better. A bit oversalted (maybe just the ham) and with no garnish, there was room to step up this dish.

Berenjenas con miel - Fried eggplant drizzled in wild mountain honey, garnished w/ rosemary
Our server recommend we get this last because of the sweet component from the honey, which was a great suggestion. It was nice to end the meal on something sweet since we didn’t end up ordering dessert. I was expecting sticks of eggplant (think Peter Chang), but these were thin rounds. They were lightly seasoned and battered, served with honey and a small amount of fresh rosemary. It can be hard to fry eggplant to the point where it is cooked but not too oily or heavy and this was perfect. Although I think the thinness of the slices meant that it cooled quickly. Tied with the sauce from the shrimp (although the shrimp themselves were good) as my favorite thing we ordered.

Menu, including prices: http://curatetapasbar.com/menus/web_menus/curate_lunch_dinner_menu.pdf

Drinks included a red sangria and rye old fashioned at the bar (and a second one at the table) and a cocktail called 1493 which included manzanilla and orange curacao. The 1493 looked (and to me, tasted) like orange Fanta.

Sierra Nevada - Sierra Nevada had only recently announced they were building at this location when I was last in Asheville, so It was interesting to see what they’d done here. The compound includes a brewery, restaurant (tap room), extensive outdoor seating and activity areas, and event space.

I had the ginger soy wings and a side of collard greens. The wings were cut in a way so that there was only one small bone with a bulb (I don’t know what else to call it) at the end. The only thing I might compare it to would be those things they call “lamb lollipops” that get passed around at receptions. The glaze was not overpowering and the accompanying sriracha mayo was fine. Usually an afterthought, I really enjoyed the garnish which was ribbons of ginger pickled carrots. I also tasted the pretzels with pimiento cheese. Although not described as such, the pimiento cheese is hot and comes served in a small cast iron dish. The servers describe the menu as being “small plates” and even though they’re not really that small, they do come out as they’re ready, which is something to keep in mind if you’re with a group or kids. (They did bring the mac and cheese we ordered for the three year old in our group out first. But he was too busy playing at the sand table outside to come in and eat it…)

The beer flights include four - 2oz pours, and the day we were there, included all but one of their special “Cork and Cage” selections. I tried the kellerweis, Ovila Abbey White, Audition saison and the barrel-aged Madiera Quad with Cherries. I ended up ordering a full kellerweis and drinking it in a giant rocking chair. (Seriously, these chairs are huge.)

I know this is supposed to be about the food, but it’s Asheville, so… BEER!
Green Man - Lots of IPAs and other hoppy ales; small inside seating area, covered and uncovered outdoor seating; grilled cheese food truck.
Catawba - A wide variety of beers, spacious indoor and outdoor seating areas, taco truck.
Twin Leaf - Smaller, a short but varied beer selection, board games, indoor and outdoor seating.
Burial - Varied beer selection; indoor and outdoor seating; very small, but kind of fancy for a brewery popup, food menu; velvet Burt Reynolds poster inside, Sloth and Burt Reynolds mural outside.

(These are all within walking distance of one another in South Slope. The Wicked Weed Funkatorium is also there.)

We also checked out Chimney Rock (we did not end up hiking, but instead looked at Chimney Rock from Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery), Lake Lure and Hooker Falls.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My biggest food revelation from a recent trip to Asheville was a cup of coffee.  More specifically, a cold brew from Penny Cup Coffee in the River Arts District made from a blend that included 25% beans aged in bourbon barrels.  The concept was totally new to me and the taste blew me away...It was smooth, and had just enough of the taste and smell of bourbon to make me feel somewhat guilty walking down the street drinking it.  I wound up buying two pounds of the blend from them and have been happily making this myself for the last few weeks.   But I guess I'm just not in the know because just after we returned I saw this tweet from Tim Carmen that Swings Coffee in DC is doing the same thing (and apparently isn't even the first to do so).  I guess I'm just late to the party on this one but count me as a fan.

The food in Asheville was generally excellent.  Tried two bbq places and based on just one visit to each place but trying a variety of things, I'd say Moe's Original beats 12 Bones by a mile.  I'm still dreaming of those ribs...I don't know if these were the two best bbq places in the area but they were what some locals recommended.  

Three other places I'd happily return to include:

  • Curate for tapas - with the exception of dry lamb skewers, everything was top notch, especially the seafood.  We particularly loved the roasted clams with pea puree, and the head-on shrimp.
  • Chai Pani - casual but super fresh tasting Indian street food.
  • The Bull and Beggar - They call it European inspired Appalachian food, which I have no idea what that means, but whatever it was it was good.  Pretty simple dishes, but good flavors and solid preparations.  We enjoyed the charred octopus, pork rinds, a fish prepared with green garlic sauce, and some excellent cheeses for dessert.
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

12 Bones is fine but our favorites are Buxton Hall and Bonfire. Took my mom to the former last night and she loved it. They do Eastern NC style whole hog and she is someone who grew up on that end of the state going to the little shacks and getting cheap, excellent 'cue. Buxton is decidedly hipster and much more expensive than anything you'd get in Eastern NC, but damn, it's great. The BBQ hash is one of my favorite things in town -- they cook down the trimmings, head meat, etc and the pork livers until it's a smooth stew and serve over rice. Great cocktails and desserts too. You'd never find booze in a true NC BBQ shack, just sweet tea. But we're in Asheville. Bon Apetit named it a top 10 best new restaurant in America last year which is damn impressive for a BBQ joint.

Bonfire does the more wholistic approach to 'cue with brisket, sausage, ribs, chicken, etc.

Buxton and Biscuit Head are our two definite places to take out of towners. We've got friends visiting next weekend and you can bet we're going to both.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Deac said:

Buxton and Biscuit Head are our two definite places to take out of towners. We've got friends visiting next weekend and you can bet we're going to both.

Thanks for the Buxton Hall recommendation. Very timely. We were passing through today and stopped by for an early dinner.  Very good.  We got there when it opened at 5:30pm and by the time we left the waits were 1 1/2 hours.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad you liked it. The good thing is you can go next door to Catawba Brewing and they'll text you. I find they way overestimate wait times. Usually they'll tell us 1 hour+ and we get the text before we finish our first beer. 

We went Friday night around 6:30 and there was no wait, which was shocking to me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Deac said:

Glad you liked it. The good thing is you can go next door to Catawba Brewing and they'll text you. I find they way overestimate wait times. Usually they'll tell us 1 hour+ and we get the text before we finish our first beer. 

We went Friday night around 6:30 and there was no wait, which was shocking to me. 

We were at Catawba around 5 and at about 5:20 or so we noticed a line forming for Buxton (which opens at 5:30) so we drank up and joined the queue.  A bit earlier than I prefer to eat but it was all good.  Actually ran into people we know on our way out who were waiting for a table.  They were also from out of town. Small world. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/2/2017 at 5:16 PM, Steve R. said:

-The Biltmore is a great way to spend the day.  Yes, the basic admission is $65/person, the Guided Tour (better than headphones) is another $19 and the Upstairs/Downstairs tour was $19 more.  That's a lot but you get a lot and the place is worth seeing.  Comes with a nice long drive thru the estate, including gardens (where the tulips were in bloom) and a winery where the tastings were free (even though they purchase grapes from various places throughout Sonoma & Napa, with only maybe 20% local grapes).

Visiting The Biltmore House is reason enough to drive to Ashville from DC. It's the largest privately owned house in the United States (or was).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/29/2017 at 9:26 PM, Deac said:

Glad you liked it. The good thing is you can go next door to Catawba Brewing and they'll text you. I find they way overestimate wait times. Usually they'll tell us 1 hour+ and we get the text before we finish our first beer. 

We went Friday night around 6:30 and there was no wait, which was shocking to me. 

The overestimation definitely happened to me last weekend.  Got quoted 30 minutes and barely had enough time to order a beer next door before I got a text.  

As for the food... I'd say it was hit and miss but the highs definitely topped the lows.  The whole hog was light on smoke and absent outside brown, hush puppies were undercooked and chewy.  For a BBQ restaurant those are high crimes. That being said, the fried chicken sandwich bathed in pimento cheese and white bbq was a damn good time and really benefited from that crisp, thin coating they fry their birds with in this part of the country.  Hash and rice is my jam, and this version really popped with a real balance of sauce, smoke and mineral tang from all the nasty bits.  I could have eaten a second bowl.  Not having it left me more stomach space for a second bourbon and Cheerwine slushie.  Those slushies are Carloina in a tall glass and probably the best thing I tasted all weekend.  So as long as I keep forgetting Buxton Hall is a pure BBQ restaurant and instead consider it a hash and slushie delivery system, consider me a fan. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last week Don and I took a trip to South Carolina to see the eclipse in the path of totality. The night before this incredible event, we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Rhubarb in Asheville. We dined well all week, but this was my favorite spot.

I started with a summer peach sangria, recommended by the lovely woman sitting next to me at the bar. Normally I am not a sangria fan, but this was so good, I ordered a second.  Instead of ordering one of the main dishes, which looked fantastic, we got a selection of starters and then took some food to go for an eclipse-viewing picnic the next day. Everything was delicious, but the thing that stood out for me was the GL Goat Cheese Burrata with peach-rhubarb aigre-doux, onion jam, pickled blueberries and crispy shallots. I also loved the GG Desiree Potato Frico, with yellow branch cheese, grana padano, salumi vinaigrette, and TM dandelions.

Our servers were great, and they even gave us a little treat from the bakery, which we enjoyed with our morning coffee the next day.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, DIShGo said:

Last week Don and I took a trip to South Carolina to see the eclipse in the path of totality. The night before this incredible event, we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Rhubarb in Asheville. We dined well all week, but this was my favorite spot.

I started with a summer peach sangria, recommended by the lovely woman sitting next to me at the bar. Normally I am not a sangria fan, but this was so good, I ordered a second.  Instead of ordering one of the main dishes, which looked fantastic, we got a selection of starters and then took some food to go for an eclipse-viewing picnic the next day. Everything was delicious, but the thing that stood out for me was the GL Goat Cheese Burrata with peach-rhubarb aigre-doux, onion jam, pickled blueberries and crispy shallots. I also loved the GG Desiree Potato Frico, with yellow branch cheese, grana padano, salumi vinaigrette, and TM dandelions.

Our servers were great, and they even gave us a little treat from the bakery, which we enjoyed with our morning coffee the next day.

We went to five James Beard semifinalists or finalists in just over a week (and darned near went to six) - out of all of them, Rhubarb (a finalist in last year's Southeast voting) was my favorite.

Rhubarb.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After returning from an unforgettable view of the total eclipse at South Cove County Park in Seneca, SC, we returned to our "home" base in Asheville for dinner at Buxton Hall. Compared to our dinner the previous night at Rhubarb, this meal was uneven. Some things, like the smoked and fried chicken, were incredible. Others, like the bland and tasteless hushpuppies, were forgettable. The whole hog pulled pork was delicious, but the baby lima and butter beans were not.

Most of the sides were underwhelming, with the exception of the Brunswick stew and the smokey pimento cheese plate. I highly recommend the chicken, which was the best fried chicken I have ever had. Plump, juicy and smokey on the inside, and perfectly battered, seasoned and fried on the outside.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, DIShGo said:

After returning from an unforgettable view of the total eclipse at South Cove County Park in Seneca, SC, we returned to our "home" base in Asheville for dinner at Buxton Hall. Compared to our dinner the previous night at Rhubarb, this meal was uneven. Some things, like the smoked and fried chicken, were incredible. Others, like the bland and tasteless hushpuppies, were forgettable. The whole hog pulled pork was delicious, but the baby lima and butter beans were not.

Most of the sides were underwhelming, with the exception of the Brunswick stew and the smokey pimento cheese plate. I highly recommend the chicken, which was the best fried chicken I have ever had. Plump, juicy and smokey on the inside, and perfectly battered, seasoned and fried on the outside.

The most important thing to remember about Buxton Hall is that, despite the popularity and the hype, it's nothing more than a glorified Barbecue Joint - the barbecue is good, and so are the bar and bartenders, but don't look for anything more than these two things - it isn't worthy of a James Beard nomination (not even as a semifinalist).

IMG_3462.JPGIMG_3461.JPGIMG_3466.JPGIMG_3469.JPGIMG_3468.JPGIMG_3467.JPG

The smoked, then fried, chicken was one of the greatest fried chicken dishes I've ever eaten (there was a smoke ring around the meat inside!); none of the six sides we had were anything more than "good," and most of them were "meh" (the one exception was the Brunswick Stew, which was very good).

Oh, yes, I forgot about the Pimiento Cheese Plate, which was exceptional - the best Pimiento Cheese I've ever had (and don't forget, I lived in the Carolinas for nearly seven years, and traveled to Georgia on a regular basis).

IMG_3465.JPG

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Three stand-outs from a recent trip to Ashville:
1. Early Girl is very family friendly and the food pretty fresh and good. I love catfish and this one was so good that I gobbled it up as fast as possible, and before I had to share. Service was a little slow but since we were all drawing on the tables (butcher paper covered) it was fine. I also really liked the pickled food and sauteed green stuff that served as sides. 

2. Tupelo Honey for dinner: Servings pretty big and hush puppies were memorable. Somebody at my table spilled their hot chocolate and server brought new one and nobody gave the parents !@#$ for not better controlling their young. Six people dinned and everybody cleaned their plates except for the fish and chips...I think that was just too big.

3. Bomba: Only had coffee and pastries but the breakfast plates looked marvelous and the service was fantastic. 

---

Burnsville, NC (weezy)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×